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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 13:59 GMT
Secret files shown at Shayler trial
David Shayler
David Shayler is conducting his own defence
Files marked Top Secret were shown to the jury in the David Shayler spying trial on Tuesday.

The files contain more than 250 pages which the prosecution say Mr Shayler copied when he left his job with MI5.

"Their content speaks for itself, does it not?" Nigel Sweeney QC asked the jury.


If the service is not secure...the nation's agents may be unmasked

Nigel Sweeney QC

The five women and seven men spent several hours going through documents marked Secret and Top Secret.

Names of agents had been blanked out to protect their identities and jurors were told not to disclose the contents.

They were also shown copies of articles in the Mail on Sunday newspaper which were said to have been based on the documents.

Mr Shayler, 36, who was born in Middlesbrough and now lives in London, has denied three offences under the Official Secrets Act.

Official secrets

Mr Sweeney said Mr Shayler was paid just under 40,000 by the Mail on Sunday and the money was dispersed between various bank accounts after the former intelligence office fled abroad.

But he warned the jury to put aside any consideration as to whether money was the motive for what was alleged.

He said it was "irrelevant", as was Mr Shayler's claim that he acted in the public interest.

Mr Shayler had three times signed the Official Secrets Act binding him to secrecy and had not sought lawful authority to make disclosures.

IRA Libya link

Mr Sweeney has told the jury that 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.

"If the service is not secure, there are likely to be adverse consequences" he said.

"For example, those working against the interests of the State, whether terrorists or other criminals or foreign agents, will be alerted and take evasive action.

"The nation's agents may be unmasked."


I have done this to clear my name and allow a jury to judge me

David Shayler

The jury was told that the documents covered seven topics, including a history of links between the IRA and Libya.

Another document listed attempts to get information from Libya on the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am flight 103.

Mr Shayler, who worked for MI5 for five years until October 1996, wrote many of the reports.

Mr Sweeney said Mr Shayler returned to Britain from France in August 2000.

After being arrested, he said: "I have done this to clear my name and allow a jury to judge me."

The trial continues.

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The BBC's Danny Shaw
"He told police that he had come back to clear his name"

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