Consummate con man Roy Courtnay has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish, worth millions. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes.
A morality tale for the 21st century, Official Secrets tells the true story of British Intelligence whistle-blower Katharine Gun who, during the immediate run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, leaked a top secret NSA memo exposing a joint US-UK illegal spying operation against members of the UN Security Council. The memo proposed blackmailing smaller, undecided member states into voting for war. At great personal and professional risk, journalist Martin Bright published the leaked document in The Observer newspaper in London, and the story made headlines around the world. Members of the Security Council were outraged and any chance of a UN resolution in favour of war collapsed. But within days, Bush declared he no longer needed UN backing and invaded anyway. As Iraq descended into chaos, Katharine was arrested and charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act. Martin faced potential charges too. Their legal battles exposed the highest levels of government in both London and Washington ...
When Secretary of State Colin Powell learned that the information he was given for his presentation to the United Nations was false and intentionally misleading, he was so disgusted that he resigned from office. For one example the false evidence that he presented included photographs of some metal tubes. Photographic analysis showed that the tube walls were far too thin to be used as suggested and were quite ordinary. See more »
When Catherine was arrested she was taken to a local police station in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, which was staffed by police wearing Metropolitan Police uniforms (ie from London). The local police are Gloucestershire Constabulary. See more »
Clerk of the Court:
Katharine Teresa Gun, you are charged with an offense contrary to section 1, subsection 1, of the Official Secrets Act of 1989, in that you did knowingly and intentionally disclose top-secret intelligence information contrary to the said act. How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?
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Kiera Knightley's powerful performance carries the movie
"Official Secrets" (2019 release from the UK; 112 minutes) brings the story "based on actual events" we are reminded, of British whisleblower Katharine Gun. As the movie opens, it is "25 February 2004, London", and Gun is appearing in court. "As to the charge regarding the Official Secrets Act, do you please guilty or no guilty?, the court asks her. We then go "One Year Earlier, Cheltenham", as we get to know Gun, as she is watching Tony Blair on TV making the case for the war on Iraq. She works a the Government Communications Headquarters. Gun happens to get some very sensitive information regarding attempts to influence the votes of certain members of the UN Security Council. Gun is very upset and decides to leak the information... At this point we are 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see fort yourself how it all p[lays out.
Couple of comments: the movie is directed by veteran South African director (and co-writer) Gavin Hood ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine"). Here he brings the real life story of what happened to Katharine Gun. As we all know at this point, the Bush administration outright lied and manipulated the data so as to make the case for invading Iraq. The Blair administration wasn't much better. The movie is hence on the right side of the truth, but of course that is easy to do with 20/20 hindsight. Apart from the whistleblower case, the movie also brings to the front what happened at the Observer, the British newspaper that published the sensitive data. I quite enjoyed it all, and not only because I couldn't wait to find out how it would all end for Gun. Kiera Knightly plays Katharine Gun, and she plays it with passion and with determination. She is an absolute delight to watch her carry this movie on her shoulders. Ralph Fiennes is equally up to the task (as the non-profit lawyer representing Gun).
"Official Secrets" premiered to positive acclaim at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The movie opened on 2 or 3 screens in all of Greater Cincinnati this weekend. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended very nicely (about 25 people). If you have any interest in whisleblower cases or how the US and UK administration misled the public about the war in Iraq, I'd readily suggest you check out "Official Secrets", be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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