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"In another sign of the confusion that has been caused by the whole Iran episode we learn that the Rt Rev Tom Burns, the Roman Catholic Bishop to the Forces, has praised Iran for the "forgiveness" and "act of mercy" that was involved in freeing the 15 British sailors"

This man managed to become a Bishop?! Surely he can tell the difference between mercy abd playing politics?!

It's succeeding brilliantly ... the attention is now on the publication of the stories and not on the events that led up to this debacle. As smokescreens go, this is a corker.

Richard North - you are so right! I suspect there is a lot more to the whole story than meets the eye.

Just goes to show how Labour manipulate everything to their own end. I don't really blame the sailors and marines; they have been given the opportunity by Labour, why shouldn't they take it? Of course not all of them will, some at least have integrity.

Leadership from the Secretary of State for Defence, and from the Chief of the General Staff, would have prevented this. But, of course, it is exactly what they want: to deflect attention from their own incompetance, and to try and negate some of the amazing propaganda victories that the Iranians have scored.

Fox is Catholic but he should not comment on what a Catholic Chaplain or even an Anglican Bishop says...especially at Easter.

He should focus on the issues within his portfolio, and have the Commodore brought before the Defence Select Committee.

Since the crew can sell stories they too can be subpoenaed before the Defence select Committee without the MoD blocking it.

The Government wants a smokescreen...so cut through it

The bishop had no authority to speak on secular factual matters and as such it is personal.

Let us keep the focus on the multiple failures of procedure, courage, rules of engagement, military discipline, failure to convene a Board of Enquiry, comparisons of poor behaviour with the VC, and above all the spectacle of a Defence Secretary allowing these 15 to flog their stories for more than their serving comrades make in a year.

New Labour have no honour.

Michael Heseltine deserves plaudits for this.

In the past, people have called for the resignation of the prime minister on questionable grounds.
However, this is an instance where Blair should resign immediately.
His troops confessed becaused they were afraid of being jailed. This means that they did not believe their government would ensure their release.
The troops have lost confidence in their commander!

The bishop had no authority to speak on secular factual matters and as such it is personal.

Hogwash...so easter is now a secular festival. Tory T you are in the wrong party - The Bishop has more authority than you to speak on any matters especially when Royal Navy tourists are released as a gesture by Iran at Easter and specifically in connection with Mohammed's birthday and what they inaccurately refer to as the "passing of Christ" rather than The Resurrection.

Iran is a theocracy and it was a letter from The Pope that probably had more influence than is reported

Posted by: EML | April 09, 2007 at 09:32

"Just goes to show how Labour manipulate everything to their own end. I don't really blame the sailors and marines; they have been given the opportunity by Labour, why shouldn't they take it? Of course not all of them will, some at least have integrity."

Looks to me more like "Old Navy" rather than "New Labour", the Admiralty covering its backside to protect the careers of a few of its over-paid and underperforming senior officers.

In the final analysis, very few governments have ever controlled the Admiralty. That venerable institution sees politicians come, and it sees them go... and this looks to be very much the case with New Labour.


How can that neocon fool Liam Fox say they held the sailors/collaborators in dreadful conditions. We all saw for ourselves how they were treated. It was like a holiday camp for God's sake.

Selling their stories to the tabloids just puts the tin hat on it. I didn't think this country could sink much lower after 10 years of Blair and Brown, but it just has.

say they held the sailors/collaborators in dreadful conditions.

I like the bit where the Iranian Embassy in London called her mother-in-law offering a free flight to Teheran......I wonder if Menwith Hill monitored that one ?

If the MoD were to have exclusive rights to all such stories and split monies raised then it could bring in a fair amount of revenue to the Defence budget.

Equally a similar arrangement with regard to politicians and books about their careers with a percentage going to the Treasury could raise a bit.

Isn't it nice though to have Tory ex-ministers supporting the present spokesman instead of patronising put downs they never seem to hand out to Labour or the Lib/Dems.

I don't see what the old dinosaur Heseltine is so uptight about. Despite his failed 'bonfire of red tape' efforts when he was in government, the world is a market and things are worth whatever someone else is prepared to pay for them.

Surely it's better to have the sailors/marines raising money for themselves by the sale of their stories than to have them taking MoD to court and winning a whole lot of [taxpayer-funded] compensation?

The awful thing about this affair is that while sailors and marines are talking about how they "cried like babies" and have sold their stories to Murdoch (a bit like Judas, well it's that time of the year, isn't it?) our Army boys in Iraq are silently plodding on under daily bombings, mortar and machine gun fire with barely a murmur. Anyone who has been in Basra will tell you how truly dreadful it is. You only need to have a look at the Army Rumour Service (www.arrse.org) to see what the Army think of the current appalling state of the Navy. White feather should be sent to the men at the top of our so-called Senior Service. Perhaps that is the only way they will truly understand the public's fury at this shoddy little episode. Poor Nelson must be turning in his grave.

Another thing, isn't now the time for David Cameron to start producing VERY some strong words on the subject of Iraq. He has remained silent (and compliant) on this subject for far too long. We need to hear his views on everything from our continued presence in Iraq (particularly since the Government are talking about the next 5 years) to the MODs decision to allow the hostage's stories be sold.

Forget green. This is red, as in the blood of our boys in Basra.

Speak now DC! The electorate deserve nothing less.

I thought Heseltine was excellent this morning and wish that Fox could have spoken so powerfully yesterday.
During the next few days it will be interesting to see how Liam Fox performs. Now that Browne has banned service personnel from selling their stories again it has become perfectly obvious that the MOD (like the Home Office and Defra)is being managed in an absolutely clueless way. Fox should be all over the media pointing this out and hopefully will be able to force Brownes resignation. Our Armed Services deserve no less.
He should also find out what advice was given to ministers by the Lords Of The Admiralty. If they didn't advise ministers of the dangers of both the consequences of HMS Cornwalls operation and the appalling media media management of the last few days then heads should roll at the Admiralty too. The reputation of the navy has been very damaged by this affair and someone should pay with their job.
Apart from Heseltine, Kelvin Mackenzie of all people spoke well this morning.He turned his guns exclusively on the MOD and accused them of encouraging the sailors to sell their stories to the papers in the mistaken belief that this would help 'win the P.R. war against Iran'.According to Mackenzie much of this was being orchestrated by Dave Hill (Campbells successor). If this is true, it is an absolute scandal. Labour spin doctors should have no role whatsoever within defence matters. After the sickening role Alistair Campbell played in the run up and during the Iraq war the government should have learned their lesson. Apparently not. It is up to the Conservative spokesmen to expose this and ensure that if true the misceants involved are punished. We will see how good or not our defence team is in the very near future over this.

We are allowing this story to be spun in all directions, and the fog thus created is obscuring the true story of the debacle which got us into this mess in the first place.

A big advantage of selling the stories is that Faye Turney doesn't have to rely on her naval salary to buy even more pies. Wouldn't want to be behind her if my ship was sinking and we were heading for the lifeboats. Don't they have fitness requirements in the Forces any more?

She talked about feeling "like a traitor" for helping the Iranian propaganda machine - she wasn't wrong there. She "thought she was going to be raped" - well if you constantly think you are going to be abducted by aliens then wear a tinfoil hat to be safe (guaranteed to work every time) but £150k is a good incentive to make up any old crap to gilt-edge a story for the papers.

Cashier the lot of them in disgrace and then start pruning a few spin doctors and their MoD accomplices too.

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