On 2nd December 2010, our client, Katia Zatuliveter was arrested, detained and served with a deportation order. The order was made because MI5 assessed that she was and is an agent of the Russian Intelligence Services. Katia has always protested her innocence and remained in the UK to fight this appeal.
Today in an historic judgment, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) has exonerated Katia and overturned the deportation order. The Judging Panel of three which included Sir Stephen Lander, the former Director General of MI5, found on the balance of probabilities that Katia is not and never was a Russian agent. The Court did not reach that conclusion by a narrow margin. The Security Services’ case was found to be wanting at every stage: there simply was no evidence to support their case. Indeed many of the factors relied upon by the Security Services led the Court to an opposing conclusion.
During these proceedings the Home Secretary has been allowed to present the bulk of her evidence to a closed court away from public scrutiny. Katia, on the other hand, has been forced to lay out every intimate detail of her life in the full glare of the media. For her the last year has been a Kafkaesque nightmare, living under strict bail conditions, attempting to prove a negative (that she is not and never has been a Russian spy) in proceedings where she cannot see the evidence against her. It is testament to the wealth of evidence she has submitted that the Court has found in her favour.
Katia is, of course, delighted by the judgment and hopes to now put this episode behind her. However, it should not have taken twelve months of costly legal proceedings to reach today’s outcome. If the Security Services, like the Court, had rigorously analysed the available evidence, they would have never concluded that she was a Russian spy and we would be not here today.
Tessa Gregory of Public Interest Lawyers added:
"Our Security Services are 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. It was amateur, poorly researched and compared very unfavourably to the professional counter-espionage work conducted by FBI in recent years.
We trust that the Government will reflect very carefully on today’s judgment which raises serious concerns as to the standards of professionalism and competency within our Security Services."
The judgment is available at: