The Supreme Court is set to rule on whether the BBC can identify a “dangerous extremist and misogynist” alleged to be an MI5 whistleblower.
Attorney General Suella Braverman is seeking an injunction to block the planned broadcast, arguing that doing so would endanger national security and put the man at “a real and imminent risk of serious or life-threatening harm.”
The broadcaster argues that it is in the public interest that his identity be revealed.
The proposed report would allege that the man, identified as “X” in the proceeding, used his status as an agent to abuse, control and coerce a former partner, who goes by the alias “Beth” and who MI5 either knew or should have known about it and using him as an agent was wrong.
Ms Braverman’s lawyers argued at a hearing in March that there was no public interest in identifying him, which would override the risk to the man’s life and the national security implications.
Mr Justice Chamberlain has considered the case at both open and closed hearings and is expected to make his decision at 10am on Thursday.
Lawyers representing Ms Braverman said at an earlier hearing that they “neither confirm nor deny” the BBC’s claim that X is an agent or a covert human intelligence source (Chis), but are conducting the case on the “hypothetical assumption”. have that he is or was .
In written submissions to the court in March, Sir James Eadie QC, speaking for the Attorney General, said: “Publishing the report would constitute a breach of trust/false trust on the part of the BBC.
“This would harm national security and the public interest. It would also create a real and immediate risk of serious or life-threatening harm to X.
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“These implications constitute the strongest public interest in restricting publication.
“There is no public interest in publication that could be said to override those interests.”
The lawyer said there are “openings for complaints and investigations” into allegations against MI5, which have been set up “precisely to avoid the kind of damage to the public interest that the BBC’s proposed report would cause”. .
He argued that identifying X as an MI5 agent was “apparently confidential” information.
Sir James also said the “most serious” allegations against X had been investigated by police and no further action was “considered appropriate”.
He added: “The case of X’s misconduct, and the subsequent speculation that MI5 must have been aware of it and failed to respond appropriately, rests on foundations that are far from solid.
“There are real doubts about Beth’s reliability, credibility and motivation. Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) were involved but the result was no action – in significant part due to these doubts.”
The Attorney General says there is no objection to a broadcast detailing allegations against X and the use of MI5 agents that does not identify him, but argues that his identification would constitute a breach of trust and violate X’s human rights.
However, Sir James said the BBC had “no interest in producing an anonymous or watered down” version of the report.
The BBC says broadcasting the story and identifying X by name is in the public interest and is opposing the request for an injunction.
One of the women who claims he abused him said she feared X would kill a woman unless he was “challenged and exposed”.
Mr Justice Chamberlain said in a previous ruling that the proposed program “contains allegations that X is a dangerous extremist and misogynist who physically and psychologically abused two former partners”.
It also includes claims that X is a Chis or Security Service agent, that he told one of the women he worked for MI5 “to terrorize and control them” and that MI5 “should have known of X’s behavior and realized that.” it was inappropriate to use him as a chis,” the judge said.
When the judge makes his decision on the injunction, there will be both an open judgment that will be made public and a closed judgment that can only be viewed by the attorney general’s legal department and special counsel.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/high-court-to-rule-on-bid-for-injunction-to-block-bbc-story-over-mi5-informant-41528639.html High Court rules on request for injunction to block BBC story about ‘MI5 whistleblower’