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UPDATED with sentence: Embassy employee convicted of spying for the Russian State


Update: David Smith was sentenced to 13 years and 2 months' imprisonment on Friday, 17 February 2023.

After the sentencing Nick Price, Head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said outside court: “David Smith who, just a few moments ago, has been sentenced here to a substantial custodial sentence, was motivated by a combination of two things – greed and a hatred of our country. That hatred was palpable and led him into engaging in what only can be described as despicable behaviour.

“I hope the sentencing today sends out a very clear message to all those concerned in terms of engaging in this sort of behaviour. The Crown Prosecution Service has worked very closely with the Metropolitan Police, who have conducted a meticulous investigation in this case. I will conclude simply by reiterating – I hope today’s sentence sends out the very clearest of messages in terms of this sort of behaviour.”

A security guard at the British Embassy in Berlin has been convicted of spying for Russia.

David Smith, 58, had worked at the Embassy in Berlin for eight years and was arrested by German police in August 2021. He had been captured on covert CCTV reviewing and filming the Embassy’s CCTV system, saying on one occasion ‘this’ll do, I’ll get the rest tomorrow.’

A number of devices were found in his home and seized by German Law Enforcement colleagues. When they were reviewed, key evidence was found including:

  • a draft letter to a Russian Colonel, in which Smith offered to provide sensitive information
  • images of security equipment
  • personal information about employees
  • 800 Euros which could not be accounted for.

The CPS worked closely with German authorities to enable Smith to be extradited back to the UK.

Nick Price, Head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: “David Smith abused his position in the British embassy in Berlin to covertly collect and pass sensitive information to the Russian state. These crimes were an attack on our country and could have threatened national security.

“His actions were not just driven by money and greed. On multiple occasions he expressed a strong dislike towards the UK and Germany and expressed sympathy with the Russian authorities. These beliefs may have caused further damage had Smith not been discovered and prosecuted.

“My team worked with the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism team to build a strong case against Smith, and I am pleased justice has been served.”

Notes to editors

  • David Smith (DOB: 24/07/1964) has been convicted of: 
    • 8 x offences contrary to the Official Secrets Act 1911 and the Official Secrets Act 1920 between 31 October 2020 and 10 August 2021.
  • Although the CPS makes prosecution decisions independently of the police and government, consent is required from the Attorney General for offences under the Official Secrets Act.
  • The CPS Counter Terrorism Division is responsible for prosecuting all terrorism crimes and terrorist related offences in England and Wales. It also deals with incitement to racial and religious hatred, stirring up hatred based on sexual orientation, war crimes and crimes against humanity, official secrets cases and piracy and hijacking.
  • The Official Secrets Act is legislation that provides for the protection of state secrets and official information, mainly related to national security. It provides the main legal protection in the UK against espionage and the unauthorised disclosure of information and has been used previously in R v Finch (2021 4WLR 64).

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