Press Freedom and Individual Rights in the UK

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Date: 1989

Region: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Print Journalism


Confronting Bodies: British Government

Dates of Action: February 24,1989

Location: Great Britain

Description of Artwork: Letter written to Margaret Thatcher regarding censorship of writers and journalists in Great Britain regarding, in particular, issues of national defense, intelligence and military power, and this censorship's effect on the individual rights of those people living in England as well as the indirect effect upon America as a country with linked heritage and close political ties, despite the governments "stated objective to reduce the role of the state in the lives of citizens."

The Incident: The following incidents are specifically questioned:

  • The injunction, since overturned by the Law Lords, against Spycatcher, despite its widespread availability in the US and elsewhere around the world, and the related curbs on BBC coverage of the controversy and even the court proceedings challenging your governments action.
  • The effort to enjoin the Glasgow Herald and other publications from reporting about or publishing excerpts from Inside Intelligence, by another former M15 agent, after it was printed privately and distributed to MPs and journalist.
  • The use of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act to enter newsrooms and reporters homes for unlimited searches and seizures.
  • The ban on interviews with members of the outlawed IRA or its legal political organization, Sinn Fein, over British radio and TV. *Other curbs on the BBC: The ban on the interviews with the present or former members of the security and intelligence services; the threat of prosecution under the Official Secrets Act which caused the BBC to drop plans to air the programmed, "Get By in Russian"
  • The injunction against a broadcast on the Irish situation, which aimed to recreate the court hearing into the 1973 Birmingham pub bombings
  • The banning of Duncan Campbell's documentary "The Secret Society", which prevents him from publishing any information about Zircon, the British spy satellite. The related police raids on Campbell's home, on the offices of the New Statesman and on the offices of the BBC in Scotland."

Results of Incident: Unknown

Source: "New Statesman and Society", vol. 2, Iss:38 - Feb 24, 1989