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Spycatcher’s Little Sister: The Thatcher government and the Panorama affair, 1980-81

Craig, MM (2016) Spycatcher’s Little Sister: The Thatcher government and the Panorama affair, 1980-81. Intelligence and National Security, 32 (6). pp. 677-692. ISSN 1743-9019

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Abstract

This article investigates the Thatcher government’s attempts to suppress or censor BBC reporting on secret intelligence issues in the early 1980s. It examines official reactions to a BBC intrusion into the secret world, as the team behind the long-running Panorama documentary strand sought to examine the role and accountability of Britain’s clandestine services. It also assesses the nature and extent of any collusion between the government and the BBC’s senior management and contributes to the ongoing evaluation of how the Thatcher government’s approaches to press freedom, national security, and secrecy evolved. It is also argued that the Panorama affair was an important waypoint on the journey towards the dramatic Spycatcher episode of the mid-1980s, when Margaret Thatcher’s efforts to suppress embittered former MI5 officer Peter Wright’s memoir resulted in huge public embarrassment. The key players on the government side – Thatcher and Cabinet Secretary Robert Armstrong – failed to learn the lessons of the 1980-81 affair, that it was often more dangerous to attempt suppression than to simply let events run their course.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Intelligence and National Security on 01/12/16, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/02684527.2017.1261191
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1606 Political Science
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Humanities and Social Science
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 08:53
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2018 08:58
DOI or Identification number: 10.1080/02684527.2017.1261191
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4694

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