Sunday 18 February 2018

'Honeytrap' Russian spy admits affair with top MP

Gordon Rayner in London

A RUSSIAN woman accused of being a spy has admitted having a four-year affair with the Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock while she worked as his parliamentary researcher.

Ekaterina "Katia" Zatuliveter (26) is fighting deportation after being arrested last year and accused of snaring the married 65-year-old MP as part of a "honeytrap" operation which ensured that "Russian intelligence had eyes and ears in the House of Commons".

Over the course of four years working in Mr Hancock's office, during which she moved into his London flat as his lover, she had a parliamentary pass and potentially had access to sensitive defence documents through his position on the defence select committee.

An immigration tribunal heard that Ms Zatuliveter even helped the MP to write parliamentary questions. He was described as "vulnerable" to foreign intelligence agencies because of his history of extramarital affairs.

She has dismissed allegations of spying as "absurd" but admitted yesterday she had also had affairs with a NATO official, a Dutch diplomat and a senior UN official.

Ms Zatuliveter was arrested last year and questioned by MI5 and MI6 officers on suspicion of spying, before British Home Secretary Theresa May said she would be deported.

On the first day of a hearing at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in London, lawyers acting for the home secretary portrayed Ms Zatuliveter as a femme fatale with a talent for seducing men in powerful positions.

Ms Zatuliveter, who maintains her innocence, laid out intimate details of Mr Hancock's private life which were often closer to the script of a 'Carry On' film than a 'James Bond' adventure.

Ms Zatuliveter was a 20-year-old European Studies student at St Petersburg University when she met Mr Hancock in April 2006.

She had volunteered to work as a "chaperone" helping delegates at a Russia-EU conference in Moscow and was assigned to the British delegation, which included Mr Hancock. Mr Hancock asked her out for a drink and dinner, which she accepted.

"He made it clear from the beginning that he was interested in me romantically," said Ms Zatuliveter in a statement. "He asked me back to his hotel room but I didn't go."

In June 2006, when Mr Hancock was next in Moscow, she accepted an invitation to meet him, saying it was because she wanted to practise her English.

She admitted that she and the MP began an affair which continued when she moved to Britain that year to start a Peace Studies course at Bradford University. They met at weekends.

Alleging that she had been recruited by the Russian Intelligence Services (RIS), Jonathon Glasson, for the home secretary, said: "The real motivation was so you could develop a sexual relationship with him, wasn't it? You knew exactly what was going to happen." She said "absolutely not".

Mr Glasson went on: "You have ensured that Russian intelligence had eyes and ears in the House of Commons." She said: "That's laughable..

The hearing continues. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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