Warship captain ordered home after bullying complaint

The captain of a Royal Navy warship has been relieved of his command and ordered to return to the UK after a complaint from a junior officer serving under him.

The captain of a Royal Navy warship has been relieved of his command and ordered to return to the UK after a complaint from a junior officer serving under him.

Commander David Axon was ordered off HMS Somerset, a Type 23 frigate, while the vessel was in port in Gibraltar, on the way back to Britain from a tour of duty in the Gulf.

In a highly unusual move, he was recalled to the UK following an "equal opportunities investigation", which was instigated as a result of a complaint from a junior officer.

According to a report in today's Sun newspaper, Cmdr Axon has been ordered off the ship amid allegations of bullying and intimidation.

He has been replaced as captain of the ship by the Executive Officer, who is now bringing the frigate back to the Royal Navy base at Devonport in Plymouth.

Cmdr Axon, who is thought to be in his 40s, has been ordered back to the UK to assist with the internal investigation into the matter, in which he will be given the opportunity to give his side of the story.

The allegation is thought to be that his behaviour fell below the standards required of a commanding officer.

It is not thought to involve any allegations of physical, sexual or racist abuse.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said last night: "The Royal Navy is an equal opportunities employer and is proud of its record in this field.

"The service takes all such matters very seriously and acts swiftly to resolve issues of this nature when they are reported.

"I can confirm that, as a result of an equal opportunities investigation, instigated following a complaint from a junior officer, the Commanding Officer of HMS Somerset, has been recalled to the UK.

"At this point, no decision on the CO's future has been taken.

"He has been invited to comment on the findings so far. It is not however, considered appropriate that he remain on the ship at present and he has delegated temporary command to his Executive Officer, who will bring the ship back to the UK."

Cmdr Axon, a specialist in anti-air warfare, assumed command of HMS Somerset in December 2003. He lives in Southsea with his partner Gail, a naval barrister.

HMS Somerset is on the final leg of her journey home and is expected to arrive in Devonport this week after more than six months in the North Arabian Gulf.

The ship's primary task had been the protection of Iraq's two offshore oil terminals from terrorist attacks.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor