Qioptiq logo Raytheon


By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

10 Apr 07. The BBC reported on Tuesday that U.K. Defence Secretary Des Browne has been accused by opposition MPs of acting too late after the MoD imposed a ban on personnel selling their stories. His previous actions in allowing the servicemen and women to release their stories was seen by many of our readers as crass and by others as a move which jeopardised the Official Secrets Act.

Quite clearly Tony and his cronies have met their match in the spin game with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his advisors.

The Iranians are practiced and ruthless in the exploitation of Mr Blair’s stumbling attempts to clear up this matter. Sources have expressed concern that the Navy decided to announce its ‘intelligence gathering mission’ on open TV a day before the event which occurred whilst there were Iranian National Guard naval exercises were taking place.

It was totally wrong of the MoD to put the sailors in a position where they could sell their memoirs. After all for an ordinary sailor earning less than £20,000 a year and being treated like dirt by his or her employer, living in sub-standard accomodation in the process, the lure of big money was too good to miss.

In a cruel twist of the knife, which is not regarded as a coincidence on April 5, just hours after the release of the sailors four British soldiers, two of them women, and a civilian interpreter were killed in a roadside bomb blast that destroyed their Warrior armoured fighting vehicle in the Iraqi city of Basra on Thursday, the British military said.

The deaths brought to six the number of British soldiers killed in Iraq this week, making it one of the deadliest for British forces since the US-led
invasion in 2003.

All of the soldiers killed were in the Warrior. The blast left a crater in the
road at least a metre (yard) deep and several metres across.

On Wednesday, Des Browne the defence secretary says he takes full responsibility for decisions which allowed the 15 sailors and marines held by the Iranians to sell their stories.

Des Browne, speaking for the first time since the row, said with hindsight he could have done things differently and said “ultimately, the buck stops here”.

On BBC Radio PR guru Max Clifford said that as the public’s perception of information coming from the MoD was so low, he saw that the move to allow the sailors to tell their stories under supervision from the Navy would make the actions more believable. What has not been explained is why there was not a full-blown Press Conference to air all the actions after the release.

It was only after the stories sparked a backlash that he banned further sales.

Tory leader David Cameron called the initial decision “calamitous”. Lib Dem Chris Huhne said it was a “shambles”.


The decision to let the crew sell their stories has also been widely questioned by ex-soldiers and some of the relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq.

Mr Browne, in his first interview since the row erupted over the weekend, said he had been asked on Friday “to note” the navy’s decision to allow the freed personnel to sell their stories. ‘Clearly with hindsight… I could have made a different decision,’ Des BrowneDefence Secretary

Tories slam decision

He said he, and the navy, were “not content” with the decision but felt they had little choice, given that the stories had to be told in the freed captives’ own interests “to counteract the propaganda the Iranians had put out using them”.

The view the navy took, following “analysis of regulations”, was that given the stories would have to be told, the people concerned could not be prevented from being paid.

But, the MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun added, after further discussions with officials on Monday his

Back to article list