Page last updated at 21:10 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Whistleblower to sue over sacking

Derek Pasquill
Mr Pasquill was cleared of breaching the Official Secrets Act in January.

A Foreign Office official cleared of breaching the Official Secrets Act has said he plans to sue the department after being sacked.

Derek Pasquill was accused of leaking documents relating to the government's attitude to secret rendition flights and radical groups.

Charges were dropped in January as internal documents disclosed as part of the court action undermined the case.

The Foreign Office said his dismissal was separate from the court action.

A statement from Mr Pasquill's solicitors said he was "dismissed summarily on the grounds of gross misconduct on 21 August 2008".

Mr Pasquill is issuing proceedings under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, which protects public interest whistleblowers against victimisation, the statement said.

He had leaked documents which led to articles in the Observer and New Statesman outlining government policy towards radical Islam.

It is said the articles helped spark public debate and influenced the government's engagement with groups such as the Muslim Council of Britain.

At the time Mr Pasquill said that he felt the information was of "such importance" that it was right to leak the documents to a journalist "in order for that information to be discussed and debated".

Mr Pasquill's lawyer, Shah Qureshi, said: "Derek Pasquill feels that he has been backed into a corner by the FCO's belligerent stance. He made his disclosures in good faith with no benefit to himself.

"As a result, he has been subjected to criminal prosecution, stigmatisation and the loss of his livelihood for doing what he thought was 'the right thing'."

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "Derek Pasquill has been dismissed for gross misconduct for serious breaches of internal rules and procedures. It is therefore a separate matter from the failed criminal prosecution under the Official Secrets Act".

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