British Embassy spy had ‘ongoing relationship’ with Russia

A senior judge has ruled that Berlin spy David Smith had an “ongoing relationship” with Russia and was paid for his “treason.”

The 58-year-old Scot worked as a security guard at the British embassy in Germany. He stole secret documents and gave them to the Russian government.

He was caught in 2021 after an undercover operation, and he has admitted to eight Official Secrets Act charges.

David Smith court case
Mr Justice Wall said David Smith, pictured, was motivated by ‘his antipathy towards this country’ (Met Police/PA)

Ahead of his sentencing at the Old Bailey, Mr. Justice Wall ruled on the defendant’s motivation.

In his ruling on Thursday, Mr. Justice Wall said Smith was motivated by “his antipathy towards this country” and intended to damage the UK’s interests by his actions.

The judge didn’t believe the former RAF serviceman when he said he only wanted to “embarrass” his bosses because he was upset with how he was treated and wanted to bring attention to bad security.

Mr. Justice Wall told the court: “I did not find him to be a witness of truth in general terms.”

He said Smith had not addressed some questions when he gave evidence at the Old Bailey, and some of his answers were “incredible.”

The judge also dismissed Smith’s case that he only provided information to Russian military attachés twice, saying: “I am sure the relationship was in place for some time in 2020.”

“I am also sure that in the period before that, from 2018 to 2019, the defendant was collecting information from the embassy with a view to passing it on at some stage. No other explanation makes sense.”

Smith was snared in an undercover sting in August 2021 involving two fake Russian operatives – a Russian defector, Dmitry, who handed a document to the British embassy, and a Russian intelligence officer, Irina, who accosted the defendant about it afterwards.

Smith was caught on camera talking to himself about Dmitry as he recorded his visit from CCTV, saying: “If he works at the embassy they will know him.”

David Smith court case
Smith taking a video of the CCTV monitors in the British embassy security kiosk (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Mr. Justice Wall said: “These words must mean that he was going to provide the images (of Dmitry) to someone at the Russian embassy to view so they can investigate.”

“I reject the notion that he simply destroyed it… This was not a spur-of-the moment decision to do something and then think about it later.

“It was a concerted effort to get as much information relating to this visit as possible.”

“He collected this material to pass on to his Russian contact.”

The judge said the filming of private areas of the embassy and identifying colleagues’ offices in June 2021 was not done “on the spur of the moment” as Smith had claimed.

He said: “I am sure that it was done either under direction or at a time when the defendant had a relationship with someone from the Russian embassy and was done carefully in order to further that relationship.”

The judge also rejected Smith’s claim that he was living off the sale of military memorabilia at German flea markets.

He stated that it was a “safe assumption” that his activities with the Russian embassy would provide him with additional income beginning in 2020.

The judge said Smith’s claim that “illogical.” he wanted to embarrass embassy staff was “illogical”.

He went on: “Similarly, I reject his suggestion in light of the evidence that he was acting in a befuddled way because of his poor mental health and regular consumption of alcohol.”

“There is no logical causal connection between personal depression and betraying one’s country.”

“He set about his various tasks in a calm and logical fashion.”

“I am driven to the conclusion that the defendant’s main motivation for acting as he did was because he felt antipathy to the United Kingdom and wanted to harm this country’s interests by providing information to a state which at the time – as now – was regarded as unfriendly,” Mr Justice Wall said.

The judge said the reason for Smith’s “hostility” toward Britain was unclear, but that was the impression he gave to people who knew him.

In his testimony to the court, he said bad things about the UK and talked about its “skulduggery” in international affairs.

And at one stage, he had openly supported the Russian-backed forces in the Donbas region of Ukraine, where is his wife is from.

The judge said the only explanation for why Smith did not resign from the embassy he hated was his desire to use his job to further the assistance he was providing to Russia.

Mr. Justice Wall said he would sentence Smith on the basis that he had an “ongoing relationship with someone at the Russian embassy” and did not just supply information to Russia on two isolated occasions.

The judge said: “He was paid for his treachery, and he was motivated by his antipathy towards this country and intended to damage this country’s interests by acting as he did.”

Smith, who is originally from Paisley, Scotland, will be sentenced on Friday.

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