A British parliamentary committee said Friday that one or more people should have been disciplined for allowing Royal Navy sailors to sell stories to newspapers about their capture by Iran earlier this year.
Fifteen sailors were captured in March by an Iranian force in waters off Iraq and held for nearly two weeks. Some of the sailors accepted payment for media interviews after they returned to Britain.
"It is clear that the decision to allow the service personnel to sell their stories was a serious mistake and deeply damaging to the reputation of the Royal Navy," said the report by the House of Commons Defense Committee.
"We were told that no action had been taken against individuals, military or civilian, for failings relating to media handling. Given the catalog of serious mistakes made, we think this is unacceptable," the report added.
People were disciplined
The committee noted that several people "across a wide spectrum of ranks" had been disciplined in relation to the capture.
The Ministry of Defense responded that an independent inquiry led by Tony Hall, former news director for the British Broadcasting Corp., "concluded that it was a collective failure of judgment or an abstention of judgment rather than a failure of judgment by any one individual."
The 15 sailors from HMS Cornwall, including one woman, were captured by Iranian Revolutionary Guards on March 23. Iran claims the crew, operating in a small patrol craft, had intruded into Iranian waters _ a claim denied by Britain.
Royal Navy Operator Maintainer Arthur Batchelor, who sold his account to the Daily Mirror newspaper, complained that his captors called him "Mr. Bean" after a character on a British TV comedy series.
Recalling the moments after the crew was captured, Batchelor said: "A guard kept flicking my neck with his index finger and thumb. I thought the worst."