BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Audio/Video: Programmes: Breakfast with Frost
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Programmes 

banner
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST HOSTED BY HUW EDWARDS INTERVIEW
JOHN WADHAM AUGUST 20TH, 2000

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

HUW EDWARDS
Now onto other matters, it's three years give or take a few days since the name of David Shayler started featuring prominently in the news, he's the former MI5 man who's revealed information about the work of the security services. To avoid arrest he's been living in France but his self-imposed exile comes to an end when he leaves Calais tomorrow morning bound for Dover. Mr Shayler says he just wants to come home and he's bracing himself for a legal battle, he's expected to argue that the Official Secrets Act conflicts with his right to freedom of expression and just to remind you Mr Shayler has accused MI5 of keeping secret files on prominent politicians, he's alleged that MI6 plotted to kill Libya's Colonel Gaddaffi and he's also claimed that the security service should have kept a far closer watch on the IRA. Well Mr Shayler's solicitor is John Wadham, I spoke to him a little earlier this morning and asked him how he expects the next few days will pan out for Mr Shayler himself?

JOHN WADHAM
Well I'm going to meet him this afternoon and we're then having a press conference and then tomorrow morning he will be getting the P&O ferry at 10.15 to return to this country and he'll be arrested at the port of Dover and taken to Charring Cross police station where he will be interviewed and/or charged.

HUW EDWARDS
And will he be released on bail do you think, or not?

JOHN WADHAM
We've been in discussion with the Crown Prosecution Service and the police and it's very likely that he will be released on bail, probably tomorrow, probably late afternoon.

HUW EDWARDS
Has there been some bargaining about that?

JOHN WADHAM
Well we've been talking about whether, how, what the circumstances of him coming back are and whether or not he would be released on bail, there will be some conditions probably that they will retain his passport but I don't think there's any real difficulty about him being granted police bail and then subsequently if he goes to court being granted bail by the court. But of course that remains a decision for the court.

HUW EDWARDS
It's just, it's very difficult to imagine him coming back happily if he thought he was going to be in prison on remand for some time?

JOHN WADHAM
Well absolutely the offences that he's likely to be charged with are actually only will attract something like a two-year sentence and if he was, waited a year for the trial then of course that will be the equivalent of getting a one year sentence so, so it's very likely I think he will get bail but as I say finally that's a decision not for the government but for the courts.

HUW EDWARDS
Talked of one area of mystery, John, if you would please, he's been in exile virtually for three years, he's stuck it out for three years, it's not been easy for him in many ways, lots of people have sympathy for him, lots of people don't, why's he coming back?

JOHN WADHAM
Well there's a combination of factors, firstly the Human Rights Act comes in to force in this country on the 2nd of October and that will give him some more arguments, some more defences in relation to the Official Secrets Act. His girlfriend has been ill, he's probably spent three years in Paris and although most people will think that's quite a good thing I think he wants to come back and he wants what, wants to watch Middlesborough play football, he wants to see his friends and family, he wants to start again a normal life and it's not been possible for him in exile to really start his life all over again.

HUW EDWARDS
He does accept he's broken the law?

JOHN WADHAM
Well he, the position obviously is he's going to face a trial, he's coming back to, to face 12 ordinary citizens who are going to make a decision about whether he's broken the law or not, there may be technical issues about the law but of course what he's going to say is that everything that he disclosed was in the public interest. The public have a right to know about malpractice in the security services and he was doing that. That means that therefore he hasn't broken the law and of course that's why the Human Rights Act is important because of this issue of freedom of expression.

HUW EDWARDS
I, I ask the question not simply because for lots of people they'll consider that a chap who signs the Official Secrets Act, twice as I understand it when he was working for MI5 then makes revelations about what the security services are doing and takes away some confidential documents with him, has broken the law, it's pretty clear, he hasn't got a leg to stand on, that's the view of many people.

HUW EDWARDS
Well the question about whether he's broken the law will depend on whether any of the revelations that he made were damaging and secondly whether even if they were damaging whether it was still right in the public interest for those to be disclosed because what he was talking about was malpractice and incompetence within MI5 and the difficult issue of course is that's not currently in the Official Secrets Act, that's why we'll be having to use Human Rights legislation to, to interpret that Official Secrets Act legislation in that context.

HUW EDWARDS
Well that's a very important point of course because you've referred to it twice now and this human rights legislation which comes into force on the 2nd of October I think, what, what happens if they try to get a trial before then so that that legislation is not in place, what would happen then?

JOHN WADHAM
Well one of the things, one of the reasons that David's chosen now to come back is because we know that it's not possible to have a trial with, between now and the 2nd of October, trials take a while, of course there are going to be difficult issues about what's called disclosure where documents have to be given to David for him to construct his defence and so I don't think there's any possibility of that and even if there was then he would still have the Human Rights Act issues that he could, he could run on on appeal anyway so there won't be a trial before the 2nd of October.

HUW EDWARDS
Is he very bitter about the way things have turned out?

JOHN WADHAM
I think that he would have liked to see some more negotiation perhaps with the government but he would have preferred to be able to tell his story, we wrote to the, the Parliamentary Committee for instance on the security services and they refused to take evidence.

HUW EDWARDS
Why should they negotiate with somebody who's broken the law?

JOHN WADHAM
Well┐

HUW EDWARDS
It would be a very odd thing for Ministers to do wouldn't it?

JOHN WADHAM
But he's a whistle-blower, he's someone who said this is┐

HUW EDWARDS
He's somebody who signed the Official Secrets Act and then revealed secret information?

JOHN WADHAM
Well there's no dispute about whether or not he should work for the security services anymore, I don't think he wants to go back to his job though of course he left voluntarily, he wasn't sacked but more importantly the issue is should he go to prison for telling the truth because that's what this case is really about. Okay there are some issues about damage and he has tried his best to preserve national security, to preserve the lives of other people and so far as we know that's what he succeeded in doing whilst still disclosing malpractice and problems within the security services and it's, it's a really important issue for somebody to go to prison for telling the truth, particularly now.

HUW EDWARDS
How on earth can the security services do their work properly in future if somebody like Mr Shayler is, if it happens, let off, isn't it a green light to people to do the same, just take documents to reveal secret information, it makes their work a complete joke?

JOHN WADHAM
Well there's been a whole series of whistle-blowers who've worked for the security service in the past have got very irritated and feel that the, the, the issues about breaking the law by the security services should be exposed, he's another one of those and he's actually saying I, I was right to disclose, okay I've got into trouble, he's spent three years in Paris, he's spent three and a half months in a Paris prison, he's had a very difficult life, he's been punished for telling the truth, I don't think it's right for our courts to say he should be punished further and be given even longer terms of imprisonment.

HUW EDWARDS
John I'll let you go I know you're going to meet David Shayler later on, thanks for coming in.

JOHN WADHAM
Thank you very much.

HUW EDWARDS
That was John Wadham, David Shayler's solicitor speaking to me a little earlier before heading off to Calais to meet up with his client.

END

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE











E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Breakfast with Frost stories