Sunday Times special defence correspondent Michael Smith has branded chief of the general staff Sir Richard Dannatt ‘naÃ¯ve’over his comments that widespread media coverage of Prince Harry’s deployment to Iraq had put him at risk.
Dannatt last week announced that due to threats made by insurgents he would not be deploying the prince and said publicity over his possible deployment had contributed to the threat.
But Smith said that even if the press had not written a single word about the prince’s deployment, insurgents would have easily found the information through the inevitable announcement in Parliament, the publicly available Army list and through the MoD website.
In a statement Dannatt said: ‘A contributing factor to the threat to Prince Harry has been the widespread knowledge and discussion of his deployment. This close scrutiny has exacerbated the situation and this is something I wish to avoid in the future.”
Smith countered: ‘Once it was known that Prince Harry was joining the army it was inevitable his unit would be named, and that appears in the Army list. It’s a publicly available piece of information.”
He added: ‘It shows a level of naivety that I find surprising in someone so senior within the armed forces. If they had thought it through then why are they whinging about journalists?
‘They should have kept it quiet from the beginning but then they run into the problem of Parliament needing to be told that the third-inline to the throne is going to Iraq.”
Reports in the weekend press suggested Harry’s future military career could be covered by a DA-Notice.