Producers Handbook

Official Secrets Act 1989

The Official Secrets Act 1989 makes it a criminal offence to obtain or publish any information from a serving or former member of the security and intelligence services or from certain categories of civil servants or public contractors where that disclosure would be damaging. There is no public interest defence. If it is anticipated that a project will stray into this complex area of law, referral to your commissioning editor and programme lawyer should be made immediately.


Defence and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) system

This voluntary system provides advice to publishers and broadcasters regarding material that Government considers could jeopardise national security or the safety of military and security service personnel. There are 5 standing notices on the DSMA website which cover Military Operations,Plans and Capabilities; Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Weapons and Equipment; Ciphers and Secure Communications; Sensitive Installations and Home Addresses; United Kingdom Security and Intelligence Services and Special Services.

Any programme maker wishing to make a film in these areas must seek legal advice.