Thomas Edwin Utley

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Thomas Edwin 'Peter' Utley CBE (1 February 1921–21 June 1988) was a journalist and writer. He was 'described by Baroness Margaret Thatcher, who is Patron of the Memorial Fund, as "the most distinguished Tory thinker of our time".'[1]

Bloody Sunday

On 15 March 1972, Hugh Mooney of the Information Research Department (IRD) wrote to the UK representative in Northern Ireland, Howard Smith:

As I told you yesterday, I have suggested to T. E. Utley of The Daily Telegraph that he could write a quick paperback book on the Widgery Tribunal, stressing the propaganda aspects. Utley is willing to write the book and has found a publisher. He hopes to complete the writing in about six weeks. The only remaining question is whether the printing can be done soon enough to justify publication.
The Daily Telegraph is in favour of the idea. Utley tells me that he has informed two directors, Lord Hartwell and Mr Maurice Green, of the book idea. They have offered to give him time off with pay and expenses and are interested in the first option on serialisation rights.[2]

Mooney added:

My approach to Utley was in line with the aims of the military information policy working committee, which has for some time been seeking ways of countering hostile books. Colonel Tugwell and the GOC have been informed of my approach to Utley, but it was felt that there was little point in approaching the Ministry of Defence and other Departments until we had a firm proposition. Utley is aware that I am acting on my own initiative and that army co-operation has yet to be approved.[3]

He continued:

Army co-operation would consist of making available the necessary documents and photographs. In addition, Mr Colin Wallace of army public relations, who was responsible for collating all the press material and was attached to the army counsel throughout the whole proceedings, will lead Utley through the events. Mr Wallace has a great deal of material on the propaganda aspects of the tribunal which has not yet appeared. I should point out that we anticipate having some difficulty in getting sanction from army public relations here for Mr Wallace's services, so I should prefer that this should not be mentioned for the moment.[4]

On 24 March 1972, the head of the IRD, T.C. Barker, wrote to A.W. Stephens at the Ministry of Defence:

We can see no objection to Utley's proposal; indeed, in view of other likely publications that will probably be hostile, it might have considerable merit,. We would hope that it might be given a fair wind by your Department; so far as can be judged at present, background briefing by Army PR, which would not be attributable, is all that will be involved.[5]

Stephens replied on 28 March:

We will gladly give Mr. Utley all the briefing he wants. As it happens, we have decided to keep in being the team which covered the Widgery hearings, comprising an officer of the Army Legal Service (Lieutenant-Colonel Overbury) and a member of the Command PR staff (Mr. Wallace), until the Report is submitted - with the task of marshalling the strong and weak points both in the Army's case and in the Bogsiders', so that Ministers and spokesmen can be well briefed when the time comes. Clearly these will be the best people for Utley to talk to - plus Colonel Tugwell, as regards the use made of the hearings by the IRA. However, we can arrange all this for him from here; and, as we agreed on the telephone today, I am asking DPR(Army), Brigadier [redacted], to make the initial contact with him.[6]

Cable EOP 86 from Information Policy to the Ministry of Defence, probably dated 10 April 1972[7], stated:

Peter Utley's publishers are not enthusiastic about an instant history of Widgery. Consequently he proposes to write a lengthy article (single for Sunday Telegraph or two part for Daily Telegraph and we will give him same assistance as for the book.
His publishers are interested in an alternative idea for a book on propaganda in this campaign. This could be most useful and need not be tackled in a rush.[8]

The MOD reply, IPR 14 of 13 April 1972 stated:

1. EOP 86. We have informed IRD of the revised plot for the Utley book and articles and agree your line.[9]

An April 1972 cable (IPR 15 possibly dated the 24th) to Maurice Tugwell from Colonel F. M. K. Tuck of MO4, the Ministry of Defence branch responsible for Northern Ireland, suggests that Utley had been shown an Army propaganda document called The Knocking Game. The relevant passage read:

2. The Knocking Game. We have no objection to circulating this on the lines you suggest and will attach it to our next monthly report. However, it is not what is wanted for public use and we intend offering it to IRD for their advice. We hope they may be able to adapt into suitable form for use in Ireland. We see Uttley made good use of this material.[10]

The resulting book Lessons of Ulster did not appear until 1975.[11]

Chapter 8 of the book included the following extract on Bloody Sunday:

The authorities permitted the demonstration on condition that it was confined to this Republican territory. Towards the end of the proceedings, however, a number of demonstrators attacked the Army cordon in an effort to lead the march into Protestant Londonderry. The attempt was successfully resisted and the crowd began to retreat.
At this juncture, however, the security forces took a critical decision. Not content with containment, they pursued the retreating crowd into the Bogside for the purpose of arresting those who had been guilty of disorder. The inevitable consequence followed: IRA gunmen fired on the 'invading' force, and the soldiers returned fire. The result was a gun battle fought in the midst of a milling crowd. In the course of it, thirteen civilians were admitted by the Army to have been killed, a figure which Republicans claimed to be an underestimate.[12]

Ulster Unionist

In the general election of February 1974, Utley stood as the Ulster Unionist candidate for North Antrim against Ian Paisley, but lost, getting 21.01% of the vote.[13]




  • Essays in Conservatism (1949).
  • Modern Political Thought (1952).
  • The Conservatives and the Critics (1956).
  • Documents of Modern Political Thought (Joint editor, 1957).
  • Not Guilty (1957).
  • Edmund Burke (1957).
  • Occasion for Ombudsmen (1963).
  • Your Money and Your Life (1964).
  • Enoch Powell: The Man and his Thinking (1968).
  • What Laws May Cure (1968).
  • Lessons of Ulster (first edition: 1975, second edition: 1997, republished by Friends of the Union).
  • Charles Moore and Simon Heffer (editors), A Tory Seer: The Selected Journalism of T. E. Utley (1989).



  1. T.E. Utley Memorial Award 2008, Daily Telegraph Published: 11:33AM GMT 07 Feb 2008
  2. KM6.55 - Proposed book on the Widgery Tribunal, 15 March 1972, annexe to statement of Hugh Mooney, Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
  3. KM6.55 - Proposed book on the Widgery Tribunal, 15 March 1972, annexe to statement of Hugh Mooney, Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
  4. KM6.55 - Proposed book on the Widgery Tribunal, 15 March 1972, annexe to statement of Hugh Mooney, Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
  5. KM6.56 The Widgery Tribunal: Publicity, 24 March 1972, annexe to statement of Hugh Mooney, Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
  6. KM6.57, 28 March 1972, annexe to statement of Hugh Mooney, Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
  7. 1333.070 - Statement of Maurice Tugwell, 24 October 2000, Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
  8. 1333.099, Annexe to Maurice Tugwell statement, Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
  9. 1333.100 - IPR14, Annexe to Maurice Tugwell statement, Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
  10. Extract from National Archives file CJ4/135, April 1972.
  11. KM6.47 Statement of Hugh Mooney, Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
  12. KM6.58 Extract from Lesson of Ulster, annexe to statement of Hugh Mooney, Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
  13. Elections Ireland Thomas Utley, accessed 7 April 2010
  14. John Casey, 'The revival of Tory philosophy', The Spectator, 17 March 2007.