UK summons Russian ambassador as British man allegedly recruited as spy is charged over arson plot | UK News

UK summons Russian ambassador as British man allegedly recruited as spy is charged over arson plot | UK News

The Foreign Office has summoned Russia’s ambassador to the UK after a British man was charged over an arson plot on London businesses linked to Ukraine.

The 20-year-old man is accused of masterminding alleged hostile state activity to benefit Moscow, in part by recruiting others for the arson attack last month.

“The UK remains deeply concerned by allegations of Russian orchestrated malign activity on UK soil,” a spokesperson for the ministry said on Friday.

“We call for an immediate cessation of this activity and we will continue to work with our allies to deter and defend against the full spectrum of threats that emanate from Russia.”

Dylan Earl is alleged to have engaged in conduct targeting the businesses in order to benefit the Russian state.

He has been charged under the National Security Act 2023 – the first case to involve alleged offences under the new spy laws.

Earl is accused of undertaking fraudulent activity, research and reconnaissance of targets, and attempting to recruit individuals to materially assist a foreign intelligence service carrying out UK-related activities, prosecutors say.

After news emerged of the charge, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said it had summoned Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Andrey Kelin.

Earl is accused of organising and paying for an arson attack on two units on an industrial estate in Leyton, east London, on 20 March.

The blaze required 60 firefighters to bring it under control.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, writing on X on Friday, said he was “deeply concerned by allegations of British nationals carrying out criminal activity on UK soil to benefit the Russian state”.

He added: “We will use the full weight of the criminal justice system to hold anyone found guilty of crimes linked to foreign interference to account.”

Four others have also been charged in connection with the case, it can now be reported.

Reporting restrictions were lifted on Friday allowing all the defendants to be named, the CPS said in a statement.

Two other men – Paul English, 60, and Nii Mensah, 21 – have been charged with aggravated arson.

Jake Reeves, 22, has been charged with agreeing to accept a material benefit from a foreign intelligence service – as well as aggravated arson.

A fifth man – Dmitrijus Paulauska, 22 – has been charged with having information about terrorist acts.

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Earl appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London last Saturday – and English and Mensah on Monday. They were all remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on 10 May.

Reeves and Paulauska appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday – and their cases were adjourned to the same date.

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism command, said: “While these are very serious allegations, I want to reassure the public that we do not believe there to be any wider threat to them in connection with this matter.” He added: “This investigation remains ongoing.”

Nick Price, head of the CPS’s special crime and counter-terrorism division, said: “Criminal proceedings against these defendants are active. No one should report, comment or share information online which could in any way prejudice their right to a fair trial.”

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