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Budock Water woman wants answers about the death of a Cold War spy

By West Briton  |  Posted: February 11, 2014

  • Mystery man: Commander Lionel Crabb in an image released by the Imperial War Museum.

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A PENSIONER is trying to unravel a Cold War mystery and find out the truth behind the death of a British spy.

Lomond Handley has contacted MP George Eustice asking him to look into the death of her late mother's relative Commander Lionel 'Buster' Crabb, said to have been the inspiration for Ian Fleming's James Bond.

Ms Handley, of Budock Water, said: "Successive governments have failed to disclose the facts and there could be no justification for withholding any information now.

"I'm not a quitter and despite being 68 years old, I'll never give up trying to find out what happened."

Crabb failed to surface from a dive in Portsmouth Harbour in the spring of 1956, when he went down to inspect the hull of a Russian ship that had brought Soviet leaders to Britain on an official visit.

A body was recovered the following year at nearby Selsey, but Ms Handley says she is convinced it wasn't his.

"My family believed that the body found in Selsey some months afterwards wasn't that of Commander Crabb," she said.

"Sydney Knowles, who was Crabb's diving companion and who knew him very well, told the press at the end of his life that he was instructed to identify the remains as being those of Crabb, even though he knew that they weren't."

Another alleged inconsistency that Ms Handley wants explained was in a statement released following the discovery of the body, which conflicted with statements from The Final Dive, a book about the mystery.

"The public and press were told by the Government that Crabb's dive was not authorised, but if that was the case, why was he introduced to the police officers on his arrival and allocated a naval officer who would help him put on his diving equipment?" she asked.

Ms Handley said she had met Crabb's fiancée Pat Rose on more than one occasion and she claimed to have received messages from him after he disappeared.

In 2007 retired Russian sailor Eduard Kolstov told a Russian documentary team that he had killed Crabb in a knife fight under the water, a claim rubbished by Ms Handley, who said she found it hard to believe a British spy could be murdered inside a British harbour at a time when both governments were trying to improve relations between their respective countries.

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  • manicstreet  |  February 11 2014, 4:33PM

    This is a fascinating case.I wish you well in your quest Ms Handley.

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