Leading Article: Unhealthy obsession

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The Independent Culture
DAVID SHAYLER, the former British spy, has avoided extradition from France following charges that he gave information to the press about MI5's activities - including an accusation that they botched an attempt to kill Libya's colonel Gaddafi. Just as in the case of Peter Wright, the spy who wrote about secret service plots to bug Harold Wilson, it has taken a foreign court to expose Britain's unhealthy obsession with secrecy.

The public would be right to ask why whistle-blowers who expose bad or illegal practice in this country are forced to seek refuge elsewhere. Of course, spies must be able to keep secrets, but stories of public importance should not go untold. Tony Blair and Jack Straw have relied on a secrecy law whose introduction they once opposed: because it didn't allow a public interest defence. How curious that they changed their stance once in government.

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