EDITORS AND D.O.R.A

From The Tribunal 20th Jun 1918

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
For other extracts go to: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

We are glad to find that the action of Home Office in smashing Mr. Steet’s printing plant is not to pass altogether unchallenged. So docilely have the ever-widening powers of D.O.R.A. been accepted by the vast majority of our countrymen, that it is almost a surprise to find that this last tyrannical act has aroused deep indignation.

A strongly worded protest against this attempt “to destroy the liberty of the press by smashing the property of printers, and thus by violence and intimidation to prevent the publication of matter that is unpalatable to the Government of the day, has been signed by W. Barefoot (Editor, ‘The Pioneer,’ Woolwich), A. Clutton Brock, F.C. Fairchild, Catherine Bruce Glasier (Editor, ‘Labour Leader’), Thomas Johnson (Editor, ‘Forward’), George Lansbury (Editor. ‘The Herald’), William Leach (Editor ‘Bradford Pioneer’) W. Francis Moss, A.R. Orage (Editor ‘New Age’), Ben Riley (‘Huddersfield Worker’), E. Scrymeour (Editor ‘Scottish Prohibitionist’). W.I. Llwellyn Williams, K.C., M.P., and others.

After recounting the treatment meted out to Mr. Street, the protest proceeds:-

“This is a most indefensible and tyrannical action, and if allowed to continue, will completely destroy all freedom of the press. It is, in addition, a heavy blow at the rights of the printing trade. Mr. Street was printing the “Tribunal” in the ordinary way of business, and the authorities have ample powers under which they could have prosecuted him or the publishers of the paper. This they refrained from doing evidently, that other printers might be terrorised.”

In response to this protest, a steady stream of letters condemning the outrage and resolutions to the same effect by Trade Union Branches, etc., is now being received by the Home Office.

The “Manchester Guardian,” in its issue of June 10th, devotes a leader to the subject, and demands that the provisions of D.O.R.A. shall at least be carried out “with some degree of intelligence.” After pointing out the latitude given by Regulation 51, and that there is little doubt that it does cover “such outrageous proceedure,” it justly remarks that there is no reason why the regulation should not be interpreted with a sense of justice, or at least common sense. “Clearly,” it concludes, “the whole matter should be thoroughly looked into, and if the facts are as stated, the the person or persons responsible should be made accountable.”

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