I have to admit, I checked the spelling of "defence" as it is used in the story below from USA Today. And...they are correct. This is the way the British spell "defence" when referring to this governmental department.
That said, I'm amazed the reporter who wrote the story, and the copy editor (if there is still such a thing) who looked at it, used the correct British spelling.
Normally today's news media doesn't really care. Bad spelling and mistake are the norm. Take the following two examples - one from my current local paper and the other from my hometown paper and first employer.
Based on the headline above, there were many citizens who said "What?????" when seeing it. $95 million? Really? Then after reading the lead, they don't know what to expect.
As for the story below...wow, two spelling errors in one sentence! Maybe they'll give a Pulitzer Prize for this. Might as well -- it's unfortunately becoming the norm.