The case of MI5, an MP and allegations of a Russian spy setting a honeytrap helps show that so-called secret courts are not used to protect the Government from embarrassments, a Cabinet minister has said.
Ken Clarke said the deportation case against Russian Katia Zatuliveter, which used the controversial closed hearings, collapsed "presumably on the grounds that she may have been an embarrassment but she was not a security threat".
Defending his widely-criticised plans for more "secret courts", the Minister without Portfolio said the reforms in the Justice and Security Bill were about national security alone.
The specialist lawyers involved in such hearings launched a "ferocious" attack on the Government's plans to extend the use of so-called closed material procedures. The advocates, who are appointed to represent someone's interests when they are excluded from hearing evidence, said key safeguards were missing and the plans would create a statutory straitjacket for judges.
But Mr Clarke said they were underplaying their own effectiveness, citing Miss Zatuliveter who won an appeal to remain in the UK last November after the Security Service argued she was passing information to Moscow.
She embarked upon an affair in 2006 with MP Mike Hancock, and went on to work for him in Parliament where he sat on the Defence Select Committee, before she was arrested in December 2010. But the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which used hearings behind closed doors from which even Miss Zatuliveter and her lawyers were excluded, ruled in her favour.
"There was a Russian lady who had a close relationship with a member of Parliament who was a member of the defence committee who got herself all over the newspapers," Mr Clarke said.
"And the agencies wanted to deport her. And the evidence given by the agencies against whatever this Russian lady's name was - I'm sorry I can't remember her name, it wasn't her most memorable feature I'm told - was all heard in closed proceedings as they were making allegations of her involvement with Russian intelligence and they lost.
"The deportation collapsed, the applicant, the special advocate in closed material proceedings won, presumably on the grounds that she may have been an embarrassment but she was not a security threat."
Critics and civil rights campaigners say the move will create a "secret justice system straight from the pages of a Kafka novel", but the Bill's proponents claim it is needed so the Government can contest civil claims in the courts. The Government has said it is wasting taxpayers' money on settling claims, because it is unable to contest them as the evidence it would wish to produce is so secret that it cannot be revealed in an open court.