Wikileaks firm more worried about snow


THE boss of a Scots firm dragged into the row over Wikileaks and US security says he is more concerned about surviving the snow than becoming a terror target.

Staff at MacTaggart Scott were astonished to find themselves on a leaked list of facilities considered “vital” to the security of the United States.

The firm, which was founded in 1898 and based in Loanhead, Midlothian, makes components for naval vessels, including US Navy nuclear submarines.

The publication of the list – which includes companies, pipelines and communcations hubs across the globe – has caused a huge row.

Furious critics of Wikileaks accuse the organisation of creating a terrorists’ hitlist.

But Richard Prenter, chairman of MacTaggart Scott, which employs more than 250 people, insisted the firm had bigger concerns.

He said: “We are more worried about the snow, which is causing us a lot of issues.

“We are trying to deal with large amounts of snow. We have been shovelling for days now. It is snowing again today and we may well be snowed in.”

Mr Prenter added: “We are not a big player. We are a small engineering company and we would prefer to be quietly getting on trying to survive in a harsh world.”

MacTaggart Scott was included on a list of all installations whose loss could critically affect US national security.

The list was ordered in February 2009 by the State Department.

Former UK Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind is among those who have condemned the move.

He said Wikileaks had been “generally irresponsible, bordering on criminal” and added: “This is the kind of information terrorists are interested in knowing.”

Mr Prenter insisted his firm supplied “lots of countries around the world” with naval equipment and described it as “innocuous stuff”.

He added: “We supply our own navy. Some of it is civil, including mechanisms for loch gates.

“We absolutely were surprised at this but we have obviously have security in place and hope we have what is required.”

In September this year, the firm won a $205,000 (£130,000) contract to supply hydraulic motors to the US Naval Supply Systems Command.

The company also manufactured valves used aboard the Royal Navy’s latest nuclear-powered submarine, the Faslane-based HMS Astute.

In May last year, the then Defence Secretary John Hutton visited the firm’s factory following the award of an £11m contract to manufacture lifts to transport Joint Strike Fighters to the aircraft carrier flight deck.