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Iran hostages should donate cash to charity

The service personnel who pocketed cash for their stories after returning from Iran should donate the money to charity, it is the only way they can retain the credibility and respect of their peers – and that is priceless.

They were faced in a difficult situation, they have had no media training and were made cash offers they couldn’t refuse. It was a terrible position for them to be placed in and they are now paying the price for Des Browne’s department’s gross error of judgement. No wonder a petition has been launched on the Downing Street website calling for the person responsible to be sacked.

Not only have these personnel been vilified by the press, they have been subjected to a barrage of contempt by fellow servicemen on the Internet, which the Daily Mail reports today (can’t find link). A couple of examples are: “Mr Bean was a numpty wimp who blubbed when they took his iPod,” and “Faye will realise what she has done, will be unable to return to face her shipmates … stress card will be played and an out of court settlement looms.”

I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes when they return to normal duties…

Update: 17 April, one of the sailors is banned from giving his story away for free.


38 Comments

  1. Kris,

    You remind me of those self-rightous people who say things like ‘how can you talk about Darfur, have you ever been to Sudan?’ Or ‘how can you talk about South African aparthied if you’ve never been there before’?

    My reply is always the same, I don’t need to go to South Africa before I can talk about the former aparthied regime, nor do I need to go to Sudan before I can talk about Darfur – the reason being, I have a theory about what is, or what is not happening in those parts of the world.

    “Trouble is, I don’t understand the banking system other than what I see on my statement- a fairly superficial understanding of a complex structure.”

    This is because you are obviously and totally bereft of a sound theory of banking – that’s all.

    BTW. There’s no need to tell Edward George ‘how to run the Bank of England’, because he stopped running it nearly 4 years ago.

    Just because I haven’t joined the armed forces, doesn’t mean I have a ‘self-professed superficial “understanding? of the military’. On the contrary, I’ve studied the culture of British militarism and imperial methods of control since the end of WW2, most notebly the era of colonial wars from 1946 on onwards.

    You stick with the fictional work of Andy MaNab if you want to – I much prefer to visit the library at King’s College London to read some proper and decent literature on such matters.

    Daily Referendum

    I think you’ve missed my point – which was, there are service members who are very critical of the actions of the captive sailors and marines after they returned back from Iran.

    “Yes they will be welcomed back, that’s the way it works in the armed forces.”

    We’ll have to wait and see, who knows, you may be right, but I doubt it – time will tell.

  2. “but I don’t need to be a sailor, or an ex-sailor to understand what’s going on with our armed forces – just like I don’t have to work in a bank to understand the banking system”

    Trouble is, I don’t understand the banking system other than what I see on my statement- a fairly superficial understanding of a complex structure. So I don’t purport to tell Eddie Geroge how to run the Bank of England.

    Given your self-professed superficial “understanding” of the military, one would think you’d listen to those with far more experience- like McNab, like John Nichol, rather than shouting your ignorance at top note.

  3. Guys

    Ali Desai, esteemed member of the Metropolitan Police just published his book. Outrage? Hello?!

    I have come across at least one super-hero wannabe supposed ex-forces laying down the law of “proper conduct” online. So I’m not impressed what some chatroom idgeet has to say.

  4. Curmudgeon, Thank you for your very informative comments. I’m afraid I don’t know the answer. If true, Churchill certainly set a precedent.

  5. (Continuing) As I remember, wasn’t Churchill also writing newspaper articles — for pay — while wearing the uniform? This practice, I believe, was criticized (particularly after he questioned the strategies of his superiors) and he was obliged to choose between reporting and his commission… and he chose reporting… but still got mixed up as a combatant during the Boer War (the armored train incident)…

    Ellee, you see some bright line distinctions here. When did the bright lines get painted?

  6. Fascinating discussion. The points about the sailors being ‘arrested’ by a country with whom Britain is not at war and having no secrets to tell are particularly interesting.

    On the subject of selling their stories, though, wasn’t it only little more than a century ago that a young man named Churchill was able to write books about his military exploits while still wearing the uniform?

  7. electro-kevin

    I spoke to two of my colleagues today (separately) – the are both former Royal Marine Commandos and one of them was involved in close quarter combat in the Falklands War. In both cases their independant reaction was this:

    “So what ? They weren’t at war and they gave no secrets away.”

    As for the Official Secrets Act I thought that once you had signed this you were obliged to uphold it for life regardless of employment.

  8. Courtney Hamilton said: “Mike Pass from the RAF said ‘We are not dealing with heroes here, in case anyone is under that misapprehension’ – not exactly a million miles away from calling the captives ‘cowards’ is it?”

    No I would say it was slightly further than that.

    You said: “Donald Scott from the army used more colourful language to describe the captives ‘HOW BL**DY DARE THEY make ANY kind of comparison between this crew and the winner of a VC’.”

    Donald is right to be upset, but the THEY he is referring to are not the 15 Sailors.

    You said: “Vicky Codling from the marines thought it was ‘diabolical that they are being able to sell their stories. Whatever happened to the official secrets act?”

    I agree with Vicky that should not have been able to sell their stories. However they were allowed to sell them by the MOD. AND they gave away NO secrets.

    You said: “Bill Netcher from the army went further and said ‘they should be hung dried and quartered what has happened to the official secret act where at some point all of us used to sign [?] Need I go on?”

    I repeat they have NOT given away any secrets either to the Iranians or the Press.

    You said: “Patricia Davies from the army argued that the ‘15 RN members are still in the Military and are duty bound 100% and no doubt would be, except somebody is making exceptions, which is totally outrageous to the memories of all former service men and women who have abided by their signatures and consciences’”

    I totally agree with Patricia, I think you should read what she is saying again.

    Kevin,

    General Sir Michael Rose has a least six Novels to his name, some of them cover his exploits in the forces.

  9. electro-kevin

    Interesting to read today that General Sir Michael Rose (former SAS commander) lambasts the conduct of the 15 totally. Andy McNab (former SAS sergeant) was not known for his regard of official secrets and is probably not the best advocate.

  10. Daily Referendum,

    Well done for remaining calm, disciplined and civilised – but don’t get me wrong here, until recently, I had the utmost respect for our people in the armed services, after all, they do not question their masters why, they just do or die. So when it comes to debating about the British armed forces, I choose my words very carefully.

    “Those “cowards? as you call them”.

    Yes – that’s right, well, 13 of them – only 2 of them did what we assume members of the armed forces would do when being held against their will.

    You say they gave away no secrets – but this is not the point I made – which was, they did have a choice, they could have kept their gobs shut and not cooperated with the Iranians as quickly as they did.

    “I am an ex-sailor, I work with ex-sailors. I frequent many of the armed forces forums”.

    That’s good for you – but I don’t need to be a sailor, or an ex-sailor to understand what’s going on with our armed forces – just like I don’t have to work in a bank to understand the banking system – indeed, on viewing your comment, I decided to take a look at some of these forums, it was highly instructive.

    I joined as a civilian, a popular forum called Forces Reunited – and there I found hardly any sympathy for the captives, on the contrary, many though the selling of their stories as ‘undignified and falls below the very high standards’ we normally see with our armed forces.

    Mike Pass from the RAF said ‘We are not dealing with heroes here, in case anyone is under that misapprehension’ – not exactly a million miles away from calling the captives ‘cowards’ is it?
    Donald Scott from the army used more colourful language to describe the captives ‘HOW BL**DY DARE THEY make ANY kind of comparison between this crew and the winner of a VC’. Or Vicky Codling from the marines thought it was ‘diabolical that they are being able to sell their stories. Whatever happened to the official secrets act? Bill Netcher from the army went further and said ‘they should be hung dried and quartered what has happened to the official secret act where at some point all of us used to sign [?] Need I go on?

    As for Andy McNab (you could also include Chris Ryan), left the forces, so as a civilian he is entitled to talk to the press – the 15 captive however are not. Patricia Davies from the army argued that the ’15 RN members are still in the Military and are duty bound 100% and no doubt would be, except somebody is making exceptions, which is totally outrageous to the memories of all former service men and women who have abided by their signatures and consciences’.

    So, maybe you should write to Patricia Davies and tell her, and the rest of the military critics on Forces Reunited, that it’s time they get over their ‘envy’?

  11. Stephen

    I have great respect for those who defend our country…a job I would not want. However, the pictures of our service personnel waving at the cameras, thanking their captors for having them, and showing off their “goodie bags” given to them before they were released just made me think about those brave soldiers, sailors and pilots taken prisoner by the Japanese and the Germans during the second World War. I bet those lucky enough to survive didn’t get a “goodie bag” when they were freed.
    I can only imagine how some of the veterans of the terrible camps feel when they read that a serviceman cried because they called him “Mr Bean” and then cried because they nicked his ipod.
    I find it difficult to agree with Daily Referendum as most of the comments posted by servicemen on the internet sites British Army Rumour Service (www.arrse.co.uk) and http://www.rumration.co.uk seem to be unanimous in their criticsm of the way the servicemen behaved and of those that sold their stories.
    I believe they should have been taken away to a quiet location away from the media and fully debriefed….and they should have left their “goodie bags” on the plane.
    British Bulldogs….British Poodles !!

  12. Either way, Gordon Brown wins as he will tax their earnings!

  13. In fact, I should think that Faye & Arthur’s shipmates will raly ’round them – in the same way that DR and I have tried to.

  14. oh Elle

    At least you and your contributers’ comment are far more temperate than most I’ve seen in the past few days.

    I disagree with putting any more pressure on Faye and Arthur. The entire matter may indeed be a cock up, but it is not of their own making or their CO’s even. This goes all the way up to whomever writes the rules of engagement, what exactly HMS Conrwall was meant to be doing and the training they were given.

    I’ve never been a hostage. The only possible edge of understanding on the matter I may have is due to my service as a naval rating for 8 years. In my experience, Faye & Arthur’s shipmates, past, present or future are NOT the problem.

    All 15 have been hung out to dry by the press and people indulging in political point scoring. I wish people would remember the sailors are human beings.

  15. electro-kevin

    Thanks for your response to my questions, DR. It certainly clears up a few issues. I don’t think that many people were questionning the veracity of the sailors’ accounts.

    Regrettably, in view of this Governments’ treachery and surrender of border control, I wonder if the service you gave this country was worth it too.

    I am appalled at the shoddy treatment of our service personnel.

  16. Kevin,

    I can’t understand why the Iranians would show our people smiling and playing table tennis during their brief breaks from their cells – can you? I wonder why they didn’t show footage of then stripped, bound and blind folded during their midnight interrogations?

    I’m a little upset that the great British public would believe the propaganda of a country that stones to death women and children, rather than the word or their own sailors.

    I do sometimes wonder if the service I gave this country was worth it.

    You spend a lot of time hanging around waiting to carry out boardings. He will have been listening to his ipod while waiting. He probably did not have time to go bellow decks to put it in his locker before getting in his little rubber boat.

  17. electro-kevin

    Dear Daily Referendum,

    Firstly thanks to you and your erstwhile colleagues for all you have done for our Nation; the armed forces are probably the last bastion self-esteem and pride that our country possesses and I – and I suspect Courtney Hamilton – wish things to remain that way.

    There appears to have been a cock-up by the RN at the scene in that the patrol was not properly escorted – alas we all make mistakes and none more than me (which is not good in my line of country.)

    For the record I do not blame Faye Turney for making money, especially in light of the pitifully low wages and benefits our service personnel recieve – nor do I blame the patrol for not having put up a fight, a decision which appears to have spared us the precipitation of WW111 as some learned observers point out. But am I the only one who found the apparent jollity of the prisoners more than a little unedifying ? That is my only criticism and I’m sure that had it not been for this the press hounds would have been more supportive.

    Oh – why did ‘Mr Bean’ feel the need to take an iPOD on this mission ?

  18. Thanks Elle,

    I’m sorry if I had a bit of a rant but the press are doing there usual routine of building them up and then knocking them down.

    Best Regards

    Steve

  19. Daily Referendum, I agree with your comment too, it’s what I said earlier. I hope what you say is true about when they return to work.
    I’ve just added you to my blogroll, btw.

  20. Elle,

    I agree with you on the ethics of the situation but this was a balls-up not of their making.

    It can’t have been easy for a young woman with a child and a not too smart young man to be offered that kind of money and say no.

    However their friends onboard will call them jammy and tell them to get the beers in.

  21. Daily Referendum, I think it is more to do with ethics than envy, there should be one rule for everyone in the same job. Footballer’s wages, well, how can that be justified? It’s ludicrous.

  22. Elle,

    Yes they will be welcomed back, that’s the way it works in the armed forces. They will not judge them without having been through the situation with them.

    This is what Andy McNab (SAS Hero) had to say on the subject:

    “I am staggered at the armchair “experts? who have the arrogance to criticise Faye Turney and her 14 colleagues.

    These fools have piped up to whine and bitch about the hostages’ every decision.

    Most recently these commentators are indignant that the Brits are talking to the Press about their ordeal.

    I spent today talking to British troops in Afghanistan. If they don’t have a problem with the way Faye and her colleagues acted — then neither should we”.

    I agree giving to charity may help the British public get over their envy, however the majority of the British Forces don’t care if they have been paid less than a footballer’s weekly wage for telling their story.

  23. Daily Referendum, Do you really think they will be welcomed back tow work? The sailors couldn’t help being used as propoganda pawns by the Iranians, and I can understand why they took payments for their story, that it was an unusual situation to find themselves in, but in hindsight, should they not reconsider this and give say half to charity>

  24. Courtney Hamilton,

    I will try my best to remain calm.

    Those “cowards” as you call them are Sailors not Soldiers. They are in the Navy not the Army.

    They were not captured by the enemy, they were falsely arrested for trespass.

    They were heavily out gunned and it would have been foolish to throw away their lives to avoid being arrested for the minor offence of trespass.

    They were not prisoners of war.

    They gave away no secrets.

    I am an ex-sailor, I work with ex-sailors. I frequent many of the armed forces forums.

    The vast majority on those forums support the 15 sailor’s actions in Iran.

    The press are trawling those forums trying to find dirt for their editors.

    The vast majority of servicemen do not think they should have been allowed to sell their stories, but do not blame them for taking the money when offered.

    Those “cowards” will flying back out to their ship next week to resume serving you and their country. They will be welcomed back.

    You should not believe everything you read in the press.

  25. Courtney, I don’t think it is too late to make a gesture, say giving half the money to charity. This story is still in the news every day, and yes, it has left a very nasty taste.

  26. Not just sacked, Ellee but criminally prosecuted.

  27. Exactly, Courtney. After all the abuse they have suffered, they may as well keep the money. Why go through all that for nothing?

    I didn’t agree with them taking the money, but now that they have done so, and received the backlas, they may as well console themselves with the money.

  28. “Courtney, I don’t think the difficult situations our forces are trained for include making cash deals with the media.”

    Yep, your right about that Ellee – I did go off on a little tangent there.

    As for the question about what they should do with their ill-gotten cash – can it really matter what they do with the money now? Even if they did give all the money to the Red Cross or whoever (which I doubt they would), I don’t really think it would change the way most people feel about them – the whole affair would still leave a rather nasty taste is the mouth.

  29. No comment!
    “I wouldn’t give the iranians any more than name and rank, even under torture, (oh yeah?) nor would I spill the beans to the press no matter what the temptations (oh yeah?)”

    I bet Tony Blair wishes he could send them back to iran, they were less of a headache when they were ‘captives’.

  30. Giving the money to a charity, perhaps ones that aid victims or relatives of those injured would be the perfect solution. I can’t see those greedy people doing it, though.

  31. Don’t forget the role of others in this nasty affair. The media picked off those who they believed they could manipulate most – the youngest and the only female. The navy appeared to not only “allow” but encourage the “personal stories” to be sold, with government support as pathetic propaganda. And, what about everyone who watched on television or bought the papers?

    Not only does this society encourage the sale of emotions – but it pays much better than good hard work, commitment to your country, personal reputation and any other value we should protect.

  32. Here’s thought for the day.
    Isn’t there something awful about a sciety which encourages SAle of Emotions, especially traumatic ones? Worse, surely than sale of the body?

  33. electro-kevin

    One thing’s for sure: fings ain’t wot they used to be.

    I can’t believe that people still join our armed services now. Then again I suppose there’s plenty of opportunity for compensation claims.

  34. Courtney, I don’t think the difficult situations our forces are trained for include making cash deals with the media.

    John, I can also see why Faye made the choice she did and agree with your reasons why she was tempted. However, I think the backlash from this will last much longer in her workplace.

  35. I’ll go along with your distaste for this whole episode, but for someone of low rank and presumably limited means like Faye Turney, a six figure sum for an hour or twos chat with a journalist for a simple factual account of what happened would have been irresistible. Let’s face it, this story will probably be forgotten history in a few weeks time, and Faye’s day in the spotlight might mean the difference between a council house and owner occupier status for her and her family when she leaves the Navy.

    She’s only emulated what she sees all around her in the media. Almost weekly we see celebrities given huge awards in the courts for libel or as divorce settlements, we see failed business leaders given 7 or 8 figure sums just to go away, and don’t get me onto the subject of ex-politicians cashing in on their former careers. Compared to this lot, the greedy rich, Faye may not be a saint, but I still say, “Good luck.? to her.

  36. Cor, what a contrast between those brave men (and women) who sailed off to fight in the Falkland Islands 25 years ago (or Malvinas Islands for those who opposed the war – not me, too young at the time) – and these risk-averse, money-grabbing cowards that have the front to call themselves soldiers, it’s a complete disgrace.

    If anything, the released soldiers that blabbed like babies to the Iranian authorities should be dismissed from the armed services immediately. Of the 15 soldiers, only 2 of them did what they were suppose to do when captured by the enemy, give their name, rank and number – nothing else.

    Ellee, you argue that the service personnel ‘were faced [with] a difficult situation’, but aren’t soldiers supposed to be trained for such ‘difficult situations’? Clearly not. The thing is, it looks as if we have ‘wimps’ in our army. Leading seaman Turney admitted as much to Trevor McDonald when she said ‘I didn’t have a choice – they [Iranians] were going to put me on trial as a spy’. This means Turney and the rest actually did have a choice – they could have chosen to keep their mouths shut and gone on trial, instead, they choose the opposite, and they choose that option with shockingly quick speed.

    Having said that, Turney and co remind me of our current political masters – normally, Britain would have responded to the capture of its service men with some good old fashion gunboat diplomacy – but instead, what we saw was new fashion gunboat aerial photography – I bet the Iranian authorities were quacking in their boots when they saw those aerial photos – not!

    Fair enough, we can’t call the government ‘gung-ho’ on this occasion, but the debacle has certainly taken the shine off any prestige Britain might of had around the world – now everyone knows that Britain is in fact a second-rate power.

    So, we shouldn’t really be too hard on the captive seaman and marines, after all, they are only doing what their masters told them to do, and we can’t blame them for that, can we?

  37. I can’t read the first paragraph because the photos are obscuring it. But the idea of giving the cash to charity seems a reasonable one. I can understand that they didn’t feel able to refuse that kind of money but then the trouble is that they might end up feeling that being captured was the best thing that ever happened to them! I don’t think they ever can go back on active service and wonder if this is what the Navy had in mind when they allowed them to sell their tales – maybe they were intending to retire them?

  38. Ian Lidster

    I think your suggestion is an excellent one and one that could restore a little credibility to the whole matter. The other thing that strikes me is that these people ‘signed on’ and were, in fact, doing their jobs as soldiers — a calling fraught with peril, but one assumes their eyes were wide open when they went into the military business. They weren’t conscripted, after all. In another context, can you imagine if all POWs from World War II had sold their tales for a profit? What an odd world we live in.

    Ian

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