HC Deb 22 February 1988 vol 128 cc14-5
56. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Attorney-General what has been the cost hitherto of his actions against various publications in relation to Mr. Anthony Cavendish's memoirs.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Nicholas Lyell)

The total amount of costs expended to date in the actions, relating to the Cavendish memoirs, brought against The Sunday Times and The Observer, is £157.

Mr. Dalyell

Wherein lies Mr. Cavendish's alleged breach of security?

The Solicitor-General

Mr. Cavendish, as a former member of the security service, owes a lifelong duty of confidentiality. It is to establish and enforce that lifelong duty that the actions were brought.

Mr. Dykes

Why is Mr. Cavendish being treated more lightly and generously than Mr. Peter Wright?

The Solicitor-General

He has not been treated in any substantially different way as a matter of principle.

Mr. Menzies Campbell

If, in pursuing further action against Mr. Cavendish, consideration has to be given to the expenditure which may be incurred, will consideration also be given to the abortive expenditure which has already been incurred in the Court of Session in Scotland?

The Solicitor-General

Matters in Scotland have not yet reached their conclusion, and therefore it remains to be seen whether they are or are not abortive.

Mr. Favell

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that a prerequisite of joining the secret service is the ability to keep a secret?

The Solicitor-General

I agree.

Mr. Fraser

Do I understand from the Solicitor-General's answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) that there was no breach of security — that there was only a breach of confidentiality?

The Solicitor-General

The action was brought to enforce the lifelong duty of confidentiality.