Humiliation for MI5 as former boss rules its claims are unfounded

Not surprisingly, it is the Mike Hancock connection which has got the headlines in the deportation case of Katia Zatuliveter. However, yesterday’s decision by an immigration tribunal to let her stay in the country is a humiliation for MI5.

It had confidently asserted that she was a spy and should be deported. It is not only that the Immigration Appeals Tribunal rejected MI5’s claims, but one of its three members hearing the case was Stephen Lander, himself the former boss of MI5. He and his colleagues concluded that she was not employed by the Russian secret service and that all her behaviour was fully compatible with not being a spy.

The police and security services often claim they know that someone is guilty but, alas, cannot reveal the evidence and insist we should trust their judgement. It is not often that their judgement on such matters gets put to a public, external test.

In this case it was a fairly friendly test – the former head of MI5 is hardly a hostile person – and MI5 failed it comprehensively.

Something moreover to remember the next time a politician demands curbs on our civil liberties based on secret evidence from the security services.

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  • Alex Macfie 30th Nov '11 - 3:13pm

    Deportation not extradition, surely. It wasn’t Russian authorities requesting her surrender, it was the UK authorities trying to kick her out.

  • Whatever the court decided you just can’t get away from the Mrs Merton quote.

  • If this is true about not being a spy, will no Lib Dem speak out about the exploitation then of a young intern by their employer?

    It cannot be acceptable behaviour by a party representative.

  • Cllr Colin Strong 30th Nov '11 - 5:14pm

    @Alistair – Do you mean the Mrs Merton (played by Caroline Aherne) question “So Debbie McGee – what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”

    @HF “If this is true about not being a spy, will no Lib Dem speak out about the exploitation then of a young intern by their employer? It cannot be acceptable behaviour by a party representative.”

    What is not acceptable? That an employer takes advantage of the employee either because (a) young employee has a crush on said employer or (b) young employee is attracted by the employers’ power, prestige and wealth? Or a bit of both?
    Who is actually being exploited here? Do you know?

  • Tony Dawson 30th Nov '11 - 6:18pm

    Setting aside the role of MI5 here, is thin not another case of the UKBA making a decision and subsequently putting forward a case to Tribunal which has no legs? It is my experience that they have to try to expel lots of people who should be in the country in order to make room for those who shouldn’t.

  • @Colin – yeah that one. “so Katia, what was it that first attracted you to Defence Select Committee member, Mike Hancock MP?”

  • @Alistair – how can I put this delicately 🙂 Mike seems to have hidden qualities when it comes to attracting the ladies.

    @HF – I’m not aware that there has ever been an allegation of any exploitation. I suppose we could pass a set of party rules on who MPs can and can’t sleep with and send the Chief Whip round to conduct bed checks at every conference.

  • As Mark quite correctly points out, this decision is historic in that it is a rare (if not unique) instance of an English court refusing to defer to the Crown where issues of national security are raised. (Look at the Liversedge v Anderson, GCHQ and Hosenball cases for the usual judicial approach.)

    On the issue of why MI5 took this action, one has to wonder if the motive might have been the discomfiture of Mike Hancock (an outspoken Liberal Democrat MP not overly enthusiastic about the “coalition”). Is Mike really that much of a thorn in the side of the elite that the security services decide to nobble him? I would love to think so, but I somehow doubt it.

    As for Ms Zatuliveter, far from being a manipulative Mata Hari, she cuts a figure of fantastic naivety, if her words are to be believed. I am referring to her claim that she did not know that Mike was married. Oh, please!

  • Tony Dawson 30th Nov '11 - 9:08pm


    ” I suppose we could pass a set of party rules on who MPs can and can’t sleep with and send the Chief Whip round to conduct bed checks at every conference.”

    The English Party would only come along and **** it up! ;-).

    I post this as someone who has slept in an MP’s bed. While he was……….elsewhere. 🙂

  • There was bound to be at least one sanctimonious HF in our party. Millionaire David Laws fiddled his expnses for what are actually understandable reasons so where is HF’s comment? Mike recieved very little support from his Parliamentary colleagues so that says more about them than about him. His proclivities have been well publicised over the years but he still gets re-elected. Anyone wonder why? It is because he normally has two surgeries a week, looks after his local people. He also has better political judgement about the man or woman on the proverbial omnibus than anyone who has yet contributed to this blog.

  • Michael Seymour 1st Dec '11 - 8:18am

    This is a extract of a letter I wrote to my MP, after the adoption of Universal Jurisdiction, when I was afraid that decisions would be made for political reasons, rather than humanitarian ones. I questioned the morality of this.

    Since the adoption of the Universal Jurisdiction two events have occurred to illustrate my concern.
    An Israeli citizen, Raed Salah, entered the country legally but after three days was arrested, imprisoned, without recourse to bail, and denied the possibility of appeal.
    Theresa May claimed that Raed Salah was guilty of anti-Semitism in that he wrote a poem which was regarded as anti-Semitic. When Raed Salah was granted leave to appeal a tribunal was set up to examine the legitimacy of the arrest, this was its findings:
    The tribunal acknowledged that the poem at the center of anti-Semitism allegations against Sheikh Raed was not “directed against the Jewish people as a whole but just those among them who aim at Israeli territorial expansion and control at the expense of Palestinians”; the evidence relied on by the Home Secretary was primarily provided by organizations including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which “failed to distinguish between anti-Semitism and criticism of the actions of the Israeli state and therefore gives an unbalanced perspective”; conceded that it was “of concern that apparently the Secretary of State did not consult with any Muslim or Palestinian organizations”; accepted that Sheikh Raed “has behaved lawfully throughout this matter, and that he has been the victim of unfairness and procedural irregularity… [and] was detained unlawfully for period of time.”
    More recently another Israeli citizen, Tzipi Livni, an alleged war criminal, was allowed into the country and was subsequently greeted with open arms by William Hague. As you know that would be a prima facie dereliction of international law, the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) of which the United Kingdom is a member state.

    It would seem that our government is guilty of staggering hypocrisy, if not also guilty of a dereliction of international law. This must surely be a source of great embarrassment to you and other responsible MP’s.

  • Cllr Strong: we don’t need to know who’s exploiting whom in the particular relationship, it’s simply prudent to remember that seducing an employee doesn’t generally look good if a employment tribunal situation arises.

  • @Hywel – perhaps the female half of the youth vote is not lost after all 🙂

    While I find it easy to believe that MI5 gathered and presented no credible evidence, I find it hard to believe that Defence Select Committee members aren’t privy to information that is not easy available in the public domain. Many aspects of our defence are necessarily kept secret, if these MPs don’t know any of the details how can they do their job? The vetting system is messed up, the likes of Coulson were never vetted in the first place, Defence Select Committee members should not have foreign nationals working for them, or this should be restricted to EU and Commonwealth only.

  • “The vetting system is messed up, the likes of Coulson were never vetted in the first place”

    All Parliamentary staff are security vetted.

  • Peter Chivall 1st Dec '11 - 6:09pm

    My understanding from the Indy’s account of the case is that Ms. Zatuliveter met Mike Hancock whike he was on a Parliamentary delegation to Moscow. Only subsequently did she come to work for him. It would be natural for MI5 to investigate an apparent ‘honey trap’ but the fact that they had no real evidence to present to a closed tribunal implies that in this instance they were mistaken and that Mrs. May or Damian Green at the Home Office allowed their political desires to get the better of their quasi-judicial responsibilities.
    BTW, assuming Katia Z doesn’t work as Mike Hancock’s assistant any longer, is she able to work in this country?

  • Peter Chivall 1st Dec '11 - 6:11pm

    Work for a different employer, that is?

  • Cllr Colin Strong 1st Dec '11 - 10:21pm

    @Ann Keelan
    “Cllr Strong: we don’t need to know who’s exploiting whom in the particular relationship, it’s simply prudent to remember that seducing an employee doesn’t generally look good if a employment tribunal situation arises.”

    It is also prudent to remember that the defence would be that the employee allegedly seduced the employer. That is what gave rise to Alastair’s comment about the ‘Mrs Merton’ question.

  • Let me rephrase that. It doesn’t matter who seduced whom. It’s bad form to sleep with an employee, whoever made the running. The senior person (male or female) should – and is expected to – have more sense.

  • Paul McKeown 2nd Dec '11 - 1:47am

    1. Mike Hancock and Katya Zatulivyeter become lovers and she moves to work for him in London.
    2. The Liberal Democrats enter government for the first time since 1945.
    3. MI5 has never heard of the Lib Dems.
    4. Panic.
    5. “Why have we never checked this lot out? Who are they?”
    6. “Errr, this guy, he’s a Lib Dem MP, does something on some Defence Sub-Committee or other. Oh, and he’s MP for Portsmouth – you know where all our warships are. He’s shacked up with some young Russian bird. She’s far too good looking, he could never have pulled her…”
    7. “Bloody traitors, those Lib Dems. Have them tried in the Court of the Daily Mail, straight away!”

    Balderdash, thus.

    Which isn’t to say that Russian governments are not rather nastily nationalist, don’t crush dissent, don’t murder British residents on British soil, don’t believe that Estonia, Ukraine, Georgia have only temporily left the Russian Empire and wouldn’t have them back in the blink of military eye if they could get away with it.

    But it would help if the agencies of our own government which are given the task of keeping us safe from foreign aggressions were capable of understanding that ordinary people (including Russians, whose undemocratic structures distance them much further from their governments that we from our own) have loves, lusts, hopes and desires, without necessarily being engaged in skullduggery.

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Dec '11 - 9:55am

    @Paul McKeown 🙂

    For those who once thought this country’s security was preserved by our Intelligence (sic) Services gaze upon this ye Blighty and despair:

    Of course it could al be a spiffing ruse to make Ahmedinojad think our intelligence services are totally useless?

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Dec '11 - 9:57am


    “the likes of Coulson were never vetted in the first place””

    And neither, unfortunately, was he ‘doctored’. 🙁

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