A REPORT on alleged potential interference in British politics by a foreign power should be released before the General Election according to one of the candidates for Wokingham.
Dr Phillip Lee, who is contesting the parliamentary seat for the Liberal Democrats, says that the Government should come clean over the report by the House of Commons’ Intelligence and Security Committee. It carried out a detailed inquiry into the extent of Russian meddling amid evidence of Kremlin’s efforts to influence British votes.
The inquiry also looked at allegations that Russian funding was secretly and illegally channelled into UK political parties.
Last week, independent MP Dominic Grieve revealed that its findings had been sent to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, but he was sitting on it rather than publishing it ahead of the December 12 polling date.
In an interview last week with Sky News, Grieve said that Number 10 was not telling the truth over the reasons for withholding the report’s publication.
In a report by The Guardian, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “There are processes reports such as this have to go through before publication, and the committee is well-informed of these.”
Dr Lee said that the report’s conclusions are eagerly awaited and that they have been described as “potentially explosive”.
But with Johnson suppressing the report’s publication until after the General Election, there is concern that the findings are highly embarrassing to him and the Conservative Party.
In a statement, Dr Lee said that he believes Downing Street’s efforts to keep the report concealed break parliamentary rules and are cynically designed to keep British voters in the dark over the scale of Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
He added: “Surely every parliamentary candidate, irrespective of their views on Brexit, should be demanding this important report is made public so everyone can see the conclusions before the coming general election.
“Hopefully, this includes Sir John Redwood, the Tories’ Wokingham candidate.
“He has previously criticised the Labour government for wanting to keep information under wraps so I would expect that he wants to see this important report published before the coming election instead of being kept concealed until after the voters have gone to the polls.”
Sir John Redwood had not commented on the report, but in a post on his blog, he referred to an interview that US President Donald Trump – who himself has come under scrutiny over alleged interference by Russia into the 2016 presidential elections – gave to Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage on his LBC radio show.
Sir John noted: “It is usually best if Presidents and Prime Ministers stay out of each other’s elections. In free societies, media interviewers can ask foreign leaders to make comments and they do so if they wish.
“There are two big differences between President Obama’s intervention in our referendum and President Trump’s remarks [last week]. President Obama was clearly encouraged to intervene by the UK government who were committed to Remain.
“They used the intervention to try to persuade voters, drawing attention to it as part of their case in the referendum. The UK government did not ask President Trump to make comments yesterday and is not planning to use his comments in their election campaign.”