During the summer of 2005, while Derek Pasquill was working as a civil servant at the British Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), he grew increasingly concerned over certain of its policies. Pasquill subsequently established a relationship of trust with a journalist, Martin Bright, passing him a large amount of material over a period of five months. The leaked information formed the basis for a number of critical articles appearing in the weekly news magazine ‘The New Statesman’, as well as a widely read pamphlet published by a think-tank. As a result of These disclosures the Government took signicant steps to distance itself from the FCO’s policies. In January 2006 Pasquill was arrested and subsequently charged with six counts of breaching the Official Secrets Act — in January 2008 the case against him was dropped after an internal FCO email was discovered claiming that Pasquill’s disclosures had not been damaging to the national interest. Derek Pasquill’s presentation will conclude by suggesting that Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Purloined Letter is a useful prism with which to scrutinize state secrecy: that in fact secrecy veils the absence of secrets.
Derek Pasquill is a British civil servant, who has worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for over twenty years, with postings to Kampala, Maseru, and Abu Dhabi. Born in Osterode am Harz, Germany, Pasquill studied literature at the University of East Anglia before joining the civil service in 1984. For the past two years he has been reading in the British Library, recently ‘discovering’ Hans Blumenberg.