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Having it both ways

Ex-MI5 agent sues spy agency for right to publish memoirs, and newspaper for publishing his name


 

There are any number of ironies in the story of a former MI5 secret agent suing the London Evening Standard for revealing his name. For one thing, his name circulates freely online. For another, the Standard was bought this year by a former Russian KGB officer, Alexander Lebedev. And finally (and more to the point), the plaintiff is simultaneously fighting his former employers in the name of free speech: he wants to be allowed to publish his memoirs under a pseudonym. His 300-page manuscript is provisionally entitled Siberia after the codeword he was given to use when in danger during a decade-long undercover career that began with other crime-fighting organizations and progressed to infiltrating international terrorists. The issue of his memoirs has already reached Britain’s new supreme court, where a hearing took place last month under the cryptic heading “A v B.” The memoirs case reached the supreme court because MI5 wants the arguments heard in secrecy at the investigatory powers tribunal, with no right of appeal or normal rules of evidence, rather than at the high court. Judgment is awaited on which is the right jurisdiction. The tribunal was set up for a different reason, to hear complaints from people who believed they had been wrongly bugged or burgled.

 

The Guardian


 
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