A SECRET services officer has admitted there may be no evidence Katia Zatuliveter is a spy.
The 26-year-old Russian, who worked as a parliamentary assistant for Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock, and says she was his mistress for almost four years, is fighting a deportation order.
The Home Office believes she is a spy for the Russian government, and worked for Mr Hancock to gain military intelligence.
In December, she was ordered to leave the country, but denies the claim and is battling to clear her name.
At the third day of her Special Immigration Appeals Commission hearing yesterday, an MI5 ‘manager of agent operations’, identified only as AE, was questioned by Miss Zatuliveter’s lawyer, Tim Owen QC.
Mr Owen said: ‘There is no actual evidence of Miss Zatuliveter spying. If there was evidence, you would be wholly surplus to requirements.’
AE replied: ‘I understand your point and that may well be the case.’
Miss Zatuliveter’s hearing will continue behind closed doors, as MI5 evidence against her will be presented. It is expected to continue until next Friday.
In Portsmouth, the fall-out for Mr Hancock continued, as some political figures questioned whether he could continue as an MP.
Flick Drummond, of Portsmouth South’s Conservative Party, who stood against Mr Hancock in the May 2010 general election, said: ‘He has once again put our city in the headlines for the wrong reasons. In employing Miss Zatuliveter and having an affair with her, he has demonstrated a lack of integrity and is not fit to represent the good, honest people of Portsmouth.’
Lib Dem Mr Hancock stepped away from his role on the government’s Defence Select Committee on Tuesday.
But he told The News he has no intention to give up as MP for his constituency.
He said: ‘The thought hadn’t crossed my mind until you asked. I am unwell at the moment, but as soon as I am better I will be back representing the people who elected me to do so. I will continue to do my job, and my duty to my city. My personal life has never interfered with my position, and it never will.’
Penny Mordaunt, Tory MP for Portsmouth North, and a member of the defence select committee, said: ‘He’s done the right thing to step away from the committee, as there’s an issue of trust between the committee and the people it questions, who are often at high levels, and privy to sensitive information.
‘But as a constituency MP, it’s down to him and his constituents to decide. If they think he should be replaced, he should.’
A Lib Dem central office spokesman said: ‘Mike is not on trial. The only allegations raised surround his personal life, which have no impact on his ability to continue to be a superb MP for Portsmouth.’