09 January 2008

Official Secrets Act charges dropped against Derek Pasquill

It must have come as a great relief to Derek Pasquill that the serious Official Secrets Act charges he faced were dropped this morning. This is yet another example of an ill-advised and malicious prosecution under this unfair and draconian Act. The probable reason for the prosecution has more to do with scaring any future whistle blowers, not to blow their whistles, than anything connected with the pursuit of justice.

There seems to be a remarkable imbalance between what Derek actually did and the immense powers of the State that he was subjected to, simply for throwing the lid off of a can of worms. What Derek did was to reveal details about the British Government's involvement with the CIA's use of extraordinary rendition and the UK's covert discussions with Muslim groups.

However, rescue came from an unusual direction because it appears that Foreign Office documents, disclosed as part of the legal process, played a large part in the collapse of the Prosecution case. Presumably, if those documents had not been available to the Defence, then the prosecution of Derek Paquill would have proceeded through to the end of a trial.

It is clear that Derek Pasquill should never have been charged under the OSA, and on the contrary he should be recognised as a kind of hero in this affair, for risking his own future by exposing issues that unscrupulous politicians would rather keep hidden. It is a sad reflection on modern Britain that we continue to prosecute anyone who tells the public what they should be allowed to know. I say bring back the old principle of 'government of the people, by the people, for the people'.