Andrew Lownie's case

by Andrew Lownie

Andrew Lownie's case

by Andrew Lownie
Andrew Lownie
Case Owner
I am a historian, with several published books, seeking to secure access to the diaries and correspondence of the 1st Earl (1900-1979) and Countess Mountbatten (1901-1960).
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days to go
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pledged of £100,000 stretch target from 835 pledges
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Andrew Lownie
Case Owner
I am a historian, with several published books, seeking to secure access to the diaries and correspondence of the 1st Earl (1900-1979) and Countess Mountbatten (1901-1960).
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: Jan. 9, 2022

Recent publicity

Private Eye have run their fourth story on the Mountbatten scandal this week and a copy of the article can be seen on my Facebook and Twitter pages.

Last week I also gave an interview about the censor…

Read more

I have been fighting for 4 years to secure access to the diaries and correspondence of Lord and Lady Mountbatten, from 1918-1979. It is too late for my own book, but I am carrying on the fight so the diaries and correspondence, bought with public money, are available for everyone.


 It will take £100,000 to fund the case to a final hearing, of which I am fund raising for half. Lord Mountbatten (“Dickie”) was the uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, confidante of Edward VIII (Duke of Windsor), the last Viceroy of India (overseeing independence and partition of India and Pakistan), First Sea Lord (at the time of the Suez crisis) and Chief of Defence Staff. Edwina, Lady Mountbatten was a wealthy socialite, who became a tireless relief worker, and had a close relationship with the Indian leader Nehru.


Together, their writings can be expected to shed light on many of the most important episodes of 20th-century history, including on the Royal Family and the independence of India, Pakistan (and Bangladesh). It is estimated the diaries could be a more important historical source than the Chips Channon Diaries.


Using almost £4.5 million of public money, Southampton University purchased the entire Broadlands archive (including the Mountbattens’ diaries and letters) from a Mountbatten family trust The purchase was enabled with the help of grants, including almost £2 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and £100,000 from Hampshire County Council, and partly through the Acceptance in Lieu tax scheme with the approval of HMRC.


Arts Council England says the Acceptance in Lieu scheme allows important historic archives to be given “to the nation” as a way of settling tax bills, and that “material accepted under the scheme is allocated to public museums, archives or libraries by the appropriate minister and is available for all.”


In its applications for funding the purchase, the University stated that the entire Mountbatten archive would be accessible by the public at Southampton but it is   not. I made a request for the diaries and correspondence under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in May 2017. The University refused to release them, citing a Cabinet Office’s power of veto under a Ministerial Direction, and after futile internal reviews I complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), in August 2018. In December 2019, the ICO ordered the University to release all the diaries and letters.


This decision was significantly delayed because the University failed to respond to the ICO’s investigation for over a year. Indeed, it only did so after the ICO was forced to take what it described as the “unprecedented” step of bringing contempt of court proceedings in the High Court to compel the University to respond . The ICO branded the University’s delay as “completely unacceptable” and in court filings complained about its “persistent, wholescale and unexplained failure to comply with the information notice … or otherwise to assist the Commissioner with her reasonable enquiries. In effect, the [University] continues to flout its statutory duty under the Freedom of Information Act 2000”.


The University appealed to the First Tier Tribunal, with the support of the Cabinet Office. Together they have an army of lawyers, including two QCs. After much pressure the University said that the diaries to 1934 would be released in early April 2021. They were not.


Over four years I have done my best on my own working with expert lawyers in the field but I now need help to fight the case to a conclusion – the full Tribunal hearing has been repeatedly adjourned at the request of the University and Cabinet Office, and is now due to take place on 15-19 November 2021. The University and Cabinet Office keep changing their case, and I will now need to file statements to overcome numerous further FOIA exemptions from disclosure being cited by the University and Cabinet Office, prepare final legal arguments, and fund my advocate for a 5-day hearing.


There are important issues at stake in this David versus Goliath case.

The historical importance of the archive itself, not least relating to Indian Independence and how far the Mountbattens were impartial.

Questions of academic freedom and whether the state can censor private diaries and letters.

Specifically: 

(i) What is the genesis of the Ministerial Direction which “closed” the diaries and letters shrouded in secrecy? Despite after four years of probing, neither the Cabinet Office nor the University has disclosed even the name of the person who signed it; 

(ii) Why are Government and University spending large sums of money (with two QCs) on a legal case to prevent access to private diaries and letters bought with public monies and where the fundraising emphasised that the archive would open to all? 

· Any reference to ‘I’ in respect of work undertaken on this campaign to date may refer to my personal capacity or my capacity as Director and part-owner of The Andrew Lownie Literary Agency Ltd.

Update 13

Andrew Lownie

Jan. 9, 2022

Recent publicity

Private Eye have run their fourth story on the Mountbatten scandal this week and a copy of the article can be seen on my Facebook and Twitter pages.

Last week I also gave an interview about the censorship of our history by the Government which can be viewed here- https://youtu.be/cJ5uD9UhP8E

Tonight I'll be appearing on the George Galloway show and that too can be seen on my social media accounts.

Further interviews in Ireland will be appearing shortly. 

This is all part of raising awareness of this abuse of state power and fundraising  to cover defending the appeal by the Cabinet Office and Southampton University against the Information Commissioner's decision to make the papers available.

I have been forced to spend £250,000 of my own monies to make these papers - bought with public monies for all - available but I can no longer afford to fund the legal costs alone and need help. 

All suggestions of possible donors welcome.


Update 12

Andrew Lownie

Dec. 19, 2021

The fight continues

The saga of the suppressed Mountbatten diaries and letters continues to excite press interest around the world.

Last week I was interviewed by Isabel Oakeshott on GB News and published an article in the Express

https://twitter.com/MattNixson/status/1468894742587002880/photo/1

I was also interviewed for an Indian television station

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duGGhP5n-r4

The fight to open the important closed Nehru correspondence continues and any help with  that campaign and paying existing legal costs would be appreciated. The letters will shed crucial new light on Indian and British history.

This fight  is not just about making an archive bought with public monies open to all. 

Many of our freedoms are currently being eroded. Let's make a stand in favour of academic freedom and against the abuse of power. 

Closing down documents, which are meant to be open to all, is a the first step towards dictatorship. 

Update 11

Andrew Lownie

Dec. 4, 2021

£42,000 to raise by Christmas

The media worldwide continue to be interested  in the issues raised by the Mountbatten diaries and letters. The fact that Southampton and the Cabinet Office first refused to release them and then did so selectively has only heightened that interest. Much has been achieved but there is still the battle to make the Nehru/Edwina correspondence available to all.

I have spent £250,000 of my own money , with no personal gain, to bring us to this point but have now run out of money and need to find £42,000  by Christmas to pay the legal bill. Any contributions that you  or your contacts can make to the fighting fund would be appreciated. I cannot continue to shoulder the financial responsibility for this campaign alone.

This is a David v Goliath battle of one individual who has battled against the power of government to make an archive available to all and to prove to both government and an academic institution that public property should be open to the public, that academic research should not be suppressed in deference to  the Royal Family and that our history should not be censored by faceless bureaucrats.


Here is the publicity:

https://www.timesnownews.com/videos/mirror-now/interviews/andrew-lownie-says-truth-about-jinnah-mountbatten-relationship-must-come-out-exclusive/114288


https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/uk-news/954856/what-is-inside-buried-mountbatten-diaries


https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/why-mountbatten-diaries-are-back-in-focus-341568


https://menafn.com/1103220498/Speculation-about-Nehru-Edwina-ties-as-tribunal-verdict-on-declassifying-Mountbatten-papers-advances


https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/uk-is-paying-24800000-to-hide-mountbatten-diaries-but-why/ar-AAQNWeK


https://www.ibtimes.co.in/mountbattens-38-year-marriage-was-far-perfect-843022


https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/mountbatten-diaries-why-is-the-uk-refusing-to-part-with-some-partition-secrets/ar-AAQZnnQ


https://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/World/20211122/3860158.html


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fl7UsCGBno


https://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/World/20211122/3860158.html


Do please give generously to this important cause.


Andrew Lownie

Update 10

Andrew Lownie

Nov. 21, 2021

Worldwide interest


The issues raised by the Mountbatten diaries and letters continue to generate interest around the world. Here is just some of the publicity.


India

https://www.timesnownews.com/videos/times-now/india/partition-comes-home-to-britain-mountbattens-role-in-the-india-pakistan-partition-questioned/114217

https://bangla.asianetnews.com/britain/united-kingdom-paying-800-000-to-hide-mountbatten-diaries-but-why-alb-r2pqv6

https://zeenews.india.com/hindi/india/dna-analysis-edwina-mountbatten-diary-will-reveal-many-secrets-how-was-decision-to-partition-india-pakistan/1029811

Spain

https://www.ezanime.net/reina-del-panico-monarch-advirtio-que-los-diarios-explosivos-podrian-exponer-su-dignidad-reino-unido-noticias/

Italy

https://www.lastampa.it/esteri/2021/11/18/news/gb-i-diari-segreti-di-mountbatten-che-potrebbero-imbarazzare-la-regina-elisabetta-1.40935064

https://www.corriere.it/esteri/21_novembre_16/dall-india-principe-carlo-cosa-c-diari-lord-mountbatten-67cd2896-4722-11ec-8bc9-3ede90e62115.shtml

Hungary

https://444.hu/2021/05/15/a-brit-kormany-valamiert-nagyon-titokban-akarja-tartani-az-utolso-indiai-alkiraly-naplojat-es-levelezeset

France

https://www.marseillenews.net/panique-de-la-reine-monarch-a-averti-que-des-journaux-intimes-explosifs-pourraient-exposer-sa-dignite-royaume-uni-nouvelles.html

Holland

https://www.hln.be/showbizz/staatsgeheimen-en-illegale-biseksualiteit-dagboeken-van-lord-mountbatten-dreigen-britse-queen-in-verlegenheid-te-brengen~ad429e83/?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

Update 9

Andrew Lownie

Nov. 20, 2021

Hearing concludes

The week's hearing ended yesterday and a decision is expected in the New Year. My campaign has led to almost all the diaries and letters being made available  so, whatever the verdict,  that is a victory already.  However,  it took  parliamentary, media and legal pressure to do so and material only started being released six months ago.

This material should have been available ten years ago and I'm angry I wasn't able to use it for my biography. The good news is that the archive is now available to historians  - which is why it was bought with public monies in the first place a decade ago.

The campaign has personally cost me £250,000 - all my earnings and savings - and a further £50,000 was crowdfunded in the summer. Because of some of the legal tactics that were deployed, I now have a further legal bill of £50,000 - money I need to raise in the next twelve days .

I am calling on those interested in historical scholarship and against censorship and abuse of state power once again to help me in this important case -  I am told there has never before been a case of withholding access to archives in such circumstances - and spread the word.

The next target must be to secure the release of the historically important Edwina/Nehru correspondence, part of which was used by Janet Morgan in her life of Edwina. This was bought with public monies in 2011 and simply requires Southampton paying £100 for its release.

The press around the world continues to cover the story, an indication of the important issues at stake.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/what-is-inside-the-buried-mountbatten-diaries/ar-AAQU1Zc

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/910107-royals-fear-collapse-of-pakistan-uk-india-ties-over-contents-of-lord-mountbattens-diary

https://www.geo.tv/latest/383155-royals-risking-public-money-to-hide-lord-mountbattens-diary-may-ruin-uk-india-ties

Update 8

Andrew Lownie

Nov. 19, 2021

Update 7

Andrew Lownie

Nov. 18, 2021

Worldwide Media interest in Mountbatten case

The attempt by Southampton University and the Cabinet Office to censor the Mountbatten diaries and letters has been picked up by the media worldwide. Here is a selection of the coverage



Call to unveil private diaries of ‘bisexual’ Lord Mountbatten
A historian is seeking access to the diaries and letters of Lord and Lady Mountbatten, which he believes could contain evidence of his bisexuality.Andrew Lownie, a fellow of the Royal Historical Society,
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/call-to-unveil-private-diaries-of-bisexual-lord-mountbatten-tcp0vgfld - Rank 1 - this is relevant | irrelevant

* * * * *



UK is paying $800,000 to hide Mountbatten diaries, but why?
What is the cost of keeping a secret? The UK government is paying 600,000 pounds (around $800,000) for the same purpose. The secret: Diaries of Lord Mountbatten and his wife Lady Mountbatten, and some correspondence between the two.
https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/uk-is-paying-24800000-to-hide-mountbatten-diaries-but-why/ar-AAQNWeK - Rank 2 - this is relevant | irrelevant

* * * * *



Allegations that Mountbatten influenced India-Pakistan boundary at Partition raised in London tribunal
LONDON: A question mark has been raised at a tribunal in London over the impartiality of Lord Mountbatten and whether he sought to interfere with the boundary drawn between India and Pakistan at Partition.
https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/allegations-that-mountbatten-influenced-india-pakistan-boundary-at-partition-raised-in-london-tribunal/ar-AAQP5ch - Rank 6 - this is relevant | irrelevant

* * * * *



DNA Exclusive: Was there a secret pact between Jawaharlal Nehru and Mountbattens? Details here
Zee News Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary on Wednesday (November 17) talked about the classified documents related to the Mountbattens and Nehru which could provide crucial insights into the events surrounding India's Independence.
https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/dna-exclusive-was-there-a-secret-pact-between-jawaharlal-nehru-and-mountbattens-details-here/ar-AAQOYyF - Rank 4 - this is relevant | irrelevant

* * * * *



U.K. tribunal to decide on personal diaries of Mountbatten
It covers an important period of British-Indian history, including when India's Partition was being overseen by Mountbatten
https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/uk-tribunal-to-decide-on-personal-diaries-of-mountbatten/article37533350.ece - Rank 8 - this is relevant | irrelevant

* * * * *



DNA Exclusive: Was there a secret pact between JL Nehru and Mountbattens? Details here
Zee News Editor-in-Chief Sudhir Chaudhary on Wednesday (November 17) talked about the classified documents related to the Mountbattens and Nehru which could provide crucial insights into the events surrounding India’s Independence.
https://zeenews.india.com/india/dna-exclusive-was-there-a-secret-pact-between-jl-nehru-and-mountbattens-details-here-2411309.html - Rank 21 - this is relevant | irrelevant

* * * * *




Cabinet Office accused of lying to MPs to keep Mountbatten papers private
Andrew Lownie, battling to gain unrestricted access, tells tribunal it is ‘shameful’ archive has not been made fully available to public
https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/cabinet-office-accused-of-lying-to-mps-to-keep-mountbatten-papers-private/ar-AAQJPOr - Rank 1 - this is relevant | irrelevant

* * * * *



UK tribunal to decide on Mountbatten diaries dating back to India-Pakistan Partition
The UK Cabinet Office maintains that most of the information is already in the public domain and any withheld aspects 'would compromise the UK's relations with other states'.
https://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2021/nov/17/uk-tribunal-to-decide-on-mountbatten-diaries-dating-back-to-india-pakistan-partition-2384454.html - Rank 18 - this is relevant | irrelevant

* * * * *



UK Tribunal To Decide On Mountbatten Diaries From Partition Period
The personal diaries and letters of Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, are at the heart of an ongoing appeal hearing in London this week, to decide whether they can be fully released for open public access.
https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/uk-tribunal-to-decide-on-mountbatten-diaries-from-partition-period-2613697 - Rank 5 - this is relevant | irrelevant

* * * * *



UK tribunal to decide on diaries dating back to India-Pakistan Partition
The personal diaries and letters of Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, are at the heart of an ongoing appeal hearing in London this week, to decide whether they can be fully released for open public access.
https://www.theweek.in/wire-updates/international/2021/11/16/fgn36-uk-mountbatten-diaries.html - Rank 19 - this is relevant | irrelevant

* * * * *



UK Tribunal to Decide on Public Release of Redacted Sections of Mountbatten's Diaries Dating Back to India-Pakistan Partition
University of Southampton purchased the archival material, named Broadlands Archive, from the Mountbatten family with the intention of making it widely available.
https://www.news18.com/news/india/uk-tribunal-to-decide-on-public-release-of-redacted-sections-of-mountbattens-diaries-dating-back-to-india-pakistan-partition-4450889.html - Rank 6 - this is relevant | irrelevant

* * * * *



UK Tribunal To Determine Fate Of Documents, Diaries From India-Pakistan Partition Era
UK Tribunal is scheduled for hearings until Friday to determine the fate of some redacted sections of the diaries and correspondence dating back to the 1930s.
https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/uk-news/uk-tribunal-to-determine-fate-of-documents-diaries-from-india-pakistan-partition-era.html - Rank 2 - this is relevant | irrelevant

* * * * *



Update 6

Andrew Lownie

Nov. 16, 2021

Media reports the hearing

The scandal of the closing of the Mountbatten diaries and letters is being picked up by the media now the hearing  has started. The Cabinet Office have now narrowed the number of exemptions they are seeking to impose so most of the letters and diaries are available. This is a victory after four years of campaigning but there is still a legal bill of £50,000 and so the crowfunding has to go on. If you know anyone who could contribute to this worthy cause please encourage them to do so.


https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/battle-underway-for-release-of-mountbatten-diaries-which-uk-says-could-compromise-relations-between-uk-india-and-pak/ar-AAQJPRU


https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/court-decide-earl-mountbatten-of-burma-diary-queen-displayed-wmjwtrtq8


https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1521420/queen-news-lord-mountbatten-diaries-dignity-warning-royal-family


https://www.telegraph.co.uk/royal-family/2021/11/15/cabinet-office-accused-lying-mps-keep-mountbatten-papers-private/

Best wishes, Andrew Lownie 

 
Update 5

Andrew Lownie

Nov. 14, 2021

Hearing begins

After many delays the appeal against the ICO's decision ordering the release of the Mountbatten diaries and letters will begin today.

The Telegraph will be covering the week and their first article has appeared

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/royal-family/2021/11/14/keep-lord-mountbattens-diaries-private-protect-queens-dignity/

I will be appearing on the Today programme.


Best wishes, Andrew Lownie


Update 4

Andrew Lownie

Nov. 4, 2021

Most of the diaries and letters released

A media and parliamentary campaign over the last few months has led to Southampton quietly releasing most of the Mountbatten diaries and letters . 

This included an Early Day Motion, organised by Julian Lewis MP, support from Chris Evans of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and History (APPG) and a letter to Southampton University from the Royal Historical Society. Unfortunately the Government refused to meet and discuss the issues with any MPs. 

The releases so far can be seen here

https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/mountbattendigitisationproject/mountbattendigitisationladymountbatten-diaries4.page

However the campaign continues with a five day hearing from 15th November. Southampton and the Cabinet Office continue to hold back material, citing FOIA exemptions, even though some of the material is already in the public domain.

I had hoped the £50,000 raised in the summer would cover costs to the end of the hearing but sadly that has not been the case and I am now having to raise another £50,000 and call on the generosity of others once again.

The Mountbatten collection is important historically but there are also important issues at state - not least abuse of state power and the censoring of our history - and I hope I can call on new support.

English PEN have been supportive and have publicised my efforts here

https://pentransmissions.com/2021/11/02/the-mountbatten-materials-censoring-an-archive/

The Archives and Records Association have taken an article for their magazine

https://issuu.com/archivesandrecordsassociation/docs/arc_mag_novdec_2021_final_mk2

The Standard Diary recently reported on the case

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/londoners-diary/londoners-diary-lord-mountbatten-papers-rachel-johnson-bimini-b961255.html

Further articles will be appearing over the next few weeks and I will keep you abreast of the situation.

With many thanks for all your support, Andrew Lownie 

Update 3

Andrew Lownie

June 6, 2021

Target achieved

The target £50,000 was reached last night after David Elstein, the former chairman of Open Democracy and Chief Executive of Channel 5, topped up the fund by £15,000. I'm extremely grateful to him and the almost 500 other donors for their generosity. It will now be possible to defend the appeal in November and I hope secure the release of the important Mountbatten diaries and letters for all scholars.

Update 2

Andrew Lownie

May 23, 2021

A huge thank you to those who have contributed

With less than a week to go I still have £20,000 to raise to ensure the Mountbatten diaries and letters, bought with £4.5 million of public monies to be 'available to all',  can be seen by all historians. This is an important archive and also involves  crucial  principles of censorship, Freedom of Information, abuse of power.

No university should be blocking public access to archive material of great historical significance which it purchased using public money and for which tax income was forfeited. No university should be censoring private diaries and letters, ostensibly on behalf of the Government, for which there is no legal justification, in what seems an unquestioning relationship between an academic institution and the State. No university should have run a fundraising campaign which misrepresented the extent of public access to the purchased material.

I have spent my life savings to ensure this material is released but I have nothing more to give. I am hoping others will step up to the plate and carry on what I started. I've been touched by the generous donations from people I don't even know but who believe this is a just cause.but disappointed that friends, many historians, have remained silent. If 100 people give £200 then the target will be reached. I have six days to raise it.

Here is some of the recent publicity:

Talk Radio today at 7.50 am-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZIL2aoLnVk

Daily Telegraph interview- https://www.telegraph.co.uk/royal-family/2021/05/18/costly-battle-unearth-lord-mountbattens-secret-diaries/

Westminster Confidential-https://davidhencke.com/2021/05/18/why-author-andrew-lownies-fight-to-stop-the-cabinet-office-keeping-secret-lord-mountbattens-diaries-must-be-supported/

Eastern Eye - https://www.easterneye.biz/battle-for-mountbatten-diaries/

Update 1

Andrew Lownie

May 15, 2021

The story breaks in the media

The story of my campaign has now broken in the media with stories in the Guardian and the Mail

https://mol.im/a/9580567


https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/may/15/cabinet-office-blocks-publication-of-lord-mountbattens-diaries

Further coverage is expected tomorrow and next week.

The other good news is that the diaries up to 1934 promised for release were suddenly made public on Thursday. They can be found at

https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/projects/projects.page

However,  Southampton are still keeping back some promised  pre-1934 files. Why?

I still have £47,000 to raise in two weeks if my legal challenge is to continue. These are important diaries which should be open to all. I have spent all I can to take this so far and would appreciate any donation, however small.

Best wishes, Andrew


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