Shayler denied fair trial, court told

David Shayler, the renegade former MI5 officer jailed for breaching the Official Secrets Act, has launched a court bid to clear his name.

Seeking permission to challenge the conviction, his lawyers argued in the Court of Appeal that his Old Bailey trial last year was unfair because of the "unprecedented" restrictions imposed on him by the trial judge at the behest of the prosecution.

Geoffrey Robertson QC said the trial was conducted in breach of Shayler's right to a fair hearing under common law and under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Shayler, 37, was jailed for six months last November for revealing intelligence service information to a newspaper. He insisted that he was not a traitor, had not endangered the lives of intelligence agents and was motivated by a desire to expose abuses of power by the intelligence services.

He was released under licence after serving seven weeks.

Mr Robertson said today that Shayler suffered discrimination after choosing to defend himself at the trial rather than being represented by counsel.

Trial judge Mr Justice Moses required him to disclose in advance the questions he planned to ask prosecution witnesses in cross-examination.

Shayler was denied the right to question the creditworthiness of the five witnesses, four of whom remained anonymous under a "cloak of secrecy" at the behest of the Home Secretary, said Mr Robertson.

The judge had access to "secret schedules", partly prejudicial to Shayler, which Shayler was not permitted to challenge.

The Crown admitted that most of those restrictions would not have been sought if Shayler had been represented by counsel.

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