University of Sussex
Censorship_Irving_Townend.pdf (534.18 kB)

Censorship and national security: information control in the Second World War and present day

Download (534.18 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 06:06 authored by Henry Irving, Judith TownendJudith Townend
- The recent criminal trials of Erol Incedal on terrorism-related charges, in which central details were kept secret from the public, suggests a lack of clarity about information control in a contemporary context - It is legitimate to restrict information in the interest of national security, but only where this is strictly necessary and when safeguards exist to maintain open justice and freedom of expression - The British experience of security censorship during the Second World War provides a compelling case study of information control in an otherwise open society that should be used to inform future policy - The self-regulated system adopted during the Second World War ensured considerable press freedom, but was hindered by a lack of planning and poor co-ordination between the press and competing authorities - The Second World War case study suggests that information control procedures will always be contentious but that they can be made more successful through careful planning and co-ordination, the involvement of a broad range of representatives, and an awareness of the public interest in imparting and receiving information - Both the historic and contemporary case studies indicate that information control in an open society will rely upon a degree of self-regulation and require clear guidelines, co-operation, and opportunities for dialogue.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Published version


History & Policy


History & Policy

Department affiliated with

  • Law Publications

Full text available

  • Yes

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


First Open Access (FOA) Date


First Compliant Deposit (FCD) Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected