The Daily Mail (on Sunday) recently reported:
By Robert Verkaik
Last updated at 1:56 AM on 25th September 2011
A former head of MI5 is at the centre of a row over his role in deciding whether a young Russian woman accused of using her job in Parliament to spy on Britain should be sent back to her home country.
Sir Stephen Lander, the former director-general of the security service, is to sit on a panel of judges who will rule on whether Katia Zatuliveter should be deported.
Miss Zatuliveter, 25, who worked for Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock, was arrested last year, reportedly on the orders of MI5.
Sir Stephen was once responsible for combating Russia's spy threat and his appointment to the special immigration panel to hear Miss Zatuliveter's case next month has prompted accusations of bias.
if a British citizen was facing a similar secret tribunal in a foreign country, one of whose members was the former head of their national counter-intelligence service, what would the British government do about it ?
Even if Sir Stephen is actually scrupulously fair in his role in this case, he can never be seen to be an unbiased official of the court.
The SIAC was set up to hear appeals from foreign nationals who the Home Secretary wishes to remove from the UK on grounds of national security. Some of the evidence in Miss Zatuliveter's case is considered so sensitive it can only be given in secret. Sir Stephen's role will be to help the two judges on the panel weigh up this secret evidence.
Miss Zatuliveter, who will not be allowed to know the secret evidence against her, was interviewed by MI5 officers four or five times last year.
Officials were said to have grilled her about her alleged connections to Russia's security service and appeared to know details of her love life, suggesting that she was under surveillance. She is said to have had a meeting at Portcullis House in Westminster with a man MI5 believed to be a Russian agent.
As Mr Hancock's parliamentary aide, Miss Zatuliveter had access to potentially sensitive information given to the Commons Defence Committee, on which the 65-year-old Portsmouth South MP serves.
Since when was the Commons Defence Committee, or any other Commons select committee, ever given access to any real secrets ?
After her arrest in December last year she was held at an immigration detention centre before being bailed. Throughout the case she has protested her innocence and now wants to clear her name by overturning the deportation order at the SIAC hearing, which begins next month.
Sir Stephen was head of MI5 from 1996 to 2002 and then chairman of the Serious Organised Crime Agency from 2006 to 2009. Although he rarely speaks about his former role, last year he warned about the threat posed by Russia's female spies. He told a BBC Radio 4 documentary that the very existence of a ring of Russian 'illegals' (spies operating without diplomatic cover) must be taken seriously.
'The fact they're nondescript or don't look serious is part of the charm of the business,' he said. 'That's why the Russians are so successful at some of this stuff. They're able to put people in those positions over time to build up their cover to be useful.'
If there is any actual hard evidence of Katia Zatuliveter engaging in espionage activities, then why was she not arrested and charged under the Official Secrets Act last year ?