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Derek Pasquill FCO whistleblower Official Secrets Act prosecution dropped

The Guardian reports: some good news about the dropping of an Official Secrets Act prosecution of a Foreign & Commonwealth Office civil servant whistleblower:

'Victory for press freedom' over leaks?

Chris Tryhorn and agencies
Wednesday January 9 2008

A Foreign Office official accused of leaking confidential documents to the New Statesman and the Observer was cleared today after prosecutors dropped charges against him.

Derek Pasquill was alleged to have breached the Official Secrets Act by leaking letters and memos about the government's attitude to secret CIA rendition flights and contacts with Muslim groups.

But today prosecutors told an Old Bailey judge that documents to be disclosed as part of legal proceedings would have undermined its case that the leaks were damaging.


The New Statesman's editor, John Kampfner, said today's decision was "a spectacular and astonishing victory for freedom of the press".

"This was a misguided and malicious prosecution, particularly given that a number of government ministers privately acknowledged from the outset that the information provided to us by Derek Pasquill had been in the public interest and was responsible in large part for changing government policy for the good in terms of extraordinary rendition and policy towards radical Islam," Kampfner said.

The Observer described Pasquill as "an honourable civil servant who stood up for the best liberal values of his country".

"The stories we and the New Statesman published highlighted critical issues facing Britain and led to vital changes in government policy," the paper said in a statement.

"The threat of prosecution was vindictive and wrong-headed, and we consider that the decision not to continue the action is essential for the freedom of the press and its right to air vital issues of national interest."

The Foreign Office said Pasquill could still face in-house disciplinary action.


This seems to be good news for the whistleblower and the journalists involved.

However, given the clear Public Interest regarding the illegal CIA kidnap and torture flights and the official British contacts with Islamic extremist groups, it really does make us wonder what the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and their Labour political masters are playing at.

What other politically embarrassing revelations are they keeping secret from the British public ?

Obviously Foreign & Commonwealth Office whistleblowers and journalists or bloggers who they may be in contact with, need to take heed of some of the elementary tradecraft suggestions in our whistleblowers hints and tips, which were originally inspired by Home Office whistleblower leaks.

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