It was on Wednesday 9th May 1956 that the Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden made a brief statement in the House of Commons. “It was,” he said, “not in the public interest to disclose how Commander Crabb had died”. What was done was done without the authority or knowledge of Her Majesty’s ministers and “appropriate disciplinary steps were being taken”.
However, the Labour Party was far from satisfied with his reply. John Dugdale – the Labour MP who had tabled the question – said that “This is one of the most extraordinary statements ever made by a Prime Minister. It is a complete evasion of ministerial responsibility”.
He also wanted to know the evidence on which the Admiralty had presumed that Commander Crabb had died. He also wanted to know the circumstances of the disappearance of the naval frogman – and also whether efforts were still being made to locate his body.
Sir Anthony Eden sat looking steadily ahead as John Dugdale persisted in vain with his questions:
‘Why, he asked, was Commander Crabb diving near the Soviet cruiser while she was here in a friendly visit?
‘Why had a police officer gone to the Sallyport Hotel and ordered that the leaves to be torn from the hotel register book showing the names of Crabb and another man who had stayed with him?
‘Why had this police officer threatened the hotel proprietor with action under the Official Secrets Act if he did not allow this to be done?
He received no responses from any of the questions and Parliament went on!