Former KGB double agent can sue crime agency over revealing identity

A former KGB double agent can take legal action against the National Crime Agency (NCA) after accusing it of wrongly disclosing his new identity, the High Court has ruled.

Boris Karpichkov – his former name – alleges he received death threats after his new name and address were given to the Latvian authorities by the UK’s law enforcement agency.

The ex-KGB major maintains he is a “dead man walking”, claiming the Russian state gained knowledge of his new identity and that threats written in Russian were sent to his home.

In a High Court judgment on Friday, Master Victoria McCloud ruled against the NCA’s bid to strike out the claim or request a summary judgment, and said Mr Karpichkov’s case, subject to any appeal, can proceed.

Mr Karpichkov – whose current name cannot be made public and did not appear in the ruling – is claiming damages for breaches under the Data Protection Act 2018 and for misuse of his private information.

He worked for the Russian security services for many years and within the Latvian security services before moving to the UK in 1998 as an asylum seeker with his family, eventually being granted British citizenship and a new identity.

The ruling showed that in a previous British court hearing he was found to be in a “unique position to confirm past collaboration by high-ranking Latvian officials with the KGB”.

He was also “likely to be considered a threat to the Russian intelligence services by virtue of his work as a double agent for the Latvian LSP and against Russian state interests and by his on-going outspoken criticism of Russia.. … (his) life has been at risk since these allegations were first brought…”

Mr Karpichkov alleges that in 2006-7, before the disclosures in the case, he may have also been the victim of a possible chemical or biological attempt on his life.

Latvia attempted to extradite him from the UK, but the High Court quashed a decision agreeing to this, ruling his life would be in danger from “underworld/rogue government elements if he were returned or extradited”.

In 2018 amid a second extradition attempt, the NCA gave the Latvian authorities Mr Karpichkov’s new identity, after which he alleges he began to receive anonymous threats, and in 2019 they received his address, the judgment said.

The NCA argues it had to disclose Mr Karpichkov’s new name and address, which happened pre-Brexit, due to laws governing exchange of information between EU states relating to criminal suspects.

In dismissing the NCA’s application, Master McCloud said it was arguable that the NCA should have considered whether the disclosures were truly required by law after taking into account Human Rights and EU Charter provisions.