Statement due on captured sailors

Statement due on captured sailors

Two of the sailors sold their stories to the media
Defence Secretary Des Browne is to make a statement to MPs on the findings of two inquiries into Iran's capture of 15 Royal Navy personnel in March.
The Fulton and Hall inquiries have been examining the circumstances of the capture, off the coast of Iraq, and how handling of media was conducted.

It follows intense criticism of the decision to allow some of the personnel to sell their stories.

Mr Browne has already apologised for not blocking the sales.

The Royal Navy crew, eight sailors and seven marines, were on patrol boats in the Gulf on 23 March when they were detained by Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

'Unjustified' seizure

The Iranians accused the crew of straying into its waters, and the British say they were in Iraqi territory. Prime Minister Tony Blair described their capture at the time as "unjustified and wrong".

They were released nearly two weeks later, but the decision by two crew members to sell their stories was widely criticised by former military figures and the families of those killed or injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Browne said in hindsight he could have stopped the sales

It led to accusations they had been used as pawns in an international propaganda war with Iran - something that was strongly denied by the government.

Downing Street denied any role in the decision to allow them to sell their stories and said actions had been taken "honourably and in difficult circumstances".

But Mr Browne said at the time he would accept final responsibility for the decision.

Reputation 'damaged'

He said he had not been "content" with the move but believed he had had no choice but to give it his blessing under Ministry of Defence rules.

But he has conceded that with "hindsight" he could have made a different decision.

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague has said it had damaged the reputation of Britain's armed forces.

The governor of Gibraltar, Lieutenant General Sir Rob Fulton, a former Royal Marines officer, has been looking at the "operational circumstances, consequences and implications" of the Navy personnel's capture.

Royal Opera House boss Tony Hall - a former BBC director of news - has been looking at access to those involved in operations, assisted by senior Ministry of Defence staff.

The Ministry of Defence has not confirmed whether either report will be published in full.
Its hard to think how this could have been handled any worse by the MOD, until I remember the subject of Prince Harry's will he/won't he debacle, but that's another thread.

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