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CPS decides no retrial for Daniel James - soldier faces sentence over Official Secrets breach

28/11/2008

The Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to seek a retrial for two outstanding charges on which a jury failed to reach a verdict against soldier Daniel James. He will now be sentenced for passing information useful to an enemy, contrary to the Official Secrets Act, 1911.

The Deputy Head of the CPS Counter Terrorism Division, Deborah Walsh, said: "The CPS considered whether it would be in the public interest to seek a retrial on the outstanding counts of collecting documents useful to an enemy and misconduct in a public office.

"Daniel James was unanimously convicted by a jury on the first espionage charge which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years. Any retrial would inevitably mean further delay and we are satisfied the judge has adequate sentencing powers to deal with Daniel James' criminal behaviour.

"We have therefore decided that a retrial would not be in the public interest and that the outstanding counts should be left on file."

Daniel James betrayed not only the British Army but the country he was supposed to serve, said Ms Walsh, when he collected and passed on information which could be useful to an enemy,

She said: "He was in a unique and privileged position as a translator for General David Richards, who was then head of the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan.

"He abused this position to contact someone whom he thought would be useful to him and pleased to receive information from him. In doing this, he betrayed not only the British Army and his colleagues working in ISAF, but also this country, to whom he had pledged his loyalty."

To show how useful he could be, the court was told Daniel James sent emails to Col Mohammad Hossein Heydari, at the time an Iranian military assistant based at the Iranian Embassy in Kabul.

Ms Walsh said: "It was not the actual damage done by his revealing information which was of concern. The concern was for the potential damage that could have happened if his activities had not been discovered as soon as they were.

"When he was interviewed, he denied knowing Col Heydari, sending him emails from an account he had opened in the name 'Essi Najafi' or using an internet café in Brighton to contact him.

"In court, he admitted that he had lied about knowing Heydari, writing the emails, setting up the internet account and using the internet cafe. He claimed that he had been setting up a gas supply deal for ISAF with Iran.

"The jury listened to his explanations and decided that he was guilty of communicating information useful to an enemy but were unable to reach a verdict on whether he collected documents useful to an enemy or if he committed misconduct in a public office."

Ends

  1. For Further information contact the CPS Press Office, 020 7796 8180.
  2. Daniel James was charged with two offences under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act, 1911: communicating information to another person, and collecting documents useful to an enemy. He was also charged with misconduct in a public offence. Offences under the Official Secrets Act carry a maximum sentence of 14 years. Misconduct in public office carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
  3. The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
    • Preparing cases for court
    • Presenting cases at court
  4. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 85.1% in 2007-2008.
  5. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests.