Defence secretary faces grilling over Trident missile test claims

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PRIME minister Theresa May was informed about the Trident missile test at the centre of cover-up allegations before she addressed MPs on the £40bn renewal of the nation’s nuclear deterrent last summer, Downing Street has confirmed.

But the PM’s official spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny reports that a missile malfunctioned during the test, stating only that Mrs May was told the operation was completed successfully.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon last night faced a grilling by MPs on the incident after Commons speaker John Bercow granted an urgent question from Labour backbencher and former defence minister Kevan Jones.

Sir Michael refused to say if he was aware of a botched test, but said he was in ‘absolutely no doubt about the effectiveness’ of Trident.

During a TV interview over the weekend, Mrs May four times ducked questions about a Sunday Times’ report that an unarmed Trident II D5 missile veered off course after being launched from Royal Navy submarine HMS Vengeance off the coast of Florida in June last year.

The spokeswoman declined to say whether Mrs May was informed of a malfunction in the missile system, stating it was not government policy to discuss operational details of tests in public.

‘We have been clear that the submarine and the crew were successfully tested and certified,’ the spokeswoman told reporters.

‘That was the purpose of the operation. What is also clear is that the capability and effectiveness of the Trident missile is unquestionable.’