We should all welcome the fact that the Government’s top lawyer is considering action to reduce the misinformation and contempt surrounding high-profile arrests. As I have written before, there is too much leaking and secrecy around terror arrests, in particular. And the 24/7 media culture is also eroding respect for the spirit of contempt laws in respect of other alleged crimes, too, as we have just seen with events in Portugal. The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith is more famous for his advice over the legality of the Iraq War and his intervention in the BA ‘bribes’ inquiry. But here he seems to be suggesting sensible steps to greater openess. In other words, if the authorities are more open and on the record about the nature of ‘terror’ operations then the speculation may be diminished. This is, of course, the
most complex of media management jobs imaginable. The whole point of intelligence operations is that they are covert so the challenge will be to inform the media without revealing sources and methods that put operations at risk. However, after the recent retreat on Freedom of Information for MPs, effectively sanctioned by this Government, it remains to be seen if they are really serious about allowing even a moderate degree more of openess.