Other than the fascinating sartorial description, name, age and location, we know a man was arrested for being naughty re the Official Secrets Act but little else can be said?
Where on a scale of one to ten does this rate as a news article?
A former BAE Systems defence contractor has appeared in court accused of leaking "highly sensitive" secrets to foreign governments. Simon Finch, 49, of Swansea, Wales, is charged under the UK's Official Secrets Act with making a "damaging disclosure" of information last October, according to top newswire Court News UK. He …
It is newsworthy because it rarely happens. There are around one or two prosecutions like this per year come to trial under the official secrets act. The fact that a lot of the substance can't be reported tells you something about the gravity of the allegations (subject to whether the authorities have over-classified the pertinent information). It might not make for much of an article but that doesn't mean it's not worth publishing.
"subject to whether the authorities have over-classified the pertinent information"
Authorities ALWAYS over-classify pertinent information. Rather than to keep hidden anything that could jeopardise national interests, this is mostly done to spare individuals' blushes, sweep glaring incompetence under the carpet etc etc
It is also interesting in that they're trying to throw the book at him for offences committed under RIPA. He has three presumably securely encrypted devices, which presumably contain information on them which he thinks could land him in seriously deep trouble, to the extent of him preferring consecutive maximum RIPA convictions over disclosing the passwords.
On the other hand, he might just like to carry around gigabytes of random noise and be unable to explain why he does so, and how to distinguish between random noise and encrypted data.
Either way, the powers that be reckon he spilled something naughty and want him punished.
The interesting bit in there is:
"Finch is also charged with one count of failing to make disclosure of information that would facilitate access to three electronic devices, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act."
Which is directly relevant to IT and IT security and, if proven, should be newsworthy.
Having worked in the defence industry over the years, I have had to sign many a slip of paper stating that I understand my responsibilities under the official secrets act.
Many seem to think you are only subject to it if you have signed the paper, but this is simply not true; that slip of paper is to ensure I really do understand my obligations as I was likely to come into contact with classified information on a regular basis which is something the average person on the street is unlikely to experience.
Everyone in the UK (and even abroad in some circumstances) is subject to the provisions of the act.
I am not surprised at the order limiting what can actually be reported, although from my experience in the armed forces, material is routinely over classified. That said, the classification is what it is.
Top Secret is about how the information is handled: what IT security, how thoroughly checked people need to be, which rooms it can be in, which locks, and so on. There are, or were, special handling instructions beyond those but I think most of those have been absorbed into one of the standard classifications, at least outside SIS etc.
"Eyes Only" is about who can be told, on top of whatever restrictions apply to you telling people in general.
"that slip of paper is to ensure I really do understand my obligations as I was likely to come into contact with classified information on a regular basis which is something the average person on the street is unlikely to experience."
No, it isn't. It's because the OSA (depending on which section you're looking at) generally applies to three categories of people:
- Crown Servants, who are government employees and contractors engaged on government business
- "Government Contractors" who are typically non-government employees employed only indirectly (e.g. a defence contractor working on a bit of kit, for example)
- Anyone who is notified in writing by the relevant minister that they are subject to the terms of the OSA.
Signing the OSA is to ensure that if, by some incredibly confluence of events, you are neither a crown servant nor a government contractor, you are still subject to the law through this third category of notified persons. In many circumstances they also make you sign it on your way out as well for exactly this reason - your employment might now be over but you bloody well still count.
Give him 2 years for the yellow shirt on its own. There is simply no rational reason to ever be out in public in one. It's almost [but not quite] as bad as : black suit, black shirt, red tie. And yes... there is one of "them" in my department. I've a good mind to raise a grievance in HRMS.
I have no idea what he has done, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest we may be able to infer what he did by looking for Merseyside and BAE connections.
I had a look for Merseyside Police scandals in 2018, lo and behold there is a CCTV facial recognition scandal that kicked off around October 2018. BAE have a facial recognition unit so its plausible he casually namedropped some information there. This seems plausible if he has a grievance, as some people don't like facial recognition.
Otherwise, BAE also supply defence kit into the Royal navy warships built in Merseyside, so both of those seem like good starting places. Although I can't think we had a grievance with Merseyside about this, the bloke works for BAE he cannot claim to be an eco warrior hippy if he works for a defence contractor.
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