At the outbreak of World War II, the British government introduced indefinite detention without charge for people deemed a threat to national security. The legislation, known as Defence Regulation 18B, effectively suspended the right to a fair trial. Opponents of the legislation included the banned British Union of Fascists, many of whom were interned under its provisions. In the guise of the 18B Publicity Council, they issued a series of pamphlets invoking Magna Carta to denounce the perceived infringements of their civil liberties. Written under the pseudonym Jane Zedd, Magna Carta in the Dustbin rails against what some regarded as the death of Magna Carta. According to its author, ‘Magna Carta is well and truly in the dustbin, Habeas Corpus on the scrap heap and the Bill of Rights gone for salvage’. The pamphlets were printed at Half Moon Cottage, Little Bookham, Surrey, by Count Potocki of Montalk (d. 1997), the self-proclaimed King of Poland. Due to their fascist connections, the pamphlets themselves received little sympathy from the wider public.
- Full title:
- Magna Carta in the dustbin. By Jane Zedd. With a foreword by Clifford Woodland.
- c.1943, London
- Jane Zedd, 18B Publicity Council (LONDON)
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- British Library
- Article by:
- Alex Lock
Throughout the 20th century, Magna Carta inspired figures across the political spectrum, from suffragists and fascists to those drafting human rights legislation. Dr Alexander Lock explores the charter’s relationship to the Second World War, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and modern America.