In the Highest Degree Odious: Detention Without Trial in Wartime Britain
During the Second World War just under two thousand British citizens were detained without charge, trial, or term set, under Regulation 18B of the wartime Defence Regulations. Most of these detentions took place in the summer of 1940, soon after Winston Churchill became Prime Minister, when belief in the existence of a dangerous Fifth Column was widespread. Churchill, at first an enthusiast for vigorous use of the power of executive detention, later came to lament the use of a power which was, in his words, 'in the highest degree odious', but although many detainees were fairly soon released a considerable number remained in custody for prolonged periods, some for the entire duration of the war. This book provides the first comprehensive study of Regulation 18B (and its precursor in the first world war, Regulation 14B). Based on extensive use of primary sources it describes the complex history of wartime executive detention: the purposes which it served, the administrative procedures and safeguards employed, the conflicts between the Home Office and the Security Service which surrounded its use, the part played by individuals, by Parliament, and by the courts in restraining abuse of executive power, and the effect of detention upon the lives of the individuals concerned, very few of whom constituted any threat to national security. Much of what was done was kept secret at the time, and even today the authorities continue to refuse access to many papers which have escaped deliberate destruction. This study is the first to attempt to penetrate the veil of secrecy and tell the story of the gravest invasion of civil liberty to have occurred in Britain this century.
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The Invention of Executive Detention
Regulation 14B and its Progeny
Emergency Planning between the Wars
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action active acts prejudicial affidavit agent Anderson Anglo-Italians Anna Wolkoff anti-Semitic appeared April arrest August became Beckett Bellamy Ben Greene Birkett Blackshirts Britain British Union Brixton Cabinet Churchill Civil Communist court D. N. Pritt December decision Defence detained Diana Mosley diary documents Domvile enemy aliens evidence executive fascist Fifth Column German Greene habeas corpus HC Vol Hickson Hinsley and Simkins Hitler Home Office Home Secretary hostile associations hostile origin involved Italian January judges July June Kent Kurtz Latchmere House lawyers letter liberty Liversidge London Lord March Maxwell Maxwell-Knight meeting memo Morrison Mosley's Nazi never Newsam Nordic League November October organization Oswald Mosley papers Pari Parliament party persons police political prison propaganda Ramsay Reasons for Order Regulation 18B release Right Club secret September Service Special Branch suspected thought tion trial W. E. D. Allen
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