Written on 22 May 2019
I have written several times about the Law of Unforeseen Consequences (LUC). The LUC usually comes into play when someone makes what could turn out be a controversial decision without first seeking advice from colleagues, or friends, or professional public relation officers, and without contemplating all the possible consequences. I learned gradually, the hard way, about the LUC during my 11 years as the full-time PRO for the RAF’s Red Arrows.
The Law of Unforeseen Consequences appears, I repeat, appears to have just struck again! At the risk of being told by the Senior Service to mind my own business I, a mere long-retired RAF squadron leader with 47 years of service, am referring to the ‘removal’ of Commodore Nick Cooke-Priest RN from his post as commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth. I do not know any of the Naval Persons involved in this story and so I have no axe to grind one way or another. However, it is clear from the extensive media coverage of the story over recent days, that Commodore Nick Cooke-Priest’s Boss has become another victim of the Law of Unforeseen Consequences .
Why do I write that? There is no need even to bother about whether or not the Commodore broke any rules by doing what he is alleged to have done, but the decision to remove Cooke-Priest from his post was apparently taken, and implemented, when the £3billion ship was thousands of miles away without someone, anyone, ensuring that there was another qualified officer to take his place immediately.
Does the Admiralty Board have no professional advisors and/or public relations officers? Was the Chief of the Defence Staff consulted or told in advance of what was almost 100% certain to be a story that the media would love? The ‘incident’ is especially embarrassing at this time for the Ministry of Defence who so recently lost its Defence Secretary – and I am not certain we have heard the last of that story.