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Congratulations Derek Pasquill!

Derek Pasquill is a reader of this blog, although I imagine he’ll be getting drunk now, rather than furiously searching the internet for information about himself.

His friends would like to congratulate him on his good fortune, and send our best wishes to him.

A civil servant at the Foreign Office has been cleared of breaching the Official Secrets Act.
Derek Pasquill, 48, of west London was accused at the Old Bailey of leaking confidential documents to the New Statesman and the Observer.

The papers were said to refer to secret CIA flights and the UK’s contact with Muslim groups.

His lawyer said a prosecution decision to drop charges was “vindication” that what he did was not “damaging”.

Julian Knowles said the disclosure of the documents was in the public interest as it concerned debates on engaging with radical Islam and the practice of “extraordinary rendition” – the US transportation of terror suspects to secret prisons.

The court heard internal Foreign Office documents disclosed as part of the legal process would have undermined the prosecution case.

New Statesman editor John Kampfner described Mr Pasquill’s prosecution as a “misguided and malicious move”.

He said a number of government ministers had “privately acknowledged” that the information provided by Mr Pasquill had been “in the public interest and was responsible in large part for changing government policy for the good in terms of extraordinary rendition and policy towards radical Islam”.

Update: John Kampfner, the editor of the Staggers at CiF

During all this time, cabinet ministers admitted to political editor Martin Bright and myself that they shared the very concerns Pasquill had raised. They were happy to concede that government policy was changing largely as a result. Several even requested briefings about issues raised by the disclosures. Ministers, including David Miliband, the foreign secretary, had misgivings throughout, and were increasingly frustrated at the actions of their officials. Now we find out that, during minuted meetings inside the Foreign Office, officials expressed doubts to each other, too.

And yet, in spite of all this, still the prosecution of Mr Pasquill continued.

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