Boris Johnson finally admits meeting privately with ex-KGB agent

Boris Johnson, Alexander Lebedev. Boris Johnson has admitted meeting former KGB spy Alexander Lebedev and his son Evgeny in Italy.

Alexander Lebedev worked as a Soviet Union spy in London during the 1980s during the Cold War (Image: Getty)

Boris Johnson has finally spoken openly about a previous meeting he had with a former Soviet Union spy and his son.

Alexander Lebedev was a Russian spy in London towards the end of the Cold War in 1988.

He went into business and the media after the fall of the Soviet Union and has been transparent about his past, even writing memoirs detailing his career.

In April 2018, Mr Johnson revealed a “sleepover” he had at a holiday home owned by Alexander’s son Evgeny, who owns The Independent and Evening Standard newspapers.

At the time, he didn’t explain what he was doing in Italy or why.

But a picture revealed by The Guardian showed the then foreign secretary at an Italian airport looking like he’d “slept in his clothes”.

Passengers quoted by the outlet said Mr Johnson could not walk in a straight line, telling them he had had a rough night.

Alexander Lebedev, Russian billionaire, pauses during a Bloomberg Television interview at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) at Expoforum in Saint Petersburg, Russia on Thursday, June 1, 2017. The program of events is themed “Achieving a New Balance in the Global Economic Arena” and will run from June 1st to 3rd. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Alexander Lebedev went into business and media, eventually owning The Independent (Image: Getty)

Boris Johnson, Evgeny Lebedev and Rachel Johnson attend the London Evening Standard's 1000 most influential Londoners at Burberry Regent Street.

Boris Johnson admits spending the night at Evgeny Lebedev’s home in Italy (Image: Getty)

Shortly thereafter, the Observer revealed that Mr Johnson had met Alexander during the journey. However, this was not confirmed by Mr Johnson but by a spokesman for Alexander.

The representative of the former independent owner said: “[Mr Johnson] goes there [Italy] often staying with his son.

“He’s in Europe a lot and has met pretty much all of Evgeny’s friends here over the years. So the meeting is nothing special.’

Mr Johnson was finally forced to admit the whole episode in the Commons Liaisons yesterday.

Labour’s Meg Hillier asked the PM directly about the weekend and he replied he had ‘certainly met Alexander’.

When asked if Mr Johnson had reported the party convention to Foreign Office officials, he said: “I think I mentioned it, yes.”

Mr Johnson’s relationship with the family has come under scrutiny since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee is currently examining whether Mr Johnson awarded Evgeny peerage, despite concerns from MI5 at the time.

Canada sanctioned Alexander for “directly enabling” Russia’s war, but no other Western powers have followed suit.

He has insisted he is “not an agent of Russia” and “proud to be a British citizen and to call Britain home”.

In an article he wrote for The Standard, he said his family has been a champion of press freedom in Russia and has campaigned against corruption.

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Justin Scacco

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