Renegade MI5 agent ready to face
MI5 agent ready to face jury
DAVID Shayler, the
former M15 officer branded a traitor by the government, is due
to take on the legal establishment today, as his trial opens
at the Old Bailey in London.
The renegade agent, who
faces six years imprisonment for breaching the Official
Secrets Act after making a number of sensational revelations
about M15 to a national newspaper in 1997, will represent
himself for part of the landmark case. The trial will centre
around a number of allegations made by Shayler about M15
holding files on prominent politicians, including former
cabinet minister Peter Mandelson and Jack Straw, the Foreign
Secretary. He also claimed the secret services ignored
warnings that might have prevented bombings in the London in
1993 and 1994.
Shayler, 36, faces two charges under
section one of the Official Secrets Act for disclosing
documents and information about the work of M15 and another
under section four, for disclosing information about telephone
He has failed so far to win his argument that
his revelations were in the public interest. The High Court,
Court of Appeal and the House of Lords, have all ruled that he
cannot claim he disclosed information in the public interest
or out of necessity. They also ruled out the main plank of
Shayler’s defence - that the Officials Secrets Act is
incompatible with the Human Rights Act.
made other allegations for which he was not charged, including
a claim that M16 was involved in a plot to assassinate the
Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, will argue that he
is only guilty of "exposing wrongdoing".
"I aim to
persist in my argument that the Official Secrets Act as it
currently stands is totally incompatible with the Human Rights
Act," he told a newspaper yesterday.
Some of the
hearing is expected to be taken up by an application by
newspapers objecting to plans to hold parts of the trial in
The prosecution applied for hearings to be
held in camera after its concerns that Shayler will make fresh
allegations to the jury to back up his public interest
Shayler’s decision to defend himself, against
the advice of his legal team, for part of the trial was
prompted by the belief that he will be freer to argue his case
than his barrister, Geoffrey Robertson, QC, whose hands are
tied by earlier court rulings.