UK act of Parliament 1989, prohibiting the disclosure of confidential material from government sources by employees; it remains an absolute offence for a member or former member of the security and intelligence services (or those working closely with them) to disclose information about their work. There is no public-interest defence, and disclosure of information already in the public domain is still a crime. Journalists who repeat disclosures may also be prosecuted.
The 1989 act replaced Section 2 of an act of 1911, which had long been accused of being too wide-ranging. Prosecution under criminal law is now reserved for material that the government claims is seriously harmful to national security. Any service member wishing to complain of misconduct within the service is allowed access to an independent counsellor, in turn with access to senior ministers. Investigations under special warrants, issued by the secretary of state in such cases as terrorist acts and organized crime, are also to be regarded as absolutely secret, but the act limits the circumstances of their operation, and there is an independent commissioner and tribunal to prevent abuse of such powers.
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