Bullying probe Navy captain moved to shore job

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The Independent Online

The captain of a Royal Navy warship accused of bullying and harassment was today permanently removed from the command of his vessel.

The captain of a Royal Navy warship accused of bullying and harassment was today permanently removed from the command of his vessel.

The Navy said that, following an equal opportunities investigation, Commander David Axon would be appointed to a shore-based, non-command post with immediate effect.

The investigation found that Cdr Axon's leadership and management style fell "significantly short of the exemplary standards the Royal Navy requires of its commanding officers".

The investigation followed complaints against Cdr Axon by a male junior officer on the ship and a female member of the crew.

He was ordered off HMS Somerset, a Type 23 frigate, while the vessel was in port in Gibraltar and told to return home to face the inquiry.

The ship, which had just completed a tour of duty of the Gulf, was returning today to Devonport.

The Navy said that it would be "inappropriate" to comment on the detailed allegations against Cdr Axon in order to respect the rights to privacy and confidentiality of all concerned in the case.

However it said that as a result of his actions "the indispensable bond of trust and respect between a commanding officer and the ship's company had been irrevocably damaged".

It stressed that the investigation had not found any evidence of "mutinous behaviour, insubordination, disobedience or any other breaches of Service Law" among the ship's company.

It is thought that the first complaint against him was made in late November through a confidential helpline available to all Navy personnel. It was then made in writing.

This triggered an equal opportunities investigation, which was carried out by a captain and a lieutenant commander.

The second complaint was made by a female member staff on the ship shortly after the investigation had been launched.

Cdr Axon, who is aged in his 40s, lives in upmarket Southsea, in Portsmouth, with his partner Gail, a naval barrister.

A specialist in anti-air warfare, he assumed command of HMS Somerset in December last year.

The ship has just spent six months in the North Arabian Gulf, where her primary task was the protection of Iraq's two offshore oil terminals from terrorist attacks.

HMS Somerset arrived back at Devonport Naval Base, Plymouth, at about 10.15am.

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