Dancing on Ice judge Katarina Witt has revealed that she was spied on by the East German Secret Police as an aspiring skater – as they were worried she would defect from the Communist nation.

The Olympic champion – who is a newcomer to the panel this series – told the Mirror that she did not realise what was going on until after the fall of the Iron Curtain – and was horrified to discover the police, known as the Stasi, had been watching her for 17 years.

“I discovered the Stasi had me in their sights when I was an eight-year-old figure-skating student,” she revealed.

“I had been watched over my entire life – observed, spied upon, manipulated. When I eventually got hold of my Stasi file there were 3,000 pages, in 27 boxes. I was shocked and ­horrified by the extent of it.”

“OK, by 19 I was an Olympic champion and the whole world knew me, so the government was afraid that I’d defect and damage the standing of the country.

“I could see why they might have been spying on me then, but not when I was a child. The files were as intimate as diaries, but also full of made up stories about me.”

Katarina discovered the truth after being accused by a political activist of having worked for the secret police – prompting her to demand access to her files and write her autobiography.

“It felt ridiculous to be writing my own biography at 27 instead of 60 or 70, but I was forced to do it just to keep the facts straight,” she admitted.

“I will never say I lived in a horrible country – the groundwork of becoming a world-class athlete was supported by East Germany. But reading those files and seeing how I was being portrayed. I had to explain the truth and put things into perspective.”

Katarina added that she was loving her new role on the celebrity skating show – but did realise that language barrier could prove a problem, particularly when she upset Chemmy Allcott by referring to her as a ‘big woman’.

“I think the contestants know I’ll tell it like it is, although sometimes I use the wrong words,” she confessed. “When I called Chemmy a big woman it made such a fuss. I didn’t mean to offend her, I meant she was tall.”