News | Published November 05 2019

Report on alleged Russian interference will not be published before election

A report on allegations of Russian interference in elements of UK democracy is likely to see its publication delayed until after the general election due for December 12.

The report is understood, according to the BBC, to have passed through security procedures, with ministers saying that it will be published “in due course” and in accordance with standard practice for the disclosure of “sensitive” information.

The report was compiled by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee and finalised back in March, before being passed onto Downing Street on October 17. 

It looks into alleged Russian interference in UK elections, including other accusations of espionage and subversion.

Evidence from UK intelligence services including GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 are included in the report, detailing their findings on undercover Russian attempts to influence key UK votes, such as the 2016 referendum on EU membership and the general election of 2017.

Amid suspicion from some MPs and peers that the government is holding back on releasing the report for political reasons, former terrorism watchdog Lord Anderson has warned that stalling will only arouse “suspicion” of the government’s motives.

Anderson said in the House of Lords that all necessary procedures had taken place and security concerns could not be used as an excuse to hold back its release.

He said: "This unjustified delay undermines the ISC, it invites suspicion of the government and its motives. Will the minister urge Number Ten to think again?"

The chairman of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, Dominic Grieve, says there is no reason to delay the report, adding that the electorate has a right to know its findings.

Speaking to the BBC, Grieve said: “We continue to be very disappointed by the failure of the government to publish this report and to provide any explanation as to why it should not be published. Explanations currently advanced that the timings are too short are entirely disingenuous and grossly misleading.”

Lord Ricketts, formerly in charge of the Foreign Office, added that the release of the report was a “clear public interest” given the “national security implications” of potential Russian interference.

However, Earl Howe held a different point of view, saying that security protocols had to be followed and there was no case for fast-tracking the report’s publication, but he did fire a warning to the government that the matter is in the national interest.

Addressing the Lords, Howe said: “The length of time the government has had this report is not at all unusual. The prime minister is entitled to take his view on what the report contains.

"Having said all that, I do realise that the subject of this report is a matter of particular public interest. And I have no doubt that level Lords comments will not be lost on those in Number Ten.”

Parliamentary approval for the publication of the report is still pending. With Parliament due to be dissolved on Tuesday, 25 days before the general election, it is highly unlikely it will be passed for publication until a new government is elected.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
November 05 2019

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