MP's aide accused of spying will be deported

"Worrying developments" in the last week led to the arrest of a Westminster parliamentary aide long suspected of spying for Russia.

The presence of 25-year-old Katia Zatuliveter in the office of Mike Hancock has been a source of concern to the security service for some time.

Security sources say there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of the Liberal Democrat MP and confirm that no espionage charges will be brought against Ms Zatuliveter, but say her presence in this country is "not conductive to the national interest" and she will be deported.

In recent weeks, a number of questions about British nuclear and submarine capabilities have been submitted to the Government from Mr Hancock's office.

Although ministers have declined to answer some of the questions, Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office officials acknowledge that Mr Hancock, as a member of the Commons defence select committee, has cogent reasons to seek information on the nuclear issue, a matter of intense debate at a time of severe spending cuts with the Liberal Democrats opposed to the renewal of the Trident programme.

The MP for Portsmouth South, which has a large Royal Navy base, is also the vice-chairman of the all-party group on Russia, and last week it was reported that his colleagues at the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, had been concerned enough about his voting record and alleged pro-Russian views to raise the matter with the then-Liberal Democrat leader, Charlie Kennedy.

There are also reports that Ms Zatuliveter had an affair with a Nato official who had access to classified material and this has caused further alarm. But a number of Alliance officials in Brussels said yesterday that they were unaware of any such relationship.

Mr Hancock defended Ms Zatuliveter yesterday, insisting that a mistake has been made and she should be freed.

Ms Zatuliveter, who has a Masters degree in peace studies from Bradford University, passed security vetting in order to join Mr Hancock's office in Parliament. Her family live in the south Caucasus where her father, Andrei, believed to be a former officer in the Russian army, has run a number of commercial concerns, including a gas trading company.

Ms Zatuliveter was reported to have been arrested by police and Border Agency officials and is being held at a secure facility awaiting deportation to Russia. She had been stopped and questioned last month at Gatwick airport after returning from a holiday in Croatia, with MI5 said to have referred extensively to her personal life.

When Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia, he significantly increased funding for the SVR (External Intelligence Service), the successor to his former employers, the KGB, and other Russian security services, and there have been persistent reports from the security agencies in the UK about the scale of Russian espionage activities, although it remains unclear just how successful they have been.

Ms Zatuliveter's arrest comes five months after a "Russian spy ring" was uncovered in the US with a young woman, known as Anna Chapman, supposedly playing a key role.

However, despite a deluge of publicity – especially about Ms Chapman, the "Mata Hari" who, according to one American tabloid, had "Sexy Red Agent's Locks to Die For" – the members of the "spy ring" did not face any spying-related charges, and were accused, instead, of failing to register with the US authorities as representatives of a foreign power and omitting to declare income for tax purposes.

Peter B Krupp, lawyer for one of those arrested, said after studying FBI affidavits: "The government's case essentially suggests they successfully infiltrated neighbourhoods, cocktail parties and the Parents and Teachers Association." The "agents" were, eventually, not tried but deported to Russia.

Andrei Zatuliveter was asked at his home in Zmeika by the representative of a British newspaper whether his daughter, the "Sexy Russian Blonde" of the headlines, had any connection with Ms Chapman.

He allegedly screamed: "Get out, I'll kill you, bastard", before chasing the journalist through the village, first on foot and then in his car. Later, in a telephone conversation, he said: "I don't believe any of this rubbish."

Mr Hancock also reiterated that he believed the allegations against his aide were rubbish. He stated: "No one has ever said to me under any circumstances whatsoever that she has been involved in anything like that. She was already in this country so she didn't need a visa. She was educated here – she did a Masters – and that gave her the right to work for a period and then it was renewed. The whole thing has been blown out of all proportion."

The MP added: "It's not my problem. It is now in the hands of her lawyers. I am sure that in the end she will be proved to be right."

The shadow Foreign Secretary Yvette Cooper said vetting procedures for those applying to work in the Commons might have to be looked at. "It is important to make sure those are strong enough and secure enough.

"I'm sure that depending on what happens with this individual case, if there do turn out to have been breaches in security, then obviously the wider security in Parliament would be looked at."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments