Secret cables on defence sites five years out of date

The former Royal Ordnance site at Chorley
The former Royal Ordnance site at Chorley
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The latest ‘bombshell’ to come from the Wikileaks website contains information on defence sites in Lancashire which its more than five years out of date.

Two sites owned by aerospace giant BAE Systems were included on a secret list of facilities that the US considers vital to its national security published by the website yesterday.

But it included the Royal Ordnance (RO) site at Chorley which has been developed as Buckshaw Village for the past five years and another BAE facility in Plymouth, Devon which it sold as part of a deal three years ago.

The cable also included the fighter jet factory at the company’s site in Samlesbury, near Preston, but the list spelt the city’s name as ‘Presont, Lancashire’.

It listed that site was being “critical” to the development of the F-35 Lighting II fighter jet project which is being led by US-based aerospace giant Lockheed Martin with BAE build parts for the jets at Samlesbury, with the Chorley site referred to in the cable as “critical to joint stand-off weapon”.

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said that while BAE had an office on the former RO site, it had closed any manufacturing facility when it sold the land for housing development.

He said: “It is not so much Wikileaks as wickedly out-of-date leaks, but the more serious point is that if someone came along trying to find this facility for whatever reason they will either find someone’s house or the new Tesco on Buckshaw Village.

“The only other facility which BAE had as part of its RO facilities in Chorley was a storage facility at Heapey, but that has also been shut for more than a year.

“It shows that some of this information has the potential to be out of date and completely untrue, which makes it even more dangerous that it is being released in the nature that it is.”

Fellow deputy speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans, whose Ribble Valley constituency includes the Samlesbury site, added: “I do not think it takes too much intelligence to know that both Samlesbury and Warton are of critical importance to the United States’ military.

“That said this shows that while some of the information coming out on Wikileaks may be a bit embarrassing, there are things coming out which could be dangerous.

“For this reason we do have reason to be concerned.”

A BAE spokesman, which employs 11,500 people at its sites in Warton and Samlesbury, near Preston, said it was “concerned” that the names had appeared on the website.

She said: “BAE Systems recognises its role as a custodian of key industrial and military assets and we would be concerned at any activity which compromises this.

“The safety and security of our people and facilities is our highest priority.”