Tuesday, 7 April 2015

No legal assurances to be given to whistleblowers

By Mark Conrad and Alex Varley-Winter 21 March 2015

"Ministers defeated a move to amend the Official Secrets Act to ensure that it bars no one from giving evidence about VIP paedophiles."

"Theresa May, home secretary, last week repeated in Parliament assurances that the act should not stop anyone from giving evidence to the overarching inquiry into child sex abuse (CSA). David Cameron even underlined the assurance at prime minister`s questions on Wednesday."

"But Exaro can reveal that May and most of her coalition colleagues in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties blocked an attempt in Parliament to change the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to give legal backing to such assurances."

"The government defeated the amendment proposed by John Mann, Labour MP in a night-time vote in February that went unreported. An alert Exaro reader drew it to our attention."

"Mann told Exaro: "What people need are absolute guarantees of protection under the OSA. From what I am hearing, people`s biggest concern about whistleblowing is being prosecuted under the OSA."

"He tried to introduce the amendment to the Serious Crime Bill as it was going through Parliament, and would have created a defence to a charge under the OSA for anyone who had supplied material to an official investigation or inquiry into child sex abuse."

"The amendment was defeated by 295 MPs to 233. The move was opposed by 254 Conservatives and 40 Liberal Democrats, suggesting a whipped vote. But Mann`s proposal was supported by 233 MPs in the 9.15pm vote on February 23, including 207 from Labour, as well as 8 Conservatives and 3 Liberal Democrats. "

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