A recent Royal Court case has underlined the seriousness of censorship rules in wartime Jersey. The prosecution was brought under Article 24 of the Defence of the Realm Act, or DORA, which prohibits the forwarding of letters for onward posting.
Henri Prigent, who lives in Craig Street, St Helier, was seen to pass a letter to Richard Dennis, the Chief Engineer on the mailboat SS Ibex. The request was for Dennis to take the letter to the UK, an act that clearly contravenes DORA by evading the Censor, who must monitor all mail in and out of the island.
Prigent’s defence was that he had intended to post the letter – even sticking on a stamp – but missed last sending time. Without realising that he was breaking any law, he gave the letter to his friend, Chief Engineer Dennis, with a request to take it with him to the UK. Dennis claimed to be equally unaware that he was breaking any law by doing so.
The Bailiff, who was presiding over the case, accepted that neither man intended to break any law. Nevertheless, he imposed a two pound fine on each of them as punishment.
D/Z/H2/6 contains correspondence on the subject of evading censorship and customs’ duties by taking items directly off-island on mailboats.