Letter: Casualties of secrecy

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Sir: Ex-MI5 employee David Shayler's recent and well-publicised revelations concerning the security service's alleged involvement in attempts to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi will not, I hope, deflect attention away from what he has been saying about the information received by MI5 prior to the bombings in London at the Israeli Embassy and Balfour House in 1994 ("Shayler: the unanswered questions", 4 August).

In December 1996, Jawad Botmeh and Samar Alami, both Palestinian, were found guilty at the Old Bailey of being involved in those bombings. They were sentenced to 20 years in prison but have always protested their innocence. Even the judge accepted that they were not members of any terrorist organisation and he also stated that most of the circumstances of the case remained unexplained. Neither was alleged to have actually planted the bombs.

Now Mr Shayler says that M15 was in receipt of enough information before the bombings to have prevented them. So, one would have thought, it was clearly in the interest of justice that this information be revealed. But the Government has obtained injunctions to prevent any details of what Mr Shayler knows being made public. And its Crown Prosecution Service are applying, through privately held public-interest immunity hearings, to have withheld from Mr Botmeh and Ms Alami and their lawyers all the information that Mr Shayler says MI5 has about the bombings.

The human consequences of this refusal to be open with such potentially crucial information are disgraceful and immense. Mr Botmeh and Ms Alami rot away in prison while this country's government and justice system do their best to keep from them information upon which their chances of freedom may depend.


London N16