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Punch faces contempt action

Special report: David Shayler

Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday July 28, 2000
The Guardian

Punch, the magazine owned by Mohamed Al Fayed, is to be prosecuted for contempt of court after publishing an article by David Shayler, the former MI5 agent, about the IRA bombing campaign in the City of London in the 1990s.

A spokesman for Lord Williams, the attorney general, confirmed yesterday that the magazine was being served with a writ for an article this week on the Bishopsgate bomb in 1993 under the headline: "MI5 could have stopped the bomb going off."

The magazine had breached a court injunction obtained by the government in 1997 after Mr Shayler made his first allegations about MI5, the spokesman said.

The cover of the latest issue of Punch, published on Wednesday, is dominated by a letter from Sean Martin, a treasury solicitor, saying that his "clients" - a reference to MI5 - believe the Shayler article breached the injunction and damaged national security.

James Steen, editor of Punch, said some cuts were made before the article was passed by the magazine's lawyers.

Mr Shayler is a regular contributor to Punch and he has referred previously in print to the circumstances surrounding the Bishopsgate bombing.


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