UK lawmaker quits defense panel after spy claims

AP News
Posted: Oct 19, 2011 4:15 PM
UK lawmaker quits defense panel after spy claims

The British lawmaker allegedly ensnared in a Russian intelligence operation announced Wednesday that he was stepping down from the House of Commons' Defense Committee.

Liberal Democrat Mike Hancock, 65, is a central figure in the attempt to deport alleged Russian spy Ekaterina Zatuliveter, who worked as his research assistant for more than two years. The 26-year-old is accused of using her position to pass sensitive information to Russian intelligence.

She has not been charged with any crime, but the U.K. 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, 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."

Hancock denies passing Zatuliveter any classified information and has yet to comment on their relationship, but, in a letter released Wednesday, he said he was stepping down from the Defense Committee so that it could "continue with its work unimpaired by current events."

The 12-person defense panel is charged with examining the expenditure, administration, and policy of Britain's military.