Protection Of Offical Data Consultation

1 February, 2017 - 12:00 AM GMT to 2 April, 2017 - 11:45 PM BST
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The Law Commission has been working on a remake of the Official Secrets Act.

It is born out of Cameron's governments  reaction to Snowdon leaking, Mrs May may have a different approach, so the consultation is worth doing.It could be quite restrictive increasing penalties & making it an offence to handle information, even if no "damage" done.  The problem is if the laws suppress Whistle Blowing & Leaking of things  the state will be more extreme BECAUSE it won't get caught.

  Here are the links to the Consultation,   You can comment    By email to pod [at] lawcommission [dot] gsi [dot] gov [dot] uk

The biggest problem ... It Rejects the idea of a "Public Interest Defence" (quotes from overview)

"We examine these and conclude that a statutory public interest defence is not the best solution. Such a defence would allow someone to disclose information with potentially very damaging consequences. The person making the unauthorised disclosure is not best placed to make decisions about national security and the public interest ... Our provisional conclusion is that the public interest is better served by providing a scheme permitting someone who has concerns about their work to bring it to the attention of the independent Investigatory Powers Commissioner, who would have statutory abilities to conduct an investigation and report"   WOW !  So with no "Public Interest Defence" the 'perp would go down', even if the information was clearly in the public interest, but also "potentialy damaging" !  Or perhaps a Jury is " not best placed to make decisions about.... public interest" either ?  " Make decisions about" isn't the same as "defending.. Public interest". And the "scheme" hinges on the "Commissioner ... and report" to who? Then what ?  And if the public never find out, how can democracy function?


It aims to move the offence from Actual Damage done to Risk of Damage.

We suggest remodelling the offences so that they focus not upon the consequences of the unauthorised disclosure, but upon whether the defendant knew or had reasonable cause to believe the disclosure was capable of causing damage. It is the culpability of the defendant in making an unauthorised disclosure being aware of the risk of damage that should be the core of the offence; not whether damage did or did not occur   It suggests wrapping in other offences too, "scores of other offences criminalising... some relate to security issues such as uranium and the nuclear industry. We ask whether a broader review is desirable to bring greater coherence to this range of offence"It increases penalities to max 14 years in prison. Though i haven't yet found a description yet of sentencing guidelines.

So have a good read of the consultation papers & send in your comments to the By email to pod [at] lawcommission [dot] gsi [dot] gov [dot] uk

I put it as an event to highlight the end.  You don't need to enroll here.