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8 October 2007updated 02 Aug 2023 4:13pm

An abuse of state power

The New Statesman responds to the charging of a Foreign Office official, said to follow the publicat

By Staff Blogger

On Sept 27, Derek Pasquill, an official at the Foreign Office, was charged with six counts under the Official Secrets Act. He is due to appear in court on October 11. This case is said to follow the publication in the New Statesman, the Observer and in a pamphlet by the Policy Exchange think tank of a series of articles highlighting damaging and dangerous government policy. These included an expose of British acquiescence in the secret and illegal “rendition” (Rendition: the cover up) by the United States of terrorist suspects, and various revelations about government policy towards radical Islam.

The articles won awards for the NS; but more importantly, they gave rise to a number of questions in parliament, led to cross-party support and significant shifts in government policy.

Indeed, Gordon Brown has already gone some way to distancing himself from the excesses of the past. Ministers have changed their approach to engagement with the Muslim community, ending their reliance on the Muslim Council of Britain. Indeed, ministers have acknowledged the role of the NS in highlighting these issues.

The NS readily accepts that there are some circumstances where official secrecy is necessary to protect national security. However, the idea of charging Mr Pasquill under the OS Act is an abuse of state power, designed merely to spare ministerial embarrassment. The public interest is best served by promoting this kind of debate rather than by seeking to criminalise individuals. We, and others, will pursue this with vigour.

John Kampfner
Editor, New Statesman

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Here are some links to some more of the articles:

A useful summary of the story so far can be found at Index on Censorship: Britain: secrets and sources

The New Statesman exclusive about Foreign Office discussions with the Muslim Brotherhood: Talking to terrorists

Martin Bright’s article in the Observer from August 2005: Leak shows Blair told of Iraq war terror link

Bright’s Policy Exchange pamphlet on the government’s policy of appeasement with radical Islam When progressives treat with reactionaries

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Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
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  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
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  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU