Refuge responds to BBC revelations that MI5 agent used secret status to terrorise girlfriend


Responding to news that an MI5 agent used his status to perpetrate domestic abuse, Refuge CEO Ruth Davison said:

‘The news that an MI5 agent has used his status to perpetrate domestic abuse is abhorrent, and the fact that the identity of a man who has expressly stated his ‘murderous’ intentions, is being protected, is terrifying for women and girls.

These revelations, uncovered by the BBC, should not be taken lightly. The abuse suffered by this man’s partner, and the way he appears to have terrified her from coming forward to report the abuse she experienced is something we see far too often at Refuge. Women are often told ‘no one will believe you’. Imagine these words being said to you by someone you understand works for the security services.

Also reflective of women’s experiences is the lack of action by the police and the CPS. We know that convictions for abuse are at a woefully low rate., and that even when women do come forward, their testimony is questioned, their experiences doubted, and often they feel as though it is them who is on trial. For all these reasons, women are increasingly feeling the need to gather their own evidence. Even when they do, it is often doubted or not taken seriously. It is not the job of survivors to produce their own evidence when they come forward to report abuse.

For too long, we have seen how powerful men have used their status as a tool to abuse, and we have seen how those whose work should see them protecting women and girls, and society at large, is instead used as a vehicle which allows them to abuse. This cannot be with impunity. Enough is enough.

Last year, Refuge stood outside New Scotland Yard and highlighted how the Femicide census, which our sector colleagues produced, revealed that since 2019, 16 women who lost their lives to male violence were killed by a serving or former police officer. We have also seen the disturbing ‘spy cops’ revelations – women who were deceived and conned by police officers into having relationships with them without knowing who they really were and what their motivation was. And now we see a member of MI5, the country’s security service, using his position to cause harm to his partner.

As the CEO of the country’s largest provider of specialist domestic abuse services, I am horrified not only by these revelations, but the message that the lack of action sends to women and girls about their ability to access justice’


Notes to editors:

Interviews available on request, please contact the Refuge press team on 0207 395 7731 or email

About Refuge:

Refuge supports thousands of women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helplin.e, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.

Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.
Visit Refuge’s Tech Safety Website at for information on tech abuse and to find guidance on how to secure your personal and home devices. For real time automated support Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.