Thursday, December 04, 2008

Leaking for fun and not profit.

Incidentally, on the whole Damian Green thing (sorry, I know…) there is of course good precedence in the criminal law for prosecutions for both ‘misconduct in public office’ and ‘aiding and abetting misconduct in public office’: the trial of Sally Murrer and Mark Kearney.

Although the trial collapsed over the illegality of the methods by which police had acquired their information, the following ruling was made:

The court ruled, as courts across Europe have ruled, that leaks to journalists are not criminal unless they involve matters of national security or impair the investigation of serious crime.

The Met police knew about this decision, as they were involved in assisting Thames Valley police make the arrests and prosecution.  There has been no use of the OSA in this case, and despite ‘suggestions’ that national security has been involved, these have been utterly unbacked by anything further.  Case pretty much closed really.  No crime here.  And if the leaks weren’t criminal, nor was ‘soliciting’ them – even if Damian Green did so.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether those who energetically yell at the Tories, like Paulie at Never Trust A Hippy, that having moles in Government departments is wrong m’kay will be impressed by the revelation that a current Labour MP was widely suspected of leaking Treasury documents to Gordon Brown in 1996.

Brown published the leaked report on the eve of a major economic debate in the Commons in 1996, in the process causing huge embarrassment to Ken Clarke.

The report forecast various policy changes such as the privatisation of pensions and welfare benefits. It suggested the Tories would sell off roads and force drivers to pay to use them. A gleeful Brown described the report as "a nightmare vision of the future under Tory rule". Clarke dismissed it as the "cranky" work of "juniors at the office".

It then emerged that when she was not working at the Treasury under her maiden name of Goodman, the report's author was an ambitious Labour politician using her married name of Helen Sleaford. She made the shortlist for the safe Labour seat of Barnsley East but suddenly withdrew when the furore over the report blew up.

Ms Goodman left the Treasury in 1997, worked for charities until finally being selected for a fresh safe seat of Bishop Auckland in 2005. She was instantly promoted when Brown became leader, taking the post of Deputy Leader of the Commons. She has since been moved into the whips' office.

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