back to article Software engineer leaked UK missile system secrets and refused to hand cops his passwords, Old Bailey told

A former BAE Systems software engineer who allegedly leaked top-secret details about a frontline missile system also ignored orders from police to hand over passwords to his electronic devices, a court has heard. Simon Finch, of Swansea, is said by prosecutors to have emailed details of the unidentified missile system to nine …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RIPA

    “ He is also charged with failing to reveal his passwords to a police worker, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.”

    There are plenty of other things on the books that could be used to charge him against, using RIPA for this guy exposes its failings.

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: RIPA

      This may be RIPA being used as intended: a safety net to secure a conviction in the absence of adequate evidence of another crime.

      It doesn't excuse the utter miserable shittiness of that part of RIPA, or the wrongness of it passing into law in the first place.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RIPA

        Did I misread you or are you advocating that people should be convicted without adequate evidence?

        1. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

          Re: RIPA

          There is a crime. When asked for his passwords he refused to give them.

          It is, of course, a whole different question about if that refusal should be a crime. I fear that "Think of the children etc" makes it unlikely that such provisions will ever be repealed.

        2. Jon 37

          Re: RIPA

          I believe you misread; he said *the police and politicians who wrote this law* intended it to be used that way. Which is true.

          He didn't say that was desired by him, or by anyone else except the police and politicians. In fact he referred to the law's "shittiness".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: RIPA

            Thanks. It's the "it doesn't excuse …" part which confuses me. To me that could be read as "in spite of being a tool to convict without evidence, this law is shite".

            But it's probably just me having to read too many contracts written by shifty lawyers.

            1. Cederic Silver badge

              Re: RIPA

              Apologies for the clumsy wording. Jon 37's interpretation matched my intent.

            2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: RIPA

              But it's probably just me having to read too many contracts written by shifty lawyers.

              Is that a deliberately redundant pleonasm or is there any other kind of lawyer?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RIPA

        Not handing passwords over being a criminal offense is such bullshit. Goes against your right to remain silent.

        1. localzuk

          Re: RIPA

          Has the law requiring that ever been challenged? It seems like it would be a ripe target for a challenge to me.

          1. adam 40

            Re: RIPA

            I can't think of a RIPER target....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: RIPA

      As I recall from previous El Reg coverage, RIPA has potential to be the big problem for him - they can ask him again at some point in the future (e.g. just before a jail term ends) to give up the passcode(s) to his devices, and if he again refuses then it's another offence and opportunity for another trial, conviction, and time in prison. And repeat ad infinitum. Of course, if he's forgotten the passcode(s) at that point in time then that might be legitimate basis for not handing them over, but for that you've got to convince a court...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        giving up personal passcodes

        We have the right to remain silent. Demanding passwords contradicts this right, so ought to have been legally overturned. Those in power just keep awarding themselves more power. It's time for a "great reset" (TM).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: giving up personal passcodes

          Do we have the right to remain silent? I recall "..but it may harm your defence if you do not say something you later rely on in court." You may be thinking of the US, where it is a constitutional protection.

          1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
            Go

            Re: giving up personal passcodes

            Do we have the right to remain silent? I recall "..but it may harm your defence if you do not say something you later rely on in court."

            The standard advice is the same as it has always been - NO COMMENT. You do not have to answer police questions, so don’t. And certainly never, ever without having a serious conversation first with a solicitor (and not the duty one!).

            The wording (with my emphasis) is "But, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court."

            That is just bollocks to encourage people to start talking and incriminate themselves - since you are not going to be answering their questions, not mentioning something whilst answering their questions isn't going to arise.

            The specious reason for the wording was to discourage an "ambush defence", where the defendant pulls some wacky off-the-wall defence out of a hat on the day of the trial that had never occurred to prosecution and so they could not prepare for, but actually since the 1980s the defence must provide the prosecution with copies of expert witness reports etc in advance - so it never happens.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: giving up personal passcodes

              > The standard advice is the same as it has always been - NO COMMENT.

              And it's more advanced version: DENY EVERYTHING.

              — Is your name Baldrick? — etc.

              1. Jon 37

                Re: giving up personal passcodes

                No. Don't deny everything. If you are caught in a lie it will go very very badly for you.

                Police: Were you in Blackpool on the 13th July 2019?

                Suspect: No

                Police: Aha! Gotcha! We have CCTV of you there, and you used your credit card in a shop. So you were there. And you're lying to us, so you must have robbed the bank there!

                Or the US version:

                FBI: Were you in Washington on the 13th July 2019?

                Suspect: No

                Washington: Aha! Gotcha! We have CCTV of you there, and you used your credit card in a shop. So you were there. And you're lying to us. And lying to the FBI is a federal offence, you're under arrest and we're going to throw you in jail for a few years. We don't even care whether you robbed the bank or not, now we have you!

                Or, even if you are telling the truth:

                Police: Were you in Blackpool on the 13th July 2019?

                Suspect: No. [The truth]

                Police: Aha! Gotcha! We have a credible witness who used to know you who says they saw you there. So you were there. And you're lying to us, so you must have robbed the bank there!

                Suspect: They must be mistaken! [The truth, they were mistaken]

                Police: They are a respectable professional person, [True] you are a low-life bank robber, [False] the jury will believe them and not you! [True]

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: giving up personal passcodes

                  > Police: Aha! Gotcha! We have CCTV of you there, and you used your credit card in a shop. So you were there. And you're lying to us, so you must have robbed the bank there!

                  It's not me. No I haven't. No I wasn't. I am not. I did not.

                  Everything means everything.

                  (only half joking, it is a viable line of defence in cases where the evidence cannot be easily corroborated; I also forget the specific ECHR case reference, but if you as the accused or a close relative are protected by a right against self-incrimination, that right is to be interpreted as not just allowing you to stay silent but also, in a nutshell, actively lie to the court, which would otherwise be perjury; the possible downside is that your testimony may then carry less exculpatory weight)

                2. Smooth Newt Silver badge
                  Go

                  Re: giving up personal passcodes

                  And it's more advanced version: DENY EVERYTHING.

                  Whilst I can see the joke, this is the wrong thing to do in practice.

                  The main issue is that once you start talking, then it is fairly easy for your interviewer - who, unlike you, has had plenty of experience at doing police interviews - to engage you in conversation, particularly as you have just given them the upper hand. "Oh, you think this is funny do you?", and the next thing you know you are apologizing and being all cooperative.

                  You can be prosecuted for lying in a written statement (and in principle, for wasting police time if you lie verbally). But perhaps worse, if the prosecution can show that you have lied about something then it makes any testimony you give in court suspect.

                  This is actually the basis of a very common defence strategy in sexual assault cases where it is one person's word against another. Typically, the defence will try to find something in the police records where the alleged victim has lied. Once the alleged victim has been shown to be a known liar - and it doesn't matter at all how trivial or irrelevant the lie was - then her entire testimony automatically becomes suspect and the case typically collapses.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: giving up personal passcodes

                    > Typically, the defence will try to find something in the police records where the alleged victim has lied.

                    Indeed it is one thing for the victim, or a witness, to lie; it is entirely another thing for the accused. As mentioned above, there is ECHR jurisprudence on this point.

                    Your comment about police being well practised (and some of them, even very good) at extracting confessions is very pertinent but, in my limited experience, it is not so effective when the interviewee has a psychopathic or criminal mind himself. And this is so regardless of culpability; some innocent people will basically incriminate themselves just to be polite.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: giving up personal passcodes

                The get out of jail card is of course "I don't remember that"

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: giving up personal passcodes

            Yeah but..."whatever you do say may be used against you in court".

            Pick your poison.

        2. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: giving up personal passcodes

          No, the Americans have the right to remain silent according to the 5th amendment of their constitution. We don't have any specific right to remain silent; it's just an acknowledged fact that people may not choose to incriminate themselves.

          In the UK you are advised that "You do not have to say anything. But, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court."

          The distinction being that while you do not have to say anything inferences can be drawn from your refusal to answer questions. In the US the police are not allowed to draw inferences from refusing to answer questions.

          1. Symon Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: giving up personal passcodes

            "In the US the police are not allowed to draw inferences from refusing to answer questions."

            Like fuck!

            (Supreme Court Justice Scalia, Mitchell v. United States, dissenting) ("The illogic of the Griffin line is plain, for it runs exactly counter to normal evidentiary inferences: If I ask my son whether he saw a movie I had forbidden him to watch, and he remains silent, the import of his silence is clear.").

            Don't plead the fifth in the US. To find out why, get this book, and read chapter II, helpfully entitled "Don't plead the fifth".

            https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1503933393

            Spoiler alert. Your best strategy is to plead the sixth. (Chapter III, "Plead the sixth") Say, without any adverbs, "I want a lawyer." That's what US law enforcement professionals tell their kids.

            p.s. If you don't like reading :- https://youtu.be/-FENubmZGj8

            p.p.s. If you've only read one book, I highly recommend ... you keep your mouth shut. S.Lee.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: giving up personal passcodes

              > Spoiler alert. Your best strategy is to plead the sixth. (Chapter III, "Plead the sixth") Say, without any adverbs, "I want a lawyer." That's what US law enforcement professionals tell their kids.

              This doesn't work in France. I told them clearly:

              — Je veux un avocat !

              I ended up with a salad.

              1. MrBanana
                Joke

                Re: giving up personal passcodes

                "Je veux un avocat !"

                I tried that, ended up with eggnog all over my face.

                1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

                  Re: giving up personal passcodes

                  Je veux un Advocaat

                  1. Steve Evans

                    Re: giving up personal passcodes

                    I tried this in Paris, and they just looked blankly and shrugged as I had the slightest hint of an English accent!

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: giving up personal passcodes

                I tried this in Holland and got an aperitif.

                1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

                  Re: giving up personal passcodes

                  I hope you got a good brand (preferably Zwarte Kip).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: giving up personal passcodes

            "We don't have any specific right to remain silent; it's just an acknowledged fact that people may not choose to incriminate themselves"

            Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, as incorporated into English law under the Human Rights Act 1998? It is a qualified (rather than absolute) right, though.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: giving up personal passcodes

              And see here the reason for Brexit.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Ochib

          Re: giving up personal passcodes

          The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 provides statutory rules under which adverse inferences may be drawn from silence.

          Adverse inferences may be drawn in certain circumstances where before or on being charged, the accused:

          fails to mention any fact which he later relies upon and which in the circumstances at the time the accused could reasonably be expected to mention;

          fails to give evidence at trial or answer any question;

          fails to account on arrest for objects, substances or marks on his person, clothing or footwear, in his possession, or in the place where he is arrested; or

          fails to account on arrest for his presence at a place.

        4. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: giving up personal passcodes

          In the USA where this happens more often, you have the right to remain silent _if the fact that you have the passcode is evidence against you_. For example if the police cannot prove that a phone is yours, and proving it would be evidence against you, then you don't have to give up the passcode. But the fact that you give access to evidence against you by revealing the passcode doesn't give you the right to remain silent.

        5. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: giving up personal passcodes

          We have the right to remain silent. Demanding passwords contradicts this right, so ought to have been legally overturned.

          Some people felt similarly about penalties for refusing to say who was driving your car when it was caught by a speed camera. That went all the way to the European Court, who okayed it.

      2. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge
        Big Brother

        Re: RIPA

        Same here, RIPA is often being used against minor drug "offenders" and in more recent days for enforcing quarantine.

        What I don't understand is why they didn't go the whole hog and charge this fellow with treason.

        Ot at least espionage.

      3. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: RIPA

        This is strange, since even a murderer can be released, after a spent conviction, without revealing where the bodies are buried.

        1. Slef

          Re: RIPA

          On a pedantic note....a murder conviction will never be "spent" or do you mean granted parole?

          1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

            Re: RIPA

            "Spent convictions are those convictions that have reached a set period as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, and are removed from an individual's criminal record"

            It seems you are correct. Have an upvote since i've learned something new.

        2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: RIPA

          Without a body there is no murder, only abduction and/or disappearance. This was used in (amongst others) Argentina after the end of the miltary junta to prosecute those responsible for the disappearance (and most likely murder) of countless civilians. As there was no body, murder couldn't be proven and even if it could, prosecution might run into statutory limitations. In the case of a disappearance, it is an ongoing crime until the person or the body is found, so not subject to statutory limitations.

    3. CrackedNoggin

      Re: RIPA

      Exactly. He crime was sending the emails, which they already have in hand.

  2. monty75

    Sounds like this guy needs to be receiving psychiatric care rather than being dragged through the courts

    1. Joe Gurman

      But....

      ....we must always prosecute under the Official Secrets Act to discourage the others.

    2. Joe Gurman

      And also....

      ....if he just gets treatment, he could eventually be released. I believe governnent has different ideas about his log-range domicile.

    3. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

      I feel sympathy. I have often wondered out cruising for partners down the pub, with a hammer and my trusty machete (and been dumb enough to get arrested).

      Seriously though, the options are: schitzophrenic breakdown; or drug-induced schitzophrenic breakdown (the machete would hint towards the latter option).

      If you are in any doubt about his sanity, he allegedly purchased the machete because his mental health counsellor "teased him" about the "nunchuks" he was carrying for "protection" on nights out down the pub. Even more peculiar, his irate behaviour towards the police and the "two homophobic attacks" is odd, as he allegedly had abuse shouted at him, but told the police he is not gay, so they did not prosecute.

      Then he went and sent these details of the missile system to the Guardian, a trade union, law firms and "several foreign nations". OOOOOOPH. Away you go to horny jail young sir!

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Anybody sending sensitive defense data to a foreign nation thus imperiling the defense of the realm should expect and receive really severe consequences, regardless of excuses.

        The best proof of him being mentally ill would be him not getting paid a few hundred million for doing it.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Anybody sending sensitive defense data to a foreign nation thus imperiling the defense of the realm should expect and receive really severe consequences, regardless of excuses.

          More accurate to say "thus imperilling BAe's profits"

          1. Electronics'R'Us
            Holmes

            BAE

            thus imperilling BAe's profits

            First, it is BAE (upper case E) Systems </pedant>

            It is more likely to get them more in counter-counter measures. Most contracts are FFP these days (firm fixed price) unless the scope changes which happens a lot with MoD contracts.

            That aside, the secret bits (or possibly TS) are more likely to have been dreamed up in QinetiQ and possibly BAE doing the implementation as part of the overall system as it is rare that a complete weapon is actually completely designed and manufactured by a single company now (BAE are likely a sub contractor in this case but there is nothing to say that BAE were actually involved - the article simply states the chap used to work for them).

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        I was trying to buy a machete for gardening purposes. I could get Bill-hooks, axes, hatchets, a splitting axe that was remarkably like a Dane axe used by Vikings in raping and pillaging but apparently machetes could be used as weapons so they didnt stock them. I did wonder about lifting up a bill hook and asking if this was not far more use as a weapon than a machete - which doesnt have hooks so doesnt get caught in undergrowth.

        Having said that he does seem to be a bit wobbly head wise.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re. "Gardening"

          Well on the flip side, I found out that elemental sulfur at garden centres was covertly replaced with something marginally less bad containing among other things yellow coloured sand with similar appearance and consistency.

          Seems that I had accidentally discovered a "sting" operation being run to catch someone doing something they shouldn't, with chemicals not available to civilians for a good reason.

          Fortunately this time it worked, their chemical mix went fizzle rather than KABOOM though they still got hammered big time for various things.

          AC because they lived less than 600 yards from my lab and some chemicals went missing several weeks earlier which was concerning to say the least.

        2. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Back when the Sunday Newspapers --- when I still read newspapers --- had all those rummy little advertisements for small household items in the back pages, I seem to recall gardening machetes being there. Along with rough sketches of happy-looking fellows swinging their big knives at undergrowth.

          Along with rather dubious looking chemical messes for slowly destroying stubborn tree stumps.

        3. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Acquiring a Machete

          You could try outdoor shops. Explain you are going on an expedition into darkest Kent/Hertfordshire/Amazon Basin and need one to cut through the undergrowth, H M Stanley style. If you get an explorer hat at the same time they may sell you one. Of course in the UK it is illegal to carry a naked blade in a public place (this applies to saws as well as knives and swords). So careful on that picnic cutting into the Black Forest Gateau.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Acquiring a Machete

            It's not illegal to carry a naked blade in a public place. It's illegal to do so without "reasonable excuse". (where "reasonable" is "reasonable" to initially a police officer, and ultimately to a magistrate or judge if deemed unreasonable to a police officer)

            For instance with your black forest gateau if you were cutting it with a normal sort of kitchen knife and not causing fear or alarm to the locals then it's probably going to be considered reasonable. Cutting it with a calving knife with an insane grin and a unhinged laugh while walking through your local supermarket would probably cause plods to arrive.

            In the same vein, wandering around with a naked sword is generally frowned upon if your waving it around your head and scaring people (actually it's probably going to get you shot...) but if you were part of a reenactment group and marching in a parade and not making people feel threatened then the only thing you'll get shot with is a camera.

            It is not in fact even difficult to find and acquire new manufacture and very sharp swords, machetes, pikes, axes or other sharp and dangerous things if one has a legal purpose for owning them.

            1. adam 40
              Pirate

              Cutting it with a calving knife

              Isn't that what vets use to perform emergency caesareans on cattle?

      3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Away you go to horny jail young sir!

        He is fifty.

        1. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

          Aye indeed. Supposedly, when he was arrested in the pub and taken to the station, he was only wearing longjohns, where he promptly defecated himself.

          I only wish there was a bloopers highlights reel of his week. It sounds almost unbelievable the little court snippets.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Fifty is young!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How about: when this guy was attacked, the police needed to do something about it.

      After that, he decided that since the police wouldn't protect him, he'd carry a weapon to protect himself.

      His psychiatrist totally screwed up treating him - instead of helping him realise he didn't need a weapon, they just laughed at his choice of weapon so he got a better weapon.

      Then the police arrested him for carrying a weapon. "Yeah, we're not going to protect you from criminals, or even punish the criminals after they attack you, but if you try to protect yourself then you will be arrested and treated as a criminal".

      And being caught carrying a weapon... isn't that a flashing neon sign saying "he has mental health issues due to the earlier attack and is a danger to others, he needs proper high-intensity psychiatric treatment"? The NHS doesn't have enough funding to do mental health properly, but if it did, and if the police had referred him to the NHS, then the NHS could have stepped in and helped him sort his head out.

      This is a guy who has been repeatedly failed by the authorities who are supposed to protect and help him. If they had done their fucking jobs, he wouldn't have got to that point. So, after what the authorities had done to him, he tried to retaliate and hurt them. Now the authorities are going to throw him in jail for decades.

      1. RobHib

        Has to be your third paragraph, surely.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Possession is an offence

          Possession of an offensive weapon is an offence though, isn't it? The police stopped him while he was carrying, therefore he's guilty of possession.

          Your other point about mental health issues is entirely valid. The front-line workers who deal with people with mental health issues in the UK are usually the police, rather than the NHS. I recall reading that a frighteningly high percentage of prisoners have mental health problems. And the stresses of being in prison exacerbate these issues for many.

          1. msknight

            Re: Possession is an offence

            The sixth series of Ambulance is currently running. In it, they did talk about the significant rise in the number of mental health issues they are treating, over the last decade.

            It sounds as if our society is the one in need of medial attention. Something is really wrong with the balance of things, if so many people are being driven into mental illness. I believe an increasing portion of this is likely down to the pressure of living in our modern society.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Possession is an offence

              > It sounds as if our society is the one in need of medial (mental?) attention.

              Don't know about society. The government on the other hand…

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Possession is an offence

            Having been arrested for carrying a penknife (3 inch locking blade Victorianox that I'd had for 20 years.. Its barely legal. Then went into a court as a juror after forgetting it was in my bag. Oops).

            I can honestly say that if you behave calmly. Have a good reason for having the weapon and surrender it immediately that you can walk out of the police station a free person.

            Be a dick towards the police and they take a somewhat dimmer view (regardless of if its warrantied or not)...

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: Possession is an offence

              You were entirely innocent of any crime, at least within the remit of your story. It's ridiculous you were arrested, and it would have been serious misconduct if you hadn't walked free. As it is, they had no right to keep your knife.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Possession is an offence

                No, they kinda did. You missed the point that I tried to walk into a court with a knife that is at the legal maximum for carrying, on top of being a locking blade (requires two hands to open so is still legal but again on shaky ground. One handed locking is illegal at that length).

                As for them keeping it, they tend to do that when you get arrested. Makes you look more innocent if you don't annoy them further with the paperwork for you asking for it back. Did I mention the bit where its best not to annoy the police?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Possession is an offence

                  Seems to be a bit of confusion about the law in these last couple of replies...

                  You mentioned "weapon" - it wasn't a weapon. If you'd been charged it would have been with possessing a "bladed or sharply pointed article". There is a higher bar to prove a weapon offence.

                  You also mentioned "Have a good reason for having..." - if you had a good reason, then no offence was committed. ("I forgot I had it" is not a good reason.)

                  A folding pocket knife with a blade of 3 inches or less is not a bladed or sharply pointed article.

                  A locking folding knife is not considered to be a folding knife, due to some semantic gymnastics in previous precedent-setting judgments, so it is a bladed or sharply pointed article. How many hands are required to open it is irrelevant, as is the length of the blade.

        2. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Carrying a defensive weapon makes you far more likely to use it than be attacked. This goes for guns as much as knives.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            You're also more likely to be a victim of your own weapon.

      2. The Mole

        I don't know the details, but it is clear that this person has mental health issues and quite possibly including paranoia and distorting the fact. Whilst the police don't always act when they should (and other times over act when they shouldn't) I can well believe that they didn't act because the 'attacks' didn't merit it or lacked sufficient evidence.

        Similarly I'd probably give his psychiatrist the benefit of the doubt and probably just questioned the choice of any weapon and this was interpreted differently.

        Finally I would expect and be appalled if the police did not arrest someone carrying an offensive weapon (particularly if they have mental health issues - not that they necessarily knew this when arresting him). It is not clear that he was actually prosecuted for that once questioning was complete.

        I do agree the NHS do not have enough funding and the right support is in place in general, although in this case it does appear he was already under psychiatric care, but treatment takes time and depends on how well the patient is engaging. Assuming the psychiatrist was competent then the line of questioning probably needs to be of how aggressive the psychiatrist should have been in sectioning him - which I personally think should be a last resort based on real evidence of danger and certainly wouldn't want to guess whether that threshold was met here.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          The health authority (then Trust) I used to work for as a registered psychiatric nurse used to have a Court Diversion Service, where people who had been arrested were assessed by specialist nurses before appearing in magistrates Court. If there was a mental health problem (including substance abuse) a report was made to the Court so that appropriate orders could be made. It was very successful at getting people care they needed, and saved the courts and prison service a fortune. Of course, some MBA came along to the Trust and decided that actually doing the right thing was costing money, so the service had to go ...

    5. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Yeah... no doubt they'll try the Asbergers defence what with that being the mental illness du jour and all.

      1. The Sod Particle

        Dude, Aspergers has as much to do with mental illness as blue eyes has to do with a cold.

  3. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Gmail account?

    If he had emailed the information to his Gmail account then everything would have been revealed ... and he would now be getting lot's of "recommendations" from google for November 5th fireworks.

    But seriously - we have a conviction for doing something that would be a crime if he has Putins email address on his phone, but would sound more like needing some mental health care if he sent the information to Mother Jones and George Monbiot instead; that's hardly a crime, just stupidity - and stupidity is normal in government these days. Essentially he's been convicted of a crime that nobody is allowed to know the details about - that's injustice in action.

    1. First Light Bronze badge

      Mustard-coloured Jumper Man

      Well the jurors apparently get to hear details about the weapons system he revealed to email recipients. However, no public or journos allowed for that part.

      I find it rather poignant in the Indy's article about the case that he is described as wearing a "mustard-coloured jumper and tinted spectacles." I feel bad for anyone who wears a mustard-coloured jumper. That alone would make me question his mental condition.

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/uk-missile-system-leak-trial-defence-worker-simon-finch-mp-b1374856.html

      1. Jim Mitchell Silver badge

        Re: Mustard-coloured Jumper Man

        "I feel bad for anyone who wears a mustard-coloured jumper" Not a Captain Kirk fan, eh?

      2. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Mustard-coloured Jumper Man

        Mustard colour jumpers were highly fashionable in the winter of 2018/2019.

        I have two cardigans that colour that I bought then. I'll still wear them because cardigans last for a couple of decades.

        1. N2 Silver badge

          Re: Mustard-coloured Jumper Man

          I'll still wear them because cardigans last for a couple of decades.

          As do most things that are only worn once every three years.

        2. Sanctimonious Prick
          Devil

          Re: Mustard-coloured Jumper Man

          Cardigans? Nobody wears cardigans!

          :D

          1. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: Mustard-coloured Jumper Man

            I.. have a secret. I buy women's cardigans. Ones that reach below the knee.

            They sell them in a style called "boyfriend style" which basically means they're styled like men's cardigans. But they're thick and warm and reach below the knee.

            They're awesome. I recommend them.

            Ok. It''s not much of a secret. Everybody that sees me walking down the street is aware.

          2. herman Silver badge

            Re: Mustard-coloured Jumper Man

            ‘Nobody wears cardigans’ - that is why they last till the moths do them in.

      3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Mustard-coloured Jumper Man

        My standard comment here - why dies it matter what a defendant, or a witness, wear?? Dies every court reporter secretly want to be on the fashion desk?

        1. iron Silver badge

          Re: Mustard-coloured Jumper Man

          Only good court reporters go to the fashion desk when they die. Bad court reporters get forced to moderate comments threads on the Mail website.

  4. earl grey
    Flame

    put him in chokey

    and leave him there until the heat death of the universe

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: put him in chokey

      Errrrrrrm, why?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: put him in chokey

        He took the money and signed a contract which required him to keep company and state secrets. He's guilty, throw away the key.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: put him in chokey

          So, breach of contract is an imprison able offence? I don't remember that from my years of learning and teaching contract law.

  5. Cederic Silver badge

    "has been controversial ever since"

    RIPA was controversial long before it became law.

    I remember the admission of a crime encrypted and copied onto a floppy disk, mailed to (I believe) the Home Secretary, and the original document and encryption key being destroyed. This left the Home Secretary vulnerable to indefinite imprisonment according to a draft of RIPA.

  6. Maelstorm Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    Here in the U.S., forcing someone to reveal their password has been hit and miss. Every case that I'm aware of centers around the government's argument of 'forgone conclusion.' In either case, here in the US or across the pond in the UK, I find it mindboggling that the government can force someone to produce the contents of one's mind. After all, we supposedly have the right to silence.

    But then again, 'Rubber Hose Cryptanalysis' is a thing.

    Take a length of rubber hose. Apply it forcefully and repeatedly to the feet of the subject until he/she gives up the password.

    1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge
      1. Maelstorm Bronze badge
        Thumb Up

        Upvote for the XKCD reference. FYI, I've seen that one before.

  7. RobHib
    Facepalm

    One assumes this guy is the full quid when it comes to intelligence or he wouldn't be a BAE engineer. So presumably he either has some psychological problem or he wants to spend time at her Majesty's pleasure - perhaps he's trying to escape his spouse on a long-term basis.

    What other reason could there possibly be for him doing what he did? He couldn't have been caught more easily other than to have walked out the gate and said to security "look what I'm carrying out".

    1. Horridbloke
      Gimp

      re: one assumes

      "One assumes this guy is the full quid when it comes to intelligence or he wouldn't be a BAE engineer."

      This is not a sound assumption.

      1. RobHib
        Thumb Up

        Re: re: one assumes

        "This is not a sound assumption."

        Right. Seems then I've a good chance of a job there.

  8. Tempest
    FAIL

    So much for British 'justice'

    I live in an 'authoritarian' country and there are no legal ways anyone can be required to provide a password or other code here. Just illustrates hơw far Britain has gone dơwn the legal drain.

    At least we can be satisfied in knowing Her Majesty's government is impotent when it comes to some security devices.

    1. gerdesj Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: So much for British 'justice'

      "I live in an 'authoritarian' country ... and there are no legal ways"

      If your law enforcement don't need to satisfy legal requirements to do something then your legislature won't bother with passing laws.

  9. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "because he wanted revenge against the UK in general after having his complaints about police mistreatment ignored by everyone he approached."

    Jeez, we're now radicalising our own people to hate the country and help others destroy it. The police really do need to answer to MPs about how less and less crimes are getting investigated. The kids are already carrying weapons to school.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In all honesty

      The MP's don't want anything to do with the police since they can get very nosy and involve law courts. Law courts which those same MP's are doing their damnedest to remove as many of them as possible.

      I mean how many times (that we're aware of) has members of parliament (and their advisors) broken the law and not had any repercussions?

      Anyone?

    2. Martin J Hooper

      Isn't the reason for that the budget cuts that have been happening over the last few years leading to less policemen and women hence the not doing anything...?

  10. Mr Dogshit
    FAIL

    Fool

    "The police were nasty to me, so I gave away military secrets to the UK's enemies"

    Like saying "Tesco pissed me off, so I disclosed Initech's trade secrets to XYZ Corporation".

    I hope they through the book at him.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Fool

      Proportionality - you might have heard of it.

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Fool

      How exactly does one through a book? They're usually relatively solid. Solid enough you can't easily pass through one, at least.

      Explosives?

      Hammer and machette?

      One of these? [ See icon ----------------> ]

      I guess not so much "through" as obliterate, along with everything in a 5 mile radius.

      1. Scott 53

        Re: Fool

        "How exactly does one through a book?"

        Sounds like the plot of The Eyre Affair.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fool

      evry fule no that spelin iz for braneakz

      all yor sekretz is blong to me!

  11. Mage Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Re: Software engineer leaked UK missile system secrets

    1) The UK actually has missile secrets?

    2) This is already after he lost his job?

    3) If they couldn't access his whatever how do they know what he leaked?

    4) Is it all simply because he complained about the Police earlier?

    I know someone that was brought to court on a minor charge and told by their own solicitor that they had to plead guilty, even though the police where allegedly lying, because otherwise the police would bring a more serious charge. No third party witnesses to the alleged behaviour which involved no theft, damages or threats or anything else. Allegedly the police purely assuming what the person was going to do and then said it did happen to justify their initial bad treatment of their suspect.

    There needs to be greater independent oversight of the Police. The current solution of having police from a different group investigate a complaint is totally rubbish.

    1. John Jennings Bronze badge

      Re: Software engineer leaked UK missile system secrets

      Sure the UK makes and designs missiles

      Starstreak - a MPAD - uses a novel 3 dart submution - flies at mach 4. Developed by Shorts in the 1980's and upgraded many times since.

      Rapier SAM - used in the Falklands - still in production (with upgrades)

      Some of SkySabre (the rapier replacement) is developed in the UK. Other bits are Rafiel and Bofors

      Brimstone - a Air launched surface missile - standoff - 30 miles - roughly equivilent/development on the Hellfire missile

      Spear - similar to Brimstone - a UK version of the Hellfire for the F-35, and adds anti-ship capability

      PGM series - 50 KM criuse missile is now owned by a UK company - 2000LB payload

  12. Danny 2 Silver badge

    "If the nation does not care for my security then why should I care for national security?"

    I used to joke that if I'm ever charged with crimes against humanity I'll plead self-defence. Still, if I ever felt threatened in a pub then I wouldn't take a hammer and a machete, I'd go to a friendlier pub.

    The Human Resources folk at his previous employer should be given their jotters.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a British missile system?

    "Expert evaluation has concluded that the release of information of that kind, for example to a hostile adversary of the UK, would give them an understanding of the function of that relevant system which in turn would allow them methods of countering it."

    None of that would presumably apply in the case of a friendly adversary.

    And who gets to decide who or what is an "adversary"?

  14. Robin Bradshaw

    Secrets?

    Am I the only one thinking that we will eventually find out that the only secret about the missile system is that we are getting the crippled version and paying 3x what everybody else is for the full fat model?

  15. AdrianMontagu

    BAE SYSTEMS' SECURITY

    How is he able to email documents from their systems? The IT System should NOT be connected in any way to the internet. If he emailed from his own personal computer then how did it get there? By USB stick you might say. Those USB ports should have been locked down on BAE kit.

    Some questions need to be asked.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BAE SYSTEMS' SECURITY

      BAE have an IT security offering, I won't be buying that.

    2. Electronics'R'Us
      Holmes

      Re: BAE SYSTEMS' SECURITY

      As with any other company that handles classified information, (see List X) there are controls on just what can go on machines (and servers) that connect to the external internet and secret (and above) is not permitted. Even on those servers, user access is pretty fine grained.

      From what I can see in the article, this chap wrote the emails with the details from memory presumably using his own email account (which is, no doubt, why they wanted the passcodes).

      His downhill spiral would very probably have been noticed and SC (possibly DV but that is both expensive and takes a long time to get) clearance likely revoked - if that happened then he would not have been permitted continued access to any of that information after that and could easily lead to him getting fired (clearance required and now not held by him).

      I have seen some rather odd things; even renewing SC costs money and sometimes (for cost reasons) it is not renewed if the person involved has no reason to have continued access to secret material. I know one person who could not read a report he had written as he no longer held an SC.

  16. CrackedNoggin

    What we don't know from this article is the actual content of the emails - all we know is the content that the suspect claimed it contained, which is enough for him to be arrested. Supposing it actually turned out that the content of the email was only diagrams of a vacuum cleaner (c.f., Our man in Havana). Not saying that is the case, but the point of justice is to examine all the possibilities to arrive at the correct conclusion.

    Of it were a vacuum cleaner or already public information, a good defence lawyer should be able to prove that convincingly. If not, and if he gets convicted based on the email content being actual confidential information, that's fair.

    Among other things that could go wrong for this suspect - his apparent uncontrollable and self destructive anger results in his lawyer being unable to make a good case, as well as piquing the judge or annoying the jury (if there is a jury). Not quite mentally ill but certainly at least self destructive (and allegedly destructive towards others - hence the charges).

  17. Wolfclaw

    When ordered to give up his passwords, did that person have the appropriate security clearance to have passwords to such sensitive information deemed vital to national security, if not, that in itself is a criminal offence, catch-22 !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Even if he/she did have the appropriate security clearance they couldn't tell him without breaching the rules.

      Anon because it seems appropriate here.

  18. Val Halla

    Passwords

    I'm surprised our security services need to ask for a password.

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