Our criminal defence solicitors provide expert legal advice to individuals accused of committing offences concerning the unauthorised disclosure of official information.
The main piece of legislation that covers such activity is the Official Secrets Act 1989 (OSA). The OSA primarily applies to civil servants, servants of the Crown, and UK government staff; including independent contractors. Our solicitors are able to help with OSA defined criminal actions, including the disclosure of information, that:
- Endangers the lives of British citizens abroad
- Damages the armed forces, security, or intelligence services (or their work)
- Damages the UK’s interests abroad
Often individuals and organisations are under the impression that they have to sign the OSA in order to be bound by it. This is a common misconception; though individuals will usually be informed via their contract of employment if they are required to observe the OSA.
In addition to creating various offences for the disclosure of certain information, the OSA criminalises individuals who ‘fail to take such care to prevent unauthorised disclosures’ meaning that individuals can be prosecuted for failing to take appropriate action. Prosecutions for OSA offences can only be instigated by the Attorney General. Prosecutions require careful examination of the nature of the role of the individual(s) being prosecuted and the supervision/reporting structure of the organisation(s) in which they work.
Cases involving the OSA are often incredibly complicated, they require sensitive handling and an understanding of multiple legal disciplines. Our criminal defence lawyers work closely with our Employment team, who are experts in whistleblowing and other relevant employment law. Furthermore, prosecutions can attract significant media attention and the lawyers within our criminal department have unparalleled experience advising on the reputational ramifications of OSA investigations and prosecutions.
Criminal Defence and Extradition
Journalists and Media Organisations
Appeals and Miscarriage of Justice
Police Station Representation and Advice
Criminal Court Representation
Road Traffic Offences
Sexual Offence Allegations
Official Secrets Act Breaches
Human Trafficking, Smuggling, and Slavery Offences
University Misconduct Complaints