Originally Posted by Botnst
You bet, an inquiry is absolutely needed and I hope it isn't one of those silly-assed Pentagon things that we do, in which everybody in the chain is faulted and nobody is punished.
Sounds pretty strong according to what I've been able to find but it seems more like it was designed to help Des Browne keep his job. Two inquiries instead of one.
However, it'd be nice if someone with a little more access to local info and familiarity with the subject could keep us up to date. Anyone?
Browne: Sorry but I'm staying put
Lacklustre: Mr Browne
Faye Turney was allowed to see her story to the media
Des Browne faced Tory calls for his resignation last night after he was forced to say 'sorry' for his botched handling of the Iran prisoner fiasco.
A lacklustre Commons performance by the Defence Secretary raised fresh questions about the crisis that left Britain humiliated on the international stage.
Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox raised the stakes by calling for the first time for Mr Browne's resignation, declaring his position 'untenable'.
Dr Fox asked: 'Does no one in the Government feel responsible for the national humiliation we have suffered at the hands of a pariah state?'
Citing ministerial resignations in a 'more honourable time' following the Falklands invasion 25 years ago, Dr Fox said: 'He takes responsibility but he doesn't say sorry.'
A visibly flustered Mr Browne tried to defend himself by insisting his language could be 'equated with an apology' before adding: 'If he wants me to say sorry then I'm happy to say sorry.'
Under mounting pressure, Mr Browne announced two inquiries into the events in the Arabian Gulf that saw 15 Naval personnel held illegally for a fortnight by the Iranian government.
And he repeatedly expressed his 'degree of regret' for his 'mistake' that allowed two sailors to sell emotional accounts of their captivity to tabloid newspapers.
An official inquiry led by the governor of Gibraltar, Lieutenant General Sir Rob Fulton, will report in six weeks and could prove devastating for Mr Browne if it finds that operational blunders led to a diplomatic disaster on his watch.
A separate investigation led by an independent figure with media experience is to look into the media handling of the return of the captives.
Last night Labour MPs appeared willing to allow Mr Browne the benefit of the doubt but said they would withhold judgment until the inquiry reports its findings.
Mr Browne appeared in the Commons on the first day back for MPs following the Easter break, which was overshadowed by the release of Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel held by Iran.
An orchestrated show of Government support saved Mr Browne from a Commons mauling, but
did nothing to protect him from searching questions.
More than a dozen Cabinet ministers - but not Gordon Brown - crowded the front bench alongside him, while at least 30 ministers were drafted in to fill the backbenches behind him.
The Chancellor's absence triggered speculation among some MPs that Mr Browne may lose his job when, as expected, Mr Brown takes over as Prime Minister.
A spokesman said Mr Brown was tied up in meetings with a Cabinet colleague at the Treasury, and then had to spend time with a delegation from China.
He pointed out that the Chancellor had issued a statement on Friday praising his colleague as an 'excellent' Defence Secretary.
Downing Street said Mr Browne had the Prime Minister's 'full confidence' and that he had been 'very open and frank' about his role in the row.
The 14 men and one woman were captured on March 23 by Revolutionary Guards.
On their return, two were allowed to sell their stories to tabloid newspapers, but the ensuing row forced Mr Browne to reverse the decision, which he claimed had been taken by Navy officers.
Yesterday the Defence Secretary told MPs: 'I made a mistake. To the extent that (it) caused people to question the hard-won reputation of the Armed Forces, that is something I profoundly regret.'
And he insisted that despite widespread condemnation of apparent British weakness around the globe, the incident was resolved peacefully with the 'safe return' of British personnel.
'Let me be clear: there was no apology, there was no deal,' he said.
Among the issues the MoD inquiry is expected to examine is the military's 'conduct-after-capture training' amid criticism from some MPs that the personnel had been too ready to apologise to the Iranians for their supposed violation of Iranian waters.