Government gags former spy in New Zealand

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THE GOVERNMENT yesterday sought to silence former MI6 officer Richard Tomlinson when it obtained an injunction stopping him revealing further details about the secret services.

Just days after the arrest of renegade MI5 agent David Shayler in Paris, it obtained an injunction from the New Zealand courts to gag Mr Tomlinson. It was served on him as he arrived in New Zealand, where he has joint nationality.

Yesterday the Foreign Office defended its decision to request the temporary injunction against the former intelligence officer, who served 12 months in prison for a breach of the Official Secrets Act when he tried to arrange a book deal.

"It is not a question of trying to gag people. It is a matter of trying to protect the secret services," said a spokesman. "Mr Tomlinson may say he has no interest in publishing details but why should we believe someone who has already breached the Official Secrets Act?"

He said the decision to request an injunction was made by the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook.

The spokesman said there were no plans at this stage toextradite Mr Tomlinson, although that could change.

Mr Tomlinson was served with the injunction when he arrived at Auckland airport. He had flown there from Paris, where he too had been arrested at the weekend by security police.

Yesterday Mr Tomlinson, 35, an aeronautical engineering graduate from Cambridge, who served in Russia and Bosnia, said: "I came here expecting to be at last back in a country of freedom of expression and be able to set about going about the rest of my life without any harassment or persecution at all.

"The first thing I do is set foot into Auckland airport and I'm presented with an injunction."

Meanwhile, Mr Shayler, who was arrested on Saturday night ahead of possible extradition, will next week appeal for bail. His lawyer John Wadham yesterday travelled to Paris to meet French lawyers. He hopes to visit Mr Shayler in prison tomorrow.

"This whole matter could take a very long time and that is why it is so important that we obtain bail for him," he said.