Press Association: Tony Blair admitted that allowing the Iran detainees to sell their stories had not been a “good idea” as he tried to quell a barrage of criticism. Press Association
Tony Blair admitted that allowing the Iran detainees to sell their stories had not been a “good idea” as he tried to quell a barrage of criticism.
The Prime Minister insisted everyone involved in the controversial decision had acted “completely in good faith and honourably”, but with “hindsight” they had got it wrong.
Speaking during a visit to Wales, Mr Blair said: “With hindsight was it a good idea? No … Do I believe it will happen again? No.”
The Premier’s admission came after Defence Secretary Des Browne took “full responsibility” for allowing the 15 military personnel to cash in on their ordeal – although he stressed the Navy had made the choice.
Mr Blair insisted he had not known about the decision until after it was taken, and said it was “time to move on”.
“Look, I did not actually know about the decision until after it was taken, but really that is not the point,” he said. “The Navy was trying to deal with a wholly exceptional situation where the families were being pursued by the media to sell their stories.
“The Navy took the view that it was better to manage the situation than let it happen. Now, with hindsight, was that a good idea? No. But precisely because people would then misrepresent that as somehow the Navy encouraging people to sell their stories which they were not at all.
“Do I believe it will happen again? No. But were people acting completely in good faith and honourably? As far as the Navy is concerned, they were. We have had days of this now and it is time to move on.”
Tory leader David Cameron has demanded details of who took the “calamitous” decision and when – warning it had caused “great damage to our armed forces”. The Liberal Democrats also insisted answers were needed to key questions about the “fiasco” – with both parties demanding a probe into the original capture of the Naval personnel.
Many people believe the handling of the aftermath of the crisis has gifted Iran a major propaganda victory.