New Tory chairman Greg Hands says he was tapped up by a Russian spy

New Tory chairman Greg Hands reveals he was tapped up by a Russian spy in a bid to get details of Iran’s nuclear programme

  • Mr Hands said he thought the approach was ‘classic espionage’ by Russia
  • He was later contacted by MI5 after they found his number on the man’s phone

Tory chairman Greg Hands has revealed he was tapped up by a Russian spy who tried to get him to hand over details of Iran’s nuclear programme.

Mr Hands suspected it was ‘classic espionage’ to test his willingness to help the Kremlin. He was later contacted by MI5 after they found his number on the man’s phone.

Mr Hands, who was appointed as Nadhim Zahawi’s replacement this week, discussed the incident for the first time in a documentary to be broadcast on Sunday.

He told how he met the spy at a Conservative party event at the Russian Embassy in London in 2004, shortly before he became an MP for the west London constituency of Chelsea and Fulham.

After introducing himself to Alexander Kashitsyn, who was listed as a diplomat at the time, he told him to ‘get in touch with me if you ever need anything in Fulham’.

New Tory chairman Greg Hands (pictured here outside Downing Street on February 7) says he was approached by a Russin spy

Mr Hands said he was asked to divulge details about Iran’s nuclear programme. Pictured: Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant

‘He phoned me in the following week and said he’d like to meet up,’ Mr Hands said.

They arranged to meet at the Seven Stars pub in Fulham and although the Russian initially claimed ‘he wanted to talk about street sweeping, cleaning or bin collection’, he soon changed the topic of conversation.

‘Suddenly he asked me to get him a document about the Iranian nuclear programme from the House of Commons Library,’ Mr Hands said.

‘I was very suspicious. I said to him, “I’m just a parliamentary candidate, I don’t have access to the House of Commons library”.’

He said he reported what happened to the Foreign Office, suspecting it was a ‘Russian intelligence officer getting a soon-to-be British Member of Parliament to do something for the Russian state’.

Mr Hands explained: ‘This is sometimes a sort of a classic espionage technique. You get somebody to steal something or get you a document that is easy to get, not that you need the document, but the idea is to test somebody’s willingness to do something for you.’

Two years later MI5 officers contacted him and said ‘your phone number has cropped up on the phone of a Russian intelligence operative’.

They told him ‘we’ve got a real problem here’ as there were a lot of spies in the capital trying to meet people and infiltrate society.

The spy is thought to have been kicked out of Britain in 2006 after approaching a number of Tory activists.

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