Political Memoirs

Robert Spain has posted on Unlock Democracy a review of the House of Commons Public Administration Committee’s report into political memoirs, and of the books of Christopher Meyer and Lance Price:

Thirdly is the involvement of politicians in the approvals process. The written submission of Craig Murray details the efforts of the foreign office to, effectively, prevent him from telling his side of his ‘ very public ‘ dispute with the government. He also states that he was told that the question of whether he would be allowed to publish his book was put to the then foreign secretary Jack Straw. This led to the bizarre situation of a politician being asked whether to approve publication of a book undoubtedly critical of himself (Memorandum by Craig Murray, ev 105 ‘ 7 ). By contrast, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, whose book was likely to be less controversial, defended the right of a minister to veto such a project, even though he had suffered from this himself (question 291).


Unfortunately, he only seems to read the more boring memoirs and hasn’t read Murder in Samarkand. For that reason he hasn’t quite fully taken on board how illiberal the committee’s recommendation that the government use copyright law to stifle memoirs really is, and especially the government’s successful move to use copyright law to block the publication of documents released under the Freedom of Information or Data Protection Acts.