Two British men charged with helping Russian intelligence

Firemen fighting a fire in the industrial units
The national security investigation started after a suspected arson attack at a London warehouse [London Fire Brigade]

Two British men have been charged with helping Russian intelligence services after a suspected arson attack on a Ukraine-linked business in London.

Dylan Earl, 20, from Elmesthorpe in Leicestershire, and Jake Reeves, 22, from Croydon, were investigated following a fire at a warehouse in east London in March.

Three other suspects linked to the fire have been held on other charges.

The investigation is being led by Met Police counter-terror officers.

Mr Earl is accused of planning to target the business, as well as attempting to recruit individuals to materially assist a foreign intelligence service, undertaking fraudulent activity and arson.

Mr Reeves is accused of accepting money knowing that it was from a foreign intelligence service.

The investigation is related to a large fire which broke out on an industrial estate on Staffa Road in Leyton in March, which the prosecution said was started using an accelerant such as petrol.

The charges do not specify who owns the businesses that were targeted, but Companies House records show they are two parcel delivery services: Oddisey and Meest UK.

They are owned by Mykhaylo Prykhodko, also known as Mikhail Boikov, and his wife Jelena Boikova, who both live in London.

Nick Price, head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said of Mr Earl: "Included in the alleged activity was involvement in the planning of an arson attack on a Ukrainian-linked commercial property in March 2024."

He said Mr Earl is "alleged to have engaged in conduct targeting businesses which were linked to Ukraine in order to benefit the Russian state".

The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has summoned the Russian ambassador Andrey Kelin following the allegations.

An FCDO spokesperson said the UK remains "deeply concerned by allegations of Russian-orchestrated malign activity on UK soil".

"We will continue to work with our allies to deter and defend against the full spectrum of threats that emanate from Russia," they added.

Mr Earl and Mr Reeves are the first people to be charged under a new law designed to update and modernise the offences of espionage, sabotage and foreign interference.

At the time it was passed, the government said it was designed to strengthen the UK's defences against hostile activity by states "targeting the UK's democracy, economy, and values."

The full charges Mr Earl faces are:

  • Preparing an act that endangered the life of a person or created a serious risk to the safety of the public contrary to Section 18 of the National Security Act 2023

  • Assisting a foreign intelligence service contrary to Section 3 of the National Security Act 2023

  • Aggravated arson

The full charges Mr Reeves faces are:

  • Obtaining a material benefit from a foreign intelligence service, contrary to section 17 of the National Security Act 2023

  • Aggravated arson

Mr Earl appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court last week, but for legal reasons BBC News has not been able to report this until today.

The pair are accused of taking part in the plan along with three other men. The three others were arrested as part of the investigation but have not been charged under the national security law.

  • Dmitrijus Paulauska, 22, was charged having information about terrorist acts, an offence under the Terrorism Act 2000

  • Nii Mensah, 21, from Thornton Heath in South London, has been charged with aggravated arson

  • Paul English, 60, from Roehampton in South West London, has been charged with aggravated arson

All five are due to appear at the Old Bailey on 10 May.