Asked why the Government had dropped its prosecution of Katharine Gun, the so-called ‘GCHQ whistleblower’, the PMOS said that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had put out a statement on this matter. He had nothing to add to it. In answer to a multitude of other questions, the PMOS said that his answer remained the same.
Asked if Ministers had been aware of a request from the US Administration asking GCHQ to monitor the activities of foreign governments at the UN in the run-up to the Iraq conflict, the PMOS repeated that he had nothing to say either about the case or any intelligence issues. Put to him that all these were surely legitimate questions to ask, the PMOS explained that he was unable to go further than the CPS statement because just as they themselves had said that it would not be appropriate for them to elucidate on the reasons, it was, similarly, inappropriate for him to comment. He pointed out that it had been the practice of successive Governments not to comment on intelligence issues.
Asked why the Attorney General’s advice on the legality of the Iraq conflict had not been published, the PMOS said it was a convention, stretching back over many administrations, that the Attorney General’s advice was not published. He reminded journalists, however, that, as a result of the legitimate interest about the legal basis for the conflict, the Government had, uniquely so he thought, set out a summary of the advice provided by the Attorney General at the time.
Asked if the ISC might want to examine why the prosecution of Ms Gun had failed and include the matter in their annual report, the PMOS said that what the ISC chose to consider was entirely a matter for them. Asked if any other body might want to investigate the matter, the PMOS said that the ISC was the Committee which reported to Parliament, through the Prime Minister, on the intelligence services.
Asked if Downing Street was concerned that people who leaked state secrets no longer needed to fear prosecution, the PMOS said that the case against Ms Gun had been dropped. As the CPS had said, they no longer believed there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.
Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news
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