The Keogh and O'Connor Trial over the leak of the al-Jazeera Memo resumes today.
The al-Jazeera Memo has remained stubbornly under wraps since its content was reported in the Mirror last year.
But the trial of the two men charged with leaking the document, David Keogh and Leo O'Connor resumes today [Tuesday 10th January 2006], and the al-Jazeera memo will move back onto the news agenda, or it should...
On the eve of the trial, Peter Kilfoyle, former UK defence minister who has been leading the calls for disclosure of the conversation went public with the revelation that back in 2004 he and Tony Clarke MP had leaked the contents of the Memo to an American contact, John Latham, a "contributing member" to the Democrat National Committee in the hope he would release it in the States, beyond the reach of the OSA.
Unfortunately Mr Latham declined to do anything with this information, and we remained blissfully unaware of this story untill somebody passed details to the Daily Mirror.
This raises futher questions about who his being charged with what, and more significantly, who isn't being charged.
What we already know about the charges:
Mr O'Connor, 42, a former researcher for the former Labour MP for Northampton South, Tony Clarke, is charged with having received a document "through its disclosure without lawful authority by a Crown servant".
It is alleged that Mr Keogh passed a memo to Mr O'Connor between April 16 and May 28 2004. The charge against Mr O'Connor is that he knew, or had reasonable cause to believe, the document was protected against disclosure by the Official Secrets Act.
Mr Keogh is alleged to have passed the memo to Mr O'Connor who then allegedly passed it on to Mr Clarke, his then employer. Mr Clarke has said he returned the document to the government.
Leo O'Connor has said he handed the document to his boss, Tony Clarke MP in good faith, for return to the government. But Tony Clarke MP received the document in the same way that Leo O'Connor did.
There are no charges against Tony Clarke MP for receiving the document.
We also know that before he returned the documents to the government, Tony Clarke also disclosed the document to Peter Kilfoyle MP, in his capacity as a friend and as an ex defense Minister. In much the same way as David Keogh did to Leo O'Connor.
There are no charges against Tony Clarke MP for disclosing the document.
There are no charges against Peter Kilfoyle MP for receiving the document.
What we learn today:
In San Diego, Mr Latham, 71, a retired electrical engineer and a "contributing member" to the Democrat National Committee, told the Guardian that the MPs also wanted him to send letters with the information to newspapers in Los Angeles and New York. At a meeting at the House of Commons, he had been introduced to Mr Clarke by Mr Kilfoyle. Mr Latham, a British expatriate, and Mr Kilfoyle had attended the same school.
The two MPs disclosed the contents of the conversation to a third party, with the express intention of the information being used to influence the outcome of the US Presidential election. The fact it wasn't used is immaterial. They both knowingly disclosed it.
Still no charges against either MP.
Peter Kilfoyle and Tony Clarke have stood up to be counted today, and made the government prosecution of two civil servants look ridiculous, vindictive and selective.
Asked if he had broken the act in the same alleged way as Mr Clarke's aide who is facing charges, he said: "I don't know. But I'd be very pleased if Her Majesty's finest approached me about it."
Peter Kilfoyle has indeed discussed it with all and sundry: the press, TV and radio, Parliament and over the frozen turkeys section of our local Tesco supermarket. I doubt somehow, that her Majesty's finest will be breaking down his door any time soon.
He has also disclosed that Colin Powell was at the meeting.
As far as I am aware, nobody has directed any questions at Colin about what the Whitehouse describe as a joke, and Blair describes as a conspiracy theory...
Over to the US bloggers on that one.
Whatever happens, we can be sure that the Blair government will go as far as they can to save George Dubya's enbarassment, and keep this as quiet as possible. If the deadwood press do not step up to the plate, and stand with their collegues in al-Jazeera, then we should be shouting about it as loud as we can.