Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Friday, 4 May 2007 13:14 UK

Memo leak was to 'reveal truth'

Civil servant David Keogh, 50, and MP's researcher Leo O'Connor, 44
David Keogh and Leo O'Connor are on trial at the Old Bailey

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.

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.


John Farmer, defending Mr O'Connor, said the war in Iraq was "the most controversial foreign affairs involvement of this country since Suez 50 years ago".

He also said that when Mr O'Connor was given the document he had done "his incompetent but honest best to put matters right".

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

Mr O'Connor, who worked for anti-war Labour MP Mr Clarke, said he had been 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" and he never intended to send copies of the document to newspapers or MPs.

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