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Sunday, 18 October, 1998, 07:38 GMT 08:38 UK
Shayler condemns 'cowards'
David Shayler
David Shayler: Fighting extradition from France
David Shayler has said the government did not dare to try him over his specific allegations of MI5 misconduct.

Speaking from his Paris prison, the fugitive MI5 man said there was a plan to prosecute him for showing copies of secret documents to journalists.

"This shows the real cowardice on the part of the government," he said.

"If they really believe I should not have made my disclosures they should charge me with them."

Mr Shayler left Britain last year after revealing details about MI5 to a British newspaper.

He claimed that the secret service missed a chance in the early 1990s to bring the IRA's bombing campaign to an end.

He also said he was responsible for vetting Labour politicians before the 1992 election.

Football game 'rigged'

While on the run in France, Mr Shayler was arrested at a Paris hotel in August amid reports he was about to post more information about UK intelligence operations on the Internet.

In addition to claims of incompetence in MI5, Mr Shayler had alleged that British intelligence funded a plot to kill Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi and that a domestic football match in the UK was rigged to try to lure him home.

The UK's Official Secrets Act makes it illegal to reveal details of the workings of the intelligence agencies, even if the disclosures were made in the public interest.

The authorities began proceedings to extradite Mr Shayler to the UK after his arrest in Paris.

Mr Shayler made his comments to his lawyer John Wadham, director of the civil rights group Liberty.

John Wadham
John Wadham: "Draconian" law
Mr Wadham said: "The government are using a tactical ruse to try and convict David without confronting the real issues.

"I challenge them to put David on trial for what was actually reported in the media.

"This ruse is only possible because the Official Secrets Act is so draconian.

"When the Act was going through Parliament, the current prime minister, home secretary, attorney general and others in cabinet and government voted against it for this very reason, yet they are still happy to use it.

"Nevertheless, whatever tactics the government uses, we will fight to ensure that the jury is told about the real issues."

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