MP Paid For Three Trips For 'Spy' Aide

A married MP who had an affair with his Russian assistant, who is accused of being a spy, paid for romantic trips abroad for them.

Mike Hancock, 65, Liberal Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, met Katia Zatuliveter at a conference in the Russian city of St Petersburg in April 2006.

They quickly embarked on an affair.

She began working for him in Parliament in November that year after coming to Britain to study for a Master's degree at Bradford University.

The Government believes the 26-year-old was spying for Russia and wants her deported.

During today's hearing at the Special Immigration and Appeals Commission (Siac) in central London, Miss Zatuliveter said Mr Hancock - who sat on the Defence Select Committee and chaired the All Parliamentary Group on Russia - paid for three trips abroad for her.

The couple went to Brussels from July 25 to 31 in 2006 and less than a month later, on August 25, the lovers flew to Rome.

They returned on September 1.

Miss Zatuliveter, who Siac has heard had a series of relationships, mostly sexual, with European officials, also said the politician paid for her to go back to see her parents in Russia between May 30 and June 14 in 2007.

She also said that between the end of May and start of June 2006, before she came to Britain, she met Mr Hancock in Moscow.

The MP met her at the airport and they caught a taxi to a hotel, she told the hearing, chaired by Mr Justice Mitting and featuring ex MI5 head Sir Stephen Lander.

The former parliamentary researcher was originally interviewed by an MI5 agent in autumn 2009.

In August 2010 she was detained at Gatwick Airport as she flew back from Croatia and interviewed by other Security Service spooks.

She was arrested in December last year and served with a deportation order.

The Government believes she used her position as Mr Hancock's assistant and mistress to pass information to Russian intelligence.

It says she should be deported because her presence endangers national security. Miss Zatuliveter denies this.

The tribunal has heard she had contact with a Russian, referred to as Boris, who worked at the country's embassy in London.

The man, who has since been expelled, once described her role for Mr Hancock as a ''dream job'', Siac has heard.

The case is expected to conclude tomorrow, with a judgment reserved for several weeks' time.