Published: Sun, July 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

UK police identify suspect behind leaked envoy memos

UK police identify suspect behind leaked envoy memos

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said the Metropolitan Police had been given legal advice that there is "no public interest defence".

In a further statement yesterday, Mr Basu insisted the Met had "no intention" of trying to prevent the publication of stories in the public interest. "This isn't Russian Federation", he asked the Metropolitan Police on Twitter. The former British Ambassador is said to have highlighted splits amongst U.S. presidential advisors and that the White House did not have a "day-to-day" strategy of what to do following withdrawal from the deal.

London's Metropolitan Police said its terrorism command, which investigates potential breaches of Britain's Official Secrets Act, had initiated the probe into the leaking of Kim Darroch's correspondence.

The ambassador indicated his decision to resign was influenced by Johnson's refusal, since he is overwhelmingly likely to be the next prime minister.

Earlier this week, Trump said the USA will "substantially" increase sanctions on the Iranian government in the latest escalation in his administration's "maximum pressure campaign" against the country.

The statement also said there has been damage caused to Britain's global relations, and there would be clear public interest in bringing the person or people responsible to justice.

The British police has also advised "all owners, editors and publishers of social and mainstream media" not to publish leaked government documents, whether they already have them or are offered to publish new ones.

Evening Standard editor George Osborne described the Met statement as "stupid" and "ill-advised".

Peter Spiegel, Financial Times US managing editor, wrote: "Well, this is rather chilling from a major police force in a western democracy".


The Conservative leadership contender admitted he should have been more supportive of Sir Kim Darroch, and acknowledged that his refusal to explicitly back the ambassador had been a factor in his decision to step down.

He added, on Twitter: "Do you have any comprehension of a free society? This isn't Russian Federation", he tweeted.

A British investigation into the leaking of confidential diplomatic memos is raising press freedom issues with a police warning that United Kingdom media might face a criminal inquiry if leaked documents are published.

"We know these documents and potentially others remain in circulation", he said, adding: "We have a duty to prevent as well as detect crime and the previous statement was meant to alert to the risk of breaching the OSA".

What is "in the public interest"?

British officials say they believe the leak was not a result of outside hacking but seems to have been carried out by an insider.

Mr Murray maintains it is unlikely police are going to "shoot the messenger", adding that to hold authority to account journalists can't be allowed to be bullied into handing over documents.

"It's a hard line to tread between what's in the public interest and what interests the public", Mr Murray says.

The Foreign Office launched an investigation into how the documents were made public, but the police investigation raises the stakes.

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