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Denis Nowell Pritt

Denis Nowell Pritt


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Denis Nowell Pritt was born in Harlesden, Middlesex, on 22nd September 1887. After being educated at Winchester College and London University and in 1906 he joined the Middle Temple. As a pupil of R. F. Colam, he was called to the bar in November 1909. Just before the First World War Pritt joined the Labour Party.

According to his biographer, Kevin Morgan: "About 1924 he joined the chambers of R. A. Wright, an outstanding specialist in commercial work, and in 1927 became king's counsel... his extensive practice had to this point betrayed no strong political convictions."

In 1931 G.D.H. Cole created the Society for Socialist Inquiry and Propaganda (SSIP). This was later renamed the Socialist League. Other members included D. N. Pritt, William Mellor, Charles Trevelyan, Stafford Cripps, H. Brailsford, R. H. Tawney, Frank Wise, David Kirkwood, Clement Attlee, Neil Maclean, Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, Alfred Salter, Jennie Lee, Gilbert Mitchison, Harold Laski, Frank Horrabin, Ellen Wilkinson, Aneurin Bevan, Ernest Bevin, Arthur Pugh, Michael Foot and Barbara Betts.

In April 1933 G.D.H. Cole, R. Tawney and Frank Wise, signed a letter urging the Labour Party to form a United Front against fascism, with political groups such as the Communist Party of Great Britain. D. Pritt was a strong supporter of this approach. However, the idea was rejected at that year's party conference. The same thing happened the following year. Although disappointed, the Socialist League issued a statement in June 1935 that it would not become involved in activities definitely condemned by the Labour Party which will jeopardise our affiliation and influence within the Party."

In 1934 he successfully defended the veteran socialist Tom Mann, on trial for sedition with Harry Pollitt in 1934, and the same year won damages against the police for the organizers of the National Unemployed Workers' Movement. Pritt also worked for the recently formed National Council for Civil Liberties. In August 1936 he attended the first Moscow show trial. His account, published as The Zinoviev Trial, gave support to the attempt by Joseph Stalin to purge his political opponents. Margaret Cole pointed out that Pritt had "fallen in love" with Soviet socialism.

D. Pritt was elected to represent Hammersmith North in 1935. A strong supporter of a military alliance with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany, Pritt wrote a series of books and pamphlets on foreign policy including Light on Moscow (1939), Must the War Spread? (1940), Federal Illusion (1940), Choose your Future (1940) and The Fall of the French Republic (1940). Pritt was expelled from the Labour Party in March 1940 after defending the Red Army invasion of Finland. George Orwell argued that in this period "perhaps the most effective pro-Soviet publicist in this country".

In the 1945 General Election D. Pritt successfully defeated the official Labour Party candidate, who lost his deposit, in Hammersmith North. In the House of Commons Pritt associated with a group of left-wing members that included John Platts-Mills, Konni Zilliacus, Leslie Solley, Ian Mikardo, Barbara Castle, Sydney Silverman, Geoffrey Bing, Emrys Hughes, Lester Hutchinson, William Warbey, William Gallacher and Phil Piratin.

He continued to write books and pamphlets and during this period he published USSR Our Ally (1941), India Our Ally? (1946), Revolt in Europe (1947), A New World Grows (1947), Star-Spangled Shadow (1947) and The State Department and the Cold War (1948). In 1949 Pritt and four other expelled Labour MPs, John Platts-Mills, Leslie Solley, Konni Zilliacus and Lester Hutchinson formed the Labour Independent Group.

Pritt's opposition to the Cold War and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) made him an unpopular figure in post-war England and he was defeated when he stood as an Independent Labour candidate at Walthamstow East in the 1950 General Election.

His biographer, Kevin Morgan, argued: "Internationally, he retained a more considerable reputation: in 1954 he was awarded the Stalin peace prize, while his standing with anti-colonial movements was confirmed by his defence of Jomo Kenyatta and five other defendants in the Mau Mau case that began in 1952. Pritt's commitment to such political cases had long since meant the shrinkage of his general practice, and this was now reinforced by the fiercer anathemas of the cold war. Pritt retired from the bar in 1960, honoured far more in other countries than his own."

Pritt continued to write and his books included Spies and Informers in the Witness-box (1958), Liberty in Chains (1962) and The Labour Government, 1945-1951 (1963). He also Professor of Law at the University of Ghana (1965-1966), Chairman of the Howard League for Penal Reform and a member of the World Peace Council.

Other books by Pitt include Neo-Nazis, the Danger of War (1966) and three volumes of autobiography: From Right to Left (1965), Brasshats and Bureaucrats (1966) and The Defence Accuses (1966).

Denis Nowell Pritt died at his home in Pamber Heath, near Silchester, Hampshire, on 23 May 1972.

The Socialist League was socialist first and radical second; like the ILP and the CP its approach was fundamentally utopian. It accepted as an article of faith that unemployment was an endemic feature of capitalism. William Mellor prefaced his proposals for a short-term programme by means of which Labour could tackle unemployment with the note: "The plans out-lined are not presented as a cure of this scourge of capitalism. Socialism alone can change compulsory Unemployment into remunerated leisure, with the machine as a servant, and effective demand equal to productive capacity." Thus non-socialist planning could at best - when carried out by a Labour Government with genuine socialist intentions - bring a temporary alleviation, pending the transition to socialism. At worst, when carried out by a capitalist government, it reinforced the control of industry by capitalist and financial interests, at the expense of the workers.

The latter possibility was especially abhorrent because of the strong Guild Socialist background of the League. In this respect Cole, the effective founder of Guild Socialism, was the major figure. In spite of his tactical differences with the League, his intellectual influence remained strong. He played a large part in the formulation of the League's policy document, Forward to Socialism; he continued to deliver lectures to, and write pamphlets for, the League; and several of his former SSIP colleagues remained on the National Council. Two of these, Mellor and Horrabin, central figures in the League, had a particularly strong Guild Socialist background. Both had been members of the Labour Research Department group of Guild Socialists with Cole in the early twenties. Mellor had been a Guild Socialist delegate at the Foundation Conference of the CPGB. It was therefore not surprising that the Socialist League put a very strong emphasis on workers' control, or that it put up an intense resistance to any scheme for industry which seemed to negate it.

What we say is rather... that in the Left Book Club we arc creating the mass basis without which a true Popular Front is impossible. In a sense, the Left Book Club is already a sort of popular front that happens to have happened. It is a body of people who happen to have come together and happen to agree on a number of vital topics. Sooner or later, in their various organisations, it is absolutely inevitable that they will act on that agreement.

This brings me on also to the next question, which is: "Are you a new political party?" The answer is emphatically "No." Rather are we a body of men and women of all progressive parties, hammering out our differences, coming to agreement, and then acting in our various organisations.

My feeling is this: if we succeed on a big enough scale in creating this mass basis, then all objections to a Popular Front, from whatever quarter, necessarily and automatically vanish.... Now if I have made myself clear, you will not misconstrue me or think I am describing this as a Popular Front meeting when I say that the whole idea of the Left Book Club is reflected in the composition of our platform this afternoon. We have here Professor Laski, who since I first knew him at Oxford before the War (we are living in such an atmosphere that I had almost said before the last War) has devoted himself unswervingly to the Labour Party. We have Mr Acland, one of the Liberal Party Whips. We have Mr Strachey whom some people allege to be a Communist. We have Mr Pollitt, who certainly is a Communist. We were to have had with us this afternoon, as you know, Sir Stafford Cripps, and it is really with tremendous disappointment that I tell you that he cannot come because lie has influenza. Sir Stafford, as you know, has been in a thousand fights for peace and the working man... And then we have my very clear friend, if lie will allow me to call him so, Pritt, who has also been a tireless worker for peace and freedom... Now Pritt, as you know, is a member of the Executive of the Parliamentary Labour Party. I do not know what his views may be on the question of the United Front and the Popular Front, which his party has boycotted, but I know he clearly has no objection whatever to the sort of unity I have been putting before you; otherwise lie would not be on the platform.

As a member of the executive and editor of Labour Monthly, Dutt occupied the role of leading theoretician as populariser and apologist for the line of the Comintern in whatever direction it happened to be moving... Together with D.N. Pritt he was an enthusiastic apologist for the Moscow frame-up trials. Russian communists he had known, some as friends, disappeared in the horror of the great purge, not a words, not a whisper escaped Dutt’s lips or his pen to indicate anything but peace and socialist construction were going on in Russia under the avuncular beneficence of Joe Stalin.


Pritt, Denis Nowell

Born Sept. 22, 1887, in Harlesden, a London suburb died May 23, 1972, in London. British lawyer and public figure.

Pritt was educated at the University of London and studied in Germany, Switzerland, and Spain. A lawyer at famous political trials, he was chairman of an international commission investigating the Reichstag fire in 1933 and of the British Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR from 1933 to 1969. From 1951 to 1959, Pritt was president of the British Peace Committee, a member of the World Peace Council, and president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. He held honorary doctorates from several foreign universities, including Moscow State University (1961).

Pritt was the author of a number of works of social criticism. One of his last works was the four-volume Law, Class, and Society, a study of the role of law and lawyers in the class struggle. He received the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Nations in 1954.


Denis Nowell Pritt

Born Sept. 22, 1887, in Harlesden, a London suburb died May 23, 1972, in London. British lawyer and public figure.

Pritt was educated at the University of London and studied in Germany, Switzerland, and Spain. A lawyer at famous political trials, he was chairman of an international commission investigating the Reichstag fire in 1933 and of the British Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR from 1933 to 1969. From 1951 to 1959, Pritt was president of the British Peace Committee, a member of the World Peace Council, and president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. He held honorary doctorates from several foreign universities, including Moscow State University (1961).

Pritt was the author of a number of works of social criticism. One of his last works was the four-volume Law, Class, and Society, a study of the role of law and lawyers in the class struggle. He received the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Nations in 1954.


Denis Noel Pritt, 1887-1972, was educated at Winchester, London University, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. He obtained an LLB from London University and was called to the Bar, Middle Temple, in 1909, he retired from practice in 1960. He was a Labour MP for Hammersmith North from 1935-1950, despite being expelled from the Labour Party in 1940. He was also Professor of Law at the University of Ghana, 1965-1966, chairman of the Howard League for Penal Reform and chairman of the Bentham Committee for Poor Litigants. In addition his interest in peace led him to become president of the British Peace Committee and a member of the World Peace Council. He was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1954.

This collection is divided into six sections: Section 1. Political and Legal Papers, 1938-1961 Section 2. Political and Legal Papers, 1966-1971 Section 3. Books, Addresses and Speeches Section 4. Photographs Section 5. Letters from Pritt and his wife. There are some addenda.


Catalogue description Denis Nowell PRITT: British. PRITT, a King's Counsel and Labour (and later Independent).

Denis Nowell PRITT: British. PRITT, a King's Counsel and Labour (and later Independent) Member of Parliament for North Hammersmith, was identified by Gen. Walter KRIVITSKY (KV/2/802) in 1940 as "one of the chief recruiting agents for Soviet underground organisations in the United Kingdom". PRITT was an ardent supporter of all aspects of Soviet policy, to the extent that he was expelled from the Labour Party in March 1940 for his support for the Russian invasion of Finland, although he refused to resign his seat. He attempted unsuccessfully to rejoin the Labour Party in 1945 and, having been refused, retained the seat as an "Independent Labour" candidate. He was a member of the governing bodies of numerous organisations which the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) controlled or sought strongly to influence, and played a significant part in their activities. As such he was in close contact with leading members of the CPGB. PRITT himself was not a member of the Party. The file consists mostly of material relating to PRITT's public activities as a speaker at "front" organisations and his authorship of propaganda. It concludes that KRIVITSKY did not mean that PRITT was a spy or recruiter of spies but a propagandist and agent of the CPSU


Denis Nowell Pritt

Denis Nowell Pritt (22 September 1887 – 23 May 1972), usually known as D. N. Pritt, was a British barrister and Labour Party politician. Born in Harlesden, Middlesex, he was educated at Winchester College and London University.

A member of the Labour Party from 1918, he was a defender of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. In 1932, as part of G. D. H. Cole's New Fabian Research Bureau's 'expert commission of enquiry', he visited the Soviet Union, and according to Margaret Cole "the eminent KC swallowed it all". [ 1 ] He was thought by George Orwell to be "perhaps the most effective pro-Soviet publicist in this country". [ 2 ]

Pritt's book Must the War Spread? sympathized with the Soviets and led him to be in poor favour with the Labour Party during the war. [ 3 ]

Pritt was a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Hammersmith North from 1935 to 1940, when he was expelled from the party for defending the Soviet invasion of Finland. He then sat as an Independent Labour member, and at the 1945 general election was re-elected in Hammersmith North under that label. In 1949 he formed the Labour Independent Group with several other fellow travelers, including John Platts-Mills and Konni Zilliacus, who had both also been expelled from the Labour Party for pro-Soviet sympathies. At the General Election of 1950, Pritt lost his seat to the Labour Party candidate, Frank Tomney.

Pritt was awarded the 1954 International Stalin Peace Prize and in 1957 became an honorary citizen of Leipzig, which was then in East Germany. He was also awarded the Star of the Völkerfreundschaft (in gold) in October 1965.


Dennis Nowell Pritt

Denis Nowell Pritt (22 September 1887 – 23 May 1972), usually known as D. N. Pritt, was a British barrister and Labour Party politician. Born in Harlesden, Middlesex, he was educated at Winchester College and London University.

A member of the Labour Party from 1918, he was a defender of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. In 1932, as part of G. D. H. Cole's New Fabian Research Bureau's 'expert commission of enquiry', he visited the Soviet Union, and according to Margaret Cole "the eminent KC swallowed it all". [ 1 ] He was thought by George Orwell to be "perhaps the most effective pro-Soviet publicist in this country". [ 2 ]

Pritt's book Must the War Spread? sympathized with the Soviets and led him to be in poor favour with the Labour Party during the war. [ 3 ]

Pritt was a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Hammersmith North from 1935 to 1940, when he was expelled from the party for defending the Soviet invasion of Finland. He then sat as an Independent Labour member, and at the 1945 general election was re-elected in Hammersmith North under that label. In 1949 he formed the Labour Independent Group with several other fellow travelers, including John Platts-Mills and Konni Zilliacus, who had both also been expelled from the Labour Party for pro-Soviet sympathies. At the General Election of 1950, Pritt lost his seat to the Labour Party candidate, Frank Tomney.

Pritt was awarded the 1954 International Stalin Peace Prize and in 1957 became an honorary citizen of Leipzig, which was then in East Germany. He was also awarded the Star of the Völkerfreundschaft (in gold) in October 1965.


Catalogue description Dennis Nowell Pritt QC: leading left wing lawyer and prospective parliamentary.

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Dennis Nowell Pritt QC: leading left wing lawyer and prospective parliamentary candidate: record file, reports and press cuttings

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Deporting Ho Chi Minh

When, in 1931, the Vietnamese revolutionary Nguyen Ai Quoc was discovered to be hiding in Hong Kong, the French authorities requested the British extradite him to Indochina where a death sentence awaited.

T he spark igniting the civil unrest in Hong Kong which has been going on for the last seven months was the introduction of an extradition bill, felt by many people to be a threat to the rule of law in the Territory. Some protestors in early demonstrations waved the Union Jack flag, not, one speculates, to indicate a desire for a return of colonialism, but as a symbol of a time when, despite a democratic deficit, they believed that civil rights were respected.

This brings to mind an extradition cause célèbre in the then British Crown Colony which took place between 1931 and 1933. The wishes of the executive of the day were thwarted by legal process, instigated by a Hong Kong-based English lawyer, Francis Loseby, on behalf of his Vietnamese client, Nguyen Ai Quoc (‘Nguyen the Patriot’). The client used several aliases throughout his life. He was known in the legal proceedings by the Chinese name of Sung Man Cho. He is known to posterity by his final alias, Ho Chi Minh (‘He Who Enlightens’).

Ho was born in 1890 in Annam, central Vietnam, then part of French Indochina, the son of a minor government official. He left Indochina in 1911 and travelled the world undertaking various menial jobs to support himself. By 1919, he was living in France and, together with other Vietnamese there, petitioned the participants in the Versailles peace talks to press for greater civil rights for the people of Vietnam. This earned him the attention of the French authorities. He started calling himself Nguyen Ai Quoc and pamphlets calling for independence were published under that name. He became involved with various socialist groups and in 1920 was a founding member of the French Communist Party. In 1923 he moved on, studying in Moscow, probably at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, a training school for Asian communists established by the Communist International (Comintern). He then travelled to southern China and South-east Asia, avoiding Indochina. He reached Hong Kong from Siam (now Thailand) in 1930, where he was instrumental in bringing together several groups to found the Communist Party of Vietnam (later Communist Party of Indochina). After a brief sojourn in Siam, Ho returned to Hong Kong in 1931.

In October 1929, Nguyen Ai Quoc had been sentenced to death in absentia by the Court of Vinh, in Annam, for revolutionary activity. The British and French colonial authorities operated an informal mutual co-operation policy, keeping an eye out for, and sharing information on, those they regarded as subversives in their respective territories. In April 1931, a French Comintern agent was arrested in Singapore and his premises searched. Among his papers was correspondence with alleged communist agents, including ‘Nguyen Ai Quoc’ in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong police were duly informed (along with the French Sûreté Nationale) and obtained a warrant under the Seditious Publications Ordinance, searching the address in Kowloon given for Nguyen Ai Quoc on 6 June 1931. Ho was arrested, but no seditious material was found. On 12 June, Ho was re-arrested then detained under legislation known as the Deportation Ordinance.

Ho, who was using the name Sung Man Cho and claiming to be Chinese, denied being Nguyen. He was kept in detention while the authorities worked out what to do next. Friends of his contacted a British solicitor, Francis Loseby. He was known in the Vietnamese community in Hong Kong, having successfully prevented a Vietnamese defendant from being extradited in an earlier case. Funding for Loseby was apparently arranged, through the Comintern, by International Red Aid and the League Against Imperialism, organisations which provided funds for anti-colonial activists.

The news of the arrest of the agitator ‘Nguyen Ai Quoc’ was reported in the French and Indochinese newspapers. This began to excite local and then international press interest. On 23 June, Hong Kong’s main newspaper the South China Morning Post reported that

Nguyen Ai Quoc, the supreme leader of the Annamite revolutionists, has been arrested in Hong Kong. His arrest constitutes a big political coup for the French administration in Indochina, in as much as Nguyen has been the object of considerable attention for many years.

On the same date, in London the Times reported the arrest, commenting that it was at the request of the French authorities and was of the person ‘alleged to have been responsible for the recent revolt in Indochina’.

Hong Kong’s governor, Sir William Peel, wanted to help the French, but the publicity surrounding Ho’s arrest meant that doing so quietly was out of the question. Due process had to be followed. The French were aware, however, that an application for Ho’s extradition was unlikely to be successful. There is a distinction between extradition, which is a pull by the jurisdiction wanting the person in question, and deportation, which is a push by a jurisdiction wishing to expel someone. At the time, the terms for extradition came under a Franco-British treaty annexed to the British Extradition Act, which, even if the French could demonstrate that ‘Sung’ was ‘Nguyen’, did not permit extradition on political grounds. Sung or Nguyen had not infringed any Hong Kong law, so Peel concluded that the best option was deportation, a matter for his very wide discretion, on the simple basis that Ho’s presence in Hong Kong was undesirable, even though deportation ordinarily permits the deportee some leeway in choice of destination. Peel sought confirmation from London that he should simply deport Ho.

The French authorities had been delighted with Ho’s detention and wanted him placed in their custody. The French Consul in Hong Kong advised the Quai d’Orsay (Foreign Ministry) in Paris of the governor’s difficulties and suggested direct liaison between Paris and London. Contemporary French Colonial Office memoranda refer to expectations of reciprocity because of French assistance to the British in returning fugitives in West Africa and India. The Quai d’Orsay lobbied the Foreign Office in London to come to some accommodation with them, resulting in the Foreign Secretary, Arthur Henderson, directing his officials to write to the Colonial Office (the Ministry overseeing Britain’s colonies). In a memorandum to the Colonial Office dated 1 August, an official wrote:

As Ngu Yen [sic] Ai Quoc has been identified as a native of Annam … Mr. Henderson would suggest, for the consideration of Lord Passfield [the Colonial Secretary] that his deportation should be effected to Annam … In view of the representations made by the French Ambassador … he considers that it would be embarrassing to have to explain to the French Government that of the various alternatives available His Majesty’s Government has selected the one least calculated to meet their wishes.

Some civil servants in the Colonial Office nevertheless had serious misgivings – there was concern that to deport Ho to Indochina would be equivalent to signing a death warrant on a charge that would not be capital in British Territory. ‘We cannot it seems to me insist on [Ho] going to Indochina’, wrote one official, ‘any more than if we had occasion to deport an ex-official of the Tsar’s Gov. we could or should insist on his going to Soviet Russia.’ He added a curt postscript: ‘Communism is not a crime known to our law – any more than Monarchism is.’

Passfield, however, agreed with Henderson. The Colonial Office told Peel that Ho should be deported ‘to Indo-China … the French government consider him to be a danger to all European possessions in the Far East and expressing the hope that you would be advised to come to a decision such as would facilitate the task of the Governor General of Indo-China’.

Henderson, a trade unionist by background, and Passfield (better known as Sidney Webb, an early Fabian and co-founder of the London School of Economics) were ministers in a Labour administration. Why would they have been so sympathetic to the French colonial authorities? There are a mixture of reasons. Britain, like the rest of Europe, was in the middle of a financial crisis, putting a premium on stability, including as good relations with France as possible. Mutual support aimed at preventing insurrection in their respective Far East colonies was also seen as important. At the time, moreover, there was general indifference to, and little appreciation of, the rights of colonial peoples – even among those of a progressive political outlook (as Ho had found in his dealings with French socialists). Finally, the minority Labour government was weak and distracted. Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald resigned on 24 August. Although he was persuaded to stay in office and put together an emergency national government, Passfield and Henderson did not retain their positions.

Loseby meanwhile had applied on behalf of ‘Sung Man Cho’ for a writ of habeas corpus, a procedure where someone who is unlawfully detained can petition the court to be released. Despite the petition, on 6 August, Governor Peel, following the guidance from London, issued an order that Ho be deported on a ship bound for French Indochina, due to sail on 18 August.

The matter came before the court on 14 August 1931, with Loseby instructing a senior counsel, F.C. Jenkin. The court consisted of the Chief Justice of Hong Kong, Sir Joseph Kemp, and another judge. Jenkin highlighted various irregularities in the original deportation order but this had been anticipated and a second, proper order had been drawn up and served on Ho while he was in detention. The immediate issue for the court was whether an order can be validly served on someone if they are unlawfully detained. Based on the terms of the Deportation Ordinance, the court found that it could. In his decision (which is reported in the official Hong Kong Law Reports for 1931), the Chief Justice dismissed concerns that the order was an extradition order dressed up as ‘sham’ deportation order. As an aside, he added that the Ordinance did not give a deportee a choice of destination. What fate awaited him, wherever he was sent, was of no concern to the court once the deportee left Hong Kong territorial waters.

Loseby immediately arranged for an appeal to the Privy Council in London, the final court of appeal for Britain’s colonies. While Ho awaited the outcome of his appeal, he remained incarcerated in Victoria Prison in Hong Kong, becoming something of a celebrity. He was regularly visited by Mrs Loseby and her daughter Patricia, sometimes accompanied by Mrs Southorn, wife of the Colonial Secretary (the second most senior position in the colonial government). They took him food, books and some writing materials. Conditions were dire – Ho was locked up most of the time in a small, airless cell. Suffering from tuberculosis and dysentery, his connections helped get him transferred to slightly better conditions in the prison hospital.

Loseby needed a London-based barrister for the appeal. He hired Denis Nowell Pritt, a successful senior counsel, who later became a radical Labour MP (and, in the opinion of George Orwell, the most effective pro-Soviet publicist in Britain). The Colonial Office, representing the Hong Kong government, hired Sir Stafford Cripps, a Labour MP, and recently Solicitor General in the Labour government. Cripps was the nephew-by-marriage of Sidney Webb. A further coincidence (or perhaps not) was that Pritt and Cripps were school contemporaries at Winchester College. Their legal careers had followed a similar trajectory, both ‘taking silk’ (being elevated to senior counsel status) on the same day.

Cripps told the Colonial Office that the ‘sham’ nature of the order, being extradition dressed up as deportation, reflected badly on the British and Hong Kong governments, so it would be better to settle the matter quietly outside court. The newly appointed Colonial Secretary, Sir Phillip Cunliffe-Lister, questioned Cripps’ motives. He wanted the appeal to be defended – as he wrote later, ‘I felt at the time and I still feel that [Cripps’] objections were as much political as legal, and it really raises an impossible position for us if counsel are to object to arguing points of law … because they object to the politics of the case.’

But the Colonial Office lawyers did not wish to continue in the light of Cripps’ advice. Before the matter came up for hearing, Cripps approached Pritt, who had no hesitation to agreeing an arrangement: the appeal would be withdrawn if Nguyen agreed to leave Hong Kong, with a proviso that he would not be obliged to be sent to French Territory or put on a French ship. Based on this agreement, on 21 July 1932, the date the appeal came up for hearing, it was formally dismissed by the Privy Council and the legal proceedings came to an end.

Ho, still unwell, remained in prison. Upon his recovery and release, Loseby arranged for him to stay at the YMCA, where he kept a low profile, pretending to be a Chinese traveler he and his advisors remained concerned that the Sûreté would be looking for him. Rumours were instigated and it was reported that ‘Nguyen Ai Quoc’ had died from his illnesses. A berth was later found for him on a ship going to Amoy in China. Disguised in the robes of a Chinese Mandarin scholar, especially tailored for him by Mrs Loseby, and accompanied by Loseby’s clerk playing the role of the scholar’s servant, he quietly left Hong Kong in January 1933.

After spending time in the Soviet Union and China, Ho finally returned to Vietnam in 1940, founding the Viet Minh (League for Independence of Vietnam). In 1945, following the Japanese surrender, Ho declared independence on behalf of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, with himself as president. War ensued and the French were eventually defeated in 1954. At the Geneva Peace Accords, Vietnam was split into two parts, leading to insurrection and war over the next two decades. Ho died in 1969.

Ho stayed in touch with the Losebys, albeit irregularly given his clandestine and guerilla existence. He invited them to Hanoi in 1960 for a reunion and photographs show the couple and their daughter, as visiting dignitaries, attending receptions and exchanging gifts with President Ho.

An article in the South China Morning Post of 10 August 1932, entitled ‘The Rule of Law’ noted general public satisfaction with the result of the case. ‘It might be better if political refugees were not sheltered: certainly in Hongkong’s case it would be better for China,’ the writer opined. But, he went on to say, the

important principle at stake is the absolute rule of law … better that the authorities be handicapped than that the public be subject to maltreatment. The alternative is a state of affairs placing all in peril, cowing the public, leaving us at the mercy of any jack in office, making of our British freedom a mockery.


British Library of Political and Economic Science

Denis Noel Pritt, 1887-1972, was educated at Winchester, London University, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. He obtained an LLB from London University and was called to the Bar, Middle Temple, in 1909, he retired from practice in 1960. He was a Labour MP for Hammersmith North from 1935-1950, despite being expelled from the Labour Party in 1940. He was also Professor of Law at the University of Ghana, 1965-1966, chairman of the Howard League for Penal Reform and chairman of the Bentham Committee for Poor Litigants. In addition his interest in peace led him to become president of the British Peace Committee and a member of the World Peace Council. He was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1954.

Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Denis Nowell Pritt, comprising Political and Legal Papers, 1938-1971 Books, Addresses and Speeches, 1930s-1972 Photographs, 1960s letter from Pritt and his wife to Rudolph M Lapp and his wife, 1946-1983, with three photographs, c1944-c1947.

Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

This collection is divided into six sections: Section 1. Political and Legal Papers, 1938-1961 Section 2. Political and Legal Papers, 1966-1971 Section 3. Books, Addresses and Speeches Section 4. Photographs Section 5. Letters from Pritt and his wife. There are some addenda.

Conditions governing access:

Conditions governing reproduction:

COPYRIGHT IS HELD BY THE LIBRARY.

Physical characteristics:

Bound handlist available and also on database

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:

Most of the early papers of this collection were destroyed in an air raid in 1941. The present collection covers only the later part of his political career.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Section 5 was donated on 27 Nov 2000 by Rudolph M Lapp.

Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Archivist's note: Output from CAIRS using template 14 and checked by hand on May 29, 2002

Date(s) of descriptions: 29 May 2002

INDEX ENTRIES Subjects Communism | Collectivism | Political doctrines

Personal names Lapp | Rudolph M | fl 1946-2000 | American historian Pritt | Denis Nowell | 1887-1972 | MP lawyer and author

Corporate names Communist Party Labour Party

Places Bulgaria | Eastern Europe Canada | North America China | East Asia Germany | Western Europe | Europe Ghana | West Africa | Africa Hungary | Eastern Europe Kenya | East Africa Korea | East Asia Romania | Eastern Europe Spain | Western Europe | Europe Tanzania UR | East Africa USA | North America USSR | Eastern Europe Viet Nam | South East Asia


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Comments:

  1. Abu Al Khayr

    Of course, I apologize, but this is completely different, and not what I need.

  2. Kaktilar

    Take it easy!

  3. Ruadhagan

    I hope, you will come to the correct decision. Do not despair.

  4. Mugore

    It would be interesting to know more

  5. Bearn

    What necessary words ... Great, a magnificent phrase

  6. Zolom

    I believe that you are wrong. I'm sure. Let's discuss. Email me at PM, we'll talk.



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