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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 April 2007, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
C4 may pull drama over Iran fears
Scene from The Mark of Cain
Channel 4 drama The Mark of Cain is based on real events
Channel 4 says it is considering delaying a drama about British soldiers in Iraq as the UK negotiates to free 15 Royal Navy personnel captured by Iran.

The Mark of Cain, which was due to be broadcast on Thursday, shows British troops abusing Iraqi detainees.

But families of the captured crew and senior military figures have expressed concerns about the timing of the show.

Channel 4 said it was reviewing the broadcast date, but was "not convinced" the drama could influence negotiations.

It is based on the case of three British soldiers who were convicted of abusing Iraqi civilians at Camp Bread Basket, Basra, in May 2003.

It is a drama but it will be seen as fact by those watching it
Major General Patrick Cordingley
Robin Air, whose son Royal Marine Captain Chris Air is among those being held in Iran, told the Daily Telegraph he did not agree with the Channel 4 programme.

"It would be very distressing if a television broadcast was to affect the negotiations that our diplomatic service is engaged in at the moment," he said.

"It would be an act which is at best reckless."

His views were echoed by Major General Patrick Cordingley, who commanded Britain's Seventh Armoured Brigade - the renowned Desert Rats - in the last Gulf War.

We are monitoring the situation very carefully and continue to review the planned broadcast date
Channel 4
"It's the depiction of scenes of British troops mishandling Arabs and therefore it will be seen as the general British approach to handling Arabs in the Middle East," he told the BBC's World At One programme.

"It is a drama but it will be seen as fact by those watching it."

"I don't want it not to be shown but I think this is just the wrong moment to do it."

In a statement, Channel 4 said it had "noted the comments made in the press" by the families of the detainees.

"This is the first time those concerns have been raised and while we are not convinced there is a serious danger of the drama influencing the outcome of the negotiations for their release, we are open to further dialogue.

"We are monitoring the situation very carefully and continue to review the planned broadcast date."




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