Former Iran hostage slammed over photo

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Former Iranian hostage Arthur Batchelor is facing criticism after the Royal Navy navigator apparently staged a mock execution in pictures printed by several Sunday tabloids.

The 20-year-old is slammed by several publications for making light of his ordeal in the pictures, which were reportedly taken while he was on a recent night out at a Plymouth nightclub to celebrate his freedom.

In one of the images Mr Batchelor is seen laughing as a friend directs two fingers at his head and pretends to shoot him.

A second picture shows the seaman's head being held back with a toy rifle.

Both images came to light after being posted on the website of Jesters nightclub.

The Mail on Sunday describes the photos as a "tasteless" re-enactment of Mr Batchelor's 13-day captivity in Iran, where he was imprisoned along with 14 other Royal Navy personnel after Tehran accused the sailors of trespassing into Iranian waters – a charge refuted by the British government.

The News of the World adds to the criticism, accusing Mr Batchelor of being responsible for a "shameful" insult to Britain's military personnel serving in Iraq.

However, a Royal Navy spokesperson told BBC News that the sailor was "just letting his hair down" following his "traumatic" experience.

"This was in his own time and we do not police navy personnel in their own time," the spokesperson said.

Mr Batchelor apologised earlier this month after attracting criticism for his decision to sell his story to the Daily Mirror.

The sailor from HMS Cornwall revealed details of his time in Iranian captivity along with fellow crew member Faye Turney, 25, before defence secretary Des Browne reneged on an earlier decision and ruled that further such interviews would not be permitted.

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