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R. V. Attorney General For England And Wales Notes

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R. V. ATTORNEY GENERAL

FOR

ENGLAND

AND

WALES

FACTS In May 1996 R was serving with A Squadron of 22 SAS, taking part in an exercise in the United States. The regimental commanding officer came over and spoke to the squadron. He told them that confidentiality contracts would soon be introduced and that all members who wanted to remain in the regiment would be required to sign one. If they did not, they would be returned to unit ("RTU"). This meant going back to the regiment from which they had joined the SAS; in R's case, the Parachute Regiment, to which he had a formal attachment but in which he had never actually served. Involuntary RTU was normally imposed as a penalty for some disciplinary offence or on grounds of professional unsuitability for the SAS. It involved exclusion from the social life of the regiment and loss of its higher rates of pay. The Ministry of Defence took the view that someone who was unwilling to accept an obligation of confidentiality was unsuitable for the SAS. R went to Hereford and met another SAS member ("Z") who had also come to sign the contract. Both announced themselves to the adjutant's chief clerk in his outer office. The adjutant went on with his work. Z says that he understood the documents and was willing to sign. R also signed and they left together. R, on the other hand, said that the adjutant yelled through the door to the clerk to give him and Z the contracts to sign and that they read and signed it in the clerk's outer office. He says that he asked the clerk "whether anyone was allowed to look at [the] contract" and the clerk said no, but that he could ask the adjutant. He decided that this was "a non-starter" because the adjutant was "not known as an easy man" and that, as he wanted to stay in the SAS, there was nothing for it except to sign. He felt that there was no point in raising the question of legal advice with the adjutant. He was not allowed to retain a copy of the contract, which was classified "restricted" before signature, and after signature, when it enabled R to be identified as a member of SAS, was given the higher classification of "confidential". Less than a fortnight later, R changed his mind and decided to apply for premature voluntary release. He was asked by the commanding officer to reflect upon his decision but he renewed his request and left the Army in March 1997. At that time he told the commanding officer that he had no intention of writing about the Gulf War patrol or anything else. R is a New Zealander and went home to New Zealand where he took up civilian employment. In the course of 1998 he decided that he should put his own version of Bravo Two Zero before the public and entered into a contract with a New Zealand publisher.

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