LONDON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Senior British Defense Ministry officials have been quietly fired over last year's seizure of 15 Royal Navy personnel by Iranians, sources say.
Two vice admirals and the captain of the Cornwall have been relieved of their duties in continuing repercussions from the embarrassing March 2007 incident, The Sunday Times of London reported unnamed sources as saying.
Fifteen British sailors and Marines were arrested in the Persian Gulf by Iranian Revolutionary Guards claiming the patrol ship was trespassing in Iranian waters -- a charge Britain denied. The prisoners were filmed meeting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and some claimed they were mistreated.
The most senior officer canned was Vice Adm. Sir Adrian Johns, who publicly took the blame for the decision to allow two of the sailors to sell their stories to the press; also sacked was Vice Adm. Charles Style, assistant chief of the defense staff in charge of operations, who served as the public face of the incident, the newspaper said.
"Everyone involved in this debacle knew their careers were going nowhere but this was done in a very British way to avoid the impression of a public purge," a senior source close to the internal inquiry told The Times.