Who is David Shayler?

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DAVID SHAYLER developed a taste for espionage at university. He published extracts of the banned book Spycatcher in the campus newspaper before going into journalism.

After six months as a Sunday Times trainee he was deemed "not up to scratch" and asked to leave. He joined MI5 soon after.

A closer look at a school report, written shortly before he went to read English at Dundee University, might have alerted the service to his true nature. "He is a born rebel who likes to sail close to the wind," it said.

He was also said to have flaws which made him unsuited for espionage. Although ambitious and articulate, he displayed arrogance and a contempt for authority. He failed to rise very high in the service but had access to personal files.

One of his first jobs was in the department vetting government officials. Later he moved to F2, part of the branch dealing with counter-subversion. By 1993 he had moved again, specialising in monitoring international terrorism. He was assigned to the Libyan desk. Stuck as a higher executive officer earning pounds 28,000 a year, Mr Shayler felt his career had begun to founder.

Within weeks of leaving the MI5 building for the last time in March 1997, he was touting a synopsis of a book. He disguised his revelations as the memoirs of a former female agent. But publishers, fearful of an expensive legal battle with the Government, decided not to buy it. Five months later, Mr Shayler took his story to The Mail on Sunday and began a self-imposed exile in Europe. It later emerged he was in France with his girlfriend, Annie Machon, who left MI5 the same day as him.

Mr Shayler is thought to have found exile trying, as it meant he missed televised football matches and could not go to watch his team, Middlesbrough. But he has not been idle and is said to have completed a draft version of a novel set around the British intelligence service.