HC Deb 04 November 1974 vol 880 cc683-4
38. Mr. Tom King

asked the Attorney-General how many prosecutions have been brought against British citizens in respect of articles they have written about Rhodesia on the grounds that they are encouraging emigration to that country.

The Attorney-General


Mr. King

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that, in protecting the freedom of the Press, it is vital to ensure that this rather obscure Article 14 of the Southern Rhodesia (United Nations) No. 2 Order is not proceeded with in any petty instance but only in serious occurrences?

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will no doubt be aware of the situation of my constituent who—together with the editor of the Western Daily Press and the vicar of North Petherton, in my constituency—in his capacity as the editor of the parish magazine, now finds himself under this obscure provision liable to prosecution for what in no reasonable circumstances could be considered a serious offence.

The Attorney-General

I certainly take the view that the infringement of the sanctions order is at least as important a matter as any other infringement of an order. The seriousness with which I treat this matter is shown by the fact that, as I told the hon. Gentleman in my reply to his letter, I have sought counsel's opinion about the article.