The programme-makers re-opened the investigation into the death of Rasputin and found conclusive evidence to suggest that he was murdered in St Petersburg in 1916 in a plot hatched by rogue members of the British Secret Service with a fatal shot fired at close range by Secret Agent Oswald Rayner.
The documentary is based on extraordinary new evidence uncovered by intelligence historian, and programme consultant, Andrew Cook. In addition, BBC Timewatch brought in Richard Cullen, former Metropolitan Police Commander, and a trainer of police cadets in forensic detective work in Russia, to re open the case.
Re-examining the original autopsy reports, Richard Cullen found that the original explanation for Rasputin's death did not tally with the forensic evidence. In particular, he questions one of the key autopsy photographs which shows a gunshot wound situated in the centre of Rasputin's forehead, which bears the hallmarks of a professional assassination.
The accepted version of Rasputin's death states that he was poisoned, then shot, and finally drowned in the River Nevka by five disaffected aristocrats, led by Prince Felix Yusupov. The conspirators were said to be concerned about Rasputin's influence on Tsar Nicholas II, and his wife Tsarina Alexandra. Over the years historians have questioned Yusupov's version of events but failed to come up with credible alternative theories.
In Yusupov's memoirs, Cullen noted the presence of a character called Oswald Rayner - said to be a friend of Yusupov's from Oxford University, who appears suddenly in the book at the time of the murder. The Timewatch team discovered that Oswald Rayner was in fact an active British Secret Intelligence Service operative who was working alongside senior SIS officer, John Scale.
Scale's daughter provided Cullen with key evidence of the murder plot and Andrew Cook, consultant to the programme, uncovered an official memo on British Intelligence Mission notepaper to Captain John Scale, which led Cullen directly to the assassin. "I am amazed by the outcome of the investigation," states Cook, "when we initially began researching the story I had no idea that the forensic evidence would substantiate the historical documentation so conclusively."
Richard Cullen says of the investigation: "I was stunned that the trail of Rasputin's murder led so conclusively to the British Secret Service. "In all John Scale's official documentation Rasputin is referred to as 'Dark Forces' and it is my belief that Rasputin was a seen a real threat to the British. "Had he persuaded the Tsar to pull out of the First World War, the Allies would have been overwhelmed on the Western Front by German troops no longer needed to fight the Russians in the East."