Russian aide Katia Zatuliveter: Yes, I had affair with MP Mike Hancock but I'm not a spy

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Indy Politics

A former parliamentary researcher admitted a four-year affair with an MP, but denied using the relationship to spy for the Russian intelligence service.

Katia Zatuliveter, 26, revealed her relationship with Mike Hancock, the 65-year-old Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, in her testimony to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission hearing, as part of her bid to stay in the country. The Government is seeking to deport her on national security grounds, in the first espionage case to be heard by the commission.

"You were so much more than a researcher to a backbench MP," said Jonathan Glasson, lawyer for the Home Secretary. "You ensured the Russian intelligence services had eyes and ears in the Commons."

"That's laughable," said Miss Zatuliveter. "I've done nothing wrong."

Referring to translations of her diary for November 2004 to April 2007, the tribunal heard that Miss Zatuliveter, a Russian, had had relationships with a series of senior European officials she met while acting as a chaperone at conferences in St Petersburg.

The first, when she was 18, was with a Dutch diplomat in his 30s. At a conference in 2006, Miss Zatuliveter met Mr Hancock, a member of the Defence Select Committee, and began a relationship lasting until March last year.

She went on to work as an intern in November 2006, and then as a researcher for Mr Hancock, where she was often alone in his office, with access to his email and also, potentially, to confidential Defence Select Committee papers. "I was able to [read them], I wasn't interested to but I was able to," she said. Mr Glasson said Mr Hancock's defence work would have made him a figure of interest to Russian intelligence and that he was "targeted" because of rumours he had previously had extramarital affairs.

She said she rebuffed his initial advances but they began a physical relationship on a later trip, which she had taken to practice her English.

Mr Glasson said Miss Zatuliveter subsequently had relationships with a European working for Nato, and a "fairly senior UN official". Miss Zatuliveter denies having ever knowingly met Russian intelligence agents. The hearing is expected to last nine days.