Secrecy and the Media is the first book to examine the development of the D-Notice system, which regulates the UK media's publication of British national security secrets.  It is based on official documents, many of which have not previously been available to a general audience, as well as on media sources.

From Victorian times, British governments have consistently seen the need, in the public interest, to prevent the media publishing secret information which would endanger national security. The UK media have meanwhile continuously resisted official attempts to impose any form of censorship, arguing that a free press is in the public interest. Both sides have normally seen the pitfalls of attempting to resolve this sometimes acrimonious conflict of interests by litigation, and have together evolved a system of editorial self-regulation, assisted by day-to-day independent expert advice, known colloquially as the D-Notice System.

The book traces the development of this system from nineteenth-century colonial campaigns, through two world wars, to modern operations and counter-terrorism in the post-Cold War era, up to the beginning of the Labour government in 1997. Examples are drawn from media, political and official sources (some not yet open), and cover not only defence issues (including Special Forces), but also the activities of the secret intelligence services MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. These cases relate principally to the UK, but also to American and other allies’ interests.

The story of how this sometimes controversial institution now operates in the modern world will be essential reading for those in the media and government departments, and for academics and students in the fields of security, defence and intelligence, as well as being an accessible exposé for the general reader.

Nicholas Wilkinson served in the Royal Navy 1959-98, and from 1999 to 2004 he ran the independent Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee. He was a Press Complaints Commissioner from 2005 to 2008, and is a Cabinet Office Historian.

part |2 pages

SECTION 1 Pre-Formation: The Long Debate, 1880s–1912

chapter 2|10 pages

Regulation of the Press, and the Boer War

chapter 3|6 pages

Facing the Growing German Threat

chapter 4|5 pages

Wrangling with the Press

chapter 5|4 pages

Government Attempts to Litigate

chapter 6|7 pages

Events Bring Matters to a Head

part |2 pages

SECTION 2 Formation and Early Modus Operandi of the Committee, 1912–14

chapter 7|6 pages

Establishing the Committee

chapter 8|7 pages

Establishing Machinery and Procedures

chapter 9|5 pages

Establishing a Modus Operandi Pre-War

part |2 pages

SECTION 3 World War I, 1914–18

chapter 10|5 pages

The Security Context

chapter 11|4 pages


chapter 12|5 pages

The Press Bureau

chapter 14|10 pages

Settling Down to a Long War

chapter 15|6 pages

Approaching the Steady State

chapter 16|5 pages

Continuing Tensions

chapter 17|6 pages

The Steady State

chapter 18|7 pages

The Final Push

part |2 pages

SECTION 4 Between the World Wars, 1918–39

chapter 19|9 pages

Security Context

chapter 20|5 pages

Media Context

chapter 21|8 pages

Early Work of the Committee

chapter 22|8 pages

Middle Years Lull

chapter 23|5 pages

Thinking About War Again

chapter 24|9 pages

Return Towards a War Footing

part |2 pages

SECTION 5 World War II: Suspended Animation, 1939–45

chapter 25|11 pages

The Press and Censorship Bureau

chapter 26|12 pages

The Practice of Censorship

chapter 27|5 pages

Towards Peace

part |2 pages

SECTION 6 Early Years of the Cold War, 1945–67

chapter 28|6 pages

Security Context

chapter 29|3 pages

Media Context

chapter 30|10 pages

Return of the Committee

chapter 31|8 pages

Beginning of Cold War Considerations

chapter 32|13 pages

Korean War and Imperial Disentanglement

chapter 33|6 pages

Equipment Disagreements

chapter 34|8 pages

Suez Crisis, and ‘War Potential’

chapter 37|14 pages


part |2 pages

SECTION 7 The ‘Lohan’ Affair, 1967

chapter 38|12 pages

A Squall Becomes a Storm

chapter 39|9 pages

Another Radcliffe Inquiry

chapter 40|12 pages

The Storm Becomes a Hurricane

chapter 41|9 pages

Rocks All Around

chapter 42|22 pages

Lohan in the Spotlight, and Radcliffe Bites

chapter 43|8 pages

Clearing up the Damage

part |2 pages

SECTION 8 Latter Years of the Cold War, and N Ireland, 1967–90

chapter 44|7 pages

Security, Political and Media Contexts

chapter 47|10 pages

Wider Concerns about the D-Notice System

chapter 48|6 pages

The DPBC Review 1981 to 1982

chapter 49|14 pages

Falklands Conflict 1982

chapter 50|6 pages

Back to Routine Business

chapter 52|7 pages

Reform of the Official Secrets Acts

chapter 53|5 pages

Business as Usual Again

part |2 pages

SECTION 9 Post Cold War, 1990–97

chapter 54|11 pages

Iraq, Terrorism, Modernisation

chapter 55|7 pages

The D-Notice Review, and Spook Mania

chapter 56|8 pages

Books, Avowal, and the Chinook Crash

chapter 59|3 pages

Quo Vadit?

part |2 pages