I first met Sergey Nalobin in 2012 at Soho House. He introduced himself, in accented English, as from the Russian embassy. ‘On the Ministry of Foreign Affairs orientation course before coming to London, I was told to read Guido Fawkes blog and Private Eye. I enjoy yours more,’ he said flatteringly (I publish Guido Fawkes). A PR company had offered me an irresistibly large fee to give ‘a masterclass’ to corporate marketing types in how to use social media. So it was that I found myself presenting Power-Point slides in front of a boardroom of suits — with one short, heavy-set, cropped-haired Russian from central casting sitting right next to me.
Later, over burgers, we exchanged banter. I immediately suggested he was a spy.