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Criminal Defence and Extradition

Official Secrets Act Breaches

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.

Contact

To get in touch with our criminal defence lawyers please use the details below. If you need emergency assistance outside of office hours please call our out of hours phone number.

EMERGENCY – OUT OF HOURS

+44 (0)20 7305 5638

Meet the team

Katie Wheatley
Partner

Head of Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Tayab Ali
Partner | Deputy Managing Partner BD

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory | Political, Diplomatic and International Law

Kate Goold
Partner

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Catherine Jackson
Associate

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Jude Lanchin
Associate

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Hester Cavaciuti
Solicitor

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Hannah Cheesebrough
Solicitor

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Ella Jefferson
Solicitor

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

Claire Hann
Trainee solicitor

Crime, Fraud and Regulatory

How can we help you?

We are here to help. If you have any questions for us, please get in touch below.