The Crichel Down Affair 1954

In 1954, Sir Thomas Dugdale resigned as minister of agriculture when an independent inquiry criticised his department for mishandling the compulsory purchase and subsequent re-letting of 725 acres of farmland in Crichel Down, Dorset. The land had been compulsorily purchased in 1937 for £12,000 for use as an RAF bombing range airfield. A promise had been made that land would be sold back to the owners when no longer required for military purposes. Instead, the land was taken on by the Department of Agriculture and re-let

for a much higher sum.

Doing the decent thing. Crichel Down is seen as an example of the honourable conduct in public office 

There was clear evidence of civil service mistakes and inefficiency. Dugdale took the blame and resigned, even though at the time it was not clear he was aware of the blunders. The release of official documents more recently, however, revealed that Dugdale did bear some personal responsibility as he was aware of the actions of his officials but had not tried to stop them. Nonetheless, the case is usually presented as a rare example of a minister taking responsibility for errors and inefficiencies in their own departments.