| Clive Ponting |
(author, academic, whistleblower)
A UK civil servant who blew the whistle on the Belgrano affair
Clive Ponting is a British civil servant turned whistleblower who leaked documents that proved that the public had been lied to about the sinking of the Argentine warship General Belgrano. After what Martin Rosenbaum for the BBC termed "one of the most controversial and dramatic court cases in the history of the Official Secrets Act 1911" the jury accepted his defence that he was acting in the public interest and he was acquitted.
Blowing the whistle
Clive Ponting was a senior civil servant at the UK Ministry of Defence. In July 1984 he sent two documents to Labour MP, Tam Dalyell, about the sinking of an Argentine naval warship General Belgrano, a key incident in the Falklands War of 1982. The documents revealed that the General Belgrano had been sighted a day earlier than officially reported, steaming away from the Royal Navy taskforce, and was outside the "exclusion zone" when attacked and sunk by the nuclear attack submarine HMS Conqueror.
Clive Ponting admitted revealing the information and was charged with a criminal offence under Section 2 of the 1911 Official Secrets Act. Ponting expected to be imprisoned – and had brought his toothbrush and shaving kit along to the court on February 11, 1985 – but was acquitted by the jury, although the judge directed the jury to find him guilty. Jurors may not be asked why they reached a particular verdict, but it emerged that some of them resented the patronising and over-emphatic way in which the trial judge, in effect, ordered them to convict. Another factor was the feeling that the "catch-all" section of the Official Secrets Act 1911 under which Ponting was charged and which allowed no public interest defence was unfair and oppressive.
- ISBN 0722169442 - The Right to Know: The Inside Story of the Belgrano Affair - Clive Ponting
A Document by Clive Ponting
|Title||Document type||Publication date||Subject(s)||Description|
|Document:Probable Western Responsibility for Skripal Poisoning||blog post||28 April 2018||Sergei Skripal|
|Those of us who have been in the belly of the beast and have worked closely with the intelligence services, really do know what they and the British government are capable of. They are not “white knights”.|