We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Russia report issued

July 21, 2020 4:01 PM
udav (Thanks to Alina Grubnyak for sharing their work on Unsplash.)The long delayed report from the Intelligence and Security Committee has been published. You can see why the Prime Minister sought to delay its publication until well after the last election even though it was ready last October. You have to remember this Committee has a Conservative majority
Here is the summary of the report produced by the ISC itself. The full report can be read at

Intelligence and security committee questions whether government took its eye off the ball on Russia, finds that they underestimated the response required to the Russian threat and are still playing catch up.

Russian influence in the UK is the new normal. Successive governments have welcomed the oligarchs and their money with open arms, providing them with a means of recycling illicit finance through the London 'laundromat', and connections at the highest levels with access to UK companies and political figures.

This has led to a growth industry of 'enablers' including lawyers, accountants, and estate agents who are - wittingly or unwittingly - de facto agents of the Russian state.

It clearly demonstrates the inherent tension between the government's prosperity agenda and the need to protect national security. While we cannot now shut the stable door, greater powers and transparency are needed urgently.

UK is clearly a target for Russian disinformation. While the mechanics of our paper-based voting system are largely sound, we cannot be complacent about a hostile state taking deliberate action with the aim of influencing our democratic processes.

Yet the defence of those democratic processes has appeared something of a 'hot potato', with no one organisation considering itself to be in the lead, or apparently willing to conduct an assessment of such interference. This must change.

Social media companies must take action and remove covert hostile state material: government must 'name and shame' those who fail to act.

We need other countries to step up with the UK and attach a cost to Putin's actions. Salisbury must not be allowed to become the high water mark in international unity over the Russia threat.

A number of issues addressed in this published version of the Russia report are covered in more depth in the classified annex. We are not able to discuss these aspects on the grounds of national security.

Given the money donated to the Tory Party by Russian oligarchs is substantial and a lack of transparency in the House of Lords sees some Peers working for Russians without having to declare it there is good reason for embarrassment at the very least. The fact the Government is led by brexiteers also means they want to avoid any doubts about the fairness of the result of the referendum. On that specific issue the recommendation from the ISC. was clear

[Paragraph 47] …Whilst the issues at stake in the EU referendum campaign are less clear-cut, it is nonetheless the committee's view that the UK intelligence and security community should produce an analogous assessment of potential Russian interference in the EU referendum and that an unclassified summary of it be published.

And here is the government's response.. (I guess if you don't look you will never see evidence for interference!)

We have seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU referendum.

The intelligence and security agencies produce and contribute to regular assessments of the threat posed by hostile state activity, including around potential interference in UK democratic processes. We keep such assessments under review and, where necessary, update them in response to new intelligence, including during democratic events such as elections and referendums. Where new information emerges, the government will always consider the most appropriate use of any intelligence it develops or receives, including whether it is appropriate to make this public. Given this long standing approach, a retrospective assessment of the EU referendum is not necessary

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael responded to the report:

This watershed report confirms an alarming truth: this Conservative Government has failed to take the Russian threat to our democracy seriously, even despite the clear evidence they interfered to help Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016.

The first duty of government is to protect its citizens. However, the Conservatives have been found asleep at their post with their failure to conduct an assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The protection of our democracy should never come second to the Tories covering their embarrassing connections to Russian oligarchs before an election. Given what has come to light, Boris Johnson should think again about who his party takes money from and gives influence to.

Without delay, the Prime Minister must now announce a wide-ranging and properly funded investigation of potential Russian interference in our democracy, including the EU referendum and independence referendum.