Post-Cold War

The Shayler Affair

1997 - 1998

Materials arranged chronologically.

Smith, Michael. "Inquiry into MI5 Man Who Spoke to Press." Telegraph (London), 25 Aug. 1997. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

The Home Office is investigating whether David Shayler, the former MI5 officer who "disclosed that Peter Mandelson had been the target of an MI5 surveillance operation" and that Jack Straw "had been a surveillance target of F Branch," should be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act.

Smith, Michael. "Tales of Fear and Loathing in the Service." Telegraph (London), 25 Aug. 1997. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

David Shayler's "allegations of MI5 drunkenness and Right-wing paranoia ... will undoubtedly cause immense embarrassment to those charged with giving it a new image. But they are largely the same allegations that led Mrs Thatcher to order a complete shake-out of the organisation in the mid-1980s."

Shayler, David. "Let Me Be Heard." Spectator, 20 Jun. 1998, 20-21.

The former MI5 employee argues that the parliamentary oversight committee responsible for the intelligence services should hear his evidence. He characterizes his former employers as "Britain's arrogant and largely unaccountable, Oxbridge-dominated, self-styled intelligence elite."

ITN. "Ex-MI5 Agent Lifts the Lid on the Nation's Secrets." 27 Jul. 1998. [http://www.itn.co.uk]

"Former MI5 agent David Shayler has revealed that British intelligence wasted a chance to 'finish off' the IRA in 1993. In the latest of a series of revelations concerning Britain's until-now secret service Shayler said that inefficiency and bureaucracy were responsible for the missed opportunity.... In several interviews since he lifted the lid on MI5..., Shayler has also alleged that MI5 operatives suffer low morale and heavy drinking. He has reportedly said he is prepared to risk prosecution under the Official Secrets Act to expose the service's obsession with keeping files on politicians and celebrities."

Milmo, Cahal. "Mr David Shayler: Internet Publication Feared; French Hold Former MI5 Man after Files Leaked." Irish Times, 3 Aug, 1998. [http://www.irish-times.com]

Former MI5 officer David Shayler is in a Paris prison "ahead of proceedings to bring him back to Britain, French authorities said [on 2 August 1998]. The maverick security service agent was arrested in the French capital on [1 August 1998] amid rumours that he was about to publish details of MI5 operations. The British government is to seek his extradition." Shayler "fled Britain after a series of newspaper articles disclosing that MI5 had kept files on Trade and Industry Secretary Mr Peter Mandelson and Home Secretary Mr Jack Straw, when they were student activists."

Smith, Michael. "MI5 Accused of Blunders on Bombings." Telegraph (London), 3 Aug. 1998. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

David Shayler "was arrested at a time when MI5 feared he was about to put details of alleged security blunders, involving IRA mainland bomb attacks, on the Internet." In an interview with the Telegraph, Shayler "alleged that a number of IRA bombings, including the 1993 Bishopsgate attack in which one man died, might have been prevented if MI5 had been more efficient....

"Shayler had been negotiating a deal with MI5 that he hoped would allow him to return to the UK to give evidence of alleged blunders to the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. But following the breakdown of those negotiations, he had made no secret of the fact that he was prepared to make them public on the Internet. MI5 then launched its attempt to prosecute him."

Smith, Michael. "'Intelligence Services Need to Ditch the Old Plodders.'" Telegraph (London), 3 Aug. 1998. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

"David Shayler is a curious kind of a 'whistleblower', far more inclined to attack MI5 for wasting taxpayers' money, over-bureaucracy and pussy-footing about than for breaching civil liberties."

Smith, Michael. "Cook Denies MI6 Plot to Assassinate Gaddafi." Telegraph (London), 10 Aug. 1998. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

On 9 August 1998, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook "dismissed claims" by David Shayler "of an MI6 plot to assassinate the Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi as 'pure fantasy'. The Foreign Secretary said he had investigated the claims and was satisfied that his Conservative predecessor ... had not authorised any plan to kill the Libyan leader. He pointed out that ... Shayler ... was a junior member of the domestic Security Service MI5 with little or no knowledge of secret MI6 operations."

Henley, John. "I Am Being Gagged for Telling Truth, Says Shayler." The Guardian, 22 Oct. 1998. [http://reports.guardian.co.uk]

Shayler told a French court on 21 October 1998 that "he made public classified material because he 'simply wanted to say that taxpayers' money had been used to kill innocent civilians.'" The court was debating whether Shayler "had committed a 'political crime' - and whether he could be sent back to Britain to face charges under the Official Secrets Act."

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