Monday, September 19, 2005

The Evening Standard and The Scotsman

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From The Evening Standard:

Calls for secret Shayler trial

By Patrick McGowan, Evening Standard, 6 October 2002.

THE Government has been accused by lawyers of trying to interfere in the trial of former MI5 officer David Shayler by insisting that part of the proceedings are held in private.

Ministers are demanding that trial judge Mr Justice Alan Moses agree in advance that the case go into private session without saying why and without hearing arguments to the contrary from the defence.

Shayler's trial, on charges under the Official Secrets Act, was beginning at the Old Bailey today. He is being prosecuted following newspaper interviews he gave five years ago and the trial is expected to last for at least four weeks. On Friday Home Secretary David Blunkett and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw signed identical public interest immunity certificates under which the press and the public will have to leave court if sensitive security issues are raised.

The certificates do not specify what information they are trying to keep secret on the grounds that to do so would cause the very damage the Government is seeking to avoid. They claim:"Publication of information of the kinds referred to would be likely to assist those whose purpose it is to injure the security of the United Kingdom and whose actions in the past show that they are willing to kill innocent civilians, both inside and outside the UK, in pursuance of their aims."

Mr Blunkett and Mr Straw also claim present and future intelligence operations would be compromised. PII certificates signed by Conservative ministers were controversially used during the arms-to-Iraq trials in the Nineties.

Normally the judge in a trial would read documents in the case and, after hearing arguments from both sides, decide whether they should be disclosed. Now he is being asked to make his decision in advance. Shayler, 36, faces three charges. They allege he disclosed information, disclosed information obtained by interception of communications and disclosed documents.

The Crown Prosecution Service has already given notice that it will apply for some parts of the trial to be held in camera. This will apply to evidence on "sensitive operational techniques of the Security and Intelligence Services".

It is expected that the court will also be asked to keep the identities of MI5 agents secret and allow them to give evidence from behind screens. Today Geoffrey Robertson QC, representing civil rights group Liberty, will oppose the Government's move. Michael Tugendhat QC, appearing for various national newspapers, is expected to argue that the Government has provided no evidence that national security will be threatened by the trial and will underline the importance of open justice.

During the arms-to-Iraq cases Mr Justice Moses was prosecuting counsel and Mr Robertson was counsel for the defence when three directors of the machine tool company Matrix Churchill were accused of selling equipment to the Iraqi regime. Shayler will be defending himself during the trial.

He is expected to claim that British secret service agents paid up to £100,000 to al Qaeda terrorists for an assassination attempt on Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffy in 1996.

He is seeking permission to plead a defence of "necessity" - that he acted for the greater good by revealing wrongdoing by the security service. Although much of the trial may end up being held in camera, the arguments about which parts should be kept secret will be held in public. Only after they are concluded is the jury expected to be sworn in so the trial proper can begin.

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http://www.propagandamatrix.com/renegade_mi5_agent_to_face_jury.htm

http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:4Z0Bobaq9EkJ:www.fpp.co.uk/online/02/10/Shayler.html+blunkett+secret+service+plot&hl=en

From The Scotsman, 7 October 2002:

Renegade MI5 agent ready to face jury

KAREN MCVEIGH

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 taps. 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.

Shayler, who 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 secret.

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 defence.

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.



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