back to article Gov contractor nicked on suspicion of Official Secrets Act breach

The Metropolitan Police has announced the arrest of a UK government contractor after a tip-off. According to the police force, the unnamed 65-year-old woman was arrested in north London, England, by constables “acting upon intelligence received”. A search of the location where she was arrested is ongoing. The arrest was on …

  1. tiggity Silver badge

    Fair trial

    That will be the day, OSA, Terrorism laws all weasel worded to screw over the accused.

    So, you could be a whistle blower revealing "evil" govt behaviour, but if some of that "evil" is OSA covered then guilty even if you are trying to expose something nasty your govt did.

    Caveat - I have no clue what this person is alleged to have done / accused of, just know the wording of too much UK law is really bad (as I think El Reg (kudos) attempted to highlight with some of the OSA related snippets they put on the page)

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Fair trial

      Indeed. It would appear that item (2) is pretty much a catchall for even possibly just making grumblings not in favor of the government.

      Sidenote.. the US military has one of those in the Uniform Code of Military Justice... Article 134 (if I remember right.. it's the last article). Basically.. if we can't punish you for anything else, we'll hit you with this one. Let's be careful out there.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Velv
    Big Brother

    As Bernard Woolley put it about leaks from Ministers:

    "That's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I give confidential security briefings. You leak. He has been charged under section 2a of the Official Secrets Act. "

  3. Aodhhan

    Wow...

    This is much worse than the United States.

    So in England, you can be convicted on circumstantial evidence for spying.

    Pffttt... and you all grip about the USA and it's electronic device checks through customs?

    Yeah, you better look at your own laws first.

    In England, if you don't give up your password, they'll just suspect you're actually hiding threats to the state and convict you on circumstance.

    1. Tigra 07

      Re: Wow...

      Yeah, but in the good old US of A you just go missing...

      Our government is run like Fawlty Towers and could never organise something like that, even with the police state we're slowly having built around us.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow...

        Our government is run like Fawlty Towers and could never organise something like that, even with the police state we're slowly having built around us.

        Yes, it's amusing that the thing that keeps Whitehall & friends in check is not laws or governance, but good old blatant incompetence. "Yes, Minister" was a documentary.

        1. defiler

          Re: Wow...

          "Yes, Minister" was a documentary.

          The West Wing were the people you'd hope were in charge

          Yes, Minister were the people you'd believe were in charge

          The Thick Of It were the people that probably are in charge

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            Re: Wow...

            @defiler

            people [...] in charge

            shirley it's the lunatics in charge and running the asylum

    2. collinsl

      Re: Wow...

      You're forgetting that refusing to give up a password is also a crime in the UK.

    3. Triggerfish

      Re: Wow...

      Oh I dunno, not defending the UK gov. But Homan square?

    4. james 68

      Re: Wow...

      @Aodhhan

      You think the USA doesn't do the same on a massively larger scale? That's cute, ignorant, but cute.

      Do yourself a favour and read the "National Defence Authorization Act" sections 1021 and 1022, as they specifically apply to indefinite detention without trial of ANYONE, be they a US citizen or foreign national without the need for evidence of a crime, just suspicion.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow...

      Or they can plant an encrypted usb stick in your belongings and demand the password that you dont have. There you go...

  4. John Sturdy
    Big Brother

    No comment

    No comment. What more could I say?

  5. Tigra 07

    Fingers crossed...

    Theresa May has gone missing... How old is she? 65?

  6. David Pearce

    Wonderfully general legislation

    "or is in the neighbourhood of, or enters any prohibited place within the meaning of this Act" would technically nab anyone who drives near RAF Northolt or hundreds of other places in the UK

    1. Jason Bloomberg
      Big Brother

      Like much 'catch-all' legislation it is wide-sweeping. But mostly nothing to worry about so long as you aren't of the wrong colour or wrong religion.

    2. The Original Steve

      Christ, I drive past TWO RAF stations on my way into work every day.... Literally alongside the airstrip!

      1. TDog

        Well you should be safe

        It was passed to protect against the great scares of German spies ( http://graemeshimmin.com/william-le-queux-and-british-spying/ ) amid a spectacular scare which was quite viciously parodied by Neil Monroe in his Para Handy tales http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks07/0700601h.html (search for onions), and since we no longer live in such a world it is quite obvious that the terrors of the past shall have no effect whatsoever on the actors of the present.

        I really cannot imagine why you should be concerned, Germany is an ally of ours and why would we even dream of repurposing legislation. Mind you, when I signed it I thought it was a brilliant catch all, 40 years on I am not so sure. Perhaps my trust in governments has waned.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Christ, I drive past TWO RAF stations on my way into work every day.... Literally alongside the airstrip!"

        As do everyone driving up and down the A1 in Nth Yorks, barely 25yds from the boundaries of Catterick Garrison, RAF Leeming and RAF Dishforth. No doubt there are many other roads around the country putting much of the population into a similar situation.

        For that matter, what does "in the neighbourhood" mean? GCHQ is almost surrounded by housing estates and the M5 isn't too far away.

        1. The First Dave

          Originally, "in the neighbourhood" meant 'close enough to take a useful photograph - there's no point saying 'no photography' on the fence of a base otherwise.

      3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Joke

        @The Original Steve

        I drive past TWO RAF stations on my way into work every day....

        Best not have a camera with you - else it will not be the MOD Police, but a Civilian PCSO who will stop you and ask you to delete all pictures in it. The fact that the camera was in a locked boot at the time when the vehicle was stopped and searched would not matter. And if you start arguing, they'd be busy tasering you to notice Lord Lucan riding by on Sherga.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder...

    ...if they were going to whistle blow and this is the way to stop them. They might be after anyone who makes a comment on this article next.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: I wonder...

      If you haven't noted, all comments are being moderated on this article...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You probably ought to disable comments here then...

    1. Jason Bloomberg

      I suspect posts are being moderated and that's why there seems to be a delay between posting and them appearing. That is appropriate and acceptable to me and preferable to disabling comments entirely.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So much for Free Speech.

        1. Alister

          So much for Free Speech.

          Newsflash! In Britain, there is no explicit right to free speech.

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
            Big Brother

            @Alister

            Newsflash! In Britain, there is no explicit right to free speech.

            ...yes, even in Speakers' Corner, it has to be lawful.

            https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde-park/things-to-see-and-do/speakers-corner

            "Anyone can turn up unannounced to speak on any subject, as long as the police consider their speeches lawful"

        2. Arachnoid

          Free Speech like Freedom and Free will has a cost

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "So much for Free Speech."

          As has been mentioned, there is no explicit right to Free Speech in UK law, but even in the US, a private company has the right to choose who can post on their system and/or limit what is said. You always have a right to speak out, but no one else is obliged to provide the facilities to help you out.

        4. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Free Speech? Yep... err... maybe. Depends. Say the wrong thing and the Feds will get you. Say the wrong thing and some corporate lawyer will be sending you nastly letters. Say the wrong thing, your boss will fire you. And so it goes all the way down. Now what was this Free Speech you speak of?

  9. TechDrone
    Big Brother

    It could have been worse

    At least she's not being charged under Section 3

  10. Trainee grumpy old ****
    Alien

    Evidently not from The Laundry

    Charged under Section 1 of the OSA and not section 3....

    No Cthulhu icon so this one will have to do ===>

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well ...

    she's too old to be Sarah Tisdall.

  12. cortland

    Or Over... Somewhere , over the hard drive

    Bluebirds fly.

    Lock 'em up.

    What about the Russians?

    We don't talk about THEM.

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