Due to the Manchester Arena attack Ian Cobain is having to report from the city and so has had to cancel his event in Bristol. We will be re-arranging this event for the autumn. Ticket buyers will be refunded and Watershed will contact you about this.
In 1889, the first Official Secrets Act was passed, creating offences of ‘disclosure of information’ and ‘breach of official trust’. It limited and monitored what the public could, and should, be told. Since then nearly a hundred related statutes have passed into law and a culture of secrecy has flourished. From the vast paper archives amassed during the colonial era to the electronic data captured and stored today, the state has been meticulous in recording its own activities and those of its citizens, and equally meticulous in ensuring that many of these records remain hidden. As successive governments have been selective about what they choose to share with the public, we have been left with a distorted and incomplete understanding, not only of the workings of the state, but of our nation’s culture and its past.
Ian Cobain, author of Cruel Britannia: A Secret History of Torture, offers a fresh appraisal of some of the key moments in British history since the end of the Second World War, including the measures taken to conceal the existence of Bletchley Park and its successor, GCHQ, for three decades; the unreported wars fought during the 1960s and 1970s; the hidden links with terrorist cells during the Troubles; the sometimes opaque workings of the criminal justice system; the state’s peacetime surveillance techniques; and the convenient loopholes in the Freedom of Information Act.
Drawing on previously unseen material and rigorous research, Cobain reveals how a complex bureaucratic machine has grown up around the British state, allowing governments to evade accountability and their secrets to be buried.
In partnership with Bristol & Bath Freedom from Torture Group.
Image credit: Phil Coburn