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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The only reliable insight into MI5 ever published
Some readers may find this hard to believe but Defending the Realm is the only reliable and up-to-date book about the workings of the Security Service or MI5. Other books about the intelligence services are either written by their friends, like Nigel West and Christopher Andrew, who are forced to suspend their criticism of the services in return for continued access...
Published on 11 Jan 2000

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book that promised insight but lacked substance
This particular book lept out as a potential source of invaluable information relating to the secret world that we hear so little about.
The opening chapters were of interest but glossed over some of the more interesting facts and instead concentrated on information freely available or quoted almost directly from Peter Wright's "Spycatcher".
In...
Published on 22 Dec 1999


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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The only reliable insight into MI5 ever published, 11 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Defending the Realm: MI5 and the Shayler Affair (Hardcover)
Some readers may find this hard to believe but Defending the Realm is the only reliable and up-to-date book about the workings of the Security Service or MI5. Other books about the intelligence services are either written by their friends, like Nigel West and Christopher Andrew, who are forced to suspend their criticism of the services in return for continued access to the secret archives. Or they are written by writers with no access who peddle ludicrous and inconsistent conspiracy theories.
I can think of one other book officially written with a former MI5 officer and that is Spycatcher. It again sought to promote conspiracy theories, this time the so-called Wilson Plot, but was motivated by Peter Wright's pension dispute with MI5, not by any desire to perform a public service. In addition, the book came out some ten to fifteen years after Wright had been an MI5 officer so the information could hardly be said to have been current. In contrast Defending the Realm is up to date and accurate. It was submitted to the government purely to be vetted on national security grounds. This is an unreasonable restraint of free speech but, given the circumstances, this was the only way of getting information into the public domain. Both the authors and I were largely happy that key material was not taken out of the book.
In fact, the authors were allowed to publish a great deal of new information about abuses of the vetting system and monitoring of political activists; how the IRA bombing of Bishopsgate could have been avoided; and how MI5 failed to get to grips with major threats to the security of the British people.
The book also records the facts of the Shayler Affair, a useful service given the black propaganda the intelligence service put out about me when I went on the record. Those briefings were typical of the Establishment in Britain. Unable to deal with the veracity and logic of my disclosures, it reverted to attacking my character in an effort to undermine what I was saying. Unfortunately many unscrupulous journalists simply repeated this information rather than bothering to check their facts. That, combined with the government ban on my words, has meant that many people simply weren't given the basic facts of the case. Those same newspapers now no longer cover the case because their initial assertions have been proved wrong.
I receive no money from sales of this book but I still recommend it to everyone who is concerned by the activities of the intelligence services; the unaccountable and unchecked powers of the government with regard to them and our basic lack of rights in the UK.
So if you want to know about how MI5 works; how it has at times abused even its own excessive powers; how MI6 conspired to murder Colonel Qadhafi; or what happened in the Shayler Affair, then this is the book for you. If you want to know how MI5 murdered Princess Diana's bodyguard in the 1980s or MI6 murdered Princess Diana herself, I suggest you stick to the kind of websites that deliver that kind of bullshit.
Those looking for more meaty new revelations should read this book now and then look at my account of my experiences which will be published in some form shortly.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good,up to date account, 25 Dec 2003
By 
Amazon Customer "WHITECRANE" (the MIDLANDS) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Defending the Realm: MI5 and the Shayler Affair (Hardcover)
This very interesting book details Shayler's joining MI5 in the early 1990s,his various responsibilities(security vetting,counter subversion against far left and right groups,anti terrorism,and curbing libyan intelligence in britain). His criticism of MI5 is on the one hand they're too bureaucratic and cumbersome,on the other hand they're unnaccountable. I find these criticisms inconsistent. However in my view Shayler comes over as a completely normal young man and not at all like the MI5 stereotype i thought after reading a lot of conspiracy books,in which they all come over as old men with extreme right wing views. The description of receiving information from sister organisation MI6(foreign operations) about a libyan opposition groups assassination attempt on Gadhaffi,has been vindicated. This was despite a smear attempt against Shayler by the british government which called him a liar. The supreme irony is that the anti gadhaffi group MI6 funded was allied to arch terrorist Osama Bin Laden. At the back of the book is a brilliant 3 page detail of the structure of MI5 in the 1990s. very detailed. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to Waste Public Money Today?, 18 Feb 2005
By 
Ian Millard - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Defending the Realm: MI5 and the Shayler Affair (Hardcover)
This reviewer came away from Shayler's book thinking how it confirmed the impression formed partly by reading The Big Breach and The Intelligence Game, i.e. what an incredible waste of public money the "Security and Intelligence" bods are. Another point is how narrow has been their range of candidates (particularly MI6/SIS). MI5/Security Service attempted to widen their candidate range but that merely trawled in a load of people like Shayler (and no disrespect intended) who otherwise would fill the lower ranks of the journalistic or media "professions". That is, people with little intellectual weight (but no worse than the Oxbridge rejects still also favoured). As for operations, where are the successes?

MI5's performance was pitiful in the Cold War (so what-- the West "won" by default despite not because of these little games), might have been disbanded, but re-invented itself twice or thrice, first to take over the quite successful Special Branch anti-IRA campaign and then (after Blair gave into Sinn Fein-IRA a few years ago and released their imprisoned pawns) re-re-invented itself as an agency fighting drug trafficking and Islamic extremism. A true story of bureaucratic survival which would do credit to a black rat. The intellectual level of MI5 management can be seen from the cretinous memoirs of Stella Rimington ("Open Secret"), who got into MI5 because she was married to a diplomat in India and needed a part-time job. Before that she had been a county council file clerk (and should have stayed one). Meritocracy my ***!

Shayler soon found out just how incompetent and bureaucratic these places are and how they pursue whistleblowers to the bitter end. Shayler and his girlfriend seem to be out of the public eye now, though I saw them jump on a London bus platform (when they still had them) at a traffic lights in Baker Street a few years ago (anti-surveillance? Bravo! lol! A bit basic though!)

Whatever his own failings, Shayler and his girlfriend Annie Machon are modern heroes in a sense. Not sure I would employ them as "spies" (lol) though!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book that promised insight but lacked substance, 22 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Defending the Realm: MI5 and the Shayler Affair (Hardcover)
This particular book lept out as a potential source of invaluable information relating to the secret world that we hear so little about.
The opening chapters were of interest but glossed over some of the more interesting facts and instead concentrated on information freely available or quoted almost directly from Peter Wright's "Spycatcher".
In fairness the Authors were advised to submit their draft or face possible a possible prosectution under the OSA and I am sure that we would have seen more information had they not had to undergo censorship.
If you are looking for the real workings of MI5 then this will not enlighten more than basic research. If, however, you are looking to see the "Shayler Affair" from another perspective then this is the book for you.
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Defending the Realm: MI5 and the Shayler Affair
Defending the Realm: MI5 and the Shayler Affair by Nick Fielding (Hardcover - 12 Oct 1999)
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