By Powerscourt on 17/03/2023

Political heavyweights meet to back Powerscourt’s National Security Bill campaign

Former Lord Chancellor Sir Robert Buckland was the main speaker at an event pushing our campaign for a statutory public interest defence to be enshrined in law.

Our political team has been working with senior lawyers from Mishcon de Reya and Matrix Chambers for two years to provide this legal protection for those who expose wrongdoing. At present, public servants can face prosecution and be labelled a criminal for breaching the Official Secrets Acts for the greater good.

This gap in our legislation means that juries can end up creating law on the hoof. Sir Robert said: “It’s wrong for us to leave judges and juries in this kind of limbo when Official Secrets Acts offences are brought before them.”

Powerscourt’s main role in the campaign has been to build a cross-party coalition in favour of the defence. MPs representing the Conservative Party, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and Plaid Cymru have all publicly backed our amendments to the bill. Sir Robert and Intelligence & Security Committee member Kevan Jones have led the charge, using our briefings to further the cause inside and outside of the House of Commons.

The event was held at Mishcon de Reya’s offices and was used as a precursor to the tabling of a House of Lords amendment that day. Other speakers included the main sponsor of that amendment, Lord Marks, and Alex Bailin QC.

The audience also included Conservative grandee David Davis; former solicitor general Lord Garnier; Sir Nick Harvey, a former armed forces minister; ex-Labour MP Luciana Berger; Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Ludford; and Jonathan Hall, who is the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. The media was represented by Matt Dathan, home affairs editor at The Times, and Prospect editor Alan Rusbridger.