On 2 November, Protect’s Head of Policy Andrew Pepper-Parsons, along with Kaeten Mistry Historian, University of East Anglia, and Anna Myers, Executive Director, Whistleblowing International Network, will be hosting a workshop on Civil Society, National Security, and Breaking Down Barriers for Public Interest Disclosures bringing together other legal professionals, journalists and academics with a keen interest in the Official Secrets Act to discuss how civil society can effectively challenge secrecy frameworks.
Between May and July of this year, the Home Office conducted a consultation on the ‘Legislation to Counter State Threats (Hostile State Activity)’ as part of its efforts to empower the whole national security community to counter threats that the UK faces today. Part of these proposals include the Reform of the Official Secrets Act 1989 (OSA) – the law which governs the unauthorised disclosure of official material and its onward disclosure.
Protect is particularly concerned by the Home Office’s proposed rejection of the Law Commission’s 2020 recommendation to include a public interest defence in the OSA. Protect believes that public interest defence is vital to the functioning of a democracy.
The workshop is part of a broader project that brings together advocates, academics, civil society groups, and legal experts from around the world. It is supported by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council and has partners from the United States (GAP), United Kingdom (Protect), and European Union (FIBGAR).