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Jailed for revealing Bush/Blair memo

This article is over 14 years, 8 months old
On the day Tony Blair was forced to resign two people were jailed for attempting to reveal the Blair’s relationship to George Bush and their plans on how to carry out the war in Iraq.
Issue 2050

On the day Tony Blair was forced to resign two people were jailed for attempting to reveal the Blair’s relationship to George Bush and their plans on how to carry out the war in Iraq.

David Keogh, a communications officer at the Cabinet Office leaked a highly secret document about a meeting between Bush and Blair to ‘expose the president as a madman.’ He was jailed for six months for breaking the Official Secrets Act.

And the man he gave the memo to – Leo O’Connor, a researcher for Labour MP Anthony Clarke – was jailed for three months.

Old Bailey judge Justice Aikens told Keogh, “Your reckless, irresponsible actions could have cost the lives of British citizens. It was a gross breach of trust of your position as a Crown servant.’

He told O’Connor, ‘You chose to take this letter. You could have refused it.

The memo about a Blair-Bush summit on Iraq in April 2004, marked ‘Secret and Personal’, was sent by secure fax to the Cabinet Office at No10.

The four-page document to then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw began, “This letter is extremely sensitive. It must not be copied further and must be seen only by those with a need to know.” It should have been forwarded only to key figures at the Ministry of Defence, MI6, our ambassador in Washington, the UN and British representatives in Iraq.

Keogh handed a copy to O’Connor – who told police Keogh believed it exposed Bush as a ‘madman’. Keogh’s QC told the court he ‘acted out of conscience’ to reveal Bush’s ‘abhorrent’ comments about the war.

He hoped it could be used to raise questions in the Commons and wanted it passed to presidential candidate John Kerry.

O’Connor put it among Clarke’s papers. The MP was so horrified he sent it straight back to No 10, earning praise from Blair.

Much of the trial was held behind closed doors after the judge said that “some individuals or groups in the Middle East might react very unfavourably to the contents of the letter”.

In 2005 the Daily Mirror had alleged the ‘top secret’ memo recorded a threat by Bush to ‘unleash ‘military action’ against Al-Jazeera’ – the Middle East television station. Justice Aikens, the trial judge, referred to the newspaper article in a ruling last year setting out his reasons for allowing parts of the evidence to be heard in secret. He suggested that the article was ‘inaccurate about the contents of the letter.’

The Stop the War Coalition said, “We condemn the prison sentences passed on David Keogh and Leo O’Connor. While not a single government minister has been held to account for the disastrous policy of war in Iraq, a journalist and a researcher are imprisoned for trying simply trying to shed some light on Tony Blair’s relationship with George Bush.

“On the day that Blair, one of the instigators of the disastrous war in Iraq, resigns as leader of the Labour Party with much fanfare, we should remember the many victims of his policy. The prison sentences are another sign of the double standards perpetrated in relation to the war. Blair’s own spin machine is well known for leaks, but when other people try to expose secret documents they are met with the full force of the law.”

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