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Somaliland (Missing British Subject)

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 25 April 1951

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what information he has in respect of the capture by nomad tribesmen in British Somaliland of Mr. Eric Crane, a British citizen, who is the Ethiopian Emperor's chief air mechanic; from what source the information has been received; whether he has been well treated; why was Mrs. Crane, of Leyton, informed that her husband was presumed dead in an air crash; and what steps are being taken to contact the tribesmen and secure the early release of this captive.

As soon as Mr. Crane's aeroplane was reported missing on 20th March the Government of Somaliland instituted a search of the Protectorate by air and ground patrols. This search failed to produce any information. The Protectorate authorities have gone into the matter very thoroughly but have failed to obtain any evidence to support the report of Mr. Crane's capture by tribesmen. The report, which may well have been inspired by the offer of a reward for the discovery of the aeroplane, was contained in a letter written by two Somalis, who have not yet been traced, to a merchant at Dire Dawa. Mrs. Crane was informed of her husband's presumed death on 11th April as the High Court of Ethiopia had decided, owing to the length of time since the aeroplane disappeared, to presume the death of its occupants.