Security Commission

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The Security Commission, sometimes known as the Standing Security Commission,[1] was a UK non-departmental public body or quango established in 1964 to investigate breaches of security in the public sector. It was abolished in 2010, on the basis that government would investigate breaches of security as and when they occurred.

Origins[edit]

The idea of the Security Commission, initially canvassed by the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, was first publicly suggested by his successor Sir Alec Douglas-Home in a Parliamentary debate about the Denning Report into the Profumo Affair on 16 December 1963. Douglas-Home envisaged that the commission would consist of retired civil servants and would be chaired by someone from the judiciary. It was to investigate matters referred to it by the Prime Minister of the day and issue its reports back to the Prime Minister, with the Leader of the Opposition consulted before any inquiry and after the report was completed.[2] Douglas-Home met with the Leader of the Opposition Harold Wilson (who had given a cautious welcome to the proposal) on 22 January to agree the details.[3]

Formation[edit]

On 23 January 1964 the formation of the Security Commission was announced, with the terms of reference:[1]

If so requested by the Prime Minister, to investigate and report upon the circumstances in which a breach of security is known to have occurred in the public service and upon any related failure of departmental security arrangements or neglect of duty; and, in the light of any such investigations, to advise whether any change in security arrangements is necessary or desirable.

Harold Wilson expanded the remit on 10 May 1965 to allow the Commission to investigate circumstances where a breach of security might have occurred.[4]

Reports[edit]

The Security Commission issued fifteen reports during its existence.

Date Composition Circumstances Reference
June 1965 Lord Justice Winn
Lord Normanbrook
Sir Caspar John
Convictions of civil servants Frank Clifton Bossard and Percy Sidney Allen under s. 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 Cmnd. 2722
July 1966 Lord Justice Winn
Lord Sinclair of Cleeve
Sir Dudley Ward
Discovery of classified documents at the home of Squadron Leader Peter John Reen RAF, to which he had official access before he retired in 1961 Cmnd. 3151
June 1967 Lord Justice Winn
Sir Caspar John
Sir Dudley Ward
Circumstances in which Miss Helen Mary Keenan, typist in the Cabinet Office, had been charged under the Official Secrets Act 1911 Cmnd. 3365
November 1968 Lord Justice Winn
Sir Dudley Ward
Sir Harold Kent
Circumstances in which Douglas Ronald Britten, a Chief Technician in the RAF, pleaded guilty to offences under the Official Secrets Act 1911 Cmnd. 3856
January 1969 Lord Justice Winn
Lord Sinclair of Cleeve
Sir Dudley Ward
Circumstances in which Clive Edwin Bland, photoprinter in the Ministry of Technology, pleaded guilty to offences under the Official Secrets Act 1911 Cmnd. 3892
May 1973 Lord Diplock
Lord Sinclair of Cleeve
Sir Dudley Ward
Circumstances in which Sub-Lieutenant David James Bingham and Mr Leonard Michael Hinchliffe pleaded guilty to offences under the Official Secrets Act 1911 Cmnd. 5362
July 1973 Lord Diplock
Lord Sinclair of Cleeve
Sir Dudley Ward
Lord Garner
Sir Philip Allen
To verify that security was not endangered as a result of incidents leading to the resignations from the Government of Earl Jellicoe and Lord Lambton Cmnd. 5367
May 1981 Lord Diplock
Lord Bridge of Harwich
Lord Greenhill of Harrow
Sir Horace Law
Circumstances in which John Barry Wagstaff, Ministry of Defence civil servant, had been charged with an offence under the Official Secrets Act 1911 Cmnd. 8235
May 1983 Lord Bridge of Harwich
Lord Justice Griffiths
Lord Allen of Abbeydale
Sir Hugh Beach
Breaches of security which may have occurred arising out of the case of Geoffrey Arthur Prime, convicted under the Official Secrets Act 1911 Cmnd. 8876
March 1984 Lord Bridge of Harwich
Lord Justice Griffiths
Lord Allen of Abbeydale
Sir Hugh Beach
Breaches of security which may have occurred arising out of the case of Lance Corporal Philip Leslie Aldridge, convicted under the Official Secrets Act 1911 Cmnd. 9212
May 1985 Lord Bridge of Harwich
Lord Allen of Abbeydale
Sir Michael Palliser
Sir Alasdair Steedman
Breaches of security which may have occurred arising out of the case of Michael John Bettaney, convicted under the Official Secrets Act 1911 Cmnd. 9514
October 1986 Lord Griffiths
Lord Justice Lloyd
Lord Allen of Abbeydale
Sir Hugh Beach
Breaches of security which may have occurred arising out of the case of eight members of 9 Signal Regiment who have been charged under the Official Secrets Act 1911, and any similarities with the case of Senior Aircraftsman Paul John Davies who has been charged with a similar offence Cmnd. 9923
July 1995 Lord Lloyd of Berwick
Sir John Blelloch
Sir Derek Boorman
Lord Tombs
Breaches of security which may have occurred arising out of the case of Michael John Smith, convicted under the Official Secrets Act 1911 Cm. 2930
February 2000 Lord Lloyd of Berwick
Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss
Sir John Foley
Sir Clive Whitmore
Breaches of security which may have occurred arising out of the case of Chief Petty Officer Steven Hayden, convicted under the Official Secrets Act 1989 Cm. 4578
May 2004 Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss
Sir Charles Mantell
Sir John Goulden
Sir Iain Vallance
To review vetting of those who join or belong to the Royal Households, those working closely with them, or who otherwise gain access to Royal residences Cm. 6177

Members[edit]

Latterly its members were:

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Geoffrey Philip Wilson, "Cases and materials on constitutional and administrative law", Cambridge University Press, 1976 p. 98.
  2. ^ "Prime Minister's Proposals for Security Commission". The Times. 17 December 1963. p. 8. 
  3. ^ "Talks With Opposition On Security". The Times. 21 January 1964. p. 10. 
  4. ^ "The Security Commission". Cabinet Office. 28 July 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2013.