Portsmouth MP Quits Defence Job

A Liberal Democrat MP whose former aide is facing expulsion from the UK as an alleged Russian spy has resigned from the House of Commons Defence Committee.

Katia Zatuliveter, who is fighting to remain in the country, told a tribunal that she had an affair with Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock but denies using her position as his parliamentary assistant to pass on sensitive information to Moscow.

Mr Hancock last night wrote to Liberal Democrat chief whip Alistair Carmichael offering his resignation from the cross-party committee, which scrutinises the work of the Ministry of Defence, in order to allow it to ''continue with its work unimpaired by current events''.

But, in an exchange of letters released by the party today, he made clear he hoped to resume membership once Ms Zatuliveter's case is concluded.

''It is not appropriate for me to provide running commentary on on-going legal proceedings, however I would like to make clear that at no time did I pass on material to Ms Zatuliveter which was not in the public domain or which was classified,'' wrote Mr Hancock.

''My time serving on the Defence Select Committee has been a real honour and I would like to pay tribute to the important work that it does and to my colleagues on the Committee.

''I hope that we can revisit my membership following the conclusion of the on-going case.''

Mr Carmichael responded: ''I understand your reasons for wishing to step down. I think that your concern in acting to protect the work of the Select Committee is exactly what I would have expected of you.

''I appreciate that this is a very difficult time for you and your family. Needless to say should it ever be possible for you to return to a role of this sort, I would be keen that you should do so.''