Ex-Russian spy can sue UK crime agency for ‘revealing new identity’, court rules

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A former senior KGB double agent and British citizen can take the UK’s crime agency to court for allegedly revealing his new identity, a court has ruled.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) tried to get the case brought against it by Boris Karpichkov – the former name of a KGB major – thrown out of court but its bid was dismissed by a judge.

Mr Karpichkov, who previously worked for the Latvian and  Russian security services before becoming a British citizen, is suing the NCA for data protection breaches.

He claimed the agency unlawfully disclosed details about his private life, some of which he said Russia had gained knowledge of.

The former spy said his new name and address were also revealed to Latvia as part of an extradition request.

Mr Karpichkov, who alleges that in 2006-7 he might have been a victim of a possible chemical or biological attempt on his life, said he had received death threats as a result of the alleged data breach.

He has also described himself in the media as "a dead man walking".

On Friday, Judge Victoria McCloud dismissed the NCA’s bid to throw out his case, saying he could proceed with the lawsuit.

In her ruling at London’s High Court, the judge detailed Mr Karpichkov’s complicated life as a spy.

He worked for the KGB in the Soviet Union before being recruited to work in Latvia in 1984. After Latvia’s declaration of independence in 1990, he worked as an undercover agent in the country for the KGB’s successor, the FSB.

In 1995, he began working undercover for the Latvian security services (LSP). He was arrested by Latvian authorities the following year, but moved to Moscow where he says he was tortured by the FSB.

He began working for the LSP undercover in Russia before returning to Latvia and going into hiding. In 1998, he moved to Britain as an asylum seeker and was given a new identity.

Latvia sought his extradition, but the High Court quashed a decision to send him there, ruling his life would be in danger from "underworld/rogue government elements if he were returned or extradited", McCloud’s ruling said.

As part of a second extradition request made in 2018, the NCA provided Latvia with details of his new identity and later his address, arguing it was obliged to make such disclosures under legislation covering European Arrest Warrants.

The request was later refused by a judge who concluded Mr Karpichkov had "an abundance of dangerous enemies in both Latvia and Russia".

Mr Karpichkov has previously tried to sue MI5 over an alleged invasion of his privacy, claiming his family members were victims of a campaign of harassment and unlawful surveillance.

Judges also investigated claims that his east London home was broken into and his telephone calls and post unlawfully intercepted.

After arriving in the UK in 1998, Mr Karpichkiv said he worked for MI5 and Special Branch for a period until his relationship with the security services broke down.