Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Memorandum from the Ministry of Defence



  The Committee requested an update on the progress made in implementing the recommendations of Mr Tony Hall's Report on the media's access to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel detained by the Iranians on 23 March 2007.

  The detailed Action Plan, in the same format as has been seen previously by the Committee, is attached (annex), with progress (as at 26 November) detailed against each recommendation; it will be noted that each action has a two-star official accountable to the Permanent Secretary for its delivery.

  To ensure the closest possible involvement of military expertise in the decision processes, the three single Service Assistant Directors of Public Relations, each of whom already has a direct responsibility to their respective single Service Chief of Staff, have now been given formal responsibilities for news issues, working to the Director of News. The one-star military Director of Public Relations is routinely consulted as well. In addition, the military component of the Defence Press Office is being strengthened as part of a general increase in its capacity: rising from 3 military and 18 civilian press officers (ie 14% uniformed), to a planned 6 military and 21 civilians (ie 23%).

  With regards to the issue of the payments to serving personnel, we have clarified our regulations regarding public communication and contact with the media, both for military and civilian personnel within Defence. In particular, we have made clear that payment is not acceptable when individuals are speaking or writing about their work or experience derived from their service. The necessary Defence Instruction was issued at the beginning of August, and will be reinforced by revised Queen's Regulations. These are in the process of being issued and this will be completed early next year. Revised civilian regulations were published in October.

  With regards to Mr Hall's other recommendations, action has been taken:

    —  to codify best practice in clear procedures for dealing with potential crises, with a particular emphasis on ensuring the closest possible coordination with military and policy expertise across the Department;

    —  to clarify responsibilities, especially the need for national stories, or those of actual or potential controversy, to be dealt with at Ministry level by DGMC;

    —  to improve our relations with, and mutual understanding of the media.

  The Committee will also wish to be aware that this work was discussed with Mr Tony Hall on 9 November. He was very content with the direction being taken and the progress being made in implementing his recommendations.

  We are beginning this month a series of exercises and workshops to test and adjust the procedures against potential scenarios, and ensure that they are understood and applied.

  As requested by the Committee, this note has been seen and agreed by the Chiefs of Staff.

  Nick Gurr

  Director General Media & Communications

  7 December 2007


Media Access Review—Action Plan
SerialRecommendation ActionsOwner Target DateProgress
1Regulations and Guidance
a. Serving personnel (military and civilian) should not accept payments for talking to the media or the public about their work Amend Queen's Regulations to ensure robust and enforceable policy. Include a clause to remind personnel of their responsibilities not to disclose confidential information and to maintain operational security Director General Media & Comms (DGMC)

Director General Service Personnel Policy (DG SP Pol)

Director General Civilian Personnel


31 Oct 07Revised text produced and in process of being issued, to complete early 2008. Action complete.
Amend Statement of Civilian Personnel Policy to ensure robust and enforceable policy. Include a clause to remind personnel of their responsibilities not to disclose confidential information and to maintain operational security DGMC



30 Sep 07 Revised text published on 1 Oct. Action complete.
Amend DCI 200/2004. To cover issue of payments for publishing books and articles which fall outside individual work responsibilities and are completed using their private time and resources DGMC




15 Aug 07Revised instruction (DIN 03-006) issued 8 Aug. Action complete.
Discuss with the Cabinet Office whether the Civil Service Management Code requires updating DGCP31 Oct 07Cabinet Office advise that they intend to include text saying that Civil Servants should not accept fees for communicating in public or to the media about matters related to their jobs. Action complete.

b. Consider policies to deal with the use of mobile phones, blogs, e-mails and social networking sites DGMC30 Sep 07 New rules have been agreed and reflected in revised DIN. Action complete.
2Future Handling of such Incidents
a. Total clarity required over where the lead for media handling aspects should lie and the responsibilities of those in supporting roles Standard Operating Procedures required DGMC

DG Op Pol

19 Oct 07 Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) produced and promulgated on 1 October. Action complete
b. Detailed early contingency planning is required for media handling ensuring that adequate time is allowed for debriefing, welfare issues and preparation. More deliberate and collective consideration needs to be given to the issues and sensitivities involved Covered by new SOPs
c. DGMC need to be represented at all key meetings. Covered by new SOPs
d. Maintain momentum of key meetings right through to the conclusion of the episode Covered by new SOPs
e. Daily meetings to consider specifically the media handling aspects Covered by new SOPs
f. Provide clear guidance to families. Bring them together at an early stage to give them clear advice and to ensure that they maintain a unified approach and prepare them for the media attention they will receive Include in Standard Operating Procedures and provide separate guidance for issue to families DGMC19 Oct 07Covered by new SOPs
g. Involve Press Complaints Commission at an early stage to help protect families Covered by new SOPs.
h. A clearer policy on the naming of individuals and their families Update internal MOD policy.

Update `Green Book' guidance on not releasing family details of personnel held hostage

Personnel Director/Info-XD


12 Oct 07

31 Dec 07

Policy advice submitted to PUS.
3Media Shielders
a. Consider whether the MOD has sufficient numbers of adequately trained media shielders to draw on in extreme circumstances DGMC

Front Line Commands


15 Oct 07Review complete and recommendations agreed. MOD has sufficient media shielders. A set of common standards have been established which are reflected in SOPs and will be incorporated into the training delivered to media officers. Action complete
b. Consider roles and responsibilities of the Visiting Officers and media shielders including whether the two groups should come under a single chain of command DGMC/PJHQ



15 Oct 07As above.
4MOD Press Office
a. Consideration should be given to strengthening the MOD Press Office both in terms of absolute numbers and in terms of experience and expertise they can draw on. Review Press Office roles and responsibilities DGMC30 Sept 07 Single Service ADs in D Def PR, in addition to responsibilities to Chiefs of Staff for reputation issues, now also responsible to D News for news media issues. 3 additional military personnel to be transferred into press office from D Def PR. Assistant Director Media Ops made responsible for crisis management planning across DGMC. Additional planning and press office staff being recruited.
b. The Press Office element of DGMC needs to draw more heavily, routinely and consistently on high level expertise and advice from the Services 31 Dec 07 See above. SOPs include requirement for D News staff to consult other expertise in DGMC.
5The Relationship between the MOD/Armed Forces and the Media
a. Examine ways of improving the relationship between the MOD and the Media to rebuild trust and to improve the MOD's ability to bring the media into its confidence in situations of this kind DGMC30 Sep 07 Event at RUSI on 10 Oct to discuss how to improve working relationships. Background briefings re-established. Greater face to face engagement with media at all levels, including IO and SIO on specific subject areas: ongoing action
b. Investigate possibility of having an informal group of experienced media figures who could be taken into the MOD's confidence in sensitive situations and provide advice on handling DGMC31Oct 07 Will be taken forward on an informal case by case basis through bodies such as the Society of Editors. Tony Hall content with this approach. Action complete.
c. MOD to consider calling on the Press Complaints Commission to provide training to its media shielders DGMC


31 Dec 07PCC has agreed to provide briefings to DGMC staff on PCC and in Media Officers Training. Action complete.
d. Consider how the MOD could help to build up specialist knowledge within the media about Defence and the Armed Forces DGMC30 Sep 07 Background briefings for Editors and other senior media reps being arranged. Options to show work and equipment of Armed Forces being explored (eg FOST Thursday War, Warminster Firepower Demo) being pursued. Action complete.

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Prepared 14 December 2007