British security guard admits leaking secrets to Russia in spy case


A security guard at the British Embassy in Germany is facing years in prison after admitting spying in a plot to leak secret information to a Russian general.

David Smith, 58, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to eight breaches of the Official Secrets Act relating to his covert activities between May 2020 and last summer.

Smith gathered a cache of sensitive details on the activities, identities, addresses and telephone numbers of British civil servants, and penned a letter offering information to General Major Sergey Chukhurov the military attache based out of the Russian Embassy in Berlin.

The security guard gathered information classified as “secret” about the “activities of Her Majesty’s Government”, according to criminal charges, as well as intelligence on the layout and operation of the embassy where he worked, he made photocopies of documents, and copied CCTV footage, the court heard.

Smith also admitted keeping hold of SIM card packaging which he had been asked to dispose of.


The guilty pleas to eight charges were entered last Friday and can be reported for the first time on Friday, after prosecutors opted not to pursue a ninth allegation against Smith.

He now faces a lengthy jail term when he is sentenced on a date to be set.

It is said Smith was driven to spy by an intense hatred of his own country, and harboured desires to live in Russia or Ukraine.

Smith is also accused of being angered at the flying of the Rainbow flag in support of the LGBTQ+ community at the embassy.

There was 800 euro in cash at his home in Potsdam in Germany when he was arrested in August last year.

He had also been photographed alongside Russian memorabilia and a novel by the late author John le Carre, who penned several Cold War spy thrillers.

The eight charges he admitted relate to doing acts prejudicial to the safety and interests of the State, between October 2020 and August last year.

It is said Smith had built up a hatred for Britain that turned him into a spy, but his barrister, Matthew Ryder KC, told the court: “There is a basis of plea – there is a very large difference between the Crown and Mr Smith about the motivations, intentions, and why he did what he did.

“The seriousness of the allegations as the Crown puts them are seriously disputed by Mr Smith.” He said Smith disputes “having a negative intention towards the UK”. #

On the day of his arrest on suspicion of spying for Russia, Smith had left work early complaining he was feeling ill, only to be met by German police on arrival in Potsdam.

An examination of his electronic devices revealed footage from the embassy and a draft letter to a Russian military attache dated May 14 2020.

In it, he confirmed he worked at the embassy and wanted anonymity as he offered a book classified as “official sensitive”.

There were pictures of staff security passes and personal information, “secret” classified emails and documents, posters and whiteboards in the embassy.

The security guard was extradited from Germany to the UK to face trial in April this year, facing claims he had been “collecting material relating to the operation and layout of the British Embassy in Berlin” with a view that it would be “useful to an enemy, namely the Russian state”.

David Smith worked at the British Embassy in the heart of Berlin (Fiona Hanson/PA) (PA Archive)
David Smith worked at the British Embassy in the heart of Berlin (Fiona Hanson/PA) (PA Archive)

He has now confessed to making unauthorised photocopies of documents, copying CCTV recordings, and collecting material classified as “secret”.

Mr Justice Wall lifted a reporting restriction on the case, allowing the guilty pleas to be reported for the first time.

A hearing will now take place to determine Smith’s motivations behind leaking secrets.