The Sunday Telegraph - For 10 years, the Foreign Office has been trying to appease the Iranian regime. As Jack Straw has admitted, it was at Teheran's behest that the Foreign Office put the leading Iranian dissident movement, the PMOI, on the EU's list of proscribed terrorist organisations. When in December this was ruled by the European Court of Justice to be both wholly inappropriate and illegal, our Government again led the way in insisting that the Council of Ministers should simply put up two fingers to the court's ruling and to EU law.

The Sunday Telegraph

Christopher Booker's notebook
By Christopher Booker, Sunday Telegraph

The only wry smile to be derived from the humiliating circumstances in which our 15 sailors and Royal Marines were captured by just six Iranians came from the comment by Patricia Hewitt. "It was deplorable," pronounced our tight-lipped Health Secretary, "that the woman hostage should be shown smoking. This sends completely the wrong message to our young people."

Others might think that rather more deplorable was the fact that the Royal Navy should have been so careless as to allow its personnel to sail into such an absurd and predictable trap in the first place. As Ann Winterton MP asked in a letter to The Daily Telegraph, why on earth did the frigate HMS Cornwall, at a time of heightened tension with Iran, allow its boarding party to get out of "visual contact"?

If anything sent "the wrong message to our young people", it was the Iranian video showing the casual, shambolic way in which our boarding party came over the side of a dhow they had been inspecting. Everything about this affair showed a complete collapse of professional discipline, which brought shame on the Navy. But if the result has been to land our Government and the Foreign Office in an unholy mess, it must also be said they have asked for it.

Two weeks ago I reported the latest extraordinary instance of how, for 10 years, the Foreign Office has been trying to appease the Iranian regime. As Jack Straw has admitted, it was at Teheran's behest that the Foreign Office put the leading Iranian dissident movement, the PMOI, on the EU's list of proscribed terrorist organisations. When in December this was ruled by the European Court of Justice to be both wholly inappropriate and illegal, our Government again led the way in insisting that the Council of Ministers should simply put up two fingers to the court's ruling and to EU law.

The kidnapping of our sailors is merely another example of that age-old rule that appeasing tyrants does not buy them off, it only buys their contempt. From its own sorry record, no one should be more aware of this than the Foreign Office. But, as we know, the only lesson we learn from history is that no one ever learns the lessons of history.