The two men accused of violating the Official Secrets Act by leaking the al Jazeera memo have been found guilty. David Keogh, a government communications officer, and Leo O’Connor, a former political researcher will be sentenced on Thursday and face up to two years in jail. David Keogh’s conviction was predictable as he intended to expose the alleged plan of President Bush to bomb the offices of al Jazeera in Qatar. Leo O’Connor’s conviction is more of a surprise because all he did was pass the memo on to his boss. Because most of the trial was held in secret, very few details of it have emerged and the jury were warned by the judge, Mr Justice Aikens not to divulge any of the evidence they heard.
He said: “The information you heard in camera, including the contents of the letter and what was said by witnesses about the consequences of the disclosure of the letter, remain confidential – it remains secret.”
Peter Kilfoyle MP, who admitted passing on details of the alleged plan to bomb al Jazeera in Qatar, will escape prosecution. Prosecuting an MP on such a contentious issue would have attracted more unwelcome publicity. As it is, this story is likely to be buried by the imminent announcement of Tony Blair’s resignation. Hopefully the al Jazeera memo will one day be leaked once again, and once bloggers get hold of the contents, a cover up will be impossible. For more background about the case see here.
Both men have been given jail terms. David Keogh received a six month sentence and Leo O’Connor has been sentenced to three months in prison. Those are fairly lenient sentences, it could have been two years.