The moral of the story is: don't mess with the British state. I woke up this morning to a message from my old Observer colleague Antony Barnett, who now works for Channel 4's Dispatches, urging me to look at page 31 of the Daily Mail. There in all her glory was a transvestite called Delores Kane, who bore a distinct resemblance to the former MI5 officer David Shayler.
It's not so long ago that David announced he was the messiah and now he has decided Jesus was a transvestite and that he, Shayler, must take the form of Delores.
I was one of many journalists who worked with David when he left the Security Service in the late 1990s. I first met him when he was living in exile in France and we worked on several stroies together. I ended becoming friends with him and his then girlfriend Annie Machon. I always thought it was remarkable that he hadn't been driven mad by his experience of whistleblowing, his vilification in the press and two spells in prison (one in France and one in Britain). He was always an obsessive person, but always remakably sane considering what he had been through.
I hadn't seem him for a while when I bumped into him in north London in 2006. He was living with a group of people who were part of the 9/11 Truth Movement and took me to visit his new friends who seemed nice enough. He explained that 9/11 could not have happened in the way it was suggested by the US government and the media and also told me that he thought there was something fishy about the bombings of July 7 2005. Even then I didn't think he was mad, just misguided.
It was only when I bumped into him in the street one day with a scrawny dog on a string wearing horribly tight shorts that I thought something was wrong. He had completely shaved his head (including the eyebrows). He's also split up with Annie, who had been his rock.
I was in touch with Annie today and asked her if there was anything I could do to help David, althoggh I knew there wasn't. David had some important stories to tell about the inefficiency and arrogance of the intelligence services long before the failings were made evident by the Iraq war and 7/7. But I have to wonder whether it was really worth it.