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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 April 2007, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Navy rejects criticism of captive
Arthur Batchelor
The club's owner admitted the pictures were controversial
The Royal Navy is playing down reports that freed Iranian hostage Arthur Batchelor from Plymouth has been making light of his experiences.

Operator Maintainer Batchelor, 20, is pictured by newspapers in a city nightclub wearing a blindfold with an imaginary gun held to his head.

He is on leave after being released along with 14 others from his Plymouth-based ship HMS Cornwall.

OM Batchelor spent two weeks in captivity before being returned home.

The pictures, put on the club's website and shown in a number of Sunday tabloids, show him in Jesters nightclub in Union Street.

Arthur Batchelor has been through a very traumatic experience and is just letting his hair down
Royal Navy

He is shown apparently laughing in a blindfold as a friend points pistol-shaped fingers to his head.

In another picture his head is being held back by a toy rifle.

The Mail on Sunday calls him the "hostage who learned nothing from his ordeal" and says: "Torture? It's all a laugh now for Mr Bean".

'Funny side'

The News of the World condemns his antics as a "shameful" insult to his comrades fighting in Iraq.

A Navy spokesperson told BBC News: "Arthur Batchelor has been through a very traumatic experience and is just letting his hair down.

Arthur Batchelor
Arthur Batchelor sold his story amid a storm over payments

"This was in his own time and we do not police navy personnel in their own time.

"We can't comment on what he might or might not do in his own private hours."

OM Batchelor sold his story to the press amid a furore over the payments.

He said afterwards that he was concerned that he had disappointed his colleagues in the Royal Navy.

Jesters owner Stephen Locke said: "Those snaps are a bit contentious in this day and age.

"Hopefully everyone will see the funny side although they are slightly controversial."

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