The new Conservative Party chairman has said he believes a Russian spy tried to recruit him over a pint of beer in a London pub.
The cabinet minister said he met the man who he now believes was a secret agent at the Seven Stars pub in Fulham, while he had been seeking election as Tory MP.
Mr Hands, who was elected MP for Chelsea and Fulham in 2010, claimed the man first introduced himself as a Russian Embassy worker during a Conservative event.
He said the man asked for a meeting shortly afterwards and, at the pub, probed Mr Hands for information about Iran’s nuclear programme.
Speaking with Channel 4 for a Dispatches documentary, Mr Hands said: “First he’d said he wanted to talk about street-sweeping cleaning or bin collection.
“Then suddenly he asked me to get him a document about the Iranian nuclear programme from the House of Commons Library.”
Mr Hands said he declined to help, adding: “I was very suspicious.
“I thought he was a Russian intelligence officer getting a soon-to-be British member of parliament to do something for the Russian state.”
Mr Hands said he believed it was an “espionage technique”, adding: “You get somebody to steal something, or get you, a document that is easy to get… the idea is to test somebody’s willingness to do something for you. That’s essentially what the technique is.”
Mr Hands said two years later, MI5 officers told him that his number had appeared on the phone of a Russian intelligence operative.
He said the officers told him there was a “real problem” with people who were “very, very active” in trying to infiltrate British politics.
Mr Hands was appointed Tory Party chairman earlier this week in Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle.
Channel 4 has said the Russian Embassy declined to comment on the allegations made in their film.
Strippers, Spies And Russian Money: Dispatches investigates how Russia sought to influence British politics in the years before the invasion of Ukraine. It airs on Sunday at 10pm.