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Wednesday, 17 May, 2000, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Shayler to 'return home'
Shayler protest
David Shayler and masked supporters in Paris
The former MI5 officer, David Shayler, has announced he plans to return to the UK by Christmas to "clear his name".

Despite knowing that on arrival he would face charges under the Official Secrets Act, the former spy told BBC News Online he was tired of living a "paranoid life" in exile in Paris.

Colonel Ghaddafi
Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi: Central to claims
Mr Shayler, 34, had planned to tie himself to a cross outside the British Embassy in the French capital on Wednesday, to "symbolically demonstrate that I'm actually being crucified for telling the truth."

But he was stopped from staging the mock crucifixion by French police, and made a statement instead.

In an announcement timed to coincide with his "1,000th day in exile", Mr Shayler said he wanted to ensure the government went ahead with their decision to sue him over a series of newspaper articles he wrote in 1997.

As much as I complain about England, it is my home

David Shayler
He also faces a charge of breaching the Official Secrets Act in connection with claims that two MI6 officers were involved in a plot to assassinate Col Gaddafi.

But he said: "I have nothing to hide. What sort of a democracy do we live in where it becomes a crime to report a crime?"

'Home for Christmas'

The former agent said he planned to call government ministers - including Prime Minister Tony Blair - as witnesses in the civil action.

"In my summing up [in court] I will be in front of the world's media and all reporting of what I say will be privileged.

"If the government wants to go ahead, they're welcome."

Robin Cook
Robin Cook: Says claims are "pure fantasy"
His lawyers are preparing a defence on the basis of European human rights legislation, due to be incorporated into UK law this autumn and are expected to issue a challenge to the Official Secrets Act, arguing that it breaches human rights principles.

He told the BBC: "My plan is to be back for Christmas - if I get favourable signs from the civil action and challenge to the Official Secrets Act.

"As much as I complain about England, it is my home.

"I can't carry on living in these strange circumstances where I am forever wondering who is listening to my phone calls or intercepting my e-mails and where the health of my friends is put at risk by worry and stress."

In March, Mr Shayler's girlfriend gave a dossier of documents he had prepared - alleging an MI6 plot to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi - in to the headquarters of Special Branch.

'VIPs should be interviewed'

Annie Machon handed in the brown A4 envelope addressed to the Head of Special Branch, Metropolitan Police.

Mr Shayler has called for a number of senior figures including the Prime Minister Tony Blair, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, Home Secretary Jack Straw and the heads of MI6 and MI5 to be interviewed by Special Branch in connection with the matter.

But Mr Cook has dismissed as "pure fantasy" the claim of MI6 involvement in a plot to kill Col Gadafi.

In 1998 Mr Shayler spent four months in a Paris jail, as the British Government attempted to have him extradited to face charges under the Official Secrets Act.

This was thrown out by a French court, leading the Attorney General to begin civil proceedings for damages in the High Court.

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See also:

25 Apr 00 | UK
Spy guide on the net
26 Feb 00 | UK
Shayler: The exiled spy
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