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The Crossman Affair


(Picture courtesy of the Mary Evans Picture Library)

In June 1975, Harold Wilson's second Labour government made history when it moved for an injunction to bar the publication of Volume I of the late Richard Crossman's Diaries of a Cabinet Minister. This marked the first time that a British government had sought judicial intervention to block the printing of a ministerial reminiscence. Legal action was to a large extent the doing of the Home Civil Service, led by the Cabinet Secretary, John Hunt. The Sunday Times, headed by Sir Harold Evans, joined the fight against the government. In the end, the Diaries were published, to the delight of Crossman's executors. The state responded by issuing new, stiffer guidelines for memoirists, known as the 'Radcliffe Rules'.