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Fury over Gagging Threat 'to Spare Bush's Blushes'

 
 
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2005 01:29 pm
Fury over Gagging Threat 'to Spare Bush's Blushes'
By Rosemary Bennett
The Times UK
Thursday 24 November 2005

The Attorney-General was accused last night of using the Official Secrets Act "big stick" to gag newspapers in an attempt to save President Bush from further embarrassment over Iraq.

Lord Goldsmith threatened newspapers on Tuesday with prosecution under the Act if they published details from a record of a conversation between Mr. Bush and Tony Blair from April last year, when the President is alleged to have suggested bombing al-Jazeera, the Arabic television network.

A record of the conversation was leaked by a Cabinet Office official to the researcher of an MP, and details appeared in a newspaper this week. Both men have been charged under the Official Secrets Act and will appear in court next week.

Mr. Blair's Government has never threatened newspapers with prosecution under the Act, lawyers say. This is despite numerous leaks of documents relating to the war in Iraq, including the Attorney-General's own legal advice on the war.

That led to accusations from MPs yesterday that the Act was being used to avoid further embarrassment to Mr. Bush over Iraq rather than to protect Britain's security.

"In my view I can see no other explanation for this than an overwhelming desire to placate President Bush and prevent him being embarrassed," Peter Kilfoyle, the Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, said. He has tabled a motion calling on the Government to publish the record of the conversation.

The Liberal Democrats said that the Government was wholly inconsistent.

"The immediate question is why the Attorney-General should think it necessary to use the big stick on this occasion," Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said. "The suspicion is that this is not so much in the national interest but more in preserving the Government from further embarrassment."

Whitehall sources last night denied that the White House had put the Government under pressure to act. Sources who have seen the documents say that it is clear the discussion on bombing al-Jazeera is not serious.

An Index of Censorship

DA Notices

Voluntary system of guidance on what can be published. But newspapers can be prosecuted even if they have been led to believe a story complies.

Official Secrets Act

Allows the Government to prosecute newspapers under criminal law - but is predominantly for gagging rogue officials. David Shayler, above, the former intelligence expert, was recently prosecuted under the Act and served a prison sentence.

Law of Confidence

The Government's usual method to stop sensitive intelligence slipping out. A civil action with huge financial considerations for newspapers.

Contempt of Court

The Attorney-General has taken to issuing regular guidance to editors in cases where he feels that there may be a risk of serious prejudice to a trial.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 823 • Replies: 12
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2005 01:30 pm
Legal Gag on Bush-Blair War Row
Legal Gag on Bush-Blair War Row
By Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian UK
Wednesday 23 November 2005

The attorney general last night threatened newspapers with the Official Secrets Act if they revealed the contents of a document allegedly relating to a dispute between Tony Blair and George Bush over the conduct of military operations in Iraq.

It is believed to be the first time the Blair government has threatened newspapers in this way. Though it has obtained court injunctions against newspapers, the government has never prosecuted editors for publishing the contents of leaked documents, including highly sensitive ones about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, last night referred editors to newspaper reports yesterday that described the contents of a memo purporting to be at the centre of charges against two men under the secrets act.

Under the front-page headline "Bush plot to bomb his ally", the Daily Mirror reported that the US president last year planned to attack the Arabic television station al-Jazeera, which has its headquarters in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where US and British bombers were based.

Richard Wallace, editor of the Daily Mirror, said last night: "We made No 10 fully aware of the intention to publish and were given 'no comment' officially or unofficially. Suddenly 24 hours later we are threatened under section 5 [of the secrets act]".

Under section 5 it is an offence to have come into the possession of government information, or a document from a crown servant, if that person discloses it without lawful authority. The prosecution has to prove the disclosure was damaging.

The Mirror said the memo turned up in May last year at the constituency office of the former Labour MP for Northampton South, Tony Clarke. Last week, Leo O'Connor, a former researcher for Mr. Clarke, was charged with receiving a document under section 5 of the act. David Keogh, a former Foreign Office official seconded to the Cabinet Office, was charged last week with making a "damaging disclosure of a document relating to international relations". Mr. Keogh, 49, is accused of sending the document to Mr. O'Connor, 42, between April 16 and May 28 2004.

Mr. Clarke said yesterday that Mr. O'Connor "did the right thing" by drawing the document to his attention. Mr. Clarke, an anti-war MP who lost his seat at the last election, returned the document to the government. "As well as an MP, I am a special constable," he said.

Both men were released on police bail last Thursday to appear at Bow Street magistrate's court on November 29. When they were charged, newspapers reported that the memo contained a transcript of a discussion between Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush.

The conversation was understood to have taken place during a meeting in the US. It is believed to reveal that Mr. Blair disagreed with Mr. Bush about aspects of the Iraq war. There was widespread comment at the time that the British government was angry about US military tactics there, particularly in the city of Fallujah.

Charges under the secrets act have to have the consent of the attorney-general. His intervention yesterday suggests that the prosecution plans to ask the judge to hold part, if not all of the trial, in camera, with the public and press excluded.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Nov, 2005 02:35 am
bm
0 Replies
 
lmur
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Nov, 2005 03:24 am
bm
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 Dec, 2005 02:27 am
bm = bowel movement?

Bumble - Do you have any opinions of your own?
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Dec, 2005 03:00 pm
personal message for Finn d'Abuzz
Sorry, Finn, I'm not allowed to PM people on this board. Would you please e-mail me:
hightor (at) totalmail.com
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Dec, 2005 09:40 pm
Re: personal message for Finn d'Abuzz
hightor wrote:
Sorry, Finn, I'm not allowed to PM people on this board. Would you please e-mail me:
hightor (at) totalmail.com


Just fired one off.
0 Replies
 
Magginkat
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Jan, 2006 02:52 pm
Re: personal message for Finn d'Abuzz
hightor wrote:
Sorry, Finn, I'm not allowed to PM people on this board. Would you please e-mail me:
hightor (at) totalmail.com


That's strange. I've heard several people say they are not allowed to send pm's to other posters? Why is that? I think I'm blocked from using that feature too, as was Glitterbag, but no reason has ever been given that I am aware of.
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Jan, 2006 09:41 am
BBB
If someone is banned from sending private messages, it usually is because they have not complied with A2K's rules or there have been serious complaints about their conduct.

I'm not sure, but there may also be a probation period for new members is using private messages.

BBB
0 Replies
 
Mortkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 02:47 am
Someone should rein in that Goldsmith fellow. He appears to be as dangerous as Sandy Berger. Why, the next thing you know, Lord Goldsmith may go into the files and rip out some pages. For all we know, he may have been in contact with Sandy.
0 Replies
 
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 07:50 am
Mortkat wrote:
Someone should rein in that Goldsmith fellow. He appears to be as dangerous as Sandy Berger. Why, the next thing you know, Lord Goldsmith may go into the files and rip out some pages. For all we know, he may have been in contact with Sandy.


ah yes, past sins to excuse or lessen the severity of new ones. get some new material you guys.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 08:23 am
See this Announcement to read about PM restrictions -

http://www.able2know.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=47497
0 Replies
 
Magginkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Jan, 2006 08:54 am
PM privilege

See: http://www.able2know.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=47497  Due to abuse of the Private Messages (PM) feature, we recently added some restrictions. Most active members will not notice a difference. Some long-time members who are not very active may be surprised to find that while you previously were able to use PMs, you can not any longer. Rest assured that a) this is a universal restriction, not specific to anything you did, and b) as you continue to participate on A2K, the restriction will most likely be lifted. (Note: once the restrictions are lifted, PM privileges are still subject to removal on an individual basis if they are abused. Abuse includes but is not limited to sending spam, threats, or unwanted propositions. Occasionally PM privileges are never granted to members due to TOS violations -- this is rare.) We will not say the precise point at which the restrictions will be lifted, as that will counteract the purpose of foiling spammers and other abusers of the privilege. The threshold is calculated automatically using an algorithm with several components, and changes periodically. A2K recently underwent some maintenance, and as an (unintended) result the restrictions were temporarily lifted from 2/22 to 3/5 . Because of this, some people thought they had reached the threshold and were distressed when they then lost the privileges again. Our apologies. If you would prefer not to wait, you may post an email address on your profile. This need not give away any personal information -- you can open a free Yahoo or Hotmail account, for example, with your A2K username. Feel free to post a link to this announcement if you know anyone who is confused about the current PM situation. Thank you!  

Sincerely,

The Support Team at www.able2know.com
0 Replies
 
 

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