Letter: Objections to an ID card system

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Sir: The discussion in your columns of the issue of identity cards is all too symptomatic of today's belief that changes in legislation and enhancement of civil rights only come about through the activities of leading politicians. Certainly Churchill and Chuter-Ede had essential roles in the abolition of identity cards, but the case for their abolition and the stimulus for action came from a now largely unknown member of the public and Liberal activist from Horsforth, Leeds: Harry Willcock.

He was charged with the offence of not carrying his identity card and contested the case through ascending judicial levels until the Lord Chief Justice of the day ruled in his favour. Formal abolition thereafter was simply sweeping up after Mr Willcock's victory.

Mr Willcock's particular objection to the state imposing official identity cards in peacetime was that it created the wholly artificial and objectional offence of failing to carry such a card. The details of this triumph for an ordinary citizen's determination are recorded on a memorial on the wall of the members' room at the National Liberal Club.

Yours faithfully,


Bramley, Leeds

17 August