Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/97

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
91
THE PERIL OF THE PRESS BUREAU

that such powers were conferred by the Defence of the Realm Acts. He wrote:

 

"Press Bureau,
"40, Charing Cross.
"September 8th, 1914.

"Dear Sir,

"I am instructed by Mr. F. E. Smith to acknowledge your letter of to-day's date. On Mr. Smith's direction, I wrote you a letter, which, on re-reading, you will perceive was intended to convey to you the opinion of the Home Office, rather than an expressed intention of censorship in this Bureau. You will, of course, use your own discretion in the matter, but Mr. Smith thinks that a consideration of the terms of the Defence of the Realm Acts (Nos. 1 and 2), and the regulations made thereunder, will satisfy you that the Secretary of State is not without the legal powers necessary to make his desire for supervision effective.

"Yours faithfully,

"Harold Smith, Secretary."

This reads very much like a threat to try the editor of the Globe by court-martial for the heinous offence of suggesting that Mr. McKenna's handling of the spy-peril was not exactly what was required by the exigencies of the public safety. I must say that when I read the correspondence I was inclined to tremble for my own head! So far, however, it is still safe upon my shoulders. I, as a patriotic Englishman who has dared to speak his mind, have no intention of desisting—even at the risk of being court-martialled—from the efforts I have continued for so long to arouse my countrymen to a realisation of the dangers to which we are exposed by the obstinate refusal of the Government to face facts.

The privilege of the Press to criticise Ministers