Two lifeboatmen sacked following a row over pornographic mugs have broken their silence to accuse the RNLI of a “witch hunt” against them.
Joe Winspear and Ben Laws failed in their bid to be reinstated by Whitby RNLI after they were dismissed at the start of May.
The crewmates faced disciplinary action after a mug depicting one volunteer’s head superimposed on a pornographic image was found by a senior boss.
The sackings have sparked anger at the station leading to the resignations of four crew members, while a fifth is said to be on the brink of quitting.
The RNLI said it was standing by its original decision following the appeal after their actions went “far beyond banter”, but the dismissed pair have now broken their silence to criticise the RNLI.
Mr Laws, 36, a café owner said: “We’ve recovered too many unfortunate people who didn’t make it, but we always did it with pride, respect, and dignity – three words the RNLI could do with looking up in the dictionary.
“Me and Joe have borne the brunt of a witch hunt and massive cover up…Regional management have hung us out to dry and just disposed of us without a care in the world.”
One volunteer was stood down for social media activity which targeted a member of RNLI staff without their knowledge and produced graphic sexual images which went far beyond banter
Mr Winspear, 26, a bank worker, said the decision was “heartbreaking”, and added: “All we have ever wanted to do was to save lives at sea.
“The mugs were a light-hearted joke between the crew… none of the crew was offended.”
However, the RNLI said: “Following a fair and robust investigation and appeal process, we have upheld our decision to stand down two crew members from Whitby RNLI. Volunteers are entitled to appeal against our decisions and each case is considered on an individual basis.
"In this case, no new evidence was presented to us and we stand by our original decision. One volunteer was stood down for social media activity which targeted a member of RNLI staff without their knowledge and produced graphic sexual images which went far beyond banter.
“The other volunteer produced a hardcore pornographic image of a fellow crew member on a mug.”