If there was nothing wrong with the D-notice procedure, will my right hon. and learned Friend tell us whether he was in correspondence or communication with the secretary or any other official of the D-Notice committee, prior to issuing his large number of injunctions?
The D-notice procedure relates to matters that the Government consider to be sensitive from the security point of view, and those are identified by D-notices which are published. The D-Notice committee is not concerned with and no 13-notice bears upon the preservation of the duty of confidentiality which is owed. I have had no correspondence with the secretary of the D-Notice committee.
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman is satisfied that there is nothing wrong with the D-notice procedure, what will he say to those who have to operate it—the editors, upon whose co-operation it depends? Is it not clear that the D-notice procedure is one of the many casualties of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's rush to go into the courts about these matters?
I think not. The D-Notice committee is a non-statutory body responsible jointly to the Secretary of State for Defence through the permanent secretary and to the media through a representative. It deals with those matters which I have identified. The duty of confidentiality which is owed by former members of the security services is an obligation of a civil nature owed to the Crown, and the Crown therefore has to take such steps in the courts as it thinks appropriate to enforce that duty.