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4 April 1985
The Right to Know: The Inside Story of the ‘Belgrano’ Affair 
by Clive Ponting.
Sphere, 214 pp., £2.50, March 1985, 0 7221 6944 2
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... Contrary to the impression formed in some quarters, I do not know ClivePonting well. Apart from a three-hour meeting in the presence of Brian Raymond, his remarkably gifted and industrious solicitor, in the early autumn of last year, I have never had a proper conversation with ...
27 June 1991
A Green History of the World 
by Clive Ponting.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 352 pp., £16.95, May 1991, 1 85619 050 1
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... Saturday morning. My immediate reaction was that some poor sod, trusting me, and concerned about honesty in government, had been landed in the shit. It was at that moment that I heard the name of ClivePonting for the first time. During 11 long days at the Old Bailey, luck was with us. Ponting’s solicitor, Brian Raymond, was resourceful. Merlyn Rees agreed to be a witness, and most effective he ...

The Thing

Alan Ryan

9 October 1986
Whitehall: Tragedy and Farce 
by Clive Ponting.
Hamish Hamilton, 256 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 241 11835 2
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On the Record. Surveillance, Computers and Privacy: The Inside Story 
by Duncan Campbell and Steve Connor.
Joseph, 347 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 7181 2575 4
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... These two books have very different targets. Ponting assaults the entire political and administrative apparatus, retail and in gross, while Campbell and Connor go for the army of snoopers and data-gatherers. What they share is a thought which would ...
18 July 1985
The Ponting​ Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... Without Richard Norton-Taylor of the Guardian, there would be no Belgrano affair, and doubtless Mr ClivePonting OBE would be plying his way, ever upwards, in the Ministry of Defence. This is no exaggeration. Simply a statement of fact. I am in a position to know. However right Paul Rogers, Lee Chadwick, Arthur ...

Lord Cardigan’s Cherry Pants

Ferdinand Mount: The benefits of the Crimean War

20 May 2004
The Crimean War: The Truth behind the Myth 
by Clive Ponting.
Chatto, 379 pp., £20, March 2004, 0 7011 7390 4
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... dismal war which achieved nothing and should never have been fought, and in which four men died of cholera, dysentery or typhoid for every one who was killed in battle. Such is the familiar story and ClivePonting tells it with verve and clarity. The Crimean War may lack the exuberance and wit of Cecil Woodham-Smith’s The Reason Why (1954), but instead it puts the war in its geopolitical context ...

Against the Current

Paul Rogers: British Sea Power

27 January 2020
... states, for which aircraft carriers, and indeed nuclear weapons, are irrelevant. In the meantime we continue to indulge in delusions of post-imperial grandeur, best summed up some years ago by ClivePonting when he suggested that the real reason the navy needs an aircraft carrier is so that it has a large enough deck for the Royal Marines Band to beat the retreat at sunset in some tropical port ...

Garbo & Co

Paul Addison

28 June 1990
1940: Myth and Reality 
by Clive Ponting.
Hamish Hamilton, 263 pp., £15.99, May 1990, 0 241 12668 1
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British Intelligence in the Second World War. Vol. IV: Security and Counter-Intelligence 
by F.H. Hinsley and C.A.G. Simkins.
HMSO, 408 pp., £15.95, April 1990, 0 11 630952 0
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Unauthorised Action: Mountbatten and the Dieppe Raid 1942 
by Brian Loring Villa.
Oxford, 314 pp., £15, March 1990, 0 19 540679 6
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... a determination to fight on. By standing alone against Hitler in the summer of 1940, the British ensured that ultimately the war would be won and the evils of Nazism destroyed for ever. Now for the Ponting version, in which there is more than a hint of autobiography. At an impressionable age, Ponting explains, he was captivated by Churchill’s war history. But later he began to discover discrepancies ...

Keeping mum

Stephen Sedley

2 March 1989
The Spycatcher Trial 
by Malcolm Turnbull.
Heinemann, 228 pp., £12.95, October 1988, 0 434 79156 3
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Reform of the Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911: Government White Paper 
HMSO, 16 pp., £2.60, June 1988, 0 10 104082 2Show More
Official Secrets Bill 
HMSO, 14 pp., £3, December 1988, 0 10 300989 2Show More
Security Service Bill 
HMSO, 8 pp., £2.60, November 1988, 9780103007892Show More
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... has willingly deployed against its enemies within) followed by the promise of ‘a better definition’ of criminality – by which is meant a recasting of Section 2 to make sure that the next ClivePonting does not escape. I do not know whether this stratification of style is found in other countries, but in Britain it has the peculiar advantage of corresponding to the stratification of social power ...


Glen Newey: Life with WikiLeaks

6 January 2011
... suggest that state documents such as those passed by Private Bradley Manning should not be up for grabs by the next freebooting blatherskite. But they are. Previous whistle-blowers like Ellsberg and ClivePonting acted as lone individuals, opening cans of worms that had come to their notice while in official employ. WikiLeaks institutionalises such acts of individual conscience, as a kind of anti ...

Subduing the jury

E.P. Thompson

18 December 1986
... today. There is, moreover, some suggestion that clumsy exercises in vetting can also be counterproductive. Vetted juries returned acquittals in the ‘Anarchists’ (1979), Cyprus signalmen and ClivePonting cases. Perhaps they were put on their mettle to show that they were not cat’s-paws of the Crown? We may take the point of expectations further than that. Because jury selection in England ...
2 March 1989
Breach of Promise: Labour in Power 1964-1970 
by Clive Ponting.
Hamish Hamilton, 433 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12683 5
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James Maxton 
by Gordon Brown.
Fontana, 336 pp., £4.95, February 1988, 0 00 637255 4
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Forward! Labour Politics in Scotland 1888-1988 
edited by Ian Donnachie, Christopher Harvie and Ian Wood.
Polygon, 184 pp., £19.50, January 1989, 0 7486 6001 1
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... between religion and politics help to explain why a version of socialism which is sentimental as well as pragmatic still dominates the political map of Strathclyde. Breach of Promise, the title of ClivePonting’s study of Wilson’s governments of the Sixties, evokes, with its suggestion of sordid betrayal, a polarity which dominates structures of feeling within the Labour Movement. The shades of ...


Tam Dalyell: The Belgrano Affair

7 February 1985
... since the origin of references to the public domain is clearly less identifiable than information which could only have come from inside a Department – as in the case of what came to me from ClivePonting. A careful look at Michael Heseltine’s lengthy broadcast evidence shows what exactly was taking place in the Whitehall stratosphere during the month in which Hilda Murrell was murdered. On ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens

10 January 1991
Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... the daily Press to win an inner-party faction fight over Westland helicopters. Heseltine had already enmeshed himself in the net that would choke him by agreeing to the hounding of Sarah Tisdall and ClivePonting, and by not deploring Ingham’s remark, made to the Meeting of Information Officers (MIO) on the eve of Ponting’s trial at the Old Bailey, that the case should be heard by Judge Jeffreys ...


Simon Hoggart

24 April 1997
Michael Heseltine: A Biography 
by Michael Crick.
Hamish Hamilton, 496 pp., £20, February 1997, 0 241 13691 1
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... leak in his own political interest, he hounds down anyone who leaks against him. The pursuit of Sarah Tisdall for sending a not especially sensitive document to the Guardian, and the persecution of ClivePonting over the Belgrano, both left an unpleasant taste in many mouths, as the jury showed when they acquitted Ponting. The older, traditional Tories think Heseltine is too nouveau. At Oxford, he ...


R.W. Johnson

4 June 1987
Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason 
by Chapman Pincher.
Sidgwick, 346 pp., £13.95, May 1987, 0 283 99379 0
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The Secrets of the Service: British Intelligence and Communist Subversion 1939-51 
by Anthony Glees.
Cape, 447 pp., £18, May 1987, 0 224 02252 0
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Freedom of Information – Freedom of the Individual? 
by Clive Ponting, John Ranelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee, edited by Julia Neuberger.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 333 44771 9
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... and are not allowed to do, and a permanent Parliamentary oversight committee on the American model. We also need to make a comprehensive move towards more open government in the manner discussed by ClivePonting, John Ranelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee in Freedom of Information … Freedom of the Invididual?, a new collection of essays edited by Julia Neuberger. Three newspapers are currently ...

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