Captain Moonlight's Notebook: Worst public relations disaster

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FUNNY how some people can survive even the worst public relations disaster. Captain Moonlight has already catalogued Sir Tim Bell's prowess at rescuing wounded reputations (John Birt, Lord King inter alia). Now he has taken on a whole country: Turkey. Its human rights record could certainly do with some sanitising.

Two weeks ago, a British freelance journalist named Andrew Penny was arrested on the Iraqi-Turkish border, thrown into a military high-security jail and held for 12 days without being charged. No one from the British Embassy in Ankara visited him, and when his London lawyer, Louise Christian, asked for a meeting with the under-secretary of state at the Foreign Office, Mark Lennox-Boyd, she was palmed off with a junior official.

By contrast, when a German journalist was sentenced earlier this month to nearly four years in prison under Turkey's anti-terrorism laws - in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights - Chancellor Helmut Kohl hotfooted it to Ankara. The journalist was released.

Perhaps Andrew Penny would have been freed more quickly had Ms Christian turned to Sir Tim Bell for help.