When the diaries and letters of Lord and Girl Mountbatten have been “saved for the nation” in 2010, it ought to have created a useful public useful resource. As a substitute, a author has spent 4 years and £250,000 of his personal cash in an ongoing – however nonetheless pissed off – try to power Southampton College and the Cupboard Workplace to permit the general public to view them.
The college purchased the Broadlands archive, named after the Mountbattens’ Grade I-listed home, for £2.8m in 2010, attracting funding by stating it will “protect the gathering in its entirety for future generations to make use of and luxuriate in” and “guarantee public entry”.
Nonetheless, Andrew Lownie, the writer of a 2019 e book in regards to the Mountbattens, has been preventing unsuccessfully since 2017 for his or her correspondence and diaries to be launched. That is regardless of freedom of data (FoI) requests and an order by the Info Commissioner’s Workplace (ICO) that the fabric be launched.
The college has stated it was directed by the federal government to maintain a small variety of the papers personal till informed in any other case. “They’ve spent tons of of hundreds of kilos and introduced in two prime QCs, and this battle has been happening for 4 years so I can solely think about there’s one thing [interesting] there in any other case why would they trouble?” stated Lownie.
Lownie started his quest when researching his e book. Though it has since been printed, he’s decided to proceed the battle, and is now making an attempt to boost £50,000 on Crowdjustice to assist battle an enchantment by the college and Cupboard Workplace in opposition to the ICO determination.
The educational believes the paperwork may make clear the royal household and the independence and partition of India. Lord Mountbatten was the uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, confidant of Edward VIII (Duke of Windsor) and the final Viceroy of India, whereas Girl Mountbatten had an in depth relationship with the Indian chief Jawarhalal Nehru.
He stated: “I simply really feel what they’re doing is flawed … They usually simply suppose they’ve obtained deeper pockets and so they can simply see me off. And this is the reason I’m hoping I can at the least disgrace them and perhaps we are able to get the discharge of those diaries, which I believe are necessary sources for any Twentieth-century story but in addition we are able to make the purpose that this isn’t the way in which that governments and universities ought to behave … That is opening up, what probably may very well be one other Chips Channon diaries [which contained scandalous revelations about the powerful in interwar London] for different historians.”
The college purchased the archive, which additionally included the papers of the Victorian prime minister Lord Palmerston, with the assistance of grants of almost £2m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and £100,000 from Hampshire county council. It was additionally topic to the “acceptance in lieu” scheme underneath which artwork works and archives are accepted by the nation in lieu of inheritance tax, taking the overall value to about £4.5m, in accordance with Lownie.
When he discovered omissions referring to the Mountbattens from the college’s stock, he made an FoI request however the college refused to launch the supplies, citing a Cupboard Workplace energy of veto underneath a ministerial route. After he complained to the ICO, it contacted the college, which didn’t reply for 12 months, prompting the commissioner, within the interim, to difficulty what it described as “unprecedented” contempt of court docket proceedings in opposition to the college as a result of it “continues to flout its statutory responsibility”.
After the college responded, in December 2019, the ICO ordered it to publish the Mountbattens’ diaries and letters. An enchantment in opposition to that call is because of be heard on the first tier tribunal in November.
At a case administration listening to in March, legal professionals for the college stated it meant to launch Mountbattens’ diaries as much as 1934 in early April. However this was solely completed on Thursday – and among the on-line hyperlinks seemed to be damaged – the day after the Guardian approached the Cupboard Workplace and college in regards to the matter.
A College of Southampton spokesperson stated: “As a part of the allocation of the archives in August 2011, the college was directed to maintain a small variety of the papers closed till we have been in any other case suggested. The college has all the time aimed to make public as a lot of the gathering as is feasible while balancing all its authorized obligations.’’
The Cupboard Workplace stated it will not remark whereas proceedings have been ongoing.