HC Deb 29 March 1984 vol 57 cc235-6W
Mr. Kinnock

asked the Prime Minister whether the Security Commission has reported on the case of L/Cpl Aldridge; and when the commission's report will be published.

The Prime Minister

I announced on 20 January 1983 that, after consultation with the right hon. Gentleman the then Leader of the Opposition, I had asked the Security Commission to investigate and report on the circumstances in which breaches of security had, or might have, occurred, arising out of the case of L/Cpl P.L. Aldridge, who had been charged with an offence under section 7 of the Official Secrets Act 1920, and to advise in the light of the investigation whether any change in security arrangements was necessary or desirable.

The Security Commission's findings are being published this afternoon as a Command Paper which comprises the full text of the Commission's report, save for an appendix containing highly classified information which it would not be in the public interest to publish.

Section 7 of the Official Secrets Act 1920 makes it an offence to do an act preparatory to the commission of an offence under the Official Secrets Act 1911. Aldridge's preparatory act was the setting up of arrangements to communicate with the Russians, and the relevant offence he was preparing to commit was the communication, to the Russians, by means of those arrangements, of a classified document. As a result of their inquiries the Commission concludes that no classified information was in fact passed on. Aldridge's attempts to sell this country's secrets were frustrated and he was in due course identified and brought to justice by the co-operation of the Security Sell ice and the army.

An undoubted breach of security gave Aldridge the opportunity to remove a highly classified document and the Commission directed its attention to specific breaches of prescribed procedures or short-comings in the procedures themselves which could be considered of some direct relevance as having facilitated Aldridge's removal of the document. It has made the following recommendations for improving security procedures:

  1. (a) consideration should be given to the circumstances in which persons under 21 should be allowed access to top secret material and the degree of supervision to which they should be subject, with a view to issuing general guidance on the employment of holders of restricted positive vetting certificates;
  2. (b) responsibility for supervision of the holder of a restricted PV certificate appointed to a PV post should always be allocated to a named person;
  3. (c) the rules governing the destruction of highly classified documents, in particular the need for two persons to witness the destruction, should now be reviewed;
  4. (d) local security instructions should be issued and written in clear and unambiguous terms.

They have also recommended that protective security in the defence intelligence staff should be the subject of a full review by the security service which should aim at a comprehensive overhaul of the existing security arrangements.

All these recommendations have been accepted in principle by the Government, and once the precise method of implementation has been decided they will be put into effect as soon as possible. The general recommendations will apply equally to Government Departments, the security and intelligence agencies and the armed forces.

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