Freedom Defence Committee

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The Freedom Defence Committee was a UK-based organisation set up in 1945 to "uphold the essential liberty of individuals and organisations, and to defend those who are persecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of speech, writing and action."[1] Chaired by Herbert Read, with George Orwell as vice-chairman, the Committee's secretary was George Woodcock.[2]

The Committee came into being as a result of the Freedom Press being raided at the end of 1944 and four editors of War Commentary, including Vernon Richards[3] and Philip Sansom,[4] being prosecuted at the beginning of 1945 for attempting "to undermine the affections of members of His Majesty's Forces"[3] and because the National Council for Civil Liberties was considered a Communist front.[3]

An open letter requesting urgent funds was published in the 18 September 1948 issue of Socialist Leader and was signed by Benjamin Britten, E. M. Forster, Augustus John, Orwell, Read and Osbert Sitwell.[1]

It was dissolved in 1949.[2]


  1. ^ a b Orwell, Sonia and Angus, Ian (eds.). The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 4: In Front of Your Nose (1945-1950) (Penguin)
  2. ^ a b "Orwell Today" Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b c George Orwell at Home pp 71-72 Freedom Press (1998)
  4. ^ Obituary The Independent