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MI5 spy cleared of assaulting ex

An MI5 spy has been cleared of assaulting and harassing his former girlfriend, a fellow Security Service spy.

The man, who is referred to by the pseudonym Mark Barton for security reasons, and his ex-partner broke up in July 2011 after an argument watching Andy Murray losing a tennis match at Wimbledon, London's Southwark Crown Court heard.

He was accused of embarking on an "obsessive, intimidating and violent" campaign to win her back over the next five months by bombarding her with text messages and phone calls, and allegedly attacking her on two occasions.

But a jury of seven men and three women cleared Barton, 29, of two counts of assault by beating and a further count of putting a person in fear of violence by harassment after two hours of deliberations.

The pair met while working for the Security Service in 2009 and began a relationship in 2010, before splitting in July 2011.

The complainant was referred to in court by her work "pin number" 2363 in a case conducted amid tight security to protect identities. All witnesses from MI5, Britain's homeland security agency, gave evidence under numbers.

Barton, who denied all the charges, stood behind a screen to ensure he was not seen by the public gallery as the verdicts were read out. A sexual assault charge was dropped during the trial.

During the trial, Barton denied ever threatening violence towards his ex-girlfriend. "That's a ridiculous suggestion," he told the court. "That's absolute, total nonsense. I've never been physically aggressive to her in my life." Asked if she had ever been scared of him, he said: "There's absolutely no way she was frightened whatsoever."

He had only ever wanted to build a relationship with a woman he loved, Barton told the court. He acknowledged he may have made mistakes by being too persistent but believed the pair could have rekindled their relationship, the court heard.

Barton told jurors that there were times when 2363 was insecure about his friendships with other women. "There were occasional instances where she was quite insecure, probably jealous of any female contact that I had," he added.

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