Boris Johnson under increasing pressure to release secret report on Russian meddling in Brexit vote before general election

'If a report has been called for and written, and it should be in the public domain, then what have they got to hide?', Jeremy Corbyn says

Vincent Wood
Saturday 02 November 2019 20:08
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Dominic Grieve accuses Boris Johnson of suppressing secret report on Russian meddling in Brexit vote and UK polls

Boris Johnson is facing mounting pressure to release a report into Russian interference in the UK after he was accused of “hiding” its findings from the public ahead of December’s general election

The report into Moscow’s espionage and subversion against the UK and its allies, includes wide reaching evidence gathered by the nation’s intelligence services.

After it was sent to Downing Street to be signed off – a process that has been described as a “formality” by Dominic Grieve MP – the report remains unpublished.

Now Mr Grieve, the chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee who produced the report, fears it will not be released in time for the election.

"I cannot think of a reason why he should wish to prevent this report being published," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

“People are entitled to information, and it seems to us that this report is germane because we do know, and I think it is widely accepted, that the Russians have sought to interfere in other countries' democratic processes in the past."

Mr Grieve was joined by calls for the report to be released by both Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his Liberal Democrat counterpart Jo Swinson, who called the delay “a very serious issue”.

"The idea that other countries meddle in our democratic processes is deeply worrying," she said, adding that Mr Grieve had "seen it and he says this is something that should be published before we embark on an election and that makes perfect sense to me."

She added that if there was "information that we should know about what has happened in previous democratic events and who has tried to interfere, the public has a right to know and the Government shouldn't be keeping it a secret."

Mr Corbyn asked what the government was ‘hiding’ in its decision not to release the document.

He added: “I suspect that the reason it hasn't been published is because they're going to delay it past the dissolution of Parliament on Tuesday and then they can hide it away until some point in the future. If a report has been called for and written, and it should be in the public domain, then what have they got to hide?"

The report has to be laid before the house before it can be released to the public – meaning that if it is not signed off the prime minister by Tuesday, the last day parliament is expected to sit, it will remain hidden until next year.

Mr Grieve, who said the report had already been redacted and approved by both the security services and the cabinet office, called claims from Number 10 that it takes six weeks to clear such a document “completely and totally untrue”.

He said: “It’s a lie. I really get worried about this. The process of getting this report cleared is finished. The last stage, the clearance by the prime minister, is programmed for 10 days. The suggestion that six weeks are needed is just astonishing.”

He added that he was concerned by “what the number 10 spokesmen are saying nowadays”, adding that they were “coming out with things that are quite frankly whopping untruths”.

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The former Conservative MP, who has consistently blocked the government’s plans for leaving the European Union, had the whip withdrawn in September after voting in favour of legislation that blocked a no-deal Brexit.

However, speaking on Sky News, he called claims he was attempting to frustrate the prime minister ahead of an election to stop Brexit “ridiculous”.

“This is a committee that has never had a reputation for partisanship – doesn’t have a view collectively on Brexit, or a referendum, or anything else, and is there to try and provide helpful information to the public on the effectiveness of our security services.

The Independent has contacted Number 10 for comment.

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