Miranda and Climategate
Aug 21, 2013
Bishop Hill in Climate: CRU, Media

The Guardian has got itself into a bit of a pickle over the Miranda affair, with editor Alan Rusbridger trying to justify his newspaper's possession of the leaked Snowden intelligence material on public interest grounds. He does seem to have resiled from this position, however: in an article yesterday he explained how he was persuaded to destroy some PCs containing the illicit material. Evan Davis and Malcolm Rifkind discussed these issues on the Today programme this morning, and a transcript appears at the Guardian:

MR: I think Mr Rusbridger, in the article he wrote yesterday about the destruction of his hard disk, is on relatively weak ground. He clearly did not dispute that he had no legal right to possess the files or the documents that were being discussed.

ED: Nor did Damian Green.

MR: Hold on a moment. The question was whether he handed them back to the government or whether they were destroyed, and he chose the latter option. Now clearly, if he thought that what he was doing was perfectly lawful, that he was perfectly entitled to have these documents, he would have told the cabinet secretary or whoever it was to go and get lost, and ‘take me to court if you don’t like what I’m doing’. But he didn’t do that. He knew perfectly well that if you have in your possession documents which were originally stolen, you’re on pretty dodgy ground.

ED: Well, you're not, are you? It's an accepted fact in this country that leaked documents - you can always call them 'stolen', it's a very loaded word - but Damian Green had stolen documents from the Home Office, didn't he? He did not steal them, but he had stolen documents. What is the difference?

MR: Hold on a moment. We are talking about documents which were official secrets, which were classified as official secrets, both in the US and in the UK, and Mr Rusbridger clearly knew that. He knew that he had no lawful authority to possess these documents. And that is why he, at the end of the day, cooperated and destroyed the information that he had. GCHQ - I don't know yet, we will find this out - if GCHQ were in his basement supervising this, well clearly he must have invited them in, because they had no lawful authority to come in without his invitation.

It's interesting to recall the Guardian's attitude to the leak of the Climategate material, which was very definitely "stolen" in their opinion. How things change!

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