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Defending the Realm: MI5 and the Shayler Affair Paperback – 18 Sep 2000
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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.
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.