The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, September 19, 2003

The (unwritten) British constitution - Article 94: the Chatham House rules

One of the elements of the Kelly farrago to which I've paid least attention is the conditions on which the good doctor was authorised to speak to the media, and how, precisely, he breached those conditions.

But general mooching about in that neck of the woods has revealed a novel (if only to me) concept: Chatham House rules.

Chatham House is the epithet (toponym?) of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the doyen of UK international relations think tanks - formed around the same time as the League of Nations, and having the sort of semi-official status (much like Whitaker's Almanack and the erstwhile British Board of Film Censors) not uncommon in British institutions.

The rules are, in fact, a single rule (a certain element of quaint Britishness there, I suspect):
When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed; nor may it be mentioned that the information was received at a meeting of the Institute.

Apparently, the rule is regularly applied in all sorts of rendezvous of the Great and the Good around the world. Not that I would know....

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