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Why we kept silent on the Chandler case

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Jon Williams Jon Williams | 13:17 UK time, Sunday, 14 November 2010

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the dilemmas we sometimes face when we know things we can't tell you.

Then it was about Prince Harry being in Afghanistan. Today - on the day his brother, Prince William, went to Afghanistan - it concerns Paul and Rachel Chandler, the British couple who spent more than a year kidnapped in Somalia.

In the early hours of this morning they were finally freed by their captors and were taken to Adado and then Mogadishu, before flying on to Nairobi to be handed over to UK diplomats. Over the past 12 months, there have been a number of stories about their health and the demands by their kidnappers for a ransom.

As I write, the details of the negotiations that led to their release are unclear.

But some months ago, the family of Paul and Rachel Chandler sought what is known as a "super-injunction", prohibiting the media from reporting any developments in their case.

Lawyers for the family argued that speculation about their health, about any possible ransom and on the negotiations about their release might prolong their captivity. The injunction was designed to protect the safety of the Chandlers - and prevented us from referring even to its existence.

Such were the fears for their safety - and so dangerous is Somalia - that the injunction set out two criteria that needed to be met before we could report the couple's release; first Paul and Rachel Chandler must have left Somalia, and second, they must be in the custody of Foreign Office officials.

The family, their lawyers, and observers in Somalia feared that the couple might be freed by their original captors, and then seized by others seeking further ransom for the Chandlers' release.

The BBC and other news organisations observed the injunction issued by the High Court.

While we're not in the business of censoring the news, no story is worth a life - we accepted the argument of the family, their lawyers and the judge that to do otherwise would jeopardise the safety of Paul and Rachel Chandler.

Some other news organisations did not - which is why, for some hours, during the Chandlers' dangerous journey through Somalia to the safety of Kenya, the BBC stayed silent while pictures of the couple could be seen elsewhere.

While it wasn't a comfortable position for us, or our audience, to be in, it was the law and a restriction put in place to try to ensure the safety of the Chandlers. Had we done otherwise, we would have been in contempt of court.

At its simplest, journalism is about telling people things they don't know - so it's always difficult for us not to report a story. But sometimes there are good reasons. There is no public interest in breaking the law, simply to claim a scoop.

Jon Williams is the BBC World News editor.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Sky News were running with this story a while before the BBC. Did they break the injunction just to be first for breaking news?

  • Comment number 2.

    Frankly, the BBC should be congratulated for acting responsibly and lawfully.

    As stated above, it must have sat uncomfortably with professional journalists but the law is the law.

    Well done for refusing to endanger the Chandlers further and not disregarding the law in expectation of an 'exclusive'.

  • Comment number 3.

    On the off-chance that my first comment is removed/trapped in referral limbo, let me just say well done BBC for acting responsibly. And shame on all those other news organisations who put their need to be first to break a story ahead of the law and/or the Chandlers' personal safety.

    (Btw, please don't agonize over post 1. Just remove it if it's easier.)

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    The BBC has acted not only lawfully but correctly, well done!

    However, now that they ARE safe, can we please have some hard-hitting investigative journalism into the total inactivity of the British government - and indeed what passes for a Somali one - on their behalf?

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Drunkyfop.
    I've long been a fan of the Beeb and while in recent years I have questioned some of its actions; it remains for me the world's best news service.
    Well done BBC News and thank you for the explanation. I had been wondering why the story wasn't covered earlier.



  • Comment number 7.

    Well done on making exactly the right decision. It is a shame some of your 'competition' do not share your professionalism.

  • Comment number 8.

    While I agree it was right to wait until they were safe until reporting this. I question is an injunction was required for this, I understood that traditionally the press and authorities were able to come to agreement on such things as this without the need of a censorship law.

    I question even more the nee for a super injunction. If there is an injunction, what is wrong in mentioning it. i.e. how does it make the couple unsafe. It seems odd that an article or report can not even mention that they can not report on this story. How does this increase their safety or is in the public interest. It just brings back memories of the tranfigura/carter-ruck case.

  • Comment number 9.

    What a self congratulatory blog. It would have been appalling if the BBC had breached the injunction to report on something, which to be honest, is mainly of interest to the family and friends of the Chandlers. What is sadder is that the family had to get an injunction in the first place. There truly is no common sense left in journalism.

    Now you are able to report it no doubt you will follow your now familiar pattern of going over every gory detail until we are sick of it. This is not a comment on the Chandlers who I am glad to hear are safe but a plea to the BBC to remember that there is always more than one news item at any time and some of us would like to hear about them still.

  • Comment number 10.

    All journalist should, in my humble opinion, be mediated responsibly and with consciousness. You will no doubt feel the wrath of those who claim that journalism should have no consciousness. I admire you for your actions and for stating why (I didn't read this as a defensive post). [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 11.

    If you had not told me there was a "super-injunction", prohibiting the media from reporting developments in the Chandler Case, I would never have guessed it.
    Many people in the media would seem guilty of trespassing on this super-injunction; so what will happen to them?
    STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE FAMILY OF PAUL AND RACHEL CHANDLER on November 14: “Yesterday evening, we received the wonderful news that Paul and Rachel Chandler were to be released by the Somali pirates who had held them in captivity since October 23, 2009."
    I heard this news and was delighted.
    But if there was a super-injuntion, how did the videos that were shown on television earlier in the year get shown?
    The family itself has said that it would be irresponsible to discuss any aspect of their release because this might encourage others to capture private individuals and demand ransom payments; yet, there are all sorts of details floating around: They boarded a light aircraft on the airstrip at Adado, onto to Nairobi. They landed in Mogadishu and were taken to meet the PM of the TFG (Transitional Federal Government), Mohamed Farmajo. This was followed by an onward flight, crossing the Kenyan border.
    Their ordeal lasted 388 days.
    The family members are thanking all the media who respected the injunction. I know some of this thankfulness is directed to the BBC, but there was ALWAYS information about the Chandlers kicking around from whatever medis. Again I ask, how did this happen?
    Paul and Rachel Chandler, had their own television interview in captivity. How did this happen if there was a super-injunction?
    Paul Chandler: “I’d like to say congratulations to David Cameron first. And as new prime minister, we desperately need him to make a definitive public statement of the government’s attitude to us. If the government is not prepared to help, then they must say so, because the gangsters’ expectations and hopes have been raised at the thought of a new government and there might be a different approach.”
    Then on March 14, 2010, there was that news (forget from where) that Rachel Chandler had been shot. This shooting was subsequently corrected. It had been another girl that was shot, not Rachel Chandler.
    Dr. Abdi Mohamed Elmi Hangul, Mogadishu, Somalia, told The Associated Press during an interview at Medina Hospital that a British yachting couple seized by Somali pirates and held in separate locations have been temporarily reunited after weeks apart. The doctor advised that Paul and Rachel Chandler were suffering anxiety because of their forced seperation.
    Stephen Collett – Mrs Chandler’s brother – had been in contact with the pirates via local broadcasters and the Foreign Office.
    In a telephone interview with a Somali television station, Mrs Chandler, said: “I’m obviously very tormented and very, very lonely and worried.”
    In a phone call (translated by the BBC), one of the pirates said: “If they do not harm us, we will not harm them – we only need a little amount of seven million dollars.”
    Speaking to The Times from the place where Paul and Rachel Chandler were held, a pirate leader identifying himself as "Ali Gedow" rejected appeals from the British and other expatriate Somali communities worried about their reputation. “We don’t care about their pressure,” he said.
    The first video O remember is the January video which showed them appealing for help after almost four months in captivity.
    So, what exactly did the super-injunction accomplish, and what will happen to those who did not respect it?

  • Comment number 12.

    @8 to make sense and to be effective, the injunction had also to injunct any public mention of itself, surely?

    I guess the problem was that the media in another county - not subject therefore to UK law - broke the story; and others decided that the injunction was then breached and less, or no longer, valid.

    Not so in my view, and I particularly respect the BBC for sticking to the exact terms of the injunction, because the BBC is exactly the sort of place where other malefactors are most likely to have picked up the information.

    The story I want to see now is not the 'weepy' about the Chandlers - please give them such peace as they request, and leave them alone. (Not that the despicable end of the media will do so, regrettably).

    No; the story I want to see is which website/newspaper/broadcaster/agency broke the story prematurely and thereby put the Chandler's lives at risk; and which UK media actually broke the terms of the injunction injunction.

    Name and shame, please. And don't for a moment accept the "no harm done, it all worked out okay" excuse, either.

    Here's hoping also that the court that granted the injunction will take action for contempt, where that is due.

  • Comment number 13.

    Bluesberry - the injunction has only been in place for the last few months. It also did not prevent news organisations referring historically to the story, for instance on the 1 year anniversary.

    Megan wrote:

    However, now that they ARE safe, can we please have some hard-hitting investigative journalism into the total inactivity of the British government - and indeed what passes for a Somali one - on their behalf?

    ###

    You will have noticed in the news today that the British government has for many years had a policy of not paying ransoms or negotiating ransoms. A good policy.

    Also, what is your evidence for "total inactivity?" Would it be that none has been reported in the press who have been complying to an injunction for the last 6 months?

  • Comment number 14.

    Good explanation and worthwhile making it.

  • Comment number 15.

    Jon, thanks for the blog- and please feel free to ignore silly posts like that of 2jaibee.
    Far from being self congratulatory your post actually provided a badly-needed explanation for the mysterious absence of coverage of the release on the BBC earlier today. And, sorry, 2jaibee, but some of us are interested in their release, a welcome piece of good news. Presumably the world's media also shouldn't have reported on the rescue of the Chilean miners, on the grounds that that was "mainly of interest to their friends and families"?

  • Comment number 16.

    scagiola wrote:
    "@8 to make sense and to be effective, the injunction had also to injunct any public mention of itself, surely?"

    Surely the point was avoiding mention of their state (whether captive or free), discussions, negotiations or reporting on statements and videos released by those holding them. This is all well and good.

    reporting that there is an injunction on any news about a couple that had been taken hostage a while back surely isn't a problem? It's not playing in to the hostage taker hands, or influencing anything.

  • Comment number 17.

    I don't see why Mr Williams feels the need to justify this position, particularly when reporting would have breached a High Court injunction.

    And I don't see why we are paying a licence fee, failing which will earn you a criminal prosecution, to support comment of any description from staff of our Public broadcaster. We can go to the free press and the blogosphere for comment, just give us the news, if you would be so kind - all of it - free from comment, value judgements or tendentious filtering.

  • Comment number 18.

    Jon Williams.

    "At its simplest, journalism is about telling people things they don't know - so it's always difficult for us not to report a story. But sometimes there are good reasons."

    yes, but who judges those reasons? 'Who watches the watchers?'

    in the Chandler's case, great, you have a legal injunction behind which to 'hide', but why does the BBC not report stories like these:

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23896643-banksys-friend-smokes-spliff-in-public-gallery-as-clegg-addresses-the-commons.do

    the BBC frequently 'buries' news simply by not reporting them; the self-congratulatory tone of your post is totally misplaced, IMO.

  • Comment number 19.

    As the victim of a pirate attack on my ship in 1992 in the South China Sea, I am appauled that Mr & Mrs Chandler were only released after a ransom of over one million pounds was paid. Merchant seamen will now live in constant fear that once their ships are captured, the going rate for their release will now be far higher than before, because the pirates will expect our government to pay their ransoms. Of course, the government may have paid for the Chandlers, but that will not be true for ordinary seamen.

    There are currently 500+ seafarers being held hostage by Somali pirates. Their safety has now been seriously compromised by the Chandler's release.

    Recently we saw blanket 24-hr coverage of the release of 33 Chilian miners and yet the media, including the BBC, has failed to report of the plight of the 500 men being held in Somali because, we hear, it might have affected the talks to release the Chandlers. Let us not forget that the Chandlers chose to place themselves in danger by sailing in pirate infested waters. Merchant seamen, on the other hands, sail were they told to sail.

    Recruitment and retention of seafarers in the UK is now at an historical low. Who can blame young people from not wishing to go to sea when our government does absolutely nothing to protect the rights of merchant seamen to go about their lawful business on the high seas.



  • Comment number 20.

    I completely agree with Peter Newton. I have recently completed a circumnavigation in a small yacht and am about to cross the Atlantic again via W. Africa and S. America. There is a small number of people who choose this as a way of life - we are not rich!!. We understand the risks of sailing the oceans but can do without large ransoms being paid for kidnapping. It sends a message to any minor criminals in any poverty stricken country that easy money is to be made by getting a gun and kidnapping sailors. Previously we only had to worry about normal theft, as in any country. Under no circumstances should a ransom be paid, whether public or private money - from the government perspective only diplomatic means should be used, on the private side the money would be better used to hire appropriate people to spring them.

  • Comment number 21.

    nickatsea #20.

    "I completely agree with Peter Newton."

    yes. the cynic in me wonders though whether the Chandler's (now referred to by their christian names in the BBC news reports, how nice ;)) would have been released at all if it weren't for David Cameron being so desperate for some 'feelgood' news item to distract from his failure 'to lead' at the G20 and elsewhere. money and politics, eh?

  • Comment number 22.

    Firstly - good new glad they are free

    With convicted criminals able to sue the state for "lack of care". Should the Chandlers sue the (not so) Royal Navy for standing by when a British Citizen is being atacked

  • Comment number 23.

    Cardicam - I am more than happy for the Chandlers to be released as I was that the Chilean miners were rescued. My point is that these days the BBC insists on flogging every story to death. There is nothing silly about my post I just want BBC News to go back to being a news channel covering more than one story at a time. This editors blog is still smug and self congratulatory. The family of the Chandlers should not have had to get an injunction. Sensible news reporting means not just blabbing because you know something - thank goodness this lot weren't around in WWII 'Careless talk costs lives' would have meant nothing to them it seems unless there were a series of injunctions. Sensible serious reporting means doing the right thing without the threat of legal proceedings.

  • Comment number 24.

    @ 2jaibee

    I'm not quite sure what planet you're living on, but if you think you can rely on the world's news organisations for 'sensible serious reporting', you've got another thing coming. Instead of berating the BBC for being smug and self-congratulatory, you should be berating Sky for breaching the injunction.

  • Comment number 25.

    Everyone wishes the Chandlers well but the real question to ask is why a Royal Navy warship stood by a few hundred feet away from the engagement and and allowed British citizens to be kidnapped without intervention? There were risks but they were outweighed by the gravity of the situation.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think you got this one dead right BBC. Lets hope that situations like - where a super injunction seems the only option (in large part down to the untrustworthiness or immoral behaviour of much of the press) can be sensibly separated from others where politicians, corrupt business or misbehaving sports stars can go and spend there cash on keeping their dirty secrets safe by using super injunctions.

  • Comment number 27.

    Hopefully you will be able to report in full detail the total amount of Ransom that was paid and who were the donors.

  • Comment number 28.

    The question of the Chandler's, although sympathetic to them, is of no great moment in the world today. More to the point would be why the British Navy sees fit to let the pirates have free rein in that part of the Indian Ocean? Along with other "free world" naval powers they should see to it the small pirate boats are blasted out of the water. Like law and order at home ... you let off the small fry ... and they turn into bigger fish!

  • Comment number 29.

    The appropriate follow-up to all this is some concrete proposals as to how to deal with pirates.

    If a ransom was paid, the money should be tracked and the recipients dealt with.

    Ships travelling in the region need to be treating it like a war zone, and travel in armed convoys. Worked when the enemy was U-boats, after all. If governments are too spineless to protect merchant vessels, shipping companies and their insurers can hire their own protection.

    Any large ship travelling on its own needs to protect itself - I'd suggest a panic room for the crew, disabling the engines upon attack and, once the crew is secure, releasing a virus. In a kind mood, novovirus, just make the pirates sick... if more evilly-inclined, perhaps ebola. They'd get the message soon enough.

  • Comment number 30.

    One other thing I picked up on was the way the BBC initially reported that "it is not clear whether a ransom was paid" while your key news competitor was reporting the amount paid. I find it hard to believe they had access to that information while you didn't. Were you withholding the information deliberately?

    I only ask because maybe that's a solution to consider. There's no way we can ever fully stop the families of kidnapped people from paying ransoms - understandably so - but surely we could have a journalistic agreement that should such a ransom be paid, then it would not be reported? Yes I'm inherently uncomfortable with censorship, but I have to wonder if, on a matter such as this, the benefits of keeping quiet far outweigh the need for us to know the detail.

  • Comment number 31.

    What a horribly self-congratulatory blog and with the added sycophantic comments (I've yet to see one that isn't basically "hurrah for the BBC"-perhaps more thoughtful ones were deleted), it seems the sort of page that would have appeared in Stalinist Russia.

    By the letter of the law, the BBC is as guilty as Sky since the Chandlers were not 'safely in the hands of the foreign office' to use the terms in your blog until after you started reporting it at almost 1pm.

    I understand that Fox/Sky received official clearance to report by at least 5am and even newspapers such as The Guardian and Independent, hardly noted for being rash, were reporting by 10.30 am. Are we to believe that all these were breaking the law?

    The BBC could have done the same as Sky, or any other newshound would do, and busted a gut trying to get the story out, when it was obvious that the couple had been released and were in (relatively) safe hands. THE BBC CHOSE NOT TO DO THIS. It simply was not interested in the story and feared it would overshadow the Aung San story which it decided was the main release story of the day. So it waited till the latest possible moment using the 'super injunction' as an excuse.

    One only need compare the attitude on this with how the BBC sidesteps legal issues on other matters when it fits their agenda such as the Dodgy dossier (no concern for loss of life there) or the reporting on the IRA when the government banned the broadcasting of their voices.

  • Comment number 32.

    Maybe now there will be an inquiry into who ordered the navy to stand idly by while the pirates carried out their work. Was it a naval officer on board the ship, or a Labour politician in London ? Like the taking of a Royal Navy boat by the Iranians, a lot of questions have yet to be answered.

  • Comment number 33.

    22 (last para) 25 32
    Armchair generals all.
    Only recently we've seen a British hostage killed in Afghanistan in what appears to have been an attempt by the Americans to free by force. Any time you resort to armed intervention in a hostage situation there is a serious risk to the hostage(s). It's always going to be a difficult call at the time and an easy one in hindsight. You can't have it both ways.
    So if a similar situation arises in future, the marines go in and a number of hostage seamen are killed in the process, when the body bags come home we can console ourselves that you said it was a decent shout anyway and that you'll talk to the families, yes?

  • Comment number 34.

    cheesehoven, #31

    // "...horribly self-congratulatory blog ... sycophantic comments ..."

    Genuine sycophancy is bad, but not half as bad as sneering cynicism that sees it where it is not.

  • Comment number 35.

    Being one of those people who has been held I am well aware of the issues of negotiation in the press. However, there is a however. It is no longer what is said but what is perceived and no media black out will change the negotiations going on within Somalia.

    When I was held, twice during the nineties, the dimensions were very different and local negotiation with some external influences quietly had me moving. Nowadays we see the overlain influences of money, criminal gangs undertaking piracy or theft at sea, and then the growing influence of extremists who are seeking to prove a point. Quite what the point may be is open to debate.

    The criminal elements: the work is done and the perceptions set; hold out long enough and the money will come. No media embargo will change this now since funds have been paid (endangered those who continue to work in the region as a whole).

    For extremists, then the media is their window; but, again, they are now well versed in making their own propaganda and being able to post when the time comes.

    Let us face the realities of how today's communications work. In the age of the sound bite and goodness knows how many opportunities a day to misunderstand or under understand a setting, it is not the total embargo which is a problem but rather the gaps when people turn a situation into their own little news worthy story where there is room for misinterpretation and every opportunity for perceptions to twist the situation. Even an embargo could be said to send a message since it, in the eyes of some, can be perceived as a seriousness to negotiate.

    We are social animals and this is an open system; all energy, and the news is energy, creates movement through the system

  • Comment number 36.

    I'd like to clear up a few misconceptions.
    "...the real question to ask is why a Royal Navy warship stood by a few hundred feet away from the engagement and and allowed British citizens to be kidnapped without intervention? There were risks but they were outweighed by the gravity of the situation."

    It was NOT a Royal Navy warship. It was an armed tanker owned and operated by the MOD, an organisation called the RFA.
    The 75 crew or so are civilian Merchant seamen trained to use guns in self defence and the Marines onboard are trained to provide self defence for the ship. They are not special forces capable of a rambo style rescue. Had the ship engaged the pirates I have no doubt that we would have been bringing the bodies of two British citzens back to the UK.

    So why was a tanker the first to respond? The fact is the armed forces are streched beyond their means, we have a small fleet of warships designed to combat conventional threats, like the falklands conflict. The auxiliaries have flight decks on which Royal navy helicopters can search for pirates/drug smugglers and prevent attacks. For those of you who scream why can we do something?! Its quite simple, money. The main priorities of the RN is to defend the UK and its dependancies, and to be able to support troop landing operations. If the MOD had the money I have no doubt the pirates would regret it.

    As a merchant seaman who has worked for the RFA I'm saddened by how quickly people will have a go at our armed forces. We volunteer to put OUR lives at risk to protect YOUR lives, YOUR interests. Most of the time we do it with too few people and out of date kit. We can't be everywhere.

    Thats why people sailing round the oceans of the world do so at their own risk. By travelling in large groups of yachts, avoiding danger zones by a wide margin, and seeking the advice of the home office/MCA the risks can be reduced.


  • Comment number 37.

    This is what we pay a licence fee for, integrity and honesty.

    Thankfully they were released without any further harm and the BBC put principle over a scoop.

    If we had a government, instead of what we have then the news organisations that broke the injunction would be in the dock facing charges.

    How do we ensure a super injunction (when it is necessary, such as this case and not some footballer trying to stop his shenanigans being reported) is observed in future. By using the full force of the law against those that broke the injunction this time.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    No Story is worth a life? Did it take the Falklands where BBC journalists reported on intended British troop movements to teach that lesson?

    As to why the British Army didn't storm in to rescue them read the story about Linda Norgrove:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11515002
    The chances of both Chandlers surviving a rescue attempt are small. A small number of 'Iranian Embassy Seige' success stories were almost all the hostages are rescued seems to be at the front of the publics mind. For some reason the usual outcome of this sort of mission is the Moscow Theatre/Beslan school seige/Waco compound/US embassy in Tehran rescue. Even among the SAS 50% of the hostages surviving the rescue is considered a really good success. More likely is another 'Black Hawk Down' - 2 dead British hostages and a load of dead/captured British soldiers to add to them.

  • Comment number 40.

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  • Comment number 41.

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  • Comment number 42.

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  • Comment number 43.

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  • Comment number 44.

    "Why we kept silent on the Chandler case". Yuk.

    Have to agree with post #09 @ 3:36pm on 14 Nov - '2jaibee'.

    Now we all have to hear a constant stream of media about a couple who were kidnapped from their boat by criminal gangs. As I write, I can hear the screenplays being written to feed more publicity for a film in the making?

    My post is not denegrating the release of this couple, but only why this story is headline news at all?

  • Comment number 45.

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  • Comment number 46.

    Good to hear that the Chandlers have been freed.
    What I find hard to understand is how a few armed Somali teenagers in small open boats have managed to outwit an impressive array of warships from countries as diverse as the US,UK,France,China,Russia,India etc. Instead of trying to patrol thousands of square miles of ocean why do these naval vessels not blockade the ports the pirates sail from? Every boat leaving could be inspected for arms and boarding equipment and if found confiscated, the boat sunk, and the crew returned to shore. Perhaps there is a Navy person out there who would like to comment?

  • Comment number 47.

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  • Comment number 48.

    There's also a small matter of legality. A foreign warship may only defend herself whilst on "innocent passage" in another countries territorial waters (TTW).
    It was some time ago I learnt this so the details are a bit fuzzy but, to conduct operations in somalian territorial waters would require the consent of the somalian government, a declaration of war or a UN resolution. Additionally to board a vessel whilst outside her own TTW a warship must have the permission of the vessels flag state or be in "hot pusuit" or have resonable suspicion that the vessel is breaking international law.
    As Peter_Sym has pointed out there are hundreds of little fishing villages, some of the people are pirates, some not. To check them all is completely unfeasable. There are also many other areas where piracy is rife, the Malaca straits being one of the most famous. The Navy simply cannot be World police, as it is we'd struggle to defend the Falklands, which is the sort of fighting our ships are designed for. A lot of people need to realise that we don't have the sort of forces that were around in WW2, and with the exception of having nuclear subs, we are in fact a frigate navy.

  • Comment number 49.

    29. At 07:39am on 15 Nov 2010, Megan wrote:
    The appropriate follow-up to all this is some concrete proposals as to how to deal with pirates.

    If a ransom was paid, the money should be tracked and the recipients dealt with.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Well given the fact that the cash has passed through about 20 hands before a tracker becomes available.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ships travelling in the region need to be treating it like a war zone, and travel in armed convoys. Worked when the enemy was U-boats, after all. If governments are too spineless to protect merchant vessels, shipping companies and their insurers can hire their own protection.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Which means costs will shoot up astronomically. And the CHandlers were on a yacht.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Any large ship travelling on its own needs to protect itself - I'd suggest a panic room for the crew, disabling the engines upon attack and, once the crew is secure, releasing a virus. In a kind mood, novovirus, just make the pirates sick... if more evilly-inclined, perhaps ebola. They'd get the message soon enough.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes unfortunately virus' cannot tell one person from another and the rescuing crew might not appreciate the chance of catching ebola.

  • Comment number 50.

    While the 3rd-Mate is correct in stating that the "Royal Navy warship" that intecepted the Chandler's boat during their capture by pirates was in fact a RFA vessel, he was wrong to state that the only purpose of having a military detachment onboard was to provide self-defence. All Royal Marines are trained commandos (with the exception of helicopter pilots) and are, therefore, special forces. They would have been quite capable of shooting dead the pirates. Let us not forget that the United States Navy successfully shot dead two pirates who were holding the captain of the Maersk Alabama in an enclosed lifeboat, and the merchant captain lived to tell the tale. Of course, the MOD blamed the RFA's captain for not taking any action, but I doubt if the Royal Marines onboard his ship wait for the instructions of a civilian before opening fire.

    The Royal Navy has a sad record of using lethal force to prevent pirates. Just lately, they have been taking pirates from their boats, giving them a good square meal, a free medical check and a change of cloths before letting them go minus their weapons; that sort of policy would not deter a five year old from becoming a pirate!

    It's all very well for RFA personnel to defend the Royal Navy, but as a victim of piracy myself, I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED THAT THE ROYAL NAVY LACKS THE MORAL FIBRE TO USE LETHAL FORCE WHEN ENGAGING PIRATES.

  • Comment number 51.

    Having operated in that region, the RM Force protection unit is just that. Yes they are commandos, but they are not the SBS, they do not have sniper rifles etc. The marines would not have been in a position to shoot the pirates safely with the kit they had onboard, half the time the force protection marines are actually reservists.
    As a cadet with a commercial company we narrowly avoided a pirate attack in the Malaka straits, one of the scariest moments of my life. The RN are restricted by laws of conduct, rules of engagement, and for good reason. Pirates are given a warning shot before engagement at which point they usually give up or are caught when boarded. Unfortunatly unless they are caught in the act you can't prove anything. Would you have our people kill anyone they suspect of piracy at will? As for lacking in moral fibre, I understand your frustration but sir that sort of comment devalues the efforts of the men and women of the RN who are bound by rules they do not make. They want to stop piracy, and are trying their best within the restrictions placed on them.

  • Comment number 52.

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  • Comment number 53.

    After the attack on my ship in 1992 in the South China Sea, I visited the relatives of a captain murdered in a similiar attack in the same area. The family lived in Chesterfield and were distraught at the manner of his death. As they explained to me, they could have understood his death had he died from cancer or in a road traffic accident but to die at the hands of pirates in this day and age?

    There has been a number of incidents over the last 20 years where Royal Navy warships have stood by while merchant ships were under attack by pirates (eg. Gulf of Tonkin 1992), prepared only to offer humanitarian assistance AFTER the attack.

    There was a time when Royal Navy commanders would make a decision to engage pirates based on values British seafarers hold dear; these days they are more likely to pick up a telephone and ask Northwood or Whitehall to make the decision for them! It's time they remembered how Nelson contrived to ignore orders from above when it didn't suit the occasion.

    If the Royal Navy does not take the lead in fighting the pirates, then the Chinese will and, quite frankly, I do not wish to serve on the high seas ruled by the Chinese Navy and Somali pirates.

  • Comment number 54.

    Keeping silent is sometimes the most humane response to really impossible situations, and you are to be commended for that as you may, by doing so, save lives. The reporter's job is to know something thoroughly enough to judge whether it is in the public interest or merely in sensationalist self-seeking gratification. Whereas us bloggers are not paid, and we can clumsily make our responses, which serves to highlight how good professional reporting can be.

  • Comment number 55.

    For me it is a very educative story. Each freedom has own limits to be considered. It is not a matter of court decision, but of superior interest that prevails. Journalists often forget that, sometime with great damages for others

  • Comment number 56.

    Peter Newton 19 etc.: "....Recruitment and retention of seafarers in the UK is now at an historical low. Who can blame young people from not wishing to go to sea when our government does absolutely nothing to protect the rights of merchant seamen to go about their lawful business on the high seas."

    If the 'British' shipping line is registered outside the UK, if the ship was built abroad, if the ship is registered abroad and flies a foreign flag, if the crew are all foreign nationals - why should the British Government take the role of Protector on the High Seas?


  • Comment number 57.

    GeoffWard at post 56

    Another myth dispelled. It is hard to find the incentive to support or protect something that no longer belongs us.

  • Comment number 58.

    An interesting Blog with some valuable points of view.
    Presumably, the logical conclusion of this BBC explanation is that the BBC will not report on any kidnapping or situation where delicate negotiations are taking place , in case, the reporting affects the outcome?
    I trust our judiciary to decide fairly (and not because of the money or celebrities involved) whether reporting restrictions are justified. However, this requires that a plaintiff actually petitions a court for a ruling. How many times does this happen?
    Super-injunctions are by definition secretive affairs, in the old days, the BBC would report that a D-notice had been served and no further comment was possible, now they cannot even state that an injunction has been upheld- this is clearly the nonsense part.

  • Comment number 59.

    Perhaps I'm trying a bit too hard to read between the lines, but I'm still a bit confused by the tenor of this article.

    Are you saying that the court injunction was the ONLY thing that prevented the BBC from running with this story, irrespective of the consequences for the Chandlers?

  • Comment number 60.

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  • Comment number 61.

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  • Comment number 62.

    Hi Jon
    well done for not only keeping within the law and showing such a responsible attitude but for keeping ethics and just good old plain'doing the right thing' alive and well. I hope this will be such a stand that other who choose to break the law (and in this case may well put human lives at stake) will take a leaf out of your book.
    Please don't ever change on this one.

  • Comment number 63.

    I have no problem with the BBC keeping silent over this issue while other outlets discussed it. However, there have been other occasions where the BBC's silence has been very odd indeed.

    For example, during operation Cast Lead (the Israeli Assault on Gaza) pictures from very early in the operation clearly showed the use of White Phosphorus. It's almost unmistakable. Other news outlets talked about it (e.g. The Times) but the BBC refused to mention the use of White Phosphorus for about a week despite numerous emails from many people.

    There has also been a deathly silence at the BBC over the Israeli government documents that the rights group Gisha recently had released. The documents show that the blockade of Gaza has little to do with security concerns. Is this topic also the subject of some super-injunction? Or just the usual BBC silence?

  • Comment number 64.

    I will like to let bbc know that Lagos is not the Largest city in Nigeria and the largest city in Nigeria is IBADAN which is also the largest city in West Africa and Secon largest city in Africa after Cairo.

  • Comment number 65.

    Well, now it is open for discussion, I was a bit intrigued to hear on SKY, at least, about one of the Somali protagonists whose career progression has taken an interesting turn, if true ( sadly what is shared by our MSM usually hardly worth much factually... matched only in editorial trust terms by what is left out).

    Seems he was here as an asylum seeker, but returned home to seek more nautical pursuits, leaving his family to be looked after as only the UK knows how.

    Sadly returning more flush with cash (whether declared or not to HMG for tax purposes is unclear) is on hold as his cut of the recent project was a wee bit less than anticipated after repayment of investors.

    If of substance, maybe this business plan might be subject to further BBC investigation?

  • Comment number 66.

    Sir,

    I am shocked at how your organization has taken in with the Indian Media conglomorate and joined the the complete blackout in coverage on potentially the watergate of India by your website and news channel. http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?268071

    This is not what the BBC has stood for and I sincerely hope that this is not the future of one of the best news media outlets in the world.

    Best Regards,

    Ray

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 68.

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