Law lords reject Shayler's challenge

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The Independent Online

The renegade MI5 agent David Shayler lost his appeal yesterday to use the Human Rights Act in his forthcoming trial at the Old Bailey for allegedly breaching official secrets laws.

Five law lords unanimously rejected his claim that his disclosures of state secrets were protected by his right to freedom of expression. He is accused of disclosing secrets in 1997 in a series of newspaper articles about alleged illegal activities in the security services.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Moses, and the Court of Appeal had rejected his application to use Article 10 of the Human Rights Act in his defence of acting in the public interest.

The law lords agreed and said there was no incompatibility between the 1989 Official Secrets Act, under which Mr Shayler faces prosecution, and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights guaranteeing "freedom of expression". Lord Bingham of Cornhill said: "Despite the high importance attached to it, the right to free expression was never regarded in domestic law as absolute".

The 1989 Act imposed a ban on disclosure of information relating to intelligence by a former member of the service "without lawful authority".