Hancock denies member of staff is a Russian spy

From the BBC:

A Liberal Democrat MP has denied that his Russian-born parliamentary aide is a spy.

However Mike Hancock, who is a member of the Commons Defence Select Committee, has confirmed his assistant has been arrested and is now fighting deportation.

According to the Sunday Times, Katia Zatuliveter, 25, was detained on the orders of MI5 over espionage claims.

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48 Comments

  • “A Liberal Democrat MP has denied that his Russian-born parliamentary aide is a spy.”

    He would say that, wouldn’t he? He’s hardly going to admit to knowlingley employing a Russian spy!

  • He needs to step down as an MP. Now. Enough is enough.

  • How could Mike Hancock know whether she is a spy or not? to come out fighting strongly on her behalf as he as done without the evidence available to the security services is foolish

  • I understand Hancock is a member of the Council of Europe and is particularly involved with Eastern Europe, which might explain why he employs a russian. THe young lady (24) has lived in the UK for a number of years and went to university in the UK and took a masters degree here. I think accusing Hancock of some kind of inappropriate behaviour with no evidence is really uncalled for

  • “How could Mike Hancock know whether she is a spy or not? to come out fighting strongly on her behalf as he as done without the evidence available to the security services is foolish”

    If she works for him in Parliament she will in all probability have been through the Parliamentary security screening process. If someone gets through that it’s reasonable to assume she isn’t a spy

  • Martin Land 5th Dec '10 - 1:05pm

    Equally, the Russians are not stupid, why would they place a spy in the office of an MP? The last people to know anything? Let’s face it they can glean more from Wikileaks in a day than any MP would be privy to in a lifetime, especially if he’s on the Defense Committee!

  • “The question is, why did Mike Hancock allow her to table PQs on matters of national security ”

    Given that any such answers would be public domain it is highly improbable that they would contain anything of any intelligence value.

  • Not wanting to point out the obvious to those questioning Hancocks integrity, but spies are notoriously hard to identify. They don’t exactly apply for a job and put their previous KGB experience on theit CV’s….

    So even if she is guilty let’s keep a bit of perspective. And let’s also remember the accuracy of our intelligence services, remember these are the people that brought you Operation Iraqi Freedom !

  • But there is a perfectly valid question about she was given a visa to work here when we have so many unemployed here, some of whom could doubtless do this job.

  • A quick reminder that, aside from out commenting policy, the laws of libel apply.

  • “Not wanting to point out the obvious to those questioning Hancocks integrity, but spies are notoriously hard to identify. They don’t exactly apply for a job and put their previous KGB experience on theit CV’s….”

    There is a question on the security clearance form something like “Have you ever been involved in an organisation which sought to overthrow the British state”. Obviously the KGB are really cunning if they could avoid that one 🙂

  • Emsworthian 5th Dec '10 - 5:21pm

    Where will this end one wonders given it’s very murky world. I would think twice
    about employing a Russian national were I associated with defence if only to avoid the inevitable
    finger pointing and putting myself in a potentially comproming postion. Hancock has alwayys been
    his own man in this case, perhaps, rather naive

  • I obviously have no idea whether the person is a spy or not and would doubt whether Hancock knew because even in the highly hypothetical case that Hancock and her were both spies neither would know about the other – that’s how the spying game works.

    But Theresa May was shown the evidence by the security services and approved the action taken and given the sensitivity of the matter I doubt whether she would have acted for no reason although, at this stage, we don’t know the reason and it might have nothing to do with spying at least not in the sense of espionage against the State.

    A much more active arena for current Russian spying is in obtaining industrial secrets and also using cyber attacks to garner information.

    However, as I stress we just don’t know what caused the Home Secretary to act – maybe her visa is out of date or perhaps she doesn’t have a work visa – time will tell.

  • @ Andrew Preston who stated: ‘Troubles me considerably that an outfit like MI5 can just pick someone up, and set them for deportation, without particularly needing to justify themselves to anyone. No standing up in court, no accountability. nothing at all really.’

    I can only observe that you don’t know what evidence was shown to the Home Secretary and are therefore not really in a position to make an informed judgement on the matter at this stage. I am sure things will become clearer in a very short time and it may offend LibDem sensibilities but I;m afraid that in the real, big bad world, our security services often have to act in secret to keep the rest of us safe.

  • George Morris 5th Dec '10 - 6:40pm

    As I understand it, this story was found by a newspaper before any official types announced it. So who told the newspaper? Only government officials could have known, couldn’t they? Doesn’t that suggest that a Tory leaked it?

  • Doesn’t actually mean that it was Theresa May either directly or indirectly. Much more likely to be a civil servant worried about keeping their job and I’m sure in the coming months there will be many more leaks from disgruntled civil servants.

  • SMcG
    Posted 5th December 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink
    But there is a perfectly valid question about she was given a visa to work here when we have so many unemployed here, some of whom could doubtless do this job.

    this has to be the first comment ive read of yours on here that i have to agree with,we have 2.5 million unemployed,surely he could of found someone from from our country

  • John Roffey 6th Dec '10 - 1:30am

    I am sure everyone will enjoy the D Mail take on the story:

    MP caught in a honeytrap: Blonde ‘spy’ targeted womanising Lib Dem on trip to Russia
    By JAMES SLACK and CHARLOTTE GILL

    A womanising MP was targeted by a suspected Russian spy in a Moscow ‘honeytrap’ sting, Whitehall sources believe.
    Liberal Democrat Mike Hancock, 64, was introduced to 25-year-old Katia Zatuliveter on one of his regular visits to the Eastern Bloc superpower.
    He agreed to give a job and parliamentary pass to the blonde suspected agent – handing her at least three years’ access to official documents on defence policy.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1335986/MP-caught-honeytrap-Blonde-spy-targeted-womanising-Lib-Dem-trip-Russia.html#ixzz17I5Mf1s4

  • @ John Roffey

    Not sure Hancock will have enjoyed the DM take 🙂

    Now that a little more detail has emerged I reckon any suss journo would be asking Hancock why he asked some of the questions.

    Would also be interesting to know if his ‘researcher’ might have put the questions into his head in some way.

    Still look on the bright side for the researcher, she’ll be able to sue MI5 for millions for unfair dismissal or breach of human rights for them preventing her getting the defence contractor job.

    Yip, it’s a strange old world but it has knocked the tuition fees story down the media pecking order.

  • They should admit it – they are just jealous that Russians got the World Cup 🙂

  • John Roffey 6th Dec '10 - 7:32am

    Is, allegedly, employing a Russian Spy a step up or back from breaking a cast iron pledge?

  • More seriously though.
    what about ‘innocent until proven guilty’?
    She will be deported on the basis of allegations/not a proven case?

    So much for the rule of law..

  • @ Hywel who said: If she works for him in Parliament she will in all probability have been through the Parliamentary security screening process. If someone gets through that it’s reasonable to assume she isn’t a spy.

    As we’ve had MPs who have spied for foreign powers I don’t accept your premise. In any case do we actually know whether she did go through the screening process. I learnt a long time ago how dangerous it is to assume what appears to be obvious is in fact the case.

  • Perhaps its all a plot to distract LDV readers from the main issue of the week…..

  • A vile front page on the “Daily Mail” this morning and a disgracefully fact-lite, innuendo-heavy hit-piece in the “Grauniad”. Anyone who thinks there isn’t an orchestrated get Hancock task force at work needs a reveille call fast.

  • John Roffey 6th Dec '10 - 12:31pm

    I believe that any serious political party would suspend Hancock until the issue had been thoroughly investigated and the true facts were known.

  • Mr MacPehrson,

    I am not so sure I ever did think that – provided you can tell me what a mass-conspiracy is!

  • Whatever Hancock’s interests I can’t really see the justification for employing a Russian member of staff in his office ahead of a local person.

    And I didn’t know until today that he’s also a Cabinet member on Portsmouth Council. Can anybody properly do this and be an MP at the same time?

    He needs to get his act together fast.

  • Mr MacPherson,

    What, pray tell me, connects Jenny Tonge, Mike Hancock and homeopathy?

    Mike Hancock has always seen it as his mission to do his utmost for ordinary people in Portsmouth – since being elected to Portsmouth City Council in 1968. That has made him many enemies. So did his decision to defect from the Labour Party. So did his removal of a Tory MP in 1997. So has his refusal to kow-tow to Cameron.

    If you look at the attacks on Hancock over the months and years (including the most serious, which I cannot discuss because there is a sub judice issue), all of them turn out to be unsubstantiated gossip emanating from his enemies and enthusiastically gobbled up and magnified by the press. Believe it or not, it isn’t a crime to employ a Russian spy, unless a strict liability offence has been created that I don’t know about. After all, MI5 have employed a few in their time, and that’s OK! And there is nothing inherently wrong with a man being loyal to his staff – something that is entirely consonant with Mike’s character.

  • Paul W,

    (1) Foreign nationals have been employed as Parliamentary researchers for as long as I can remember. Whyever not?

    (2) Do you have any evidence that Mike’s work as an MP and on Portsmouth City Council is in any way deficient due to the responsibilities he has taken on? If my memory serves me right, Mike has been a Portsmouth City councillor for the entire period he has been an MP, and he was also a Hampshire County councillor before Portsmouth went unitary. People keep electing him to these positions, which somewhat undermines your point.

  • Alec MacPehrson,

    Quite a lot here to be getting on with. Let’s start.

    “I cited Tonge as a borderline racist ”

    Do you have any evidence that Jenny Tonge is “borderline racist”? Now, before you jumpt to your keyboard, Alec, I am asking for attributable statements contained within the context in which they were made.

    “Hancock supports homeopathy.”

    And…?

    “If you don’t mind my saying so, you are a little bit bonkers. I bet you see patterns in your alphabetti spaghetti.”

    Please be so kind as to point to which of those statements is incorrect. You admit, yourself, that you know very little about Mike Hancock, even to the extent of being unaware that he is a Portsmouth City councillor. Have you ever set foot in Portsmouth? Do you know anything of the political history of the place? Now, which of those statements justifies your claim that I am a little bit bonkers?

    “In case one turns out to be working for foreign intelligence agency?”

    Were Harry Houghton and Ethel Gee foreign nationals? Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt? Has anyone ever raised this issue before? Perhaps they have. Maybe you will enlighten us.

    “but my concern is his position on the Cabinet which may well have different policies to the national Government, of which his Party now is a part”

    Which policies might be in conflict? Not the dredging of Langstone Harbour, I hope.

  • John Roffey 6th Dec '10 - 2:40pm

    The reason I made my comment is that I believe the people [the voters] would expect Hancock to be suspended until a thorough investigation had taken place. Most serious parties [those who wish to be elected] concern themselves with the view of the people.

  • Amusing cultural contrast. My Russian brother-in-law was considered a security risk and barred from taking a job with the FSB (he designs and builds security and surveillance systems) purely for having a relative who lives in the UK.

  • I’ve never seen Mike Hancock’s letter to Clegg before tonight and I must say I’m highly impressed. I don’t often go for the conspiracy theory but I reckon after reading the letter that it’s much more likely that our secret service set Mike up with his researcher rather than the Russian KGB or whatever they now call themself 🙂

  • I’d like to see some of those quotes attributed before making a judgment on the depth of the water. The only thing that article confirms is that the Mail is a shameless peddler of innuendo read by people who lack the modest critical thinking powers necessary to see through it, but that’s hardly news.

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