Government moves to hold Darroch leak allegations case in secret
The government has formally submitted paperwork to have a case heard in secret which could strain UK and US relations.
The case involves a claim for damages by a former government official who was dragged from his bed by 14 counter-terrorist police in the UK.
He was arrested over allegations he had passed on details to The Sun of claims Lord Darroch had leaked sensitive material including “five eyes” secrets to a US-based CNN journalist, who he was allegedly having an affair with.
Express.co.uk has seen a letter from Edward Keeling, a government lawyer for National Security and Counter Terrorism “notifying the Court that the Defendants in the above case intend to make an application under section 6 of the Justice and Security Act 2013 that the proceedings are proceedings in which a closed material application may be made to the court.”
The defendants in the case are Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, and Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch, along with more than 20 senior former and current Whitehall officials named in the claimant’s evidence.
These include former international trade permanent secretary Antonia Romeo, now at the Ministry of Justice, and Lord Darroch.
The case is now set to be heard on May 31 and reporting restrictions could be brought in by June 5.
The claimant – who Express.co.uk has agreed not to name – was dragged out of his bed when recovering from cancer surgery after being allegedly “framed” for “leaking” embarrassing “revelations” about ex-UK ambassador to the US Lord Darroch.
The case will pick over a difficult episode in UK/ US relations which saw Darroch forced to quit over his comments about the then President Donald Trump, but later further allegations surfaced he had given classified information to a CNN reporter who it was claimed he was having a relationship with.
The complainant, who worked in Whitehall, has alleged he was also falsely accused of being behind the leak.
The former official also said he had been described by colleagues as “a rightwing extremist” and “Trump supporter,” even though he previously worked for the US Democrats in Washington and was a donor to Democrat political campaigns.
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According to the papers, 14 counter terrorism police officers stormed his flat while he was unwell.
In the statement of facts submitted to the court, he describes how the police refused to even allow him to go to the toilet even though he was suffering from severe diarrhoea due to cancer treatment.
Because all his electronic equipment, documents and ability to access money were removed he was left homeless and wandering the streets.
The ex-civil servant was prevented from communicating with any colleagues who, he states, could have helped his case. He eventually attempted suicide with the investigation was over him for months.
The complainant claimed in a statement: “I am not a terrorist and I have never been accused of terrorism. Despite this, not for the first time, British counter terrorism legislation and British counter terrorism forces have been weaponised against me. The Civil Service falsely accused me of leaking former UK Ambassador Kim Darroch’s Official Sensitive documents and reported me to the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, as the police confirmed to me.”
The complainant also has made it clear he believes his treatment was linked to a desire to shift the spotlight from Darroch’s alleged leaks.
In the Particulars of the Claim, the complainant’s lawyers said: “A court trial would have been a ‘circus’ with cross examination of senior civil servants and, even of Lord Darroch.
“Indeed, the MPS Counter Terrorism Command admitted in email and immediately dropped all of the bail restrictions on the Claimant on the very day they became aware that he had appealed the bail to the Crown Court and wrote about the crimes of Lord Darroch and other officials in his appeal to the Crown Court.”
The government has declined to comment about the case but a source has dismissed allegations of bullying.
Lord Darroch has been contacted and not replied.
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