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Two navy officers have been sacked after putting Britain’s security at risk by swapping emails about nuclear sub movements while having an affair.
Lieutenant Commander Nicholas Stone and Lieutenant Sophie Brook shared top secret information about the UK’s Trident deterrent which could have been intercepted, a court martial heard.
Their messages included the departure time, direction, speed and depth of travel of Vanguard class submarine HMS Victorious all of which "would have been useful to the enemy".
The exchange risked weakening the cornerstone of Britain's nuclear deterrent.
The messages – to Stone's Yahoo account – were sent as part of a 'clandestine sexual relationship' between the pair who were both highly respected officers.
Stone was married with two children while Royal Navy trailblazer Brook was the first female warfare officer on a nuclear sub and tipped to become the first woman to captain one.
Stone, 37, a 19-year Naval veteran, was fired and given a four-month jail sentence suspended for a year after admitting disclosing information useful to an enemy and negligence of duty.
Brook, 30, who joined aged 18 in 2011 and resigned in January (2022), was also formally dismissed, handed a five-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay £2,286 compensation after admitting disclosing information useful to an enemy and plus nine expenses’ fraud charges.
Both were ordered to carry out 60 hours of unpaid work.
A judge said they had "compromised the security of the continuous at-sea deterrent" and as experienced submarine operatives "would have known that."
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Lieutenant Commander Peter Barker, prosecuting, said the "effectiveness of Britain's nuclear deterrent depended on the secrecy of the locations of our submarines".
He told Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire Brook was a watch leader aboard HMS Victorious while Stone was a security officer on HMS Ambush both based at Faslane, Scotland.
Lt Cmdr Barker said the pair were "in a clandestine sexual relationship’ and as Victorious was about set off on operational patrol Brook stayed in contact with Stone by sending emails from her military MODNet (corr) account to his Yahoo one.
"As this was not his MODNet account this was an unrestricted means of communication," the prosecutor said.
Brook sent a stream of messages to her lover containing the direction of travel, speed, diving depth and confirmation of the sailing time of her sub plus details of the ongoing relationship between the pair.
Stone did not question why she had sent the information to an unrestricted account and his replies fired back the same sensitive messages she had emailed him.
"He did not, at any stage, rebuke Lt Brook for sending these or delete the information from the email trail," the prosecutor said.
"He made no attempt to report the breach knowing it was his duty as she was his subordinate and knowing it would likely reveal their relationship."
It was discovered by another officer before the sub departed and reported but Brook was allowed to complete the five-month patrol.
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Lt Cmdr Barker said the info the couple shared was particularly sensitive, "judged to be a significant breach of operational security" and it was "not possible to know if it was intercepted and used by the enemy".
Jonathan Lynch, for Brook, said she felt a lot of pressure "as a trailblazer," struggled mentally while going through very personal issues and used Stone as "an emotional crutch" which was why she sent the email.
She now runs a family car dealership.
David Richards, for Stone, said he had been foolish and stupid and "made a mistake without thinking."
Judge Advocate Darren Reed said the info the pair shared was "secret or top secret, gave away a nuclear sub patrol route and will be of particular use to an adversary."
"If an adversary knew where that submarine was that would weaken the nation’s defences," he added.
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- Royal Navy
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