LONDON — Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said Friday that the government expects to appeal an Australian court's decision to allow publication of a book about Britain's secret service by one of its former agents.
The verdict came earlier in the day after an 18-month legal battle.
British officials said the ruling by the New South Wales Supreme Court did not surprise them, but the fight should continue to deter former civil servants from violating the confidentiality that binds them for life under the Official Secrets Act of 1911.
Leaders of the opposition Labor Party said the case is embarrassing and Thatcher should drop it, but she told reporters: "We are expecting to appeal against the judgment. . . . There was a principle to uphold which was fundamental to our security service."
The court put a 28-day ban on publication of the book to give Britain time to appeal.
At the center of the case is Peter Wright, a 71-year-old former agent of the MI5 counterespionage service, and his 637-page memoir "Spycatcher," which is said to throw embarrassing light on the service.