Hostages timeline: how the story emerged

Since the 15 captured sailors and Marines arrived home last week there has been a huge amount of interest in their 13-day ordeal at the hands of the Iranians. Here is a timeline focusing on how their stories emerged in the media.

Thursday April 5 – noon

:: The 15 arrive at Heathrow just after midday where they are immediately flown on in two Royal Navy Sea King helicopters to Royal Marines Base Chivenor, near Barnstaple, north Devon. They then undergo medical checks and are debriefed by senior officers.

Thursday April 5 – 6pm

:: The 15 service personnel issue a brief statement in which they say returning to the UK is a "dream come true".

There are also quotes from Lieutenant Felix Carman, Operator Mechanic Arthur Batchelor, Operator Mechanic Nathan Summers and Marine Adam Sperry.

They add: "While we are extremely grateful for all the support we have had from the media, we would also ask that we have some space and privacy at this time."

Friday April 6 – 3pm

:: Six of the group face reporters at the base in an organised press conference.

In a statement they reveal they were blindfolded, bound and subjected to "constant psychological pressure", as well as being threatened with jail.

The two most senior members of the group read a statement and also speak to reporters afterwards.

Lt Carman, 26, of Swansea, South Wales, insists the group were in Iraqi waters.

Royal Marine Captain Chris Air, 25, from Altrincham, Cheshire, described the moment the group realised they were to be taken prisoner.

In their statement, the men say it was "deeply regrettable" that Leading Seaman Faye Turney was used as a propaganda tool.

They conclude: "She is coming to terms with what has happened to her, and not only Faye and her family but all of us are finding the press focus very uncomfortable and difficult and specifically request that you give all of us the space and privacy we need when we return to our homes."

OM Batchelor, 20, from Plymouth, Devon, also speaks during and after the press conference. He says the Iranian behaviour towards the captives was humane.

Others present are Marine Sperry, 22, of Leicester, fellow Royal Marine Joe Tindell, 21, of south London, and Operator Maintainer Simon Massey.

Friday April 6 – 6pm

:: Marine Tindell appears on BBC News 24 where he describes the moment he thought one of his colleagues had been executed by having his throat cut.

Saturday April 7

:: The crew members begin two weeks' compassionate leave with their families. Iran dismisses the press conference as "theatrical propaganda".

:: An interview with Corporal Dean Harris 24, of Trevaughan, Carmarthen, West Wales, is printed in the South Wales Evening Post. He says his thoughts are with the families of the four British soldiers killed by a roadside bomb near Basra in Iraq on the day of his release.

:: Marine Danny Masterton, 26, from Muirkirk in Ayrshire, gives an interview to the Sunday Mail in which he describes being blindfolded and handcuffed against a prison wall. His father, also called Danny, issues a statement in which he says his release is "all that matters".

It ends: "On behalf of my family, I would like to thank the press and the whole of the media for respecting our privacy at this difficult time and would hope that this continues through the coming months so that everything can get back to some normality."

Saturday April 7 – 10pm

:: It emerges that members of the group have been given special permission by the Ministry of Defence to sell their stories to the media.

"Serving personnel are not allowed to enter into financial arrangements with media organisations. However, in exceptional circumstances such as the award of a Victoria Cross or events such as those in recent days, permission can be granted by commanding officers and the MoD," the statement said.

:: It also emerges that LS Turney has sold her story to The Sun newspaper and ITV1's Tonight With Trevor McDonald. It is speculated that she may receive a six-figure sum.

Sunday April 8

:: Questions begin to be raised over the MoD's decision. Shadow foreign secretary William Hague says there is a risk the decision could erode respect for the Armed Forces.

Mike Aston, whose 30-year-old son, Corporal Russell Aston, was one of six military policemen killed by a mob in Majar al-Kabir, Iraq, in June 2003, says he is "absolutely amazed" by the decision.

Rose Gentle, whose son, 19-year-old Fusilier Gordon Gentle, was killed in Basra in June 2004, said it is "wrong". Colonel Bob Stewart, former first British UN Commander in Bosnia, says the idea made him "sick".

:: Later, the MoD defends the decision.

In a statement, a spokesman says: "It was clear that the stories they had to tell were likely to have emerged via family and friends regardless of any decision the Navy took.

"It was therefore decided to grant permission to speak to the media to those personnel that sought it, in order to ensure that the Navy and the MoD had sight of what they were going to say, as well as providing proper media support to the sailors and marines in the same way as would have been the case in more ordinary circumstances."

:: PR guru Max Clifford claims the MoD encouraged the sailors and Marines to sell their stories.

:: Lt Carman says if he makes any money out of his story it will go to charity. Capt Air says he does not plan to sell his story but feels that his comrades are entitled to.

Monday April 9

:: In an interview printed in The Sun newspaper, LS Turney tells how she feared she was being measured for her coffin before being killed.

:: An interview with OM Batchelor, the youngest member of the group, appears in The Daily Mirror newspaper. He reveals guards mockingly nicknamed him Mr Bean.

:: Lt Carman admits in an interview on GMTV that he found the fact that some of the crew had sold their stories "a little unsavoury".

:: Major General Patrick Cordingly, who commanded the Desert Rats during the 1991 Gulf War, says he is depressed at the personnel being used as a propaganda tool.

Others, including former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, Tory MP John Redwood and former defence secretary Lord Heseltine, also criticise the Government.

:: An extended interview with LS Turney is broadcast on Tonight With Trevor McDonald.

She tells the programme: "There were times when it got a bit much, when I thought of my family, and what they must be going through, that was the hardest part."

Asked about criticism of her decision to sell her story, she said: "When it comes to money, the ship, HMS Cornwall, is getting a percentage of that money, to go towards helping personnel on that ship and their families."

Tuesday April 10

:: More of LS Turney's story is published in The Sun, in which she describes being reunited with her three-year-old daughter, Molly – whom she feared she would never see again – and feeling guilty for what she had put her family through.


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