News & Views

Spycatcher: Taking down Russian spy Robert Hanssen

Washington DC is a city pulsating with political intrigue, power and indeed spies. I was there as chair of Alliott Group Legal at a meeting of the American Bar Association, seeking members for the alliance.


Former FBI operative, Eric O’Neill, and Head of Litigation & International Services, Paul Marmor

Former FBI operative, Eric O’Neill, and Head of Litigation & International Services, Paul Marmor

The meeting was just a few blocks from Capitol Hill at the heart of Washington’s establishment. While there, I met Eric O’Neill and heard the story of his role in bringing down and capturing Russian spy Robert Hanssen, who spied for the Soviet Union and then Russia for over 20 years, causing a massive security breach, which led to the deaths of a number of American agents. Hanssen was captured in 2001 after an operation involving O’Neill, and incarcerated for life.

The story was turned into a Hollywood film, “Breach”, which gives a fairly accurate portrayal of this incredible story.

Eric O’Neill was just a 26-year-old “rookie” surveillance operative when he was taken on to work undercover, directly for and with Robert Hanssen, given Eric’s amazing proficiency with computers. In his post-FBI career, Eric has become a security consultant and expert on counter-terrorism as well as privacy laws and cyber-security.

It was an honour, as well as absolutely fascinating, to hear Eric’s insights, especially on cyber-security and such issues, which is an area in which Sherrards is involved.

Indeed, in January 2014, Sherrards launched its white-collar criminal defence department, run by Simon Morgan, who also provides advisory services to companies seeking to navigate through the Bribery Act and handle security and compliance issues.

We may not be in the business of spy-catching, but can make your business more robust!

For further information contact Paul Marmor ( or Simon Morgan ( or telephone +44 (0) 20 7478 9010.

Related Content