The case was raised in a military divorce heard in court recently, involving an intelligence officer in an Army unit that targets al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
The scandal emerged after the officer’s wife discovered he was having one-off sexual liaisons with men he met near his Army base and close to the headquarters of MI6 in south London.
The woman is divorcing him but reported his activities to military commanders as she feared he had broken his security clearance and would be vulnerable to blackmail by hostile intelligence services.
The agent has taken part in intelligence-gathering operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and has received a military decoration from the Queen.
He is a leading expert in identifying “high-value targets” – key players in terrorist organisations who might be targeted for surveillance and could become double agents.
It is understood that the officer, whom The Telegraph has chosen not to name, had access to classified material as part of his job. In the course of some of his roles, he has interrogated intelligence targets. British spy agencies take great care to protect the identities of their staff. However, in a preliminary hearing at a family court last year, a barrister for the officer told the court he was “a spook” and an agent handler, according to an official transcript of the case.
When approached by The Telegraph, the man’s wife said she had reported his alleged gay liaisons to his military bosses because she feared he had “put himself at risk of blackmail”. She said her husband had admitted one-off liaisons with several men. “When I found out what he had been doing my world fell apart,” she said.
This newspaper has seen military correspondence in which the woman raises concerns about Developed Vetting (DV), a security procedure designed to alert intelligence agencies to issues with the private lives of their staff which could make them vulnerable to blackmail.
The wife said: “DV is not fit for purpose any more. It’s an honesty box system that doesn’t work. I found out what my husband was doing very easily. Imagine what trained people could do with this information.”
A couple of years into their marriage, her suspicions were aroused when she discovered pornography on her husband’s mobile phone and evidence that he had been using gay dating websites.
When she challenged him during a phone call while he was stationed abroad, he admitted that he had engaged in casual sex with men he had met near where he was working.
She said she was concerned that no one from the Armed Forces had asked her to provide the details: “I find it very odd that they haven’t asked me for any information.” The woman feels she has been treated unfairly.
The spy is understood to have worked in the Army for many years and is thought to have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
It is understood that he is viewed as a “higher trained intelligence officer” who has experience of working with both “willing and unwilling subjects”.
An Army spokesman said it did not comment on individuals, but added that it takes “the welfare of its personnel extremely seriously and has provided appropriate support to the soldier and his family”.
MI6 sources stressed that the individual did not work for the intelligence services