File No. 841.731/392

The British Ambassador ( Spring Rice ) to the Secretary of State


With reference to the alleged interruption by the British censors of strictly commercial cablegrams pertaining to non-contraband goods exchanged between the United States and other neutral countries, His Majesty’s Government announce that an enquiry just completes into a batch of 60 or 70 telegrams forming part of some 350 submitted by the United States Ambassador in January has established the fact that only 3 were stopped by the British censor.

The present rule is that senders of stopped telegrams are only notified if their telegrams have been stopped for technical breaches of the censorship regulations, such as omission of the sender’s name, insufficient address, etc. If telegrams are stopped because they are of a prejudicial nature, it is obviously undesirable to warn senders immediately.

The question of notifying after the lapse of a certain interval of time the senders of stopped telegrams who make enquiries and of refunding the full or partial cost is under consideration by His Majesty’s Government.

In January investigation was also made into two out of several lists supplied by the Swiss Minister in London. Of the 97 messages it was ascertained after careful search that only 31 reached the British censors; 20 of these were passed and 11 were quite justifiably held up for various violations of the censorship regulations, e. g., inclusion of code words, omission of sender’s name, etc.

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Lastly, out of a large number of complaints made by the Italian Government in regard to special cables it was found that only 14 had passed through the hands of the British censors and none of them had been held up.

Cecil Spring Rice