Calls for Home Office probe into handling of ‘abusive MI5 agent’ case

·3-min read
File photo dated 17/05/16 of MI5 headquarters in London (Anthony Devlin/PA) (PA Archive)
File photo dated 17/05/16 of MI5 headquarters in London (Anthony Devlin/PA) (PA Archive)

Priti Patel is facing calls to investigate reports an MI5 agent exploited his status to terrorise and attack his girlfriend.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said there needed to be an “independent assessment” of how the “troubling” case was handled, after the BBC reported the man attacked the woman with a machete and threatened to kill her.

It comes as it emerged the woman, known as Beth in the report which is not her real name, has launched a legal case against MI5.

According to the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ), she has launched a legal complaint and made a claim in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal as well as potentially looking at taking action against police.

Domestic abuse is an appalling and dangerous crime and victims need to know that it will always be taken immensely seriously by all agencies, especially those responsible for keeping us safe

Yvette Cooper

The BBC reported the story on Thursday for the first time since a ruling in a legal battle where the Government sought to block publication of the agent’s identity.

An injunction – which the government said is in the interests of national security and to avoid an immediate risk to life, safety and privacy – remains in place preventing the corporation from disclosing information likely to identify the man, referred to only as “X”, who is said to be a covert human intelligence source (Chis).

Ms Cooper said: “The Home Secretary needs to ensure that there is an independent assessment of this very troubling case and how it has been handled – including looking at safeguarding responsibilities, the way that concerns about domestic abuse are handled by MI5 and at the criminal investigation that took place.

“Domestic abuse is an appalling and dangerous crime and victims need to know that it will always be taken immensely seriously by all agencies, especially those responsible for keeping us safe.”

The BBC reported that evidence shows the agent is a violent “right-wing extremist” who routinely terrorised his partner.

The foreign national moved abroad and continued intelligence work after assaulting the alleged victim with a machete and threatening to kill her, according to the report which featured purported footage of the incident.

The broadcast also raised questions over how police handled the case, with charges apparently dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) when it reached court.

The BBC also said it tracked down another woman who also suffered at the hands of X in a different country as it described the story “firmly in the public interest”, arguing that the women have a right to know his identity and it would protect other potential victims from harm.

I hope that this will cause the police to reopen the case against (X) and actually do something about his crimes, none of which have been properly investigated

'Beth'

The CWJ said it was acting for Beth “in a formal complaint, and linked human rights claim, lodged earlier this month with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal” and “are also exploring action against a police force who have failed to take action against the perpetrator despite repeated reports”.

It added: “Beth is asking the Investigatory Powers Tribunal to investigate MI5’s recruitment and handling of X, and whether any steps were taken to address the clear risk of harm that he posed.

“She will seek to argue that MI5’s conduct may have breached her rights under Articles 2, 3, 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, in that by recruiting and affording protecting to X, they were effectively enabling X to subject her to serious violence and abuse with impunity.”

In a statement issued by the organisation, Beth said: “I hope that this will cause the police to reopen the case against [X] and actually do something about his crimes, none of which have been properly investigated.”

Her solicitor Kate Ellis said her case “raises a number of issues regarding the state’s protection – whether intentionally or through neglect – of those who hold extreme misogynistic views and pose a risk of serious violence towards women and girls.”

The Government previously said it would not comment on security or intelligence.

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