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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 April 2007, 22:08 GMT 23:08 UK
Captives' media fees spark fury
Leading Seaman Faye Turney
Faye Turney is said to have a deal worth more than 100,000

The Ministry of Defence's decision to allow Royal Navy personnel held captive by Iran to sell their stories has sparked anger and unease.

Opposition MPs said the move was undignified while relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq have voiced opposition.

Leading Seaman Faye Turney is said to have been paid a six-figure sum for her story in Monday's Sun newspaper.

It came as Iran released more video of the sailors, showing them socialising and relaxing during their captivity.

Iran's state-run Arabic satellite TV channel Al-Alam showed several of the sailors and marines eating at a long dining table, watching football on television and playing table tennis and chess.

Iranian television video
Iranian television released video showing the sailors relaxing

The images contrasted sharply with the crew's description of their ordeal, which they say included intimidation and isolation.

The front page of Monday's Sun newspaper has a picture of Leading Seaman Turney, 26, with the headline "Faye - My Ordeal".

The newspaper says she feared being raped by the Iranians, was stripped to her knickers and kept in a dingy cell and feared she would never see her daughter again.

Leading Seaman Turney, the only woman among the 15, has also given an interview to ITV1's Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme.

Both of the officers among the captives have said they do not plan to profit from the story.

Royal Navy Lt Felix Carman said any fee was likely to go to charity.

"I am not interested in making money out of this," the 26-year-old from Swansea told the BBC.

"My main aim is to tell the story. There's some people who might be making money, but that's an individual's decision, that's very private."

I think it would have been better if maybe they handled it in a slightly different way
Admiral Sir Alan West

He added: "I think every one of us has had offers. I think the MoD has played this quite well. Somebody, somewhere is going to make money out of this story, and they've said we're happy for you guys, the people who've been involved, to actually be the ones that do that."

Meanwhile, Captain Chris Air said that he did not plan to sell his story but insisted his fellow service personnel had the right to.

The Royal Marine told ITV Granada News: "I'm not going to speak to the papers. I think some people are going to, and they are perfectly entitled to.

"I think it can be part of the process to get things off their mind. To be honest, it didn't seem that traumatic at the time to me and I don't think it's going to affect me in a terrible way."

The MoD said its decision would ensure officials "had sight" of what might be said as well ensuring "proper media support" to the captured crew members.

'Extremely distasteful'

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said he was concerned at the impression the episode would make on governments involved behind the scenes in helping to free the personnel, and possible inadvertent leaks of sensitive information in interviews.

Quite aside from the human interest story surrounding these individuals, there are also sensitive strategic issues in play
Ministry of Defence

Mike Aston, whose son Corporal Russell Aston was one of six military policemen killed by a mob in Iraq in 2003, said he was "absolutely amazed" by the decision.

He told the BBC: "It beggars belief. On the day that they were released four servicemen and women were killed in Iraq. That's four grieving families who have to watch the television to see other families celebrating.

"I'm very pleased that they've been released. But I think the circumstances really needed to be low key, not high key. And to actually now go round and sell their story I think it's tacky and it's sordid".

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said the Conservatives would be raising the issue in the Commons and questioned whether the decision had been properly thought through.

'Strategic issues'

The sailors and Royal Marines were held after Iran accused them of entering its waters, a claim they denied.

The personnel later said they were blindfolded, bound and held in isolation during their 13 days of captivity.

Royal Marine Captain Chris Air and Lieutenant Felix Carman
Cpt Chris Air and Lt Felix Carman say they do not intend to profit

The MoD has said experiences of the navy crew amounted to "exceptional circumstances" that allowed its usual ban on such payments to be lifted.

Responding to reaction to its initial announcement, the MoD said: "It is a fact that the media have been making direct contact with the families and offering them significant sums of money - this is not something that the Navy and the MoD have any control over.

"Quite aside from the human interest story surrounding these individuals, there are also sensitive strategic issues in play."

Former SAS soldier Andy McNab said he thought the MoD decision was "sensible" and showed "forward thinking".

He said: "I think the MoD now understand that the story will come out very quickly via a third party, whether it's a family member or even another service personnel."

PR agent Max Clifford has confirmed some of the group had already approached him for advice.

But he said: "The surprise was that the Ministry of Defence encouraged them to do this".




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A former Army commander angry about the decision



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