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Tuesday, 7 March, 2000, 11:57 GMT
Student 'astonished' at secrets arrest
David Shayler
David Shayler is living in exile in Paris
A student has been released on police bail after being questioned about an alleged breach of the Official Secrets Act.

It is thought Julie Ann Davies has connections with the renegade M15 officer David Shayler, who she met when she was researching a programme for Channel Four.

We have Special Branch going around arresting those people involved in producing satire and comedy

John Wadham, Liberty
Ms Davies' solicitor Neil O'May said: "She is astonished at being arrested without any warning in the way she was, and very uncertain about what the allegations are and what she's done to be interesting to the Special Branch.

"She is rather worried about being on bail and facing further questioning."

Shayler campaign

The 36-year-old mature student, who is studying aerospace engineering at Kingston University in Surrey, was arrested on Monday by Special Branch officers with a warrant requiring the college to provide access to her computer.

She was reported to have been active in the campaign to get charges against the former spy David Shayler dropped.

National security

Mr Shayler, now living in Paris, faces prosecution if he returns to Britain over allegations he has made to newspapers about MI5 and MI6.

Ms Davies is thought to be a member of the Association of Investigative Journalists.

John Wadham, Mr Shayler's lawyer and director of the civil rights group Liberty, said he knew the student.

"So far as I understand it, she was a researcher for the political satire programme the Mark Thomas Comedy Product.

"I'm a bit surprised that we have Special Branch going around arresting those people involved in producing satire and comedy.

"The programme went out at the beginning of this year, and was a half-hour discussion of David Shayler in a light-hearted and jokey fashion.

"The arrest and prosecution of more people will do nothing to protect national security.

"The only solution is to negotiate with Dave to bring an end to this sorry saga."

Missile protest

Last Saturday Mr Shayler lent his support to protesters - including Mark Thomas - who were targeting what they describe as a "Star Wars Two" missile defence system.

Mr Shayler telephoned Mr Thomas, who then relayed the former MI5 officer's comments to 300 people gathered outside RAF Menwith Hill.

The American base near Harrogate, North Yorkshire, is also the home of Echelon, a global spy system.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jane Peel
"The arrest has shocked university staff"
See also:

28 Feb 00 | UK
Shayler: I'm no traitor
26 Feb 00 | UK
Shayler: The exiled spy
26 Feb 00 | Talking Point
Shayler: Whistleblower or traitor?
26 Feb 00 | Europe
British government sues Shayler
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