By Powerscourt on 29/01/2021

Powerscourt in campaign to reform the Official Secrets Acts

Powerscourt’s public affairs team is co-ordinating a campaign to provide a legal safeguard for public servants and journalists who share secrets for the public good. The campaign is backed by philanthropist Janus Friis and includes prominent lawyers from Mishcon de Reya and Matrix Chambers.

The government is looking to replace the Official Secrets Acts – the last of which dates back to the Cold War – through an Espionage Bill this year. The campaign calls for the introduction of a statutory public interest defence to be included in the bill, as recommended by the Law Commission last year.

Powerscourt head of public affairs Mark Leftly said: “This is an extraordinarily exciting commission and we’re delighted to be involved. The world has moved on tremendously since the last of the Official Secrets Acts went on to the statute books in 1989, the year the internet was invented.

“The nature of cyber threats is clearly very different and infinitely more sophisticated now. However, people’s expectations have also changed. Checks and balances, accountable government, and freedom of information are considered core tenets of any democracy. A statutory public interest defence is not a get out of jail free card, it is a safeguard. The defence must be included in the bill.”

The campaign has already featured on page two of the Daily Telegraph and in The Times’ prestigious Thunderer column. As well as Mark, the Powerscourt team includes public affairs consultant Christine Longworth and analyst Harold Amoo.