Relative wants to know the truth about spy’s death

SPY Lieutenant Lionel 'Buster' Crabb
SPY Lieutenant Lionel 'Buster' Crabb
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FOR more than 50 years the fate of navy diver and MI6 agent Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabb has remained a mystery.

But now a relative of the war hero – who vanished while spying on a Soviet warship during the Cold War – has called on the government to publish documents revealing the truth.

Cdr Crabb disappeared in Portsmouth Harbour on April 19, 1956, prompting an official cover-up.

When a headless body in a diving suit was discovered in Chichester Harbour the following year, it fuelled conspiracy theories.

Lomond Handley, from Poole in Dorset, says successive governments have withheld information.

She has now written to Conservative minister Jeremy Hunt asking for Cabinet documents – believed to be classified until 2057 – to be released.

‘It’s bizarre that it will be a century after it happened before we can find out the truth,’ she said.

‘First the government of the day tried to pretend he wasn’t supposed to be there, but 50 years later they finally admitted he was under orders.

‘Now it is time to get everything out in the open and tell us what he was really doing in Portsmouth Harbour.’

Well-known for his heroics in the Second World war, Cdr Crabb was highly decorated for removing mines from British warships.

When he disappeared, the Admiralty said he had been killed working on an experimental mine in Stokes Bay, Gosport.

And although this was quickly exposed as a lie, MI6 denied he had been working for them – until it was proved by documents released in 2006.

Ms Handley, whose mother was Cdr Crabb’s cousin, said this long-standing denial was an insult to his memory.

The ship involved was the Ordzhonikidze, which brought Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev on a visit.

One theory is that Cdr Crabb was caught inspecting the ship’s propeller.

Ms Handley said Mr Hunt promised to refer the case to defence secretary, Dr Liam Fox.