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Government goes rogue ..The Liberal Democrats have demanded the Intelligence and Security Committee's report is published

November 4, 2019 3:41 PM
By Ellen Nicholson

The Liberal Democrats have written to the Cabinet Secretary, Mark Sedwill, to demand that everything in his power is done to ensure the publication of the Intelligence and Security Committee's report before the dissolution of Parliament. Intelligence Report Publication

Downing Street has effectively blocked the publication of a potentially explosive parliamentary report on the security threat that Russia poses to the UK until after the general election.

The 50-page document from the intelligence and security committee examines allegations that Kremlin-sponsored activity distorted the result of the 2016 EU referendum, but has to be cleared by No 10 before it can be released.

Downing Street indicated on Monday that it would not approve publication before parliament is dissolved on Tuesday evening, meaning that it cannot now appear before the election on 12 December.

In the letter, Chuka Umunna MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary, raises concerns that No.10 are sitting on the Intelligence Security Select Committee's report on potential Russian interference in the UK's democratic process. The report contains information of significant relevance to the upcoming General Election.

Umunna calls on the Cabinet Secretary to clarify the process and timelines for publication of such a report and to confirm if it is standard protocol that the Prime Minister should respond to the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee in ten days

The committee's chairman, Dominic Grieve, said the decision to prevent publication before the election was "jaw-dropping" and that he could not understand on what basis it had been made.

"The protocols are quite clear. If the prime minister has a good reason for preventing publication he should explain to the committee what it is, and do it within 10 days of him receiving the report. If not it should be published," he said.

A final draft of the Russian dossier, the product of 18-months work, was sent to Downing Street on 17 October and was originally intended for publication early this week. Political approval had been expected by the end of last week.

It was intended to be the last step in what is conventionally a complex sign-off process. The report has already been cleared by Britain's spy agencies, which contributed to the research.

Liberal Democrat Candidate for South West Wiltshire, Ellen Nicholson said "withholding the publication of this parliamentary report undermines our democracy. It is indicative of a government who doesn't care what you think, nor feel obligation to you to let you know what is happening. I know many Conservatives who are horrified by the Brexit shambles and the resultant hard right cabinet, which has caused them to question their allegience".

The Liberal Democrats couldn't be clearer: we want to stop Brexit as we believe the best deal we can get is the one we already have a members of the EU. In this election the Liberal Democrats will give the public the opportunity to stop Brexit and build a brighter future.