Tag Archives: official secrets act

Draconian changes proposed to Official Secrets Act

Out of the blue, on Saturday, we learned that The Law Commission has been at work. It proposes changing the Official Secrets Act to cover matters that are about what the government of the day considers to be matters of national economic interest. Anyone in unauthorised possession of material that might be included in the scope of the Act, or who transmits it or publishes could go to jail for up to ten years. There would be no restriction on who can commit the offence,” including hackers, leakers, elected politicians, journalists, and NGOs.

What this boils down to is the ability of government to shut people up. Imagine this; The Daily Boot is passed a paper that says that, as part of trade deal negotiations, HMG will allow US chicken treated with chlorine to be sold in the UK. If the news becomes public the trade talks might be jeopardised. The Boot’s editor either publishes and risks jail or lets the matter quietly drop. Ah, but that’s not good enough. Even being in possession or having had knowledge of the information could make the editor liable to prosecution. The Damoclesian Sword hangs forever over the editor’s neck.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Old Sallop can’t raise the matter in the Commons, as that would mean the member admitting they know what is in the material, thus rendering themselves liable to prosecution.

The Law Commission has published an enormous consultation document called Protection of Official Data.

I put consultation in italics because the Commission claims it has already consulted widely, though this statement is as thinner than an After Eight mint crushed by ten-ten road roller.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 19 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarIan 21st Jan - 9:03pm
    This appears to be good news. We can only hope that this review is genuinely independent and its conclusions aren’t ignored by the party; the...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 21st Jan - 8:57pm
    @ johnmc "tell us it’s for action on the climate, electoral reform or tax cuts – anything!! " I'm afraid tax cuts is a wee...
  • User AvatarHywel 21st Jan - 8:46pm
    "I think if there is one key message from the last ten years it is to look for a leader who is very experienced, even...
  • User AvatarNeil Sandison 21st Jan - 8:32pm
    I hope we do not spend too long in our entrails of past failures wallowing in self pity that will not turn all those close...
  • User AvatarHywel 21st Jan - 8:23pm
    Peter Mark has referenced something and cited a report in a peer review journal (well actually several things. To which you say: "Unfortunately, an alarming...
  • User AvatarJohnmc 21st Jan - 8:18pm
    Of course Tony Greaves is correct - we don’t know what the party is for any more, so this is a huge issue. I mean,...