Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Browne Says Sorry and Stays - for Now

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Browne Says Sorry and Stays - for Now

Article excerpt

THE STAKES could not have been higher for the Defence Secretary, Des Browne , as

he appeared before the Commons this afternoon to defend his handling of the sale of stories by the sailors and marines held hostage in Iran. Mr Browne admitted in straightforward terms that he had made a mistake, and said that he profoundly regretted the impact on the armed forces. An apology was only forthcoming afterprodding from shadow defence secretary Liam Fox.

Mr Browne's defence was that "controlled interviews", involving the MoD press office, seemed preferable to banning the sales, which could have meant the stories came out in more damaging form via relatives of the hostages anyway. He said for the first time that some of the hostages were intent on putting their side of the story, but he did not explain why he was unable to tell them they could not. Nor did he explain why it took him so long to respond to thenote sent from Fleet HQ in Portsmouth on Maundy Thursday. …

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