Timing Of British PM's Release Of Russian Meddling Report Causes Stir
By RFE/RL November 05, 2019
The office of Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated that a parliamentary report on alleged Russian interference in British politics would not be published before the next month's general elections, raising concerns of a cover up.
Johnson came under fire late on November 4, when it emerged the report compiled by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee had gone through the standard security-clearance process but that the prime minister's office had not cleared its publication.
Downing Street sources were quoted as saying that final clearance was not expected to happen before parliament is dissolved on November 5, meaning the 50-page dossier will not be released ahead of snap polls on December 12.
"There are processes reports such as this have to go through before publication, and the committee is well informed of these," a spokesman added.
Senior cabinet minister Michael Gove said the report was "going through the appropriate procedure," adding that it will be published "in due course."
"Michael Gove insults the public's intelligence. It is quite clear the government is not following the usual process here. It reeks of a cover-up," tweeted Chuka Umunna, a spokesman for the opposition Liberal Democrats.
The parliamentary committee's chairman, Dominic Grieve, called the government's apparent foot dragging "jaw dropping."
Grieve said no reason for delaying the publication of the report had been given and that voters had a right to see the report's conclusions before they go to the elections.
The report was highly relevant given the scale of Russian interference in elections in other countries, notably the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the lawmaker insisted.
The document was reportedly finalized in March and referred to Johnson's office in mid-October.
It examines Russian activity including allegations of espionage and interference in elections, including the 2016 referendum that triggered Britain's divorce process from the European Union.
Allegations that Moscow money has flowed into Johnson's Conservative Party via emigres living in Britain making high-profile donations were also heard by the committee, The Guardian reported.
The party has denied receiving money improperly.
The Kremlin has said several times that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
With reporting by the BBC and The Guardian
Copyright (c) 2019. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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