Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Update: UK Lawmaker Resigns Amidst Allegations That He Was in a Relationship with Russian Spy

UK Liberal Democrat Mike Hancock, 65, a central figure in the attempt to deport alleged Russian spy Ekaterina Zatuliveter, 26 (who worked as his research assistant for more than two years and with whom he had had a four-year extramarital relationship), has resigned from the House of Commons' Defense Committee. Zatuliveter has been accused of using her position to pass sensitive information to Russian intelligence.

Zatuliveter has not been charged with any crime, but the British government is seeking to expel her from the country on national security grounds. Zatuliveter is currently fighting the deportation attempt at London's Special Immigration Appeals Commission. On Tuesday, (October 18) Zatuliveter said she carried out a lengthy affair with the married lawmaker, but denied a British government lawyer's claim that she served as Russian intelligence's "eyes and ears in the Houses of Parliament."

COMMENT: Hancock denies passing Zatuliveter any classified information and has yet to comment on their relationship, but, in a letter released earlier today, he said he was stepping down from the Defense Committee so that it could "continue with its work unimpaired by current events." The twelve-person defense panel is charged with examining the expenditure, administration, and policy of Britain's military.

It should be noted that Hancock only resigned from his committee position, not the House of Commons. Clearly, there are lots of loose ends in this matter. For example, if Zatuliveter is not deported, does that mean that the House of Commons will tacitly agree to Hancock continuing the relationship, not knowing the compromises that have resulted from this illicit relationship?

Also, will Hancock be subject to an ethics investigation in the House, where he may face disciplinary action or expulsion? Given what British intelligence may or may not know about Zatuliveter, will the British government permit the relationship to continue? As intimated in my previous posting on this subject, Hancock should have his security clearance suspended and should be forced to resign from the House of Commons itself due to his poor judgment in high office.

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