D-notice committee's abolition is urged

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The Independent Online
STEWART PURVIS, editor-in- chief of ITN, called yesterday for the abolition of the D-Notice Committee, the voluntary system under which media and Government ensure national security is not endangered by the publication of sensitive information.

Mr Purvis, a member of the committee for the past year, said: 'The structure is more about limiting information than releasing information . . . the emphasis is hardly on more open government.'

He said government departments should publish their own guidelines to editors and answer queries direct from journalists and give guidance to the media. Mr Purvis was speaking at a seminar organised by the International Press Institute and attended by committee members and senior civil servants. The civil servants are concerned with updating the system's operation to take account of apparent moves towards more open government promised by John Major.

Sir Christopher France, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, said a substantial review of the system would begin next month.

Mr Purvis also questioned whether the government side was trying to extend the system into areas such as terrorism and drugs. Sir Clive said there was no intention to 'massively extend it into national security issues'.