Iran General NewsWoman sailor sells her story in lucrative deal

Woman sailor sells her story in lucrative deal

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Sunday Telegraph: Faye Turney, the woman sailor at the centre of the Iran hostage crisis, is to reveal the trauma of her 13-day ordeal in a solo interview. The Sunday Telegraph

By Chris Hastings, Sunday Telegraph

Faye Turney, the woman sailor at the centre of the Iran hostage crisis, is to reveal the trauma of her 13-day ordeal in a solo interview.

Leading Seaman Turney, who was paraded on Iranian television during her captivity, is understood to have agreed a lucrative deal with ITV’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald for a special programme to be broadcast tomorrow evening.

It is thought the deal will also involve an interview with a tabloid newspaper. A source at the MoD said it involved a “life-changing sum”.

But the involvement of a large amount of money and her decision to be interviewed on her own could backfire.

Ldg Seaman Turney, 26, was warned last night that the interview and payment could attract controversy, given the deaths of four British soldiers, including two women, in Basra on the day that she was released.

There was also surprise that the Ministry of Defence had allowed the deal, given that Ldg Seaman Turney remains a serving sailor on full salary. It is understood that she was offered more than £100,000 to describe exclusively her experiences of the hostage crisis and the deal with ITV and the newspaper, believed to be The Sun, is thought to be worth a substantial amount.

Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said: “I think this deal will cause raised eyebrows because she is still a serving sailor. She is not in the same position as those people who have sold their story after they left the Service.

“I just hope her decision to sell her story does not backfire on her.”

Adml Sir Alan West, the former First Sea Lord, said: “I am surprised that someone would even consider selling their story while they were still serving.”

A former military chief, who asked not to be named, added: “If you are still serving with the military you do not go round flogging your story to anyone.”

Despite being the focus of media attention, Ldg Seaman Turney did not appear alongside seven of her colleagues at a press conference on Friday.

Yesterday, she was spotted briefly at her home in the village of Tamerton Foliot, near Plymouth. She was driven away without making a comment. She is expected to pre-record an interview with Sir Trevor McDonald today for broadcast tomorrow evening.

It is believed that payment will be made to Ldg Seaman Turney’s family, rather than to her personally. Military personnel are permitted to speak to the media but only with the permission of senior officers. Service personnel of any rank are, however, banned from selling stories of their actions directly to newspapers under any circumstances.

However, given the intense media interest in the hostages, and Ldg Seaman Turney in particular, the Ministry of Defence permitted the families of the hostages to negotiate with the media.

But MoD chiefs are understood to have warned Ldg Seaman Turney that speaking to just two media organisations might make her vulnerable to criticism from rivals who failed to secure her story.

An MoD source said: “From the moment of their release, the families and friends of the Servicemen were bombarded with cash offers. We are talking about life-changing sums of money being offered to people.

“We took a view that we could advise them or throw them to the wolves. Our position was that if their families wanted to accept the money that was up to them.”

Seven Marines held captive alongside eight sailors are understood to have agreed to pool any payments they receive and donate part of the sum to a Service charity. It is not known if Ldg Seaman Turney or her family plan to donate part or all of her payment to charity.

An ITV spokesman declined to discuss the issue of payment.

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