DA Notices no longer standing

Nicola Hughes made this Freedom of Information request to Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee
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Nicola Hughes

Dear Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, I would like a copy of the D Notices sent to media organisations which are no longer standing and all communications from media organisations with the Defence Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee regarding these.

Yours faithfully,

Nicola Hughes

Andrew Vallance,

Dear Nicola Hughes,

Thank you for your email and your request for DA Notice information.

The content of your email suggests that you have yet to visit the dnotice website, and I suggest that you do this as it will answer at least in part your enquiry as well as help you to understand the DA Notice System. As you will see from that website, the DPBAC is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act of 2002. Nevertheless, it is committed to practising a policy of maximum disclosure of its activities consistent with the effective conduct of its business and the need to ensure that it honours any assurance of confidentiality given to the individuals and organisations with which it deals. It is in that sense that I am happy to attempt to answer your enquiry.

Firstly, I should make it clear that the DA Notice System is concerned solely with providing advice to the media to avoid inadvertent disclosures of information damaging to core UK national security. The System is (and has always been) an entirely voluntary compact between all elements of the UK national media and the British Government; it is not supported by any form of sanction, legal or otherwise. At the core of the System today are the five standing Defence Advisory - or DA - Notices, and these are published in full on the dnotice website. For some years, these have been the only 'standing D Notices'. In 1971 all of the existing D Notices (a miscellany of individual letters) were cancelled, and 12 standing D Notices were put in their place. In 1993, the D Notices were renamed Defence Advisory Notices (to emphasise the true nature of the System which was from its inception in 1913 purely advisory). And in 2000, the number of DA Notices was reduced from six to five, by combining the existing DA Notices 5 and 6 into a new DA Notice 5. Further historical detail can be found in the official history of the D/DA Notice System: 'Secrecy and The Media' by Nicholas Wilkinson.

The five DA Notices provide standing guidance on all matters of DA Notice concern and responsibility. They are applied by the DPBAC Secretary to advise members of the media and officials on the content of individual stories which might - if disclosed - do damage to UK core national security. The DA Notice advice offered to the media can be accepted or rejected by them in whole or in part. In all cases, it is the editor or publisher concerned that has ultimate responsibility for what is eventually broadcast or published. The System is in essence one of guided media self-regulation.

As DPBAC Secretary, I have during the 6 month period ending in May this year I answered on average about 9 requests per week for DA Notice advice. In addition, whenever there is a need to anticipate media stories on emerging national security issues covered by the DA Notice code, I send out a general letter of DA Notice advice to alert all UK editors to this and my willingness to offer advice on the content of any stories they may wish to publish or broadcast on that subject. During the same period I sent out 7 such letters to editors. More general information about the DA Notice advice offered can be found in the minutes of the DPBAC meeting held on 10 May 2011, which (in common with all the minutes of DPBAC meetings and in keeping with the Committee's policy of maximum practical openness and transparency) are published in full on the dnotice website. DA Notice advice is always given under terms of strict confidentiality with the individuals and organisations with whom we deal, and for this reason I cannot go into any details about individual casework. This includes any correspondence between the DA Notice Secretariat and the media.

Your email was somewhat open-ended and non-specific, but if there is a period of time or subject area in which you have a special interest, I might be able to give you more information.

Sincerely,

Andrew Vallance

Air Vice-Marshal

Secretary, Defence Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee

Office: 0207 218 2206

[mobile number]

Website: www.dnotice.org

________________________________

From: Nicola Hughes [mailto:[FOI #78884 email]]
Sent: Mon 04/07/2011 20:07
To: Andrew Vallance
Subject: Freedom of Information request - DA Notices no longer standing

Dear Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, I would like a copy of
the D Notices sent to media organisations which are no longer
standing and all communications from media organisations with the
Defence Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee regarding these.

Yours faithfully,

Nicola Hughes

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Nicola Hughes

Dear Andrew Vallance,

I have looked at the website but could not find individual cases where DA Notices had been sent to news editors. Your site is not very user-friendly and the only information that looks to be updated are the minutes.

In the minutes of November 2007 all that is noted on the Prince Harry in Afghanistan D Notice is:

Para 12: Possible future Operational Deployments of HRH Prince Harry. DPBAC involvement would be limited to the area covered by the 5 standing DA Notices. Action now rested with the Society of Editors, and the MOD who were drawing up guidelines.

Is there any record other than the minutes which logs these particular instances, where it was decided a D Notice should be sent.

Yours sincerely,

Nicola Hughes

Andrew Vallance,

Dear Nicola Hughes,

As I said previously, I am not prepared to discuss any individual examples of DA Notice casework, as this would be a breach of confidentiality - and therefore trust - with the other parties involved, which are mainly people in the media. As I also explained to you, no 'D Notices' per se are any longer sent. The only 'D Notices' are the five standing DA Notices, and DA Notice advice is based purely on these and applied to individual cases.

So far as the dnotice website is concerned, I am sorry you found it difficult to use, although I am glad you were able to find the minutes of previous meetings. However, and notwithstanding its degree of user-friendliness (which has never previously been raised as an issue), the dnotice website is kept fully up to date. The five standing DA Notices are kept under constant review and are updated as and when the need arises. However, as they lay down only general principles, these do not often need to be updated, and the main website changes are the addition of new sets of minutes or changes to the DPBAC membership. I once again recommend it to you as it explains fully how the DA Notice System works.

Sincerely,

Andrew Vallance
Air Vice-Marshal
Secretary, Defence Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee
Office: 0207 218 2206
[mobile number]

show quoted sections

From: Nicola Hughes [mailto:[FOI #78884 email]]
Sent: Mon 04/07/2011 20:07
To: Andrew Vallance
Subject: Freedom of Information request - DA Notices no longer
standing




Dear Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, I would like a copy of
the D Notices sent to media organisations which are no longer
standing and all communications from media organisations with the
Defence Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee regarding these.

Yours faithfully,

Nicola Hughes

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be
published on the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offic...

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[FOI #78884 email]

Is [DPBAC request email] the wrong address for Freedom of
Information requests to Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory
Committee? If so please contact us using this form:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/contact

If you find WhatDoTheyKnow useful as an FOI officer, please ask
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-------------------------------------------------------------------
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be
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[FOI #78884 email]

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