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EDITIONS
Monday, 7 October, 2002, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Shayler 'state secrets' trial begins
David Shayler and girlfriend Annie Machon arrive at the Old Bailey
Shayler represents himself for part of the trial
The trial of former MI5 officer David Shayler has started at the Old Bailey in London.

Mr Shayler faces three charges under the Official Secrets Act.


I'm very confident we can put an absolutely compelling case

David Shayler
He is accused of disclosing state secrets in 1997 in a series of newspaper articles about alleged illegal activities and incompetence in the security services.

Legal argument began on Monday and focused on whether part of the hearing should be heard in private.

The jury are not expected to be sworn in until later in the week.

On arriving at court, Mr Shayler, 36, told reporters: "I'm very confident we can put an absolutely compelling case to the judge.

"Whether the judge chooses to listen to it or not is another matter, of course."

He will be representing himself for part of the trial.

'Public interest'

In 1997, Mr Shayler allegedly told the Mail on Sunday that agents kept a file on Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in the 1970s, and tapped the telephone of Peter Mandelson, who went on to become Northern Ireland secretary.

He also alleged a Libyan agent had been bugged and the government failed to prevent a 1994 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in London.

But he said in his defence the newspaper articles were in the public interest.

Mr Shayler fled to France in 1997 and the UK Government failed to extradite him, but he returned voluntarily three years later.

The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday. A jury is not expected to be sworn in until early next week.


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