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Monday, May 12, 2003
Use of the Official Secrets Act

The extremely entertaining and informative Radio Four programme 'Broadcasting House' had an interesting, if overlong, rant yesterday about the way in which two journalists in Northern Ireland were dealt with. (Mind you, the whole programme may have been a spoof: there was no 'Donald Rumsfeld soundbite of the week'.) The item began
Where were you on the night of Wednesday the 30th of April?

Liam Clarke, who's the Northern Ireland editor of the Sunday Times, was at home in Ballymena with his wife Cathy Johnston.

[Listen to more on the site.]
The Sunday Times had previously published transcripts of conversations, among several participants in the Northern Ireland peace process, including one involving Mo Mowlam MP, the then Northern Ireland secretary.

There were two main points to the item. Firstly, the police turned up at the Clarke house, in force and armed. Mr Clarke was arrested and a great deal of material was seized: 20 bin bags of documents including payslips and expense vouchers. Four computers were also taken. It was all done under the Official Secrets Act, according to Ms Johnson and Mr Clarke.

'Who authorised this raid and why?' BH asked. Their second point (I think) was that MPs are not supposed to have their phones bugged.

BH didn't quite get round to asking why the cops weren't raiding the offices of those who had carried out the bugging, whoever they were.

I would like to think that I can provide one interpretation, although many other questions need to be answered. Here's the point:

The Sunday Times is a Murdoch newspaper; Murdoch is trying to get hold of several UK TV channels. Everything Murdoch touches goes downhill. Even the Sunday Times is a pale shadow of itself under Harold Evans. We do not want the Foxification of any of our media; Sky is bad enough.

So this is our way of saying to the awful Mr Murdoch: 'Keep your grubby hands off our media; you've done enough harm already.' And if I'm wrong about that, other interpretations are too ghastly to contemplate.

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