Sir Keir Starmer has been plunged into a political row over a ‘treasonous’ Labour frontbencher who said he would be ‘quite happy’ if Russian hackers knocked out Britain’s nuclear deterrent.
In footage obtained by The Mail on Sunday, Fabian Hamilton, who serves as Sir Keir’s Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament, tells a political rally that ‘Russian hackers can already hack into the software’ controlling Trident, our independent nuclear deterrent, adding: ‘I’d be quite happy about that.’
Last night, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace condemned Mr Hamilton, 66, for ‘siding with’ Russian President Vladimir Putin, who put his nuclear forces on ‘special combat readiness’ shortly after invading Ukraine in February.
Labour shadow peace and disarmament minister Fabian Hamilton said he would be ‘happy’ if Vladimir Putin’s Russian hackers infiltrated Trident the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent
Hamilton made the incendiary comments during the 2019 Labour party conference in Brighton
Mr Wallace said Sir Keir should sack Mr Hamilton, adding: ‘It is one thing to disagree with the UK’s possession of nuclear weapons, but to take the side of a man who has deployed chemical weapons and who is responsible for bombing civilians in Ukraine is treasonous’.
He added that it was a test of leadership for Sir Keir, who faced criticism last year for failing to sack Angela Rayner when she called Tory voters ‘scum’.
‘Starmer took no action when his deputy leader called Tory voters scum,’ Mr Wallace said.
Keir Starmer (pictured yesterday) was urged to sack Mr Hamilton for the ‘treasonous’ remarks
Trident missiles (pictured in a 1999 launch) make up the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent
Mr Hamilton has also been criticised for hosting an antisemitic Jordanian MP in Parliament
‘Will he do nothing when one of his own Shadow Ministers backs Britain’s enemies?’
A spokesman for Mr Hamilton described Mr Wallace’s demands as ‘ludicrous’, adding: ‘Labour’s historic commitment to our nuclear deterrent is steadfast.
‘Vladimir Putin’s illegal and unprovoked war in Ukraine cannot be allowed to turn nuclear.’
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN UKRAINE
- As Ukrainian forces retook the entire region around Kyiv, the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky accused retreating Russian troops of rigging corpses with explosive booby traps.
- The mayor of Bucha, a commuter town outside Kyiv, said 280 bodies had been found in mass graves, adding: ‘All these people were shot, killed, in the back of the head.’
- There was cautious optimism about the prospect of face-to-face peace talks in Turkey between Mr Zelensky and Putin.
- Officials at Luton Airport seized a Gulfstream jet linked to the leader of the infamous Wagner mercenary group deployed to Ukraine by Putin as it was preparing to leave Britain.
- Russia’s ambassador to the UK threatened to target British weapons as they are shipped to Ukraine after footage emerged of a UK-made Starstreak missile shooting down a Russian helicopter.
- Amid horrifying tales of Russian brutality in the occupied city of Kherson, Putin’s forces violently dispersed a pro-Ukraine rally in Enerhodar, another southern Ukrainian town and the location of a large nuclear power plant.
- The Red Cross today hopes to launch another bid to evacuate some of the 170,000 people trapped in the besieged coastal city of Mariupol, where supplies of food, water and medicines are desperately low.
- Olena Kurylo, a Ukrainian teacher who was blinded in a Russian missile attack, has had her sight partially restored after The Mail on Sunday arranged for her to have surgery in Poland
Mr Hamilton, who made his remarks at a CND rally in September 2019 when he was both a Shadow Defence Minister and Shadow Foreign Office Minister under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, was quoting a ‘former senior Labour colleague who was in Tony Blair’s Cabinet’, who had said nuclear weapons were ‘utterly useless’ because ‘Russian hackers can already hack into the software systems that control these weapons’.
‘Now, I don’t know enough about this to know whether that’s true or not,’ Mr Hamilton said.
‘But imagine for a minute that it is true. Not that they could actually set the weapons off, but that they could render them entirely useless.
‘Well, I’d be quite happy about that,’ he said, before being careful to add: ‘As long as we could do the same to theirs.’
Mr Wallace said: ‘He is bordering on encouraging criminal activity – a dangerous man who is putting ideology above our public safety and playing with fire. Starmer should sack him.’
In his speech, Mr Hamilton also argued that there was ‘never a better time’ for Britain to give up its nuclear weapons.
On the day Russia invaded Ukraine Putin gave a warning which was widely interpreted as a threat to use nuclear weapons.
He said: ‘No matter who tries to stand in our way or all the more so create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.’
Mr Hamilton’s appointment in 2016 was ridiculed by the Tories, with one MP saying: ‘It’s a complete absurdity to appoint a Minister for Peace.
‘What are they going to do, go around and be nice to people?
‘That is not the way the world works. We face a pretty unprecedented time of international tension. It’s simply peacenik Corbyn posturing and putting the nation’s defence at risk.’
The Trident leak is not the first time Mr Hamilton has been involved in controversy.
In 2019, he welcomed Yahya Al-Saud into the Palace of Westminster. Al-Saud is a Jordanian MP who has made virulently antisemitic comments and was notorious for praising terrorism in Palestine.
And in 2009, Mr Hamilton was at the centre of an expenses furore after The Mail on Sunday revealed he had spent more than £14,000 of taxpayers’ money on 13 computers in just four years.