BBC Report on Shayler’s conviction

The BBC report after Dav­id Shayler­’s con­vic­tion in Novem­ber 2002:

Former MI5 agent Dav­id Shayler is facing jail after being con­victed of reveal­ing secur­ity secrets.

Shayler, 36, was found guilty on three charges of break­ing the Offi­cial Secrets Act.

He revealed secret doc­u­ments to the Mail on Sunday news­pa­per in 1997, arguing he had a pub­lic duty to expose mal­prac­tice with­in the secur­ity ser­vices.

But the pro­sec­u­tion argued Shayler, who will be sen­tenced on Tues­day, had poten­tially placed the lives of secret agents at risk.  It said he betrayed a “life-long duty of con­fid­en­ti­al­ity” by reveal­ing clas­si­fied mat­ters.

Shayler, who rep­res­en­ted him­self, also told the Old Bailey jury he feared for his life at the time, because of some­thing “far more ser­i­ous” than any­thing pub­lished in the paper.  Shayler was remanded on bail for sen­ten­cing and could face up to two years’ impris­on­ment on each of the three counts.

Shayler copied 28 files on sev­en top­ics before leav­ing MI5 in Octo­ber 1996.

Incom­pet­ence’

Soon after, he accused MI5 of incom­pet­ence and leaked sens­it­ive inform­a­tion to the Mail on Sunday, includ­ing alleg­a­tions of fin­an­cial links between the Pro­vi­sion­al IRA and Libya.  He then fled to France with the £40,000 he earned from his rev­el­a­tions, but returned to Bri­tain after three years know­ing he faced arrest.

Out­side court Shayler­’s girl­friend Annie Machon — also a former MI5 officer — said: “Dav­id is a whistle-blower, pure and simple.   I’m shocked at the ver­dict. He deserves to be pro­tec­ted, not pro­sec­uted.  Dav­id revealed mal­prac­tice, crime and incom­pet­ence on behalf of the intel­li­gence ser­vice and he did it in the pub­lic interest.  He still believes it was right to do so. We believe judges in Europe will be more scep­tic­al about the Offi­cial Secrets Act in this coun­try.”

John Wadham, dir­ect­or of civil rights group Liberty and also Shayler­’s soli­cit­or, said they would con­sider tak­ing the case to appeal and would con­tin­ue their applic­a­tion to the European Court of Human Rights.

Pre-tri­al rul­ing

Maurice Frankel from the Cam­paign for Free­dom of Inform­a­tion, said there needed to be fun­da­ment­al changes to the way in which such cases were dealt with.

A House of Lords hear­ing before the tri­al ruled that Shayler could not reveal details of the “ser­i­ous” mat­ter that allegedly put his life in danger.  It also refused him per­mis­sion to argue his case with a “pub­lic interest defence” under the European Charter of Human Rights.

But fol­low­ing the con­vic­tion, Lib­er­al Demo­crat home affairs spokes­man Simon Hughes said: “Whatever the rights and wrongs of Mr Shayler­’s actions, there should be a change in the law to ensure that a pub­lic interest defence can be under­taken.”

Dur­ing the tri­al, Nigel Sweeney QC, for the Crown, said dis­clos­ure of even one piece of clas­si­fied inform­a­tion could be the “final piece in the jig­saw” allow­ing hos­tile coun­tries or organ­isa­tions to identi­fy Brit­ish agents.

Mr Sweeney told the tri­al: “The nation’s agents may be unmasked.”

But Shayler told the court: “I was seek­ing to expose the truth.

No harm’

I’m not the first per­son in his­tory to stand up and tell the truth and be per­se­cuted, and I doubt I’ll be the last.

His argu­ment that no agents’ lives were put at risk was dis­missed as “irrel­ev­ant” by the judge.

The jury was told cur­rent legis­la­tion allowed altern­at­ive action for whistle-blow­ing, such as telling the police or a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter, instead of going to the media.

Jur­ors were allowed to see the weighty file of secret doc­u­ments — but the names of agents and oth­er ultra-sens­it­ive inform­a­tion was obscured.

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.”

Guardian Interview 2000 — No place to hide

The Sabine Dur­rant inter­view with me in The Guard­i­an, April 2000
No place to hide

How big a price can a woman pay for stand­ing by her man? The part­ner of exiled MI6 whis­tleblower Dav­id Shayler lives and loves on the run — with Big Broth­er watch­ing her every move

Annie Machon and her boy­friend, Dav­id Shayler, the former MI5 officers now liv­ing in Par­is, have got used to feel­ing watched. Their phone plays up. Their emails go miss­ing. Even the walls of their flat seem to look down on them. If they want to dis­cuss “an issue”, they find a safe café to do it in. A dif­fer­ent one each time? “Of course,” says Machon with a slight curve to her lips. And in bed? “We have dis­cussed that, yes,” she says. “You just try and blank it out and get on with your life.”

She is poised and con­trolled. She remains cool even when recall­ing “sweaty cop­pers” read­ing out her love let­ters in the course of an  inter­rog­a­tion. Even when describ­ing the state of her under­wear (“inside out, with the crotches turned up as if they’d been sniff­ing them”) after their flat in Pimlico had been searched.

Machon, who is 31, has been at Shayler­’s side since he fled to France in 1997 to escape pro­sec­u­tion for break­ing the Offi­cial Secrets Act when his claims of MI5 incom­pet­ence were first pub­lished in a Sunday news­pa­per. They packed for a fort­night. They’ve been gone two and a half years.

Shayler is a straight­for­ward love or hate fig­ure. He is either the whis­tleblower, fired by mor­al pur­pose to draw atten­tion to bungling with­in the intel­li­gence ser­vices, from rev­el­a­tions that they mon­itored “sub­vers­ives” includ­ing such threats to nation­al secur­ity as Har­riet Har­man and the reg­gae band UB40, to his more recent alleg­a­tions that MI6 was behind an illeg­al assas­sin­a­tion attempt on Muam­mar Gadafy, the Liby­an pres­id­ent. Or, as MI5 would have it (in an inter­est­ing mélange of con­tra­dic­tions), he is the trait­or, the self-pub­li­cist, the break­er of offi­cial secrets, the fan­tas­ist.

Machon has remained a much more enig­mat­ic fig­ure. At first she was just “Shayler­’s girl­friend”. With her blonde hair and big blue eyes, she looked like a deb, a nurs­ery school teach­er, caught up in events bey­ond her con­trol. A former MI5 officer her­self, she made no dir­ect alleg­a­tions while sup­port­ing Shayler in his. But this may not have been cau­tion so much as sound man­age­ment.

Unlike Shayler (who spent four months in jail before extra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings failed; he is now being sued in the civil courts) she is at liberty to come and go in Bri­tain. “It’s import­ant that I remain free to travel, import­ant I remain out of reproach.”

Machon was in Lon­don to deliv­er to Scot­land Yard a dossier sup­port­ing Shayler­’s Gadafy claims (an MI6 file recently pos­ted on the inter­net also appears to con­firm the alleg­a­tions). She holds press con­fer­ences. She meets with MPs. With law­yers. She wants account­ab­il­ity. She wants free­dom of expres­sion. She wants amnesty. She wants Shayler to be listened to. Taken ser­i­ously. To be allowed home. Then she wants to be left alone.

We meet at Vaux­hall under­ground sta­tion, close by the MI6 build­ing, although she does­n’t
want to hang around long. The closest café is too close. She walks very fast to the next. She does­n’t look over her shoulder once. She sees con­nec­tions where oth­ers might see blank walls. There are advert­ise­ments for laptops nearby. She refers to the recent stor­ies of the mugged MI5 officer, whose laptop was nicked and the drunk­en MI6 officer who mis­laid his. “What a coin­cid­ence,” she smiles sar­don­ic­ally. If she and Shayler win their case, she says she does­n’t think they’ll ever come back to Lon­don. “Dave would feel quite uncom­fort­able liv­ing here,” she says. “I would too. It’s just that sense of unease all the time.”

She is all in black, although her nails are gold. She is pale and slim, unlike Shayler whose plump­ness in pho­to­graphs can make him look like a yob. (“He put on weight at MI5, actu­ally. Social­ising after work — that drink­ing cul­ture he talked about — and also a sense
of unease. He eats when he’s feel­ing stressed. He’s joined a health club now. He swims nearly every day.”)

It’s not the only reas­on they seem an unlikely couple. A Middles­brough boy, with work­ing-class roots, Shayler is said to be chippy about pub­lic-school Oxbridge types.

Machon, who is the daugh­ter of a pilot turned news­pa­per­man, and from an old Guern­sey fam­ily, went to a private girls’ school and then to Cam­bridge, where she stud­ied clas­sics. “Yes, yes, I know. I think he did think I was a bit posh at first, but he squared it with the fact that I was a schol­ar­ship girl. Also we both moved around a lot when we were young. We had that in com­mon.”

Machon says that as soon as they met in an MI5 lib­rary they made each oth­er laugh and that their rela­tion­ship is “pas­sion­ate”. There are hints of that in her story. The night before she came back to Eng­land for the first time, sus­pect­ing she would be arres­ted, but not sure wheth­er they would con­fis­cate her pass­port, they lay in bed and held each oth­er and cried, “not know­ing when we would see each oth­er again”. Then, after 10 months in hid­ing at a farm­house in south-west France, when he was sud­denly taken into cus­tody, for days she walked around with “no one’s hand in mine”.

Inter­est­ingly, too, while Machon looks as though but­ter would­n’t melt in her mouth,
she found out soon after join­ing MI5 (after sit­ting the for­eign office exams), that  psy­cho­lo­gic­al pro­fil­ing had marked her out as a mav­er­ick. “I was hav­ing a bit of a debate with my man­ager in the office and she said, ‘I’ve been warned about you’.” She smiles enig­mat­ic­ally. “I was quite flattered.”

She and Shayler had already left MI5 when Shayler decided to go pub­lic, both had nice well-paid jobs as man­age­ment con­sult­ants. They had a nice social life, nice Pimlico flat.
She did­n’t want him to go to the papers. “It was­n’t so much doubt as fear. I knew they’d come after us and I knew what they could do against us. If you’ve worked for MI5 it does­n’t help your para­noia, put it that way.”

She slips a light­er out of her cigar­ette pack­et and lights up. “And I must say I was shown to be right. Not that I’d ever say I told you so to Dave.”

The papers ran the story on a bank hol­i­day week­end. Machon and Shayler got the last plane out of Heath­row on the Sat­urday night, to Ams­ter­dam. They braced them­selves. Then Diana, Prin­cess of Wales was killed. “In one sense it was a relief because the pres­sure was taken off us. In anoth­er it was ter­rible. An injunc­tion had been put on the paper and if she had­n’t died, Fleet Street would have been up in arms about gag­ging the free press, they would have been more bal­anced in their assess­ment of Dave, demand­ing
inquir­ies. As it was, there were a lot of back­room brief­ings against him, say­ing he was a loud­mouth, unbal­anced, and we were bur­ied there.”

She uses the word “bur­ied” a lot. It’s hard to tell wheth­er it is a good thing or a bad thing for someone who needs pub­li­city (“it’s our only pro­tec­tion”) and yet longs to hide. On the run, they “bur­ied them­selves” in the French coun­tryside, a dif­fer­ent hotel every night, pay­ing cash.

After that they were “bur­ied” again in a remote farm­house near Per­pig­nan, “freez­ing cold, miles from the shops”, liv­ing off their £40,000 news­pa­per earn­ings, where Shayler wrote his nov­el (it has since been banned) and she kept house. The Brit­ish gov­ern­ment pre­ten­ded to nego­ti­ate with them, she says. “They thought we’d run out of money and rot abroad. They wanted to bury us.”

It was only when Shayler was in pris­on, when the worst had happened, that she got
her con­fid­ence back. “I found I was tough­er than I thought. Dave had always been the more ebul­li­ent char­ac­ter. And sud­denly when he was arres­ted, even though I was des­per­ately lonely, it was, ‘Right, you’ve got to do it.’ ”

Actu­ally, there was worse to come: an approach by an armed Liby­an a week after Shayler­’s release. He offered a six-fig­ure sum in exchange for names linked to the Gadafy plot and evid­ence on Lock­er­bie (Shayler had been an expert). He fol­lowed them
when they refused. A few nights later their buzzer rang for five minutes in the night: “We cowered in the corner with our kit­chen knives.” They repor­ted the incid­ent to MI5, and were told it was a mat­ter for the French, who told them it was a mat­ter for the Brits.

What does Machon hope for now? She says she can­’t think what to do with her life. “I’m a dif­fer­ent per­son to the one I was two years ago.” Maybe an old house in Nor­mandy: Shayler could con­tin­ue writ­ing, nov­els, his column for Punch.

What about chil­dren? “I don’t want those. Neither of us does. We nev­er have. I’m not at all mater­nal. I’ve nev­er felt the desire. My broth­er is 11 years young­er and I don’t have a
romantic view of chil­dren. I know what they’re like.”

I was going to sug­gest that when she hits her mid-30s she might change her mind, but then I saw the look in her eye and changes of mind did­n’t seem to come into it.

Interview with Francis Wheen, 1999

An interview with Francis Wheen of The Guardian, August 1999:

The spy left out in the cold

Fran­cis Wheen on the hound­ing by the author­it­ies of MI5 whis­tleblower Dav­id Shayler:

Annie Machon, a former MI5 officer liv­ing in France, came to Lon­don last week. On a pre­vi­ous vis­it, in 1997, she was nabbed at Gatwick air­port by a goon squad from Spe­cial Branch. This time her only ordeal was a couple of hours with me in a Soho café. It was pro­gress of a sort, I sup­pose; but little else has changed​.It is exactly two years since Annie’s part­ner, Dav­id Shayler, hit the head­lines with his com­plaints of mal­prac­tice and incom­pet­ence at MI5. Since then the gov­ern­ment has con­sist­ently refused to heed or
invest­ig­ate his alleg­a­tions, pre­fer­ring to load up its rusty blun­der­buss and shoot the mes­sen­ger.

In his ori­gin­al inter­view with the Mail on Sunday, Shayler exploded the offi­cial myth that MI5 mon­it­ors only those “sub­vers­ives” who wish to “over­throw demo­cracy by viol­ent means”, reveal­ing that, in fact, it kept files on such harm­less pussy­cats as Jack Straw, Peter Man­del­son, Har­riet Har­man and the reg­gae band UB40. The gov­ern­ment was out­raged — not by the evid­ence of spooky skul­dug­gery but by Shayler­’s whis­tleblow­ing.

Tony Blair’s spokes­man warned the news­pa­per that “the heav­ies would move in” unless future art­icles were sub­mit­ted to Down­ing Street for vet­ting. When the edit­or refused to obey, the treas­ury soli­cit­or obtained an injunc­tion ban­ning the media from report­ing any fur­ther remarks by Shayler about mis­con­duct or mis­man­age­ment in the secur­ity ser­vice.

Shortly after­wards, at MI5’s request, Spe­cial Branch officers raided the Lon­don flat Shayler had shared with Machon. The search war­rant per­mit­ted them to look for
“evid­ence of an offence under the offi­cial secrets act” — which they inter­preted, rather eccent­ric­ally, as a licence to smash the fur­niture, hurl table lamps to the floor and remove sev­er­al pairs of Machon’s knick­ers.

Then came the absurd pan­to­mime at Gatwick air­port. Machon was obvi­ously not going to put up a struggle: her law­yer had told the police when and where she was due, and she was armed with noth­ing more leth­al than an overnight bag. Nev­er­the­less, Spe­cial Branch
thought it neces­sary to send no few­er than six brutes to hustle her away. This crude intim­id­a­tion con­tin­ued dur­ing six hours of ques­tion­ing at Char­ing Cross police sta­tion, when her inter­rog­at­ors read out love let­ters she had exchanged with Shayler — bil­lets doux that had no con­ceiv­able rel­ev­ance to the Offi­cial Secrets Act.

If Shayler had com­mit­ted a ser­i­ous offence, as Straw main­tained, why were no charges brought against the edit­ors and journ­al­ists who pub­lished his dis­clos­ures? The ques­tion answers itself: bul­lies pick on the power­less, and min­is­ters were reluct­ant to ant­ag­on­ise the mighty Asso­ci­ated News­pa­pers. Instead, the author­it­ies took out their frus­tra­tion by har­ass­ing inno­cent bystand­ers. Shayler­’s broth­er, Philip, was detained, as were two of his friends.

Like Machon, they were even­tu­ally released without charge — although not before the police had help­fully informed Philip’s employ­ers that he was wanted in con­nec­tion with “fin­an­cial irreg­u­lar­it­ies”.

From his French exile, Shayler con­tin­ued to press for an inquiry. In Octo­ber 1997, the
gov­ern­ment set up a cab­in­et office review of the intel­li­gence agen­cies to be chaired by John Alpass, a former deputy dir­ect­or of the secur­ity ser­vice. As Shayler points out, Alpass was scarcely a dis­in­ter­ested party, as “any adverse cri­ti­cism of MI5 would have reflec­ted badly on his time there”. Nev­er­the­less, Shayler sub­mit­ted a 6,000-word memo on “man­age­ment prob­lems in MI5”.

The com­mit­tee refused to read it. He was giv­en a sim­il­ar brush-off by the par­lia­ment­ary intel­li­gence and secur­ity com­mit­tee, sup­posedly respons­ible for hold­ing the spooks to
account.

Last sum­mer, in the hope of excit­ing some offi­cial interest, Shayler told the Mail on Sunday that MI6 had secretly paid a Liby­an emigré £100,000 to assas­sin­ate Col­on­el Muam­mar Gadafy. Although  the point of Shayler­’s rev­el­a­tion was that min­is­ters had neither known nor approved of the plot, Robin Cook felt able to issue an instant deni­al. “I’m per­fectly clear that these alleg­a­tions have no basis in fact. It is pure fantasy.”

Why, then, did the gov­ern­ment refuse to let the MoS pub­lish the art­icle, arguing that it would endanger nation­al secur­ity? And why did Straw imme­di­ately ask France to arrest
and extra­dite Shayler? If the story was fantasy, he had­n’t broken the offi­cial secrets act. If it was true, and Brit­ish intel­li­gence had indeed con­spired to murder a for­eign head of state, then it would not be Shayler who had some explain­ing to do.

Unable to cope with this glar­ing con­tra­dic­tion, his enemies took refuge in invect­ive. “In a
bet­ter world,” the Daily Tele­graph har­rumphed, “Dav­id Shayler and his like… would be horse-whipped.”

After his release from a French jail last Novem­ber, the Sunday Tele­graph came up with an even more extreme solu­tion, point­ing out that if he were a reneg­ade French spy his former employ­ers would prob­ably have killed him. “One won­ders how Shayler would react to being shot at by MI5 agents,” the news­pa­per mused. “But these days,” it added  regret­fully, “MI5 is scru­pu­lous in its obser­va­tion of the let­ter of the law.”

Scru­pu­lous as ever, MI5 tried assas­sin­at­ing his repu­ta­tion instead, let­ting it be known
that he was always regarded in the ser­vice as “a Wal­ter Mitty, a loose can­non” and “a rebel who likes to sail close to the wind”. (The last phrase, incid­ent­ally, came from a school report writ­ten before Shayler had even taken his A‑levels.)

Many tame MPs and hacks have repeated these insults without paus­ing to think through their logic. If Shayler is as mani­festly dotty as they claim and yet man­aged to join the fast track at MI5 and win a per­form­ance bonus in his final year, does­n’t this con­firm that the secur­ity ser­vice is indeed run by dan­ger­ous clod­hop­pers, as Shayler claims?

Logic, how­ever, is sel­dom allowed to intrude into this case — except for the deranged logic of Catch 22. Shayler wrote a spy nov­el, The Organ­isa­tion, assum­ing that this at least would be allowed. No such luck.

The treas­ury soli­cit­or con­tac­ted the major Lon­don pub­lish­ers warn­ing that Shayler must not write any­thing, “wheth­er presen­ted as fact or fic­tion, which may be con­strued as relat­ing to the secur­ity ser­vice or its mem­ber­ship or activ­it­ies or to secur­ity or intel­li­gence activ­it­ies gen­er­ally .” (My ital­ics.) In oth­er words, Shayler can­’t pub­lish true stor­ies, even if the gov­ern­ment says they are fic­tion; but he can­’t pub­lish fic­tion for fear that it might have a ker­nel of truth. And yet oth­er ex-spies — John Le Carre, Ted All­beury — have writ­ten ump­teen nov­els about Brit­ish intel­li­gence without hav­ing injunc­tions hurled at them.

It is barely believ­able in this day and age that a UK cit­izen should have to live in exile for telling the truth — or, if you believe the gov­ern­ment, for mak­ing up stor­ies about the intel­li­gence ser­vices,” Shayler says. “It is doubly dif­fi­cult to accept when we see that this has happened at the behest of a Labour gov­ern­ment.”

Per­son­ally, I don’t find it at all dif­fi­cult: Labour politi­cians have always been suck­ers for cloak-and-dag­ger non­sense. Lest we for­get, it was the last Labour gov­ern­ment that expelled the Amer­ic­an journ­al­ists Philip Agee and Mark Hosen­ball at the behest of MI5, without troub­ling to give any reas­ons, and then tried to jail a col­league of mine from the New States­man for the hein­ous offence of col­lect­ing min­istry of defence press releases. “New” Labour has revived the tra­di­tion by pro­sec­ut­ing a respec­ted defence orres­pond­ent, Tony Ger­aghty, and tor­ment­ing the hap­less Shayler.

Only last month the treas­ury soli­cit­or sent a stern let­ter to Shayler­’s law­yers. “Your cli­ent has been writ­ing to vari­ous mem­bers of the gov­ern­ment, enclos­ing a pamph­let which he has writ­ten entitled Secrets and Lies,” he noted. “The dis­clos­ure of this inform­a­tion con­sti­tutes yet a fur­ther breach by your cli­ent of the injunc­tion against him… I am not instruc­ted to deal in detail with the points made by your cli­ent, save to say that his  alleg­a­tions of impro­pri­ety on the part of the secur­ity ser­vice are rejec­ted.”

How can min­is­ters know that the alleg­a­tions are false without both­er­ing to check? Easy: MI5’s dir­ect­or, Steph­en Lander, has assured Straw that everything is tick­ety-boo.

At the height of the Spycatch­er pan­ic, the Brit­ish cab­in­et sec­ret­ary admit­ted that White­hall often found it neces­sary to be “eco­nom­ic­al with the truth”, and there are very few people naïve enough to assume that the pro­fes­sion­al dis­sim­u­lat­ors who run MI5 and MI6 can always be believed. For­tu­nately for Lander, this select band of cred­u­lous oafs includes every seni­or mem­ber of the Labour cab­in­et.

If Dav­id Shayler were a mem­ber of the Pro­vi­sion­al IRA, Tony Blair would be happy to nego­ti­ate deals and  indem­nit­ies with him. Since he is merely a pub­lic-spir­ited whis­tleblower who has nev­er murdered any­one, he is con­demned to har­ass­ment, vili­fic­a­tion and indef­in­ite exile.