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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 July, 2003, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Shayler fails to clear name
David Shayler and girlfriend Annie Machon
Long-time girlfriend Annie Machon has stood by David Shayler
Renegade former MI5 officer David Shayler, jailed for breaching the Official Secrets Act, has failed in a court attempt to clear his name.

Three Court of Appeal judges in London refused him permission to appeal against his conviction, in a ruling on Tuesday.

His lawyers argued his Old Bailey trial in 2002 had been unfair because of the "unprecedented" restrictions imposed on him by the trial judge at the behest of the prosecution.

But the court held that the restrictions imposed by trial judge Mr Justice Moses, relating to secrecy of documents and cross-examination of Crown witnesses, "only went as far as in the circumstances they had to go".

In November 2002 Shayler, of Middlesbrough, was jailed for six months for revealing intelligence service information to a newspaper.


He had insisted he was not a traitor, had not endangered the lives of intelligence agents and had been motivated by a desire to expose abuses of power by the intelligence services.

After serving seven weeks, the 37-year-old was released under licence.

We see no reason to conclude the judge failed to have regard to the cumulative effect of his decisions
Lord Justice Kennedy

In an attempt to clear his name, Shayler's lawyers had told the Court of Appeal his trial had been conducted in breach of his right to a fair hearing under common law and under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Geoffrey Robertson QC said Shayler had suffered discrimination after having chosen to defend himself at the trial rather than be represented by counsel.

Trial judge Mr Justice Moses had required him to disclose in advance the questions he had planned to ask prosecution witnesses in cross-examination, Mr Robertson added.

He said Shayler had been denied the right to question the credibility of the five witnesses, four of whom remained anonymous under a "cloak of secrecy" at the behest of the home secretary.

And the judge had had access to "secret schedules", partly prejudicial to the former MI5 officer, which he had not been permitted to challenge.

National security

The Crown had admitted that most of those restrictions would not have been sought if Shayler had been represented by counsel, Mr Robertson said.

But there had been no suggestion Mr Shayler had planned to "blurt out" sensitive information during the trial.

Mr Shayler had been robbed of his ancient right to defend himself in court without his statements being "vetted" in advance by prosecutor and judge, Mr Robertson argued.

But in Tuesday's ruling, Lord Justice Kennedy, sitting with Mr Justice Cresswell and Mr Justice Bennett, said the trial judge had emphasised the importance of open justice and the need not to prejudice the defendant.

He had also taken into account national security, the need to protect the anonymity of certain witnesses and the overall interests of the administration of justice.

"We see no reason to conclude the judge failed to have regard to the cumulative effect of his decisions," he said.

"We reject the contention the regime he imposed was disproportionate."

Shayler was not in court to hear the ruling.

Shayler in new court battle
25 Jun 03  |  Tees
Shayler released from jail
23 Dec 02  |  UK News
Six-month sentence for Shayler
05 Nov 02  |  UK News


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