August 2000 – Telegraph Interview

He’s got nothing to hide, says girlfriend

DAVID SHAYLER’S girlfriend says she has no regrets about giving up her lucrative career in the City to spend three years “on the run” with a man widely denounced as a self-publicist.

Annie Machon, 32, herself a former MI5 officer and a Cambridge classics graduate, gave up her job as a management consultant to join Shayler in his self-imposed exile. She said yesterday “You don’t sacrifice that amount of time and give up your whole life for someone who just wants to have a bit of fun and do this for publicity,” .

“I went on the record, initially, because of all the misinformation that was coming out about him, backroom briefings, all sorts of lies, that he was unemployed, that he was denied promotion, that he wasn’t up to the job, even that he was sacked from MI5.

“I haven’t had much sleep,” she said after Shayler’s release on bail from Charing Cross police station in central London. “I have been quite apprehensive for some weeks, since we decided we should try to come back. Obviously neither of us knew what to expect. He’s got nothing to hide. He wants to put his case to push for more openness.

“It’s good that people are picking up on his cause and are beginning to talk about the issues he’s raised, rather than about his personality.” Money paid for a newspaper exclusive about his story sustained the two for most of their exile. They subsist now on his weekly column in Punch magazine.

But she feels neither can go back to their jobs as management consultants, which they took after they left MI5. “I think things have changed so much and we’ve been through so much it would be very difficult to go back three years to what we were then.”

The two have been together for seven and a half years since meeting in an MI5 library, but there is no talk of marriage. Instead, she seems content with social normality instead of a life spent looking over her shoulder. Returning to London with a media circus in train is a very different experience from when she skulked through the capital, expecting to be followed, bugged or arrested.

“It’s been three years almost to the day,” she said, “and it has definitely taken an emotional toll. In fact, the stress of the whole thing has been quite intense.”

Last night, she and Shayler were planning a quiet family dinner. “It will be the first time in three years that we have been able to dine out openly together in Britain,” she said. “I hope there will be no more looking over our shoulders.”