HC Deb 20 November 1997 vol 301 c250W
Mr. Cranston

To ask the Attorney-General what consideration has been given to proceedings under the Official Secrets Act 1989 in relation to disclosures contained in the book "The Last Governor."[17551]

The Attorney-General

The Director of Public Prosecutions was asked to consider whether the circumstances disclosed a possible offence under the Official Secrets Act 1989 such as to require a criminal investigation. She therefore sought my views on the public interest aspect of the case because any prosecution would by statute have required my consent.

I considered the matter with the DPP and I then invited relevant colleagues to draw to my attention matters which the public interest required be taken into account in accordance with the long-standing procedures described to the House by my predecessor on 29 January 1951, Official Report,columns 683–684Following such consultation I concluded that intelligence and foreign relations considerations outweighed other public interest considerations which might otherwise have required a prosecution in respect of any offence established by a criminal investigation. It followed that no useful purpose would have been served for there to have been a police investigation in this matter.

Although that view took account of the considerations advanced by Ministerial colleagues, the assessment of those considerations was my responsibility alone as a Law Officer acting independently of Government but after further consultation with the DPP, the DPP concurred with my view.