Ministers slated over British spy

Ministers have come under fire over the treatment of a former KGB defector living in Northumberland.

Ministers have come under fire over the treatment of a former KGB defector living in Northumberland.

Hexham MP Peter Atkinson said Victor Makarov, who trained with Russian President Vladimir Putin, was "a decent man badly treated by a country he tried to help".

Mr Makarov, who lives on benefits, was "in a sorry state" and shunned as an "embarrassing anachronism" by the British Government, he claimed.

And concern for his safety had been heightened by the murder of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko who died in hospital after being poisoned with the radioactive agent Polonium 210.

Mr Makarov spied for Britain from inside the KGB for two years, until being caught in July 1987. He was sentenced to a 10-year term in the Perm-35 labour camp in the Arctic, but released in 1992 under an amnesty instituted by then-President Boris Yeltsin.

He was then smuggled to Britain by MI6.

But shortly before Easter, Mr Makarov staged a hunger strike in Parliament Square which he called off when Mr Atkinson promised to raise his case with ministers.

Highlighting his case in the Commons, Mr Atkinson said: "He was looked after initially but the promises he says he was made of a new identity and a pension were never fulfilled. Finally he was offered a one-off payment of £65,000 which he accepted.

"He did so as his mental health deteriorated; the result of what had happened to him and the fact that he ended up without friends, in a strange environment and unable to get work."

The Tory MP added: "He is in a sorry state existing on a disability allowance and in danger of falling into arrears with the payments on his house."

Mr Atkinson said the offer of £65,000 to Mr Makarov to buy a house had been used as an excuse to say he agreed to a final settlement of his case.

Security Minister Tony McNulty said local police were aware of his background and "best placed" to offer advice about security, while attempts had been made to help Mr Makarov such as a "generous" lump sum payment in 2001 as a final settlement.

He also stressed it was Government policy not to discuss operational issues of the security agencies, but said they were accountable to Parliament.

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