An old Bailey judge ruled yesterday that The Observer and The Guardianmust hand over to Special Branch a journalist's notes, documents and e-mails relating to renegade MI5 officer David Shayler.
Such an order against the press is rare, but Old Bailey Judge Martin Stephens ruled it was "in the public interest" that communications with Mr Shayler be given to the special branch as he had apparently breached the Official Secrets Act. Judge Stephens said he was satisfied that the Special Branch had reasonable grounds for believing that a serious arrestable offence had been committed. The newspapers are to take the ruling to Judicial review.
The Government is trying to stop Mr Shayler, 33, who now lives in Paris, from leaking further top secret information. A mature student at Kingston University, Julie Ann Davies, 35, who is a supporter of Mr Shayler, was arrested last week and later bailed under the Act.
The Old Bailey action was triggered by a story in The Observer nearly three weeks ago stating that the paper had been given the names of two MI6 officers who Mr Shayler claimed had been involved in the assassination attempt against Col Gaddafi, Libya's leader. The Metropolitan Police later asked the reporter, Martin Bright, to hand over notes of his conversation with Mr Shayler. The police said Mr Bright is being investigated under section five of the Official Secrets Act. Special branch also requested the original copy of a letter from Mr Shayler that was published by The Guardian on 17 February.Reuse content