HC Deb 07 December 1949 vol 470 cc1852-3
14. Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make regarding the retention by the Soviet authorities from May, 1947, to December, 1949, of Private Noel Moncaster, Royal Pioneer Corps, British Army of the Rhine

Mr. Mayhew

Private Moncaster reported to the British Consulate in Berlin on 29th November. He stated that in September, 1947, he had crossed inadvertently into the Soviet zone, was arrested by the Soviet authorities and later sentenced without trial to a period of one to three years imprisonment on charges of spying. He reports that in October, 1949, he applied for work outside the prison and was given permission to work in a factory under the name of Becker, but was warned that he should not attempt to escape. Private Moncaster states that he later worked as a labourer near Merseburg and from there escaped by train to Berlin.

Mr. Mott-Radclyffe

Can the Under-Secretary say whether His Majesty's Government have delivered any protest to the Soviet authorities about this treatment of the soldier?

Mr. Mayhew

We protested to them after we had had no satisfactory replies to our previous inquiries about Private Moncaster.

Professor Savory

Does not the Under-Secretary think that a demand ought to be made for compensation for this unfortunate victim?

Mr. Mayhew

I should say that Private Moncaster's story is not wholly satisfactory. It leaves unexplained where he was from May to September, 1947. I do not think it would support further protests as it stands.