Public Meeting - David Shayler

David Shayler, the former MI5 counter-terrorism officer jailed for breaching the Official Secrets Act, who is talking at Sussex University this Thursday, believes the war on terrorism gives what he calls ‘the Database State’ more reason to invade our privacy.

I meet Shayler in his North London home. We sit down at his dining room table in the comfortable darkness of a typical grey London day. He points out his concern at a lead article in this week’s edition of the New Statesman, about how we Britons are the nation most spied upon by CCTV cameras. In the piece, Daniel Brown, a CCTV operations co-ordinator in central London is quoted as saying, “The way I see it if you having nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.” It is the phrase ‘nothing to hide’ that really bothers Shayler. He reckons it’s not true that the model citizen should have nothing to hide. To say that one has nothing to hide ‘condones the secret service rifling through your papers in your house’, he says. “We all have stuff we wouldn’t want others to see. It is not illegal, nor immoral, more embarrassing.”

“I’m writing a documentary about 9/11, that I will narrate. It sticks to key evidence, the stuff we know,” he tells me. Shayler suggests that 9/11 was an inside job used to initiate the ‘war on terrorism’. “The government’s excuse that we need to be protected from being victims in this war on terrorism gives them further reasons to corrode our privacy. Without 9/11 there would be little impetus for ID cards.”

We meet David Shayler in the privacy of his own home