UK defence worker leaked top secret details of missile system, trial hears

Lizzie Dearden
·3 min read
Simon Finch allegedly unlawfully disclosed highly sensitive information relating to UK defence
Simon Finch allegedly unlawfully disclosed highly sensitive information relating to UK defence

A former defence worker leaked top secret details of a UK missile system after claiming he had been failed by the British state, a court has heard.

Software engineer Simon Finch is accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act by emailing nine addresses, including an MP, operational information about a weapons system that is still in use by the armed forces.

The 50-year-old, from Swansea, denies recording and disclosing secret defence information and refusing to give authorities access to his electronic devices, the Old Bailey heard.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood said the email, sent in October 2018, contained details of Mr Finch’s grievances against bodies including the police, his employer, the NHS and a trade union.

Mr Heywood said the defendant had experienced increasing problems in his personal life and lost his job earlier that year, leading him to “plot a very deliberate kind of retaliation” by leaking secret information.

“Since the UK has refused me any justice, compensation, or even treatment for these appalling crimes then it has no right to expect my loyalty,” Mr Finch allegedly wrote.

“This information has been sent (freely) to a number of hostile foreign governments. I’ve provided a sample (and proof) of the level of information which has been sent in Systems.doc. If the nation does not care for my security then why should I care for national security?”

The email was sent to members of law firms, charities, trade unions, an MP and an American citizen.

The court heard that Mr Finch worked for military contractors including BAE Systems and QinetiQ from the late 1990s until February 2018.

“He was employed in the design, testing and configuration of a UK weapons system on which the security of the realm partly depends,” Mr Heywood said.

“The document he attached to the email set out technical details classified as secret and top secret ... (and) contained detail about the operational performance of the system to which I have referred.

”A full damage assessment has since been carried out to find consequences or possible consequences of that information being disclosed into the public domain.

“Expert evaluation has concluded that the release of information of that kind, for example to a hostile adversary of the UK, would give them an understanding of the function of that relevant system which in turn would allow them methods of countering it.”

Mr Heywood said the disclosure could create a “risk to the UK and to others with whom that technology is shared”.

Jurors will hear more details about the system during closed sessions of the court, with journalists and the public not allowed into those proceedings.

They were told that Mr Finch, who appeared for his trial on Tuesday morning wearing a mustard-coloured jumper and tinted spectacles, had signed declarations over the Official Secrets Act and Special Access Programme security protocols.

He denies recording and disclosing secret defence information on or before 28 October 2018.

Mr Finch has also pleaded not guilty to breaching the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act by failing to give authorities access codes to three electronic devices. The trial continues.