Spy in sex trial is granted anonymity

A spy accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague will stand trial under a pseudonym because it is feared he could be killed if his identity is revealed.

The man, who is believed to work for MI5, will be known as "Mark Barton" for his own safety after Judge Alistair McCreath ruled yesterday that there was a "real and immediate risk to his life". The defendant is charged with two counts of common assault, one of sexual assault and one of harassment. His case will be heard at Southwark Crown Court but, in a highly unusual move, his identity will be protected throughout. He will give evidence from behind a screen so that even the jury will not see his face during the trial.

Judge McCreath said yesterday: "The defendant in this case, charged under a pseudonym Mark Barton, works for the security services. The allegations against him... relate to alleged misconduct by way of harassment and sexual assault and otherwise in relation to an unidentified woman who is also a member of the security services."

"Mr Barton" has not entered any pleas and no further details of the charges have yet been made public. The judge said the order would protect only the spy's real name and appearance, amd with "careful handling of the evidence, every single word that is uttered in court can be fully and freely reported".

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