Arrested Shayler supporter to sue the Met

Paul Lashmar
Saturday 09 September 2000 00:00
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A university student arrested in March by Special Branch officers under the Official Secrets Act because of her support for the renegade MI5 officer David Shayler has started a legal action against the Metropolitan Police.

A university student arrested in March by Special Branch officers under the Official Secrets Act because of her support for the renegade MI5 officer David Shayler has started a legal action against the Metropolitan Police.

Julie Ann Davies, 36, said a claim for damages was the only way to make the police accountable for their actions. "The arrest has, quite simply, wrecked my university career and has affected every area of my life. I have been suffering from depression since the arrest and it has left me without a job or home," she said.

Ms Davies is angry because after her high-profile arrest Special Branch quietly dropped the case, on the day Mr Shayler returned to Britain last month, without comment or apology .

"I still do not know what it is I am supposed to have done. I had not heard from Special Branch since I was arrested in March," she said. Intelligence sources say the police were investigating the internet leak of a top-secret MI6 report.

Ms Davies said: "I do not believe the police had any grounds to arrest me other than I support David Shayler and had met him." She now intends to work for a year, partly to fund her legal action, and will continue to campaign for reform of the Officials Secrets Act. "The act is shambolic and I feel my civil liberties have been abused."

At the time of her arrest Kingston University, Surrey, issued a supportive statement, but five months laterdropped her from her manufacturing engineering degree course.

"The first I knew I had been dropped was when I discovered I could no longer log on to the university network," said Ms Davies, who admits her attendance since her arrest has been patchy due to stress. "They didn't discuss my withdrawal with me at all. After this I don't think I will be returning."

She said she had had to give up her flat in the university's halls of residence and has been earning a living cleaning toilets and bedrooms at the university over the summer holidays.

A university spokesman said Ms Davies had not attended lectures for some time. "The university did, however, understand the difficulties that were facing Julie Ann and by formally withdrawing her, we ensured that she was not recorded as having failed the exams she did not attend. This means that she has a 'clean slate' should she choose to resume her studies here."

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