Soundings

Unofficial secrets

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7017.1441 (Published 25 November 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1441
  1. Colin Douglas, doctor and novelist
  1. Edinburgh

    In twenty five years as a naval reservist I never worried very much about the Official Secrets Act. In theory draconian--a casual disclosure of the numbers of paperclips held in HM warships might technically carry a custodial sentence--in practice it aims, rather touchingly, to deny a potential enemy the kind of information normally available to careful readers of publications like Navy News, Jane's Defence Weekly, and the Daily Telegraph.

    Perhaps there really were secrets of sorts, like the exact nature of the 600 pound depth bomb carried by some of the frigates of the 1970s. We knew but pretended not to, just as we knew there were certain unlikely circumstances in which our little helicopter might have to teeter from the deck, go off somewhere and “hit something …

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