MI5 criticised as Russian cleared of spying

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THE Government must examine MI5’s professionalism and competency after the security agency “needlessly and unfairly” pursued an innocent woman accused of being a spy, her lawyer claimed last night.

Tessa Gregory spoke out after Russian Katia Zatuliveter, 26, won an appeal to remain in the UK after the Security Service argued she was passing information to Moscow.

Miss Zatuliveter was arrested and served with a deportation order after officials became suspicious of her.

The former Bradford University student had embarked upon an affair in 2006 with Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock and went on to work for him in Parliament where he sat on the Defence Select Committee.

MI5 alleged she was recruited by Russian intelligence.

Her case was heard by the secretive Special Immigration Appeals Commission but its chairman Mr Justice Mitting yesterday ruled there was insufficient evidence.

Miss Gregory said: “We trust that the Government will reflect very carefully on today’s judgment which must raise serious concerns as to the professionalism and competency within the Security Service.”

She claimed that her client had lived a “Kafkaesque nightmare” for the last year and had to air personal details about her relationship with Mr Hancock, 65, and a series of other men she had affairs with.

She added: “Our Security Service is supposed to be responsible for protecting us against serious threats to national security. It is therefore extremely worrying that they have chosen to waste their time, at great public expense, needlessly and unfairly pursuing an innocent young woman. Their case was built entirely on speculation, prejudice and conjecture.”

The Home Office said it was disappointed with the ruling.