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Official Secrets Act
Official secrets act

The UK's official secrets legislation is primarily devised to punish foreign spies and traitors, but has also been used – controversially – against British civil servants leaking information for reasons of conscience, and against journalists investigating the state apparatus and government policy.

The 1911 Official Secrets Act, passed after spy scares in pre-war tension between Britain and Germany, created in its Section 2 a wide-ranging ‘catch all’ power, making it illegal for anyone to knowingly receive and to further disclose, without proper authority, information classified as officially secret, whatever the actual nature of the information.

In 1970 Jonathan Aitken, then a journalist, and Brian Roberts, editor of the Sunday Telegraph, were prosecuted under Section 2 after the paper published an article about the ...

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