Legislators yesterday endorsed the inclusion of a public interest defence in their proposed amendments to the controversial Official Secrets Bill. The draft legislation, which localises the British Official Secrets Act, is expected to resume its second reading on June 4. Enacted last December, the bill deals with offences such as espionage and disclosure of official information. At a 3.5-hour meeting, members of the Legislative Council's Bills Committee studying the Official Secrets Bill finalised a set of committee stage amendments. These included the provision of a public interest defence for those accused of revealing official secrets. The proposed provision says: 'It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under any of sections 13 to 20 to prove that, at the time of the alleged offence, the disclosure was made in the public interest.' Legislators also agreed that the term 'defence' be defined clearly. The proposed definitions of the term include the size, shape, organisation, logistics, order of battle, deployment, operations, state of readiness and training of the armed forces; along with defence policy and strategy and military planning and intelligence. Members further proposed that a person would commit the offence of spying if he approached, inspected, passed over or entered a prohibited place, 'with an intent to harm the defence of the United Kingdom or Hong Kong'. The amendments are scheduled to be put forward to the House Committee on May 23.