Petty Officer jailed for selling secrets

12 December 2012

Edward Devenney

A Petty Officer was jailed for eight years today (12 December) at the Old Bailey for planning to hand over top secret information to the Russians because the Royal Navy had passed him over for promotion.

Edward Devenney, aged 30, wanted to 'hurt' the navy and spent three months cultivating a relationship with men he believed to be Russian agents.

"Devenney abused his position of trust and responsibility."

But unbeknown to communication specialist Devenney the 'Russian agents' worked for the British Security Service and had filmed and recorded their discussions with him at a hotel shortly after they had initially met at the British Museum.

Devenney pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct in a public office by offering to obtain information about the workings and operations of the nuclear submarines he worked on, during an earlier hearing at the Old Bailey.

He had also pleaded guilty to one count of breaching the Official Secrets Act 1911 by covertly taking photographs of the Top Secret code encryption system on board the nuclear submarine HMS Vigilant.

MPS Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne, Senior National Co-ordinator Counter Terrorism said:

"Devenney abused his position of trust and responsibility by taking photographs of a Top Secret encryption system. He then spent three months cultivating a relationship with men he believed to be Russian Agents offering to pass on whatever information they may find useful.

"His actions had the potential to cause substantial harm and damage to the security of the UK. It is only thanks to the joined up working between the Met Counter Terrorism Command, British Security Service, and the Ministry of Defence that more serious consequences did not result from his actions."

Devenney, who joined the Royal Navy in May 2000, was a high level vetted communication specialist, who had served on three Trident nuclear submarines.

In early 2011 he was withdrawn from a training course for promotion to Chief Petty Officer because of poor performance and later that year joined HMS Vigilant.

On 17 November 2011 Devenney made his first attempt to contact the Russian Embassy in London by making 11 calls to four different phone numbers at the Embassy.

Two days later he used his mobile phone to take three photographs of Crypto material onboard HMS Vigilant which he downloaded to his laptop. Crypto material is the electronic key used to encrypt highly classified messages so they can be sent securely to UK Armed Forces, and NATO partners.

On the 5 December, Devenney returned a missed call on his mobile and spoke to a man named 'Dima' who claimed he worked at the Russian Embassy and was instructed to respond to Devenney's earlier calls. Devenney hung up but then entered into a dialogue over text message.

In his early messages a sceptical Devenney texted: "Your accent sounds remarkably fake and like British intelligence. #Entrap.".

However he continued to text Dima, and on 8 December he asked: "When can we talk about what I may be able to offer." He received the reply: "I call you next week".

On 13 December Devenney was called by another man 'Vladimir' who claimed to be an associate of 'Dima'. Devenney told Valdimir that he wanted to communicate by text, rather than by phone, and told him: "Can't speak, at home. I'm disillusioned with my employers and feel let down by them. Think we can help each other".

Devenney kept in regular contact with the two men and he arranged to meet Vladimir at the British Museum in London at 14:00hrs on Saturday, 28 January 2012 and they went on to a nearby hotel where Dima was waiting.

During the course of the hour long meeting, Devenney told them:
= about submarines he had worked on, including details of a secret operation involving HMS Trafalgar and specialist personnel
= he was a Chief Petty Officer
= he was the chief systems technician for communication equipment periscopes, radar and electronic warfare equipment on HMS Vigilant
= HMS Vigilant's sailing dates.
= the precise due date of the arrival in Plymouth of the Trident class nuclear submarine HMS Vengeance.

Devenney said that he did not want money for any information. He felt he had been treated badly by the Navy after his officer training was cancelled and had thought of leaving but then got the idea that he wanted to "actually hurt" the service "but not too much so that I get caught".

Detectives from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command arrested Devenney on 6 March while he was on duty in Devonport. They seized the mobile phone he used to make the calls and to take the photographs, his laptop, and a spare key for the HMS Vigilant Communication Room which he should not have had.

In his initial police interview, Devenney was still under the impression that the two men he had spoken to were Russians. He told police his intention was never to pass on any information that could have been harmful to the UK but claimed he was trying togain credibility having reached an 'all time low in his career'.

During his last police interview Met detectives finally revealed that the 'Russian agents' were in fact members of the British Security Service and that the hotel meeting had been fully recorded. After hearing extracts of himself giving details about HMS Trafalgar, he said: "That was unbelievably stupid and I've no excuse for that."