A UK Tribunal has turned down a request to make public the personal diaries of Lord Mountbatten & his wife Edwina Mountbatten and the letters two exchanged with Independent India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Author Andrew Lownie is fighting a legal battle for over four years now to get access to all the unpublished material written by Lord Mountbatten & his wife Edwina Mountbatten.
They are significant concerning Lord Mountbatten was holding significant positions during a crucial period in history and Edwina Mountbatten was always by his side. Their diaries, letters and other unpublished material have the potential to throw new light on how the events unfolded for almost four decades.
Historian Andrew Lownie has spent over 250,000 pounds of his savings on the case. He believes that 30,000 pages of diaries and letters which have been released throw some light on history but any major revelation is unlikely as much of the information is available in other books and diaries whichnare closely guarded.
He said his fight for the unpublished material is on the crucial ‘principles of censorship and freedom of information’.
Reporting the ruling of Judge Sophie Buckley, PTI wrote “She concluded recently that Southampton University did not hold any correspondence entitled letters from Lady Mountbatten to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of the newly independent India (33 files, 1948-60), along with copies of his letters to her as part of its Broadlands Archive and was only “physically safeguarding the papers” on its premises.”
The unpublished papers cover an important period of British-Indian history, including when India’s Partition was being overseen by Lord Mountbatten. It also contains the personal correspondence the duo had with important political players of those years, including Jawaharlal Nehru.
The UK Cabinet Office, while refusing to grant permission for release of the unpublished material, had maintained that most of the information from those papers is already in the public domain and the unpublished material has the potential to spoil UK’s relationship with India and Pakistan.
In 2011, the University of Southampton purchased the unpublished material, which is collected under Broadlands Archive, from the Mountbatten family, using public funds of over 2.8 million pounds. The stated intention at the time was to make papers widely available for researchers and common people. However, for unknown reasons, the university then referred some of the correspondence to the Cabinet Office of UK.