§ 3.52 p.m.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE)
My Lords, it might be for the convenience of your Lordships if I were to make a statement on the trawler incident off the Faroes. The statement which I wish to make will be in the identical terms used by my right honourable friend the Lord Privy Seal in another place. This statement was to have been made in reply to a Question put by the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, who unfortunately has been unable to wait. I promised to make the statement, in reply to his Question, in his absence. He has, of course, received a copy.
My Lords, according to preliminary reports which we have now received, a Danish frigate late at night on May 29 arrested the Aberdeen trawler "Red Crusader" for allegedly fishing within an area off the Faroe Islands from which British vessels are excluded under the Anglo-Danish Fisheries Agreement of 1959. A boarding party of one officer and one rating from the Danish frigate was placed on board the "Red Crusader" and her skipper was ordered to proceed to Thorshavn. After proceeding some distance towards Thorshavn the skipper headed his vessel towards Scotland and refused to obey orders from the Danish frigate to make for Thorshavn. The Danish vessel then fired blanks, followed by a warning shot across her bows and, later, solid shot. Her Majesty's Government understand that the trawler's radar scanner was damaged by small arms fire, that her bows were holed and that a pump was damaged. The trawler's officers and crew sustained no injuries.
On receipt of reports of the incident the Admiralty despatched two fishery protection vessels to investigate. They made contact with the "Red Crusader" and with the Danish frigate at 2.30 p.m., G.M.T., on May 30 and held a consultation with the Commander of the Danish frigate and the skipper of the "Red Crusader". The Danish boarding party were returned to the frigate. It is understood that the "Red Crusader" is at present heading for Aberdeen, 831 where she is expected to arrive later this afternoon. The Danish Ambassador left an aide-memoire with the Foreign Office yesterday evening setting out the Danish Government's view of the incident. Her Majesty's Government will consider what further steps should be taken when they have received a full report of the incident after the "Red Crusader" arrivesat Aberdeen.
§ LORD LATHAM
My Lords, I am sure that the House is indebted to the noble Marquess for that statement, and will, of course, wish to suspend judgment or any further consideration until the result of the investigation which is now proceeding is known.