HL Deb 28 March 1972 vol 329 cc961-2

3.37 p.m.


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I should like to repeat a Statement which is being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. The Statement reads as follows: "I regret to inform the House that three Ministry of Defence civilian radar operators, working with the Turkish Air Force, were kidnapped on the evening of March 26 at Unye, on the Black Sea coast of Turkey. The Turkish authorities have undertaken a big search operation, including the use of helicopters.

"The names of the three men are Mr. Gordon Banner, Mr. John Law and Mr. Charles Turner. Their relatives have been informed. The whole House will join me in expressing to them our profound sympathy in this ordeal.

"The Turkish Government have expressed their deep regret at the incident and have assured us that they are making every effort to find the men and will let us have any further information as soon as possible. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has sent a message to the Turkish Prime Minister expressing our concern and asking to be kept in touch with developments."


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for repeating that Statement. We on this side of the House wish to express our own sympathy to the noble Lord, to the Ministry of Defence and, in particular, to the families of these three men. We are glad that immediate contact has been made with the Turkish Government and we believe that the Turkish authorities will do all they can to trace these men and return them safely. Can the noble Lord say whether any terms have been officially demanded for the release of these men? Also, may I express the hope that the Government will remember the precedent created by Her Majesty's Government in the past, in the cases that occurred both in Canada and in Uruguay, of not giving in to blackmail? This may appear very harsh to the families concerned, but I think the House has expressed the view that if one gives in to blackmail of this sort one immediately increases the risk to other innocent persons serving overseas.


My Lords, on behalf of my colleagues on these Benches I would express our profound sympathy with the families of the victims of this dreadful outrage. But may I ask the Government—it is more or less the same question as was put by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd—whether they, nevertheless, agree that the only sure way to prevent a repetition of such outrages is to demonstrate that they do not pay; in other words, that the very yielding to the demands of the kidnappers may encourage them to organise fresh kidnappings?


My Lords, in answer to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, may I say that the information so far available indicates that the kidnappers are members of what is called the Turkish Peoples' Liberation Army, which is an extreme Left-Wing terrorist organisation and which was responsible for capturing the four American airmen and the Israeli Consul in Istanbul last May. So far we have no information that any message or demand has been received from the captors of the kidnapped men. It might be of some comfort to your Lordships to remember that in point of fact the Turkish Government found the four American airmen and they were released. But I do not think I would dissent from the sentiments expressed by either of the two noble Lords in their remarks. I think one of the most distressing events recently has been this growing practice of kidnapping and terrorism, and obviously we must do what we can to stop it.