High Court dismisses attempt by National Crime Agency to strike out KGB defector’s claim

27 Oct 2023

Karpichkov v National Crime Agency [2023] EWHC 2653 (KB)

The King’s Bench Division today dismissed an application by the National Crime Agency to strike out the claim brought by a former KGB double agent for breach of his data protection rights and misuse of his private information.

The Claimant – who the Court has directed may only be identified by his former name Boris Karpichkov – formerly worked for the KGB and, following the end of the Cold War, for the KGB and Latvian security services as a double agent. Fearing for his life, he fled Latvia with his family in 1998 and claimed asylum in the UK. He was granted British citizenship in 2010 under a new, undisclosed identity.

In 2019, Mr Karpichkov was arrested by Kent Police pursuant to a European Arrest Warrant issued by the Latvian authorities. In 2020, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court dismissed refused his extradition on the basis that it would breach his Convention rights, noting, among other things, that Mr Karpichkov had “an abundance of dangerous enemies in both Latvia and Russia“. In the course of processing the extradition request, however, the National Crime Agency disclosed Mr Karpichkov’s current name and address to the Latvian authorities.

In 2022, Mr Karpichkov brought a claim against the National Crime Agency, arguing that its disclosure of his current name and address to the Latvian authorities was not only unnecessary under the Schengen Information System then in force but also in breach of his Convention rights, his right to protection of his personal data and a misuse of his private information. Earlier this year, the Agency applied to strike-out Mr Karpichkov’s claims and obtain summary judgment against him, arguing that it was bound by the terms of EU law to disclose details of his current identity and address.

In today’s judgment, High Court Master McCloud dismissed the Agency’s applications, ruling that it was at least arguable that the Agency should have first considered whether its disclosures were truly “required”, taking into account Mr Karpichkov’s rights under the EU data protection legislation, the ECHR and EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Eric Metcalfe is instructed by Deighton Pierce Glynn for the Claimant, Mr Karpichkov.

Julianne Kerr Morrison was instructed on behalf of Mr Karpichkov at an earlier stage of the proceedings.

The judgment is available here and has been reported by Reuters and Yahoo news.