Statewatch News online: UK: ROSA - Repeal the Official Secrets Act


A series of trials and court actions against a number of private individuals, journalists, publishers and the media has
demonstrated that the Official Secrets Act is no longer relevant in the 21st century.

We believe there is growing public concern about Britain's secrecy. The BSE and Foot and Mouth crises have shown that it is not only on defence and security matters that officials hide behind outdated secrecy laws and procedures.

We are therefore launching a campaign to repeal the Official Secrets Act. Our aims are printed below; if you are able to lend your voice to the campaign please contact us.


A REVIEW of the law with broad public consultation and with the aim of replacing the Official Secrets Act with a law which has a clear public interest defence.

This should include:

A CLEAR definition of national security that requires proof of a threat to the country's existence or democratic structures or the existence of a serious threat to human life.

A TEST of substantial damage to be satisfied for all prosecutions, taking into account whether or not the information is already in the public domain.

THE BURDEN of proof of damage to rest with the government.

PROTECTION of journalists' confidential sources and information.

EXTENSION of statutory protection for whistleblowers to the security and intelligence services.

Reform of the Official Secrets Act needs to be combined with:

AN END to the use of ex parte injunctions preventing publication on grounds of national security.

SUBJECTING the Security and Intelligence Services to full democratic accountability.

REFORM of government classification procedures.

A THOROUGH REVIEW of all current prosecutions.

ROSA is supported by Liberty, The Campaign for Freedom of Information, the National Union of Journalists, the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, Statewatch, Index on Censorship and Article 19.

If you wish to support ROSA please contact:

Nigel Wylde

Martin Bright

Tim Gopsill

John Wadham

Statewatch News online: News in brief


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