Ex-spy is refused legal aid for extradition fight

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A LAWYER ACTING for the ex- MI5 spy, David Shayler, was told by the High Court yesterday that Mr Shayler has no right to claim legal aid at present.

The money from public funds is said to be needed to help to safeguard Mr Shayler's position, and to start preparing for a trial in this country in case he fails in his battle to resist extradition from France.

John Wadham, director of Liberty, has already run up a bill of pounds 7,000 representing Mr Shayler, 32, and only been paid some expenses. But yesterday two judges ruled that Peter Brunning, Bow Street magistrates court deputy chief clerk, had been right last August to refuse him legal aid as Mr Shayler had not yet been charged with an offence in England.

The former MI5 operative, imprisoned without charge in La Sante Prison, Paris, was arrested in France on 1 August, at the British Government's request, after he claimed to have evidence of malpractice in MI5.

He is now facing extradition proceedings to return him to the UK, where he is accused of disclosing security or intelligence information contrary to the Official Secrets Act.

Lord Justice Kennedy, sitting with Mr Justice Sullivan, rejected Mr Wadham's claim that legal aid should have been available immediately a warrant was issued for Mr Shayler's arrest by a Bow Street magistrate in mid- July.

He compared Mr Shayler's position in fighting extradition with that of a fugitive within the UK who was evading execution of a warrant of service or a summons. "It would be astonishing if the court considered it appropriate to grant such a person legal aid," said the judge.

Mr Justice Sullivan said if Mr Shayler successfully resisted extradition, there would be no criminal proceedings in the UK. But if he was not and faced a court in Britain, then it would be time to consider legal aid.

Later Mr Wadham said: We are disappointed... We will now wish to appeal this decision."