A spy for the British intelligence agency MI5 used his status to terrorize his partner before moving abroad and continuing his intelligence work while under investigation, a BBC investigation has revealed.
A video shows the man threatening to kill the woman and attacking her with a machete.
The foreign national cannot be named, despite evidence that he is a threat to women, after the British government took the BBC to court to block the post.
The evidence shows that it is a right-wing extremist with a violent past.
In an unprecedented legal battle, the BBC argued that the women had a right to know their identity and that it would protect potential victims from harm.
And he successfully resisted the UK government’s attempt to stop the publication of extensive research.
Beth, a British national, met Agent X on a dating site. The couple went to live in the UK.
At first, he explains, he was “charming.” They seemed to have a lot in common.
But over time, he revealed himself as a misogynist and extremist, obsessed with violence and cruelty. Beth (not her real name) says that he sexually assaulted her and that he was also abusive and coercive.
She claims the agent used his position in the British security services to terrorize her.
“He was in complete control. I was a shadow of what I am now.”Beth says.
As the relationship became more abusive, the woman’s mental health deteriorated.
“At the end of the relationship, he dictated to me what to do every hour of the day: where I went, who I saw, how I worked, what I did at work, what I wore.”
He made her “feel absolutely worthless” and used “the fact that I had mental health issues to intimidate me and make me feel more vulnerable.”
He gathered weapons and made her watch terrorist videos of executions and murders, he says.
“There was so much psychological horror towards me that ultimately culminated in a nervous breakdown, because I was so afraid of everything, because of how it had made me think, the people I was involved with and the people I worked for.”
Beth says that X told her that he was working as a paid informant for the British security services, a covert human intelligence source or agent (known formally as CHIS), infiltrating extremist networks.
She was aware that he was having meetings with his superiors, receiving money and equipment.
At first, she explained, he hid his real name from her. Our research has established that X spent several years working as a CHIS for MI5, using various aliases.
The security service runs agents in terrorist networks, informers who secretly work with their handlers, MI5 officers. Controversially, they authorize their agents to commit crimes as part of their job, but only to access vital intelligence, stop more serious crimes, or ensure an agent’s safety.
But this does not apply to your private life.
Beth says he told her she couldn’t report his behavior because of her status.
“It meant I couldn’t talk about his behavior towards me, about the violence I went through, sexual or physical, because he had men in powerful places who were always behind him, who would step in and kill me if I spoke up.”
X was paid to report on networks of right-wing extremists, but the evidence the BBC had shows that their own view of things was genuine.
Beth says she admired several white supremacist killers and declared her intention to commit similar acts.
At home, his violence was directed at Beth. In one video, the officer is seen attacking her with a machete.
The incident was filmed by Beth on her cell phone. In the moment before the attack, she is heard expressing her fear of being killed and saying that his treatment of her was unacceptable.
But he told her he would kill her, left the room and came back holding a machete, which he then raised above his head.
When she is heard saying that the recording could be turned over to the police, X launched an attack with the gun and his fists. The video cuts off in the middle of her screaming.
Beth managed to confront him, but he tried to attack her again hours later with a knife, in an attempt to cut her throat. The woman claims that she bit her hand to stop him.
The police visited his house after the attack, but our investigation has uncovered serious problems with the response of the authorities.
The man was arrested, charged with assaulting Beth, and appeared in court. However, while he was in court, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) dropped the case.
Beth says that X returned to the house and continued to abuse her.
Police did not take a full statement from Beth or obtain video of her attack. the CPS promptly suspended prosecution.
The police force involved and CPS insist the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.
After returning home, Beth says that X claimed that the security services would support him and that she was “nothing”.
Another video, shot undercover by Beth, captured an argument in which the man suggested she could be killed for asking too many questions.
On the recording, Beth asks if he will be the one to kill her. Her response notes that to him she had almost done exactly that during a previous violent episode.
Relaxing on a sofa, he continues: “It’s constantly on me. This murderous thing is always in me… I always imagine how I beat someone to death… It’s always been me… I’ve been since I was like six years old… I’m too aggressive, I know that myself.”
The couple would not stay together for much longer: X kicked Beth off his property and disappeared while another investigation was carried out against him.
During a search of the house after the machete attack, local police officers had discovered extremist material, including Nazi paraphernalia man staff.
The BBC reviewed a police record showing evidence found by officers, such as a private diary in which he had written about killing “Jews”. He had also written about killing Beth.
Local police officers called counter-terrorism detectives, who in turn seized several items. A terrorism investigation was launched against the agent, but he left the UK while the investigation was ongoing.
Within weeks of her departure, Beth had a mental breakdown and was hospitalized.
While she was hospitalized, an unidentified man returned items of hers to a family member that had also been seized by counter-terrorism agents. The relative assumed the man was someone related to X. Neither Beth nor her family knew of the terrorism investigation.
The visit disturbed the family, concerned about how the stranger knew Beth’s address and possessions.
The visitor was an MI5 officer. The material seized by a police investigation, under a police order, had been delivered to that agency.
The highly unusual movement is consistent with the interference in criminal proceedings by the security service. The agent’s own items were also handed over by the police to MI5.
Counter-terrorism police say no crime was identified during their investigations, but apologized for the fact that Beth’s possessions were not given to her directly.
After her discharge from the hospital, Beth complained to the local police, asking why the case was dropped, why her things were taken, and why a stranger returned them.
The police took a year to interview her, but since then she has stated that there is nothing left to do, since everything had been investigated previously. It was not so.
During the course of proceedings against the police, Beth was informed that the force had no information about the seizure of her possessions, but that she could see in “notes” that some things had been taken and returned to X.
Police said they did not seize items as part of their own investigation, and “were unable to say when or why they were taken.”
This was not true, as the police force in question was responsible for having called in counter-terrorism officers.
The police claim that the possessions had been returned to the officer was also untrue: the material had been handed over to MI5.
The BBC has determined that, after the agent disappeared, moved abroad and started working for a foreign intelligence agency.
Also that he has a history of appalling abuse in that country, with his extremist and violent behavior long before he became an MI5 agent.
We located and spoke with a former partner of the man in the same foreign country. Her account of his behavior is as alarming as Beth’s. The two women never met or communicated.
Ruth, not her real name, says the man seemed normal at first but eventually began to abuse and terrorize her.
He also threatened his life and that of his daughter.
“He said he would be able to kill me and my daughter too, and then put our bodies somewhere and no one would ever know who he was.”
Fearing for her safety, she sought help from a medical organization and was taken to a shelter. Her trauma had left her unable to even speak at the time, and she was admitted to the hospital.
“I was psychologically broken, really broken,” she says.
“I was wondering why he changed so much, but he told me once that this is his true face and that he had been acting all the time before.”
The BBC tracked down a professional who had helped care for Ruth. He corroborated her account and described the events as perhaps the most disturbing he had ever heard of.
He remembered a notebook in which the man had recorded his desire to kill. Ruth separately described the same document, saying it contained fantasies involving “blood, bones, flesh, human flesh, eating children’s flesh.”
And he threatened to kill and sexually abuse the girls Ruth knew. He would later make the same threats to Beth.
The police in that country found out about it and the threat it posed.
In a disturbing echo of the way he later abused his MI5 connection, the agent had used the arm of a criminal organization to which he was linked to terrify Ruth, telling her that her members could kill her.
It eventually disappeared, leaving her alone with her financial debts.
We discovered that he subsequently spent several years in the UK using her name, as a way of concealing his true identity, while in the pay of MI5.
“I think it’s not fair and I’m furious,” says Ruth. “I am very hurt. I feel deceived. Can’t be trusted. There is no justice.”
The BBC investigation found independent evidence from both women that corroborates their descriptions of the man.
There are writings in which he brags about sexually exploiting women, using language that is too offensive to expose.
In other roles, he expressed satisfaction at the rape and murder of a young woman.
He openly joined a dating site in his search for British women, under an alias he used for his work at MI5. Beth says that he had said that searching for women online was for the purpose of exploiting them.
Since the BBC was able to establish that the man had a history of violence and abuse, M15 should similarly have been aware.
Last year, a police officer on duty in London used his position to coerce, rape and murder a woman, Sarah Everard.
There was overwhelming public concern, also expressed by UK government ministers, about how such a tragedy could have occurred, as well as about the state’s overall response to violence against women and girls.
An inquest into his death was announced, with the Home Office hoping it would “shed light on the failings that allowed a serving police officer to abuse his power in such a horrific way and make recommendations for change within the police force.” .
The warning signs displayed by the MI5 agent are clear. The two women we interviewed believe he is capable of murder.
But, when the BBC presented its findings to the government, the counterparty took the BBC to the High Court, trying to prevent the story from going public.
The court legally prevented naming the man, due to an apparent risk to him posed by other extremists.
The government said it “will not comment on security or intelligence,” but the court order “is intended to protect national security and prevent a real and immediate risk to life, safety and privacy.”
However, the BBC wanted to identify the man so that women he is already in contact with, or those who meet him in the future, can be warned.
Remember that you can receive notifications from BBC World. Download the new version of our app and activate it so you don’t miss out on our best content.