it’s old news, but still…

23 November 2005
By Kevin Maguire

THE Daily Mirror was yesterday told not to publish further details from a top secret memo, which revealed that President Bush wanted to bomb an Arab TV station.

The gag by the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith came nearly 24 hours after the Mirror informed Downing Street of its intention to reveal how Tony Blair talked Bush out of attacking satellite station al-Jazeera’s HQ in friendly Qatar.

No 10 did nothing to stop us publishing our front page exclusive yesterday.

But the Attorney General warned that publication of any further details from the document would be a breach of the Official Secrets Act.

He threatened an immediate High Court injunction unless the Mirror confirmed it would not publish further details. We have essentially agreed to comply.

The five-page memo – stamped “Top Secret” – records a threat by Bush to unleash “military action” against the TV station, which America accuses of being a mouthpiece for anti-US sentiments.

Following the Mirror’s revelations, there were calls for the transcript of the memo to be released.

Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell said: “If true, then this underlines the desperation of the Bush administration.

“On this occasion, the Prime Minister may have been successful in averting political disaster, but it shows how dangerous his relationship with President Bush has been.”

The White House yesterday said of the Mirror’s report: “We are not going to dignify something so outlandish with a response.”

Downing Street said: “We don’t comment on leaked documents.”

The memo turned up last year at the Northampton office of then-Labour MP Tony Clarke.

Civil servant David Keogh, 49, is now accused of passing the memo to Leo O’Connor, who once worked for Mr Clarke.

Both Mr Keogh and Mr O’Connor are due to appear in court next week on charges under the Official Secrets Act.

Mr Clarke returned the memo to Downing Street.