Battle underway for release of Mountbatten diaries which UK says could compromise relations between UK, India and Pak – Times of India

LONDON: A tribunal is underway in London which will determine whether all of the private diaries and letters of the Mountbattens should be released to the public despite concerns by the UK cabinet office that they will be “prejudicial to international relations between the UK, India and Pakistan” as well as a breach of the Queen’s personal data.
British author Andrew Lownie has spent £250,000 (Rs 2.5 crore) of his own money on his court battle with the university of Southampton and the cabinet office to get all the diaries and letters released in the “name of academic freedom”.
“The material relating to India and Pakistan is very important as there is a huge debate as to how impartial Mountbatten was on independence and the degree of relationship Nehru had with both the Mountbattens, and so what they said is of great importance to historians and the material around the abdication and royal family could provide new insights too,” Lownie said during cross-examination on Monday.
The university of Southampton bought the Broadland Archives — which include the papers of the Mountbattens — from a Mountbatten family trust in 2011 for £4.5 million. But immediately the university closed off some of the archive, citing directions from the cabinet office.
Following a complaint from Lownie, the Information Commissioner’s Office ordered the university to disclose all the Mountbatten diaries and correspondence in December 2019, but the university and the cabinet office appealed to the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) against this decision. That hearing is currently taking place.
On Monday Clara Hamer, representing Lownie, said: “A total of £4.5 million of almost exclusively public money was spent to obtain for the nation the very documents that are now covered in redaction. Although we take an educated guess of what has been redacted, what we find is information that has been redacted as prejudicial to international relations between the UK, India and Pakistan, is there in the Mountbattens’ daughter’s own book.” She said in her book Pamela Mountbatten refers to the Jinnahs coming to dinner and says that “Jinnah’s attitude to the Sikh situation was unsound” and that “her mother vents in her diary he is already a megalomaniac so God help Pakistan.” She also refers to another book, Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire, which she says shows that “Mountbatten and Jinnah were never friends”. “In that the former calls latter various unpleasant names … so less than complimentary remarks about Jinnah are already in public domain,” Hamer said.
“It is a waste of time for the cabinet office to redact information that was in books about the Mountbattens for 35 years. Some of the information is utterly innocuous, such as a conversation between Moutbatten and the Queen at his 70th birthday party when he asks her what time he should go to bed and the Queen says ‘It’s your birthday — you have to stay up longer.’”
Rory Dunlop QC, representing the university of Southampton, pointed out that 99.8% of the Broadlands archives had been released to the public and accused Lownie of “running an aggressive campaign in the media attacking the university and its staff”.

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