Commodore Nick Cooke-Priest, the Navy captain removed from command of HMS Queen Elizabeth, is understood to have allowed his wife to use the ship's car, a Ford Galaxy, for personal trips including the school run.
He was stripped of his command of the fleet's newest aircraft carrier over a claim he treated the car "like it was his own" — but the Daily Telegraph's shock disclosure has added a new dimension to the vehicular scandal.
His dismissal was in itself farcical — despite his unceremonious booting, it was announced he would still take the helm of the ship to sail from Rosyth to Portsmouth, only for that decision to be reversed by the Royal Navy, and Cooke-Priest to be flown off the ship.
— Johnny Myles (@TheLondonVoice) May 17, 2019
"In hindsight we should have taken him off the ship earlier; why take the risk when we don't need to? Why put that man, who could be put under strain, in that position?" a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence told the Telegraph.
— Thomas Farmer (@ThomasFarmer) May 23, 2019
The driver of the ship's vehicle is only insured once the official worksheet is signed, raising questions over whether adequate insurance cover was in place for any trips Cooke-Priest's wife may have made — although he's understood to have paid for his own petrol, so there's no suggestion he committed fraud on that front at least. Still, the Royal Navy's legal and policy teams may take disciplinary or administrative action against him.
— Mike Smith (@Myk_Smiff) May 17, 2019
The 65,000-tonne warship is currently returning to Portsmouth after spending six weeks in dry dock at Rosyth in Fife, where it was originally built — it underwent a hull inspection and routine maintenance, successful completion of which means HMS Queen Elizabeth shouldn't need to dock down again for another six years.