Socialist Worker

The spooks they tried to hide

Issue No. 2152

A key part of the “gentlemen’s club” that is the British establishment is the hidden agreement between the media and the security services to cover up information.

The Defence Notice (D Notice) advisory committee provides a “voluntary code” that provides guidance to the British media on the publication or broadcasting of national security information.

It is a system of voluntary self-censorship of information relating to defence, security and intelligence matters.

MI5 and MI6 recently failed to stop the publication of the book Secret Wars – One Hundred Years of British Intelligence Inside MI5 and MI6 by Gordon Thomas.

The courts would not grant an injunction because the book has already been published in the US.


But despite this, newspapers are supposed to consult Andrew Vallance, a retired air vice-marshal, secretary of the D Notice advisory committee, before publishing the names of any MI5 and MI6 officers named in the book.

The book is sympathetic to the secret services, but it annoys the authorities because they can’t control it.

Socialist Worker has always ignored D notices and so we are breaking this one.

The book names the next head of MI6 as Charles Farr. He is usually described in the media as a senior diplomat.

There is a D notice against naming the MI6 agent present at interrogations of terrorist suspects who were tortured in Greece. He is Nicholas Langman.

Watch this site for more names of people they don’t want you to know

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Article information

Tue 19 May 2009, 19:01 BST
Issue No. 2152
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