back to article Former BAE Systems contractor charged with 'damaging disclosure' of UK defence secrets

A former BAE Systems defence contractor has appeared in court accused of leaking "highly sensitive" secrets to foreign governments. Simon Finch, 49, of Swansea, Wales, is charged under the UK's Official Secrets Act with making a "damaging disclosure" of information last October, according to top newswire Court News UK. He …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    ??

    Other than the fascinating sartorial description, name, age and location, we know a man was arrested for being naughty re the Official Secrets Act but little else can be said?

    Where on a scale of one to ten does this rate as a news article?

    1. nichomach

      Re: ??

      I think this could be more of a "watch this space" kind of item - OSA prosecutions don't seem to be that common, or at least not newsworthy ones, so one wonders what he's leaked.

      1. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

        Re: ??

        and to whom.

    2. drand

      Re: ??

      It is newsworthy because it rarely happens. There are around one or two prosecutions like this per year come to trial under the official secrets act. The fact that a lot of the substance can't be reported tells you something about the gravity of the allegations (subject to whether the authorities have over-classified the pertinent information). It might not make for much of an article but that doesn't mean it's not worth publishing.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: ??

        "subject to whether the authorities have over-classified the pertinent information"

        Authorities ALWAYS over-classify pertinent information. Rather than to keep hidden anything that could jeopardise national interests, this is mostly done to spare individuals' blushes, sweep glaring incompetence under the carpet etc etc

    3. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: ??

      Hi Simon Finch, nice to see you've got internet access now you're out on bail. See you at the Old Bailey next month! xxx

    4. Charles Calthrop

      hate it. use it

      it _is_ a fascinating satorial description, though. A yellow shirt. Yuck. With sartorial elegance like that, the -1 in theregister's page views is explained.

    5. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: ??

      Honestly compared to the coverage of two footballers wives recently in the mainstream media, this is riveting reading.

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: ??

      I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

      The long trench-coat, thanks.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ??

      It is also interesting in that they're trying to throw the book at him for offences committed under RIPA. He has three presumably securely encrypted devices, which presumably contain information on them which he thinks could land him in seriously deep trouble, to the extent of him preferring consecutive maximum RIPA convictions over disclosing the passwords.

      On the other hand, he might just like to carry around gigabytes of random noise and be unable to explain why he does so, and how to distinguish between random noise and encrypted data.

      Either way, the powers that be reckon he spilled something naughty and want him punished.

      1. david 12 Silver badge

        Re: ??

        Or, as suggested by his attitude towards the police, because he thinks that the police are assholes who are stitching him up anyway.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ??

      The interesting bit in there is:

      "Finch is also charged with one count of failing to make disclosure of information that would facilitate access to three electronic devices, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act."

      Which is directly relevant to IT and IT security and, if proven, should be newsworthy.

  2. Mike Tyler

    Why

    Why the Manchester Police reference from Sky ?

    Seems an odd connection.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Why

      I think they got it wrong - it should be Merseyside, not Manchester, though they've corrected their wording.

      C.

  3. seanj
    Devil

    Spooky...

    The incident occurred 'on or around the 28th October 2018', he's appeared in court in October this year, and the prosecuting barrister is Sam Main...

    Satan because there's no 'it was witches' icon...

  4. Electronics'R'Us Bronze badge
    Holmes

    A common misconeption

    Having worked in the defence industry over the years, I have had to sign many a slip of paper stating that I understand my responsibilities under the official secrets act.

    Many seem to think you are only subject to it if you have signed the paper, but this is simply not true; that slip of paper is to ensure I really do understand my obligations as I was likely to come into contact with classified information on a regular basis which is something the average person on the street is unlikely to experience.

    Everyone in the UK (and even abroad in some circumstances) is subject to the provisions of the act.

    I am not surprised at the order limiting what can actually be reported, although from my experience in the armed forces, material is routinely over classified. That said, the classification is what it is.

    1. AbortRetryFail

      Re: A common misconeption

      As an aside, but in the realms of "a common misconception", it's always amused me that 'Top Secret' is actually fairly low down the list of levels of secrecy and there are many levels above it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A common misconeption

        "it's always amused me that 'Top Secret' is actually fairly low down the list of levels of secrecy and there are many levels above it."

        This is, in fact, a common misconception.

        1. vulture65537

          Re: A common misconeption

          I blame the Potato farm.

        2. AbortRetryFail

          Re: A common misconeption

          "This is, in fact, a common misconception."

          Fair enough. I'm happy to be corrected over my misconception. I thought that there were various levels of "Eyes Only" above "Top Secret".

          1. Wicked Witch

            Re: A common misconeption

            Top Secret is about how the information is handled: what IT security, how thoroughly checked people need to be, which rooms it can be in, which locks, and so on. There are, or were, special handling instructions beyond those but I think most of those have been absorbed into one of the standard classifications, at least outside SIS etc.

            "Eyes Only" is about who can be told, on top of whatever restrictions apply to you telling people in general.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A common misconeption

      "that slip of paper is to ensure I really do understand my obligations as I was likely to come into contact with classified information on a regular basis which is something the average person on the street is unlikely to experience."

      No, it isn't. It's because the OSA (depending on which section you're looking at) generally applies to three categories of people:

      - Crown Servants, who are government employees and contractors engaged on government business

      - "Government Contractors" who are typically non-government employees employed only indirectly (e.g. a defence contractor working on a bit of kit, for example)

      And crucially

      - Anyone who is notified in writing by the relevant minister that they are subject to the terms of the OSA.

      Signing the OSA is to ensure that if, by some incredibly confluence of events, you are neither a crown servant nor a government contractor, you are still subject to the law through this third category of notified persons. In many circumstances they also make you sign it on your way out as well for exactly this reason - your employment might now be over but you bloody well still count.

      1. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

        Re: A common misconeption

        eg. post people

      2. MrReynolds2U

        Re: A common misconeption

        I had to sign the OSA on day one at Yellow Pages when I was doing advert corrections. It seemed a little OTT even then.

  5. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    I'm no judge, but...

    Give him 2 years for the yellow shirt on its own. There is simply no rational reason to ever be out in public in one. It's almost [but not quite] as bad as : black suit, black shirt, red tie. And yes... there is one of "them" in my department. I've a good mind to raise a grievance in HRMS.

    1. GX5000
      Joke

      Re: I'm no judge, but...

      Well wearing a Red Shirt would have been a little obvious no?

      (Mods, where's a Trek Icon?!)

  6. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    A Finch in a Yellow Shirt?

    Does this mean he's going to sing like a canary?

  7. low_resolution_foxxes

    I have no idea what he has done, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest we may be able to infer what he did by looking for Merseyside and BAE connections.

    I had a look for Merseyside Police scandals in 2018, lo and behold there is a CCTV facial recognition scandal that kicked off around October 2018. BAE have a facial recognition unit so its plausible he casually namedropped some information there. This seems plausible if he has a grievance, as some people don't like facial recognition.

    Otherwise, BAE also supply defence kit into the Royal navy warships built in Merseyside, so both of those seem like good starting places. Although I can't think we had a grievance with Merseyside about this, the bloke works for BAE he cannot claim to be an eco warrior hippy if he works for a defence contractor.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: I'm going to go out on a limb...

      If ElectronicsRUs is correct then I wouldn't if I were you.

      Have you not heard of "Location 23"?

  8. Aussie Doc
    Linux

    Is the reference to his fashion status supposed to make us all feel he deserves his problems?

    What with the yellow shirt and all.

    Penguin coz we don't got no finch.

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