Former MI5 officer's memoir appeal to be held in secret

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The Independent Online

A former MI5 officer fighting for the right to publish his memoirs today lost his battle to have the case heard in open court.

Five Justices of the Supreme Court dismissed his challenge to a Court of Appeal ruling that the closed Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) had exclusive jurisdiction to hear A's appeal against the refusal by his former bosses to allow him to make disclosures about his work.

The IPT sits in closed session and there is no right of appeal from its decision.

The former operative, referred to only as A, had won a High Court ruling that he was entitled to argue his case in the public courts by way of judicial review.

He went to the Supreme Court after the ruling was reversed.

His legal team argued at a hearing in October that the duty of confidence of ex-intelligence members was owed to the Crown rather than the intelligence services themselves which brought the case outside the narrow scope of the tribunal.

Lord Brown said in a ruling today that A, a former senior member of the Security Service, wants to publish a book about his work and needs the consent of the Director of Establishments because he is bound by strict confidentiality rules and other obligations under the Official Secrets Act.

When permission was refused, he sought to challenge it under the freedom of expression clauses of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lord Brown said the issue the Supreme Court had to decide was whether this appeal could be held in an open or closed hearing.

Under the law governing proceedings involving the security services, Lord Brown said the wording indicated that it was unlikely that Parliament was intending to leave it to a complainant to choose for himself whether to bring proceedings in court or before the IPT.

Lord Brown rejected A's argument that to construe the law as conferring exclusive jurisdiction on the IPT would be to oust the jurisdiction of the courts which would be constitutionally objectionable.

There was a "self-evident need" to safeguard the secrecy and security of sensitive intelligence material and the working of the security services, said Lord Brown.

"I see no reason to doubt that the IPT is well able to give full consideration to this dispute about the publication of A's manuscript and, adjusting the procedures as necessary, to resolve it justly."