Former MI5 officer David Shayler made a formal request to the Special Branch yesterday to investigate MI6's involvement in a plot to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.
A dossier containing Mr Shayler's evidence on the coup attempt was delivered to Scotland Yard by his girlfriend Annie Machon. Also a former security service officer, Ms Machon, 31, was accompanied to the Yard by Mr Shayler's lawyer John Wadham, director of civil liberties pressure group Liberty. He accompanied Ms Machon to a brief meeting with a Special Branch officer.
Ms Machon had flown from Paris, where the couple live. Mr Shayler would face prosecution under the official secrets act if he returned to Britain. Afterwards, she said her boyfriend was "in good spirits" and that Special Branch was obliged to begin an investigation into his allegations. "I don't think there is even a question of whether or not they can decide about investigating," Ms Machon said. "They have a duty to investigate a crime."
Mr Shayler first made allegations over the coup in 1998. Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, has since described the claims as "pure fantasy". Mr Shayler also claims that the coup organisers were given a large sum of money by MI6. He has identified two MI6 officers who he says were central to the plot.
His attempts to persuade the authorities to take his claims seriously have resulted in renewed investigations by the Special Branch against Mr Shayler himself.
Ms Machon urged the police to investigate the alleged plotters with the same vigour they had exercised over her and her partner. "They have had no hesitation in going after us, so we can't see why they would not investigate a conspiracy to murder," she said.