Pasquill – A Liberal Saint

Take five minutes out to read Nick Cohen’s piece on Derek Pasquill, the man who threw away his career to expose the promotion, by the FCO’s Mockbul Ali, of the Muslim Brotherhood:

The FCO was not and is not standing up to the totalitarian ideas of the Islamist extreme Right, as it stood up to the totalitarianism of the socialist extreme Left in the second half of the 20th century. On the contrary, the establishment has appeased political Islamism abroad and interfered in the domestic affairs of its own country by mounting a covert operation to aid and abet it at home.

Pasquill betrayed the institutions of liberal democracy by standing up for liberal democracy. He defended it from its enemies, who were not only in far-away countries but closeted in the Cabinet Room of 10 Downing Street and the offices of Whitehall. As striking a difference between Pasquill and the establishment renegades of the 20th century (indeed, from every other whistleblower I have known) is that he wanted to be caught. He wanted the police to take him to the cells and arraign him at the Old Bailey for breaking the Official Secrets Act. He did not regard jail as a punishment he hoped to avoid, but sought out the risk of imprisonment the better to highlight the scandal. When the police came to his Pimlico home, he admitted everything. In truth, they did not have a hard job finding him. By the end, he was sending documents from his work email to his home computer and the dullest copper in England could have collared him.

“The Observer and the New Statesman were printing my revelations,” he told me, “but they were not having an effect. I thought that being caught would be useful because the FCO would have to prosecute. That was part of my strategy, to get publicity in open court; to make people realise how bad it had got. What is so maddening about our attitude to radical Islam is that it is a classic example of group-think. Cognitive dissonance is stopping serious engagement. Leaking documents was my attempt to break the dissonance, my form of engagement.”

I am sure you can understand why he so frightens the FCO. The normal threats an employer can make against an employee — the loss of home, salary, position and, in Pasquill’s case, liberty — could not intimidate him. He was a man with the inner freedom the Stoics so valued. He had trained himself to be indifferent to the threats and blandishments of official society. Even though governments around the world read his revelations with varying degrees of horror, the FCO dropped the prosecution. Legally, its case was watertight. Pasquill had admitted leaking official secrets with pride. But Whitehall knew all too well that he would use the dock as a platform to appeal to the jury and the wider public.

There is no happy ending

At the age of 50, Derek Pasquill is now on the dole with no pension, no savings and no prospects. The FCO responded to his revelations by promoting Mockbul Ali.

Read it all.