A former defence worker who disclosed top secret details of a UK missile system, has changed his plea at the Old Bailey and admitted breaching the Official Secrets Act.
Former Ministry of Defence worker Simon Finch said he was triggered by repeated inaction over perceived wrongs, he sought his own form of redress by turning to crime.
The 50-year-old told his trial at the Old Bailey that he spent months compiling his dossier of classified information, which he leaked after he felt other legal avenues to justice were exhausted.
“I knew I couldn’t walk away from what happened to me, I felt like I had a civic duty,” he told jurors.
“I felt I had to do something that attracted national attention.”
Finch’s decision to act – and his subsequent prosecution under the Official Secrets Act – came after his allegations of torture, abuse of human rights, and general injustice fell on deaf ears.
He sought the help of the police watchdog, Merseyside Police professional standards, the mental health charity Mind, his trade union Unite, Southport MP Damien Moore, and even his beloved Guardian newspaper – of whom he described himself a life-long reader – in an attempt to air his concerns.
Finch had twice been the victim of homophobic abuse in 2013, he said, despite not being gay himself, although he said university friends told him he “looked a bit camp when dancing”.
Defence counsel Stuart Trimmer QC said Finch was “an intelligent man whose sexuality was unclear to others and in doubt to himself”, who was “abused and insulted” and who “sought protection but got none”.
Finch told the court his upbringing in Southport was “mixed” and a speech impediment in his early years rendered him “timid”.
His leak was not motivated by money or political allegiances, Mr Trimmer told the court, though Finch said others would describe him “as a wishy-washy liberal” who “believes quite passionately in social justice”.
He had worked in a variety of roles in the defence industry, with the Ministry of Defence and two private companies – BAE Systems and QinetiQ – but was handed a suspended sentence for carrying a knife in public in 2016 in an effort to protect himself, he said.
Finch said he had been “highly educated and highly paid”, and previously described himself as “somewhat autistic” with a “near-photographic memory” who was able to recall dates and details seemingly with ease.
Finch used his time in the witness box to draw on a wide variety of topics, including Britain’s withdrawal from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, former Chilean dictator General Pinochet, playing the guitar, the Oscar-winning 1988 Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman film Rain Man, and taking a friend to the Lake District.
He told jurors he had had “a very rich life” but, acknowledging he had worn the same mustard yellow jumper throughout his trial, he admitted: “I have got absolutely nothing.”