HMS Queen Elizabeth's sacked captain to quit Royal Navy after car use scandal

THE officer who was sacked as the captain of HMS Queen Elizabeth after breaking rules around the use of a car has now quit the Royal Navy.

Thursday, 4th July 2019, 1:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th July 2019, 6:48 pm
Commodore Nick Cooke-Priest, on the bridge of HMS Queen Elizabeth while he was captain of the aircraft carrier. Photo: Royal Navy

High-flying Commodore Nick Cooke-Priest, 50, handed in his notice last week, two months after he was stripped of his command of the £3bn aircraft carrier.

He was removed from his post following an official inquiry into his use of the ship’s car, a Ford Galaxy.

Insiders claimed the leading officer was ‘reprimanded’ over misusing the vehicle – although he was never court-martialed.

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Commodore Nick Cooke-Priest, on the bridge of HMS Queen Elizabeth while he was captain of the aircraft carrier. Photo: Royal Navy

The Commodore will serve a year-long notice period.

Some critics have hit out at navy top brass for being ‘heavy handed’ while others insisted that no-one, despite their rank, was above the law and that strict rules had to be enforced.

Admiral Lord Alan West, a former head of the Royal Navy, said he could ‘understand’ why Cdre Cooke-Priest handed in his notice.

But he stood by the navy’s firm approach to discipline

HMS Queen Elizabeth is on her next batch of sea trials before her second visit to the USA later this year. Photo: Royal Navy

‘He was on a fast-track for promotion and had been doing very well,’ Lord West told The News. ‘But in the Royal Navy we’re pretty hard-line when it comes to discipline.’ 

‘I can understand if he feels that this has affected his career prospects,’ he added.

However, a friend told The Sun: ‘Nick has enjoyed an outstandingly diverse career in the Royal Navy but recent events have forced him to take stock. It’s time to take this experience into a second career. The navy’s loss is someone else’s gain.’

A spokesman for the Royal Navy said: ‘We do not comment on personnel matters, we can only confirm that management action regarding Cdre Nick Cooke-Priest has been completed and the matter is resolved.

‘Any further decisions are a matter for the individual.’

Cdre Cooke-Priest joined the Senior Service in 1990 and specialised as a Lynx helicopter observer.

After completing a course in anti-submarine warfare, he joined HMS Marlborough before being assigned to HMS Gloucester as the executive officer.

Promoted to Commander in 2009, he commanded Portsmouth-based frigates HMS Kent and HMS Iron Duke and escorted the Queen during her western isles tour.

He assumed command of HMS Bulwark in 2015 before joining Queen Elizabeth, in October.