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Iraq Memo leak was to 'reveal truth'

BBC | May 04, 2007 

A civil servant accused under the Official Secrets Act of leaking a confidential memo wanted to reveal the truth about Iraq, a court has heard.
David Keogh, 50, and MP's researcher Leo O'Connor, 44, are on trial accused of trying to leak a record of a meeting between Tony Blair and George Bush.

The men, both from Northampton, deny making damaging disclosures.

Counsel for Mr Keogh asked jurors if they would "do the courageous thing" if they were placed in his position.

Few details of the "highly sensitive" memo, which is known to have included discussions about military tactics, have been made public.

Its contents are considered so secret that much of the trial is being held behind closed doors, and have not been directly referred to in court by counsel or witnesses.

'Blackadder script'

The court heard earlier that Mr Keogh gave the memo to political researcher Mr O'Connor at a dining club in Northampton.

It was passed to Northampton South MP Anthony Clarke, who called the police.

Speaking outside the Old Bailey on Thursday, BBC correspondent Ben Geoghegan said Mr Keogh's barrister Rex Tedd QC had reminded the jury of the context in which he says the actions of the two men should be seen.

The British and Americans had gone to Iraq and taken a "tiger by the tail" but did not know how to safely let go, he said.

He said it was ironic, something that "even the scriptwriters of Blackadder couldn't come up with" when President Bush described the campaign as "mission accomplished".

Mr Tedd said Mr Keogh had wanted to seek to reveal the truth of what was happening in Iraq while others were trying to conceal that truth.

He asked the jury whether if they were put in that position where they had some across such a document - whether they would have done the "courageous thing and release it" or "do what you are supposed to do?" which was to hand it in.

'Fear'

Earlier this week Mr O'Connor had never been "so worried and so fearful" when he was passed the document.

Mr O'Connor, who worked for anti-war Labour MP Mr Clarke, said he was approached by Mr Keogh and told about "some quite embarrassing, outlandish statements" in the four-page document.

But he told the jury that he took the claims with a "pinch of salt".

"It was the fear of knowing that I'd got something that I shouldn't have been in possession of, that I needed to get back to where it came from."

Asked if he intended to send copies of the document to newspapers or members of Parliament he said: "The thought never crossed my mind."

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