§ 16. Major HUNT
asked the Secretary to the Admiralty whether an explanation has yet been received from Commander Sir Edward Nicholl as to his statement that there were spies in every port in the Bristol Channel?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for putting this question.
It is due to Sir Edward Nicholl that I should say that my reply of the 1st May stating that he had been asked for an explanation by the War Office, which had not then been received, was incorrect. The War Office appear to have written to the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief under whom Sir Edward Nicholl had been serving, and that officer replied that Sir Edward Nicholl had ceased to hold his appointment under him on 1st September, 1917. The request for explanation did not therefore reach Sir Edward Nicholl, as I presumed it had done. Had it done so, I am sure he would have forwarded forthwith the grounds upon which on 3rd March he expressed the opinion already referred to.
I have recently, however, had an opportunity of going into the matter pretty fully with Sir Edward Nicholl and hearing from him the grounds for his belief, stated on 3rd March, that there were spies in. the Bristol Channel. His statement, except in one particular, does not in fact add to the information already possessed at the Admiralty.