Iran General News'No witch hunt' in Iran stories row

‘No witch hunt’ in Iran stories row

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Press Association: Downing Street has insisted it will not engage in a “witch hunt” against those responsible for the botched cash-for-stories decision. Press Association

Downing Street has insisted it will not engage in a “witch hunt” against those responsible for the botched cash-for-stories decision.

Responding to a petition which called for the “naming and sacking” of whoever authorised the Iran detainees to sell their accounts, Number 10 said Tony Blair believed actions had been taken “honourably and in difficult circumstances”.

A statement posted on the Downing Street website said: “The Prime Minister has already made it clear that he recognises that the Navy were trying to deal with a wholly exceptional situation.

“He has no intention of engaging in a witch hunt against people who acted honourably and in good faith in very difficult circumstances.”

The comments are likely to be seen as an attempt to reduce pressure on Defence Secretary Des Browne, who has accepted “full responsibility” for the 15 captives originally being allowed to profit from their ordeal.

Mr Blair previously distanced himself from the controversy, saying the decision was not a “good idea” while insisting he had not been aware of the plan until after it was finalised.

Mr Browne is expected to come under fire from both opposition parties and Labour backbenchers when he makes a statement to the Commons on Monday.

The petition has garnered more than 2,800 signatures since it was posted on the Downing Street site on Thursday morning.

It states: “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to name and sack the person responsible for declaring that members of the armed services can sell their stories to the media.”

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