A sensitive report into Russian interference in the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016 is being sat on by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.The report is the work of the Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK parliament, chaired by Dominic Grieve.
Before it can be published, the Prime Minister must give his approval for publication, but Boris Johnson has so far refused to do so.
The fact that parliament has been dissolved now means that the earliest the report can be published will be in March or April next year, once a new Intelligence and Security Committee has been set up in the new parliament. But a new chair of the Committee could easily decide not to release the report at all.
Commenting on the last developments, Dominic Grieve said: “I very much fear that the report will never see the light of day.”
Ian Lucas, a long-standing Labour MP who was part of the parliamentary inquiry into disinformation, told the BBC:
“This is just the latest episode in a long series of efforts by this government to suppress information relating to the 2016 referendum, to suppress information about Russian interference and not to take action to defend our democracy.”
“Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were central figures in the 2016 referendum and they are now the central players in the Conservative campaign in the General Election. They have avoided all of the facts that I have put to them, none of which have been contested.”
Olivier Vedrine, a director of the campaign group New Europeans and editor of the Russian Monitor told this website.
“We have to understand that when it comes to Russia, we are engaged in a war of intelligence – we need to use all the tools of intelligence to counter this. Boris Johnson should immediately put any evidence of Putin’s interference in British democracy into the public domain. Not to do so, puts the UK and other states at risk.
Russia is a foreign power which has violated the security of the UK with the intent to harm the British state and the people of Britain.
What would Winston Churchill have done faced with this situation? Swept such a report under the carpet? He would have viewed such action, quite rightly, as an act of treason.”
In evidence to the Irish parliament, the Dáil, the investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr said:
“The blocking of the Russia report is the last in a long line of profoundly disturbing actions this government has taken to prevent the truth coming out.”
“Nobody can be in any doubt about the risks to our democracy. Britain is now a warning to the rest of the world. What happened in our country could happen in your country, too.”
Also giving evidence to the Dáil, Lord Puttnam, Chair of the House of Lords Committee on the Impact of Digital Technologies on Democracy said:
“My belief is that the publication of the report is being blocked because it begs questions about the legitimacy of the 2016 referendum.
The last thing that Boris Johnson wants is a debate about the legitimacy of that result.”