This wannabe spy case highlights the incompetent use of a mobile phone and a lack of basic security by the Royal Navy.
The Metropolitan Police were involved in the actual arrest since MI5 the Security Service does not have the power of arrest and they have released some details about the case:
12 December 2012
A Petty Officer was jailed for eight years today (12 December) at the Old Bailey for planning to hand over top secret information to the Russians because the Royal Navy had passed him over for promotion.
"A Petty Officer" This Metropolitan Police Service press release is in contrast to those involving Police Officers, who are always described as former Police Officers by the time they are convicted of a crime.
Edward Devenney, aged 30, wanted to 'hurt' the navy and spent three months cultivating a relationship with men he believed to be Russian agents.
But unbeknown to communication specialist Devenney the 'Russian agents' worked for the British Security Service and had filmed and recorded their discussions with him at a hotel shortly after they had initially met at the British Museum.
Devenney pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct in a public office by offering to obtain information about the workings and operations of the nuclear submarines he worked on, during an earlier hearing at the Old Bailey.
He had also pleaded guilty to one count of breaching the Official Secrets Act 1911 by covertly taking photographs of the Top Secret code encryption system on board the nuclear submarine HMS Vigilant.
This is actually a genuine use of the much abused tag "Top Secret"
MPS Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, Senior National Co-ordinator Counter Terrorism said:
"Devenney abused his position of trust and responsibility by taking photographs of a Top Secret encryption system. He then spent three months cultivating a relationship with men he believed to be Russian Agents offering to pass on whatever information they may find useful.
"His actions had the potential to cause substantial harm and damage to the security of the UK. It is only thanks to the joined up working between the Met Counter Terrorism Command, British Security Service, and the Ministry of Defence that more serious consequences did not result from his actions."
Devenney, who joined the Royal Navy in May 2000, was a high level vetted communication specialist, who had served on three Trident nuclear submarines.
In early 2011 he was withdrawn from a training course for promotion to Chief Petty Officer because of poor performance and later that year joined HMS Vigilant.
So why did the Royal Navy nuclear submarine personnel vetting and psychological support people not detect that he was unhappy ?
The Belfast Telegraph reports
Earlier Devenney told the Old Bailey he had grown disillusioned with the Royal Navy after his chances of promotion were dashed by defence cuts.
He claimed to have just been cleared on a rape charge at the time, and said he was drinking heavily and suffering bouts of depression.
Devenney said he asked for his promotion training course to be deferred for a year but his absences without leave and conduct had led to a warning that he would be sacked if it continued, the court heard.
Why are drunken sailors allowed anywhere near nuclear missile submarines ?
Lots of spies and Covert Human Intelligence Sources have been recruited from vulnerable people who have been passed over for promotion.
On 17 November 2011 Devenney made his first attempt to contact the Russian Embassy in London by making 11 calls to four different phone numbers at the Embassy.
Has there ever been a time since the invention of the telphone, when calls to and from the Russian Embassy have not been under constant surveillance ?
When the Russians stupidly cut themselves off from the civilised world in the Soviet era, the only way to telephone anyone their government / intelligence agencies was via their local Embassy, but that situation changed several years ago.
Wannabe spies can now make direct dial calls to landline and mobile phones almost anywhere in the world or contact Russian diplomats via Twitter or email. etc.
Two days later he used his mobile phone to take three photographs of Crypto material onboard HMS Vigilant which he downloaded to his laptop. Crypto material is the electronic key used to encrypt highly classified messages so they can be sent securely to UK Armed Forces, and NATO partners.
What possible excuse is there for anybody to have a mobile phone on them when on a nuclear missile submarine ?
Why are crew, dockyard staff and visitors not checked for mobile phones etc, using airport or prison style metal detectors and / or "see through your clothes scanners", both when entering or leaving the submarine ?
The BBC reports
Two days later, he took his phone onto the submarine HMS Vigilant and took photos of code material for the military's "crypto" secure communications system - again, his lawyer said, after a heavy night of drinking.
This material was kept in a safe secured by a combination lock and key which was in turn kept in a secure compartment with restricted access.
He was supposed to have access to the room but not the safe.
The material - if put together with other intelligence - might have allowed another country to crack the encrypted communications of the British military including communications with Nato partners.
One of the major security questions is whether, when his behaviour was clearly noticed as poor, he should have still been allowed to access secure rooms - especially after he had been drinking heavily.
On the 5 December, Devenney returned a missed call on his mobile and spoke to a man named 'Dima' who claimed he worked at the Russian Embassy and was instructed to respond to Devenney's earlier calls. Devenney hung up but then entered into a dialogue over text message.
Even though "intercept evidence" is not allowed to be used in a UK Court, there clearly must either have been Interception of Devenney's calls to the Russian Embassy, or there must have been an MI5 human intelligence source within the Embassy who took or overheard one or more of the 11 calls.
In his early messages a sceptical Devenney texted: "Your accent sounds remarkably fake and like British intelligence. #Entrap.".
So at this point, there had been no offer by Devenney to sell any secrets, so perhaps this was actually Entrapment.
However he continued to text Dima, and on 8 December he asked: "When can we talk about what I may be able to offer." He received the reply: "I call you next week".
But was the alleged "Dima" encouraging and grooming Devenney to betray secrets between the 5th and 8th of December ?
On 13 December Devenney was called by another man 'Vladimir' who claimed to be an associate of 'Dima'. Devenney told Valdimir that he wanted to communicate by text, rather than by phone, and told him: "Can't speak, at home. I'm disillusioned with my employers and feel let down by them. Think we can help each other".
"at home" ?? He sent SMS text messagaes to someone he thought was a Russian intelligence agent from his own home ? Are Communications Specilaists really so ignorant of Mobile Phone Location Data ?
Did he use an unregistered, pre-paid mobile phone or did he use a normal phone easily traceable to him ?
Devenney kept in regular contact with the two men and he arranged to meet Vladimir at the British Museum in London at 14:00hrs on Saturday, 28 January 2012 and they went on to a nearby hotel where Dima was waiting.
Which Hotel was it ?
During the course of the hour long meeting, Devenney told them:
= about submarines he had worked on, including details of a secret operation involving HMS Trafalgar and specialist personnel
= he was a Chief Petty Officer
= he was the chief systems technician for communication equipment periscopes, radar and electronic warfare equipment on HMS Vigilant
= HMS Vigilant's sailing dates.
= the precise due date of the arrival in Plymouth of the Trident class nuclear submarine HMS Vengeance.
Devenney said that he did not want money for any information. He felt he had been treated badly by the Navy after his officer training was cancelled and had thought of leaving but then got the idea that he wanted to "actually hurt" the service "but not too much so that I get caught".
Even if an initial disclosure to an intelligence agency is harmless, it will be used to blackmail you into revealing more secrets later.
Detectives from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command arrested Devenney on 6 March while he was on duty in Devonport. They seized the mobile phone he used to make the calls and to take the photographs, his laptop, and a spare key for the HMS Vigilant Communication Room which he should not have had.
A Communications Specialist who does not know about computer and mobile phone encryption and / or secure data erasure ?
In his initial police interview, Devenney was still under the impression that the two men he had spoken to were Russians. He told police his intention was never to pass on any information that could have been harmful to the UK but claimed he was trying togain credibility having reached an 'all time low in his career'.
Why were the Metropolitan Police doing these interviews, rather than the Ministry of Defence Police ?
During his last police interview Met detectives finally revealed that the 'Russian agents' were in fact members of the British Security Service and that the hotel meeting had been fully recorded. After hearing extracts of himself giving details about HMS Trafalgar, he said: "That was unbelievably stupid and I've no excuse for that."