The Ministry of Defence was last night facing allegations that it tried to thwart details of the freed SAS sergeant Danny Nightingale's story by resorting to a D-Notice, an embargo usually reserved for matters of national security.
The Sunday Telegraph alleges that it informed the MoD on November 9 that the newspaper planned to run a front page on the soldier's detention. The move would involve putting his identity into the public domain, something now seen as having galvanised support for him. But the newspaper alleges their efforts were hindered at least twice.
The first was shortly after Nightingale's wife Sally gave her consent to release the details. She was allegedly called by her husband and told not to co-operate. The account says: “Mrs Nightingale suspected something was wrong... she believed he was making the call under duress.” The second occasion came when the newspaper allegedly received a call from the D-Notice Committee suggesting that naming Sgt Nightingale would breach the “contract newspapers have undertaken to uphold voluntarily”.
Last night, a spokeswoman for the MoD declined to comment.