Ministers have been accused of attempting to conceal information of an explosive court case involving Britain’s former ambassador to Washington by using national security laws.
According to documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday, Government lawyers will formally seek that evidence connected to an accusation that Lord Darroch disclosed intelligence to his lover be heard behind closed doors.
After being arrested by 14 counter-terrorism police as part of an inquiry into the leak of the so-called Washington files to The Mail on Sunday, a senior government servant is suing two Cabinet Ministers: Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
The newspaper disclosed cables and memos written by Lord Darroch when he was our US ambassador, in which he described then US President Donald Trump as ‘inept’, ‘insecure’ and ‘incompetent’.
The story, which made international headlines in July 2019, prompted Mr Trump to call Lord Darroch, then Sir Kim, a “stupid guy.”
Lord Darroch was subsequently forced to resign from his post.
The public official, whose identity has been withheld by the Ministry of Justice, was apprehended more than a year later as part of Operation Asperite, the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into the leak. He has always denied releasing the information and has never been charged. His arrest is said to have occurred just a day after Lord Darroch was warned that another highly damaging story was likely to be published.
The scandal could potentially also lead to the investigation of journalist Isabel Oakeshott, who exclusively published the story after obtaining the leaked documents.
The Sun notified Lord Darroch that it intended to publish charges that he was being investigated by US authorities for allegedly leaking sensitive information to CNN reporter Michelle Kosinski, with whom he was supposedly involved.
He believes his name was given to police in the Foreign Office and Department for Trade. “The Police interrogated the claimant and asked him why his Civil Service colleagues would suspect him of leaking Kim Dorroch’s Official Sensitive materials if he did not do so,” according to the legal documents.
Badenoch and Cleverly are included as defendants because they were the nominal heads of the two departments at the time.
Tory MP David Davis said attempts to keep details of the case secret was “a wholly inappropriate use of the Justice and Security Act 2013,” adding: “When Parliament passed this law, members expected the state to use it to deal with real cases of espionage and terrorism, not to cover up potentially embarrassing stories.”