Security guard to face 2023 trial over Russia spying charges

David Smith, 57, allegedly passed on secret information while working at the British embassy in Berlin

An artist’s sketch of David Smith appearing via video link at the Old Bailey, central London, where he was charged with nine offences under the Official Secrets Act. PA

A former security guard at the British embassy in Berlin who is accused of spying for Russia will face a trial at the Old Bailey in London next year.

David Smith, 57, allegedly passed secret information about the UK government to a military attache.

The British citizen, who was living in Potsdam, Germany faces nine charges under the Official Secrets Act, which he denies.

On Wednesday, Mr Smith appeared before the Old Bailey by video link from Belmarsh high security jail.

Wearing a green shirt and blue jeans, he spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth before a timetable for the case was set.

Mr Justice Sweeney said the trial would take place from February 13 next year at the same court. It will be heard by a High Court judge and take up to four weeks.

A plea and case management hearing was set for July 29. After the brief hearing, Mr Smith was remanded in custody.

He was arrested by German police on August 10 last year and extradited to the UK earlier this month.

He is accused of gathering information from the embassy and passing it to someone he believed was a representative of the Russian state, as well as other alleged offences, between October 2020 and August last year.

A police van containing former security guard David Smith leaves court in London. AP

It is alleged that Mr Smith “attempted to communicate” by letter with “General Major Sergey Chukhurov, the Russian military attache based out of the Russian Embassy, Berlin”.

The material “contained details about the activities, identities, addresses and telephone numbers of various members of Her Majesty’s Civil Service”.

Mr Smith allegedly committed acts “prejudicial” to the safety and interest of the state by gathering information classified as “secret” about the “activities of Her Majesty’s government”.

He allegedly “collected material relating to the operation and layout of the British Embassy in Berlin”, with that information thought or intended to be “useful to an enemy, namely the Russian state”.

Mr Smith allegedly made unauthorised photocopies of documents, video recordings from the embassy’s CCTV system and “kept sim card packaging” he had been asked to dispose of.

It is claimed he gave information about building repairs at the embassy after being approached by someone he “believed to be a member of Russian Military Intelligence (the GRU)”.

Updated: April 13, 2022, 4:23 PM