Katia Zatuliveter, Former MP's Aide, To Have Deportation Appeal Ruled On By Ex-Chief Of MI5
The former head of MI5 has been chosen to sit on a panel that will decide the fate of a former parliamentary researcher accused of spying for Russia, it has been reported.
Stephen Lander will join two judges to decide whether 26-year-old Russian national Katia Zatuliveter should be deported from Britain following allegations by British intelligence that she used her position as an aide to Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock to spy for the Kremlin.
Zatuliveter is appealing the move to expel her to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC).
SIAC deals with appeals against decisions made by the Home Office to deport, or exclude, someone from the UK on national security grounds.
It will be the first time the SIAC has dealt with an espionage case and as such Mr Justice Mitting, an immigration judge, said Lander had been chosen to sit as the lay member of the panel as he would provide vital expertise.
But Zatuliveter's barrister, Tim Owen, said Lander's presence on the panel introduced "a very obvious and real possibility of bias" against his client as Lander would be on the side of those who want her deported.
Lander served as director general of the security services between 1996 and 2002 and went on to serve as the chairman of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) from 2006 to 2009.
Zatuliveter has always denied the allegations and her lawyers have said the case against her was based "purely on ill-informed speculation and lacks any concrete evidential foundation".
She began working for Hancock in November 2006 after coming to Britain to study at the University of Bradford. The security services have alleged that Zatuliveter used her position to access sensitive information.
Hancock is the MP for Portsmouth South, the home of the Royal Navy, and sits on the Commons defence committee.
MI5 also alleges Zatuliveter met with a Russian intelligence agent in Portcullis House, the Westminster office block that houses MPs' offices, committee rooms and restaurants.
Zatuliveter was arrested at Gatwick airport in December 2010.
Following her arrest Hancock said she had been "an excellent and conscientious employee".
"She is determined to fight her corner and she genuinely believes, and I back her 100 per cent, that she has nothing to hide and has done nothing wrong," he said.
The appeal is due to be heard in October.