`I hope they just accept I was right to highlight what MI5 were doing'

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David Shayler, the MI5 officer who revealed that Peter Mandelson's phone was tapped by the security services, plans to stay on the run if the Government decides to prosecute him under the Official Secrets Act, writes Steve Boggan.

Speaking to The Independent yesterday from an undisclosed location in Europe, Mr Shayler, 31, said he believed he could not be extradited to face trial for revealing a series of shambles inside MI5.

"I have to accept that I would be a fugitive," he said. "But no other country has a law like the Official Secrets Act so I don't think any court would allow me to be sent back to Britain."

Mr Shayler infuriated the intelligence community by revealing details of farcical and arguably unnecessary bugging and surveillance operations in the Mail on Sunday. He also criticised the culture of heavy drinking, bureaucracy and low morale within MI5. Among those who had been spied on by the security service was Mr Mandelson, Minister without Portfolio.

"I believe I have done nothing wrong in highlighting what was going on," he said yesterday. "These things should not have been happening.

"If the Government decides to make an example of me, then I will have to take legal advice to assess my position. I hope they just accept that I was right to highlight what MI5 were doing and use that information to shake it up."