The Times, 30 July 1921
In July 1921, newspapers across Britain, Ireland and the United States gave newspaper magnate Lord Northcliffe as the source for the following exchange between King George V and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George before the arrangement of the truce in the War of Independence:
King George V: ‘Are you going to shoot all the people in Ireland?’
David Lloyd George: ‘No, your Majesty.’
King George V: ‘Well, then, you must come to some agreement with them… I cannot have my people killed in this manner.’
On 30 July, The Times reported on the King’s statement, read to the House of Commons by Lloyd George, denying the content of the conversation. It also printed a telegram from Lord Northcliffe, who rebuffed claims that he was the source for the alleged exchange.
The King and Ireland
In moving the adjournment of the House of Commons yesterday the PRIME MINISTER made a statement with reference to the Irish negotiations. He said that statements in certain newspapers attributed to the King words of great consequence relating to Irish policy. They appeared in the form of an interview which Lord Northcliffe seemed to have given in America. Those statements were calculated at present, if believed, to prejudice seriously the chances of an Irish settlement. The King had therefore authorized him to read a statement on the subject.
The King’s communication described the statements contained in the newspaper reports of the interview as a complete fabrication. No such conversation as was reported had taken place, nor were any such remarks as those alleged made by his Majesty. The King also wished it to be made clear that in his speech to the Parliament of Northern Ireland he followed the invariable constitutional practice relating to speeches from the Throne in Parliament.
WASHINGTON, July 29.—Lord Northcliffe has made public the following cable-gram sent to Lord Stamfordham :—
“Please convey to His Majesty, with my humble duty, my denial of ever having ascribed to His Majesty the words or any such words as were stated by the Prime Minister. I gave no such interview.”—Exchange Telegraph Company.