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Newcastle upon Tyne Liberal Democrats

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Blocking intelligence report on Russian interference undermines our democratic process

November 4, 2019 6:00 PM

Cllr Robin AshbyAs it is reported that Number Ten is blocking the publication of the Intelligence and Security Committee's report until after the General Election, Liberal Democrats defence and security specialist Robin Ashby said:

"It is unacceptable that Boris Johnson is blocking the publication of this report until after the election. It undermines our democratic process.

"The report may contain crucial information that the Liberal Democrats believe should be in the public domain before the country goes to the polls.

"That is why Liberal Democrats Shadow Foreign Secretary Chuka Umunna has written to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, to ask that he do everything in his power to secure the report's release before we go to the polls. Liberal Democrats will continue to demand that the Conservative government publish this report as a matter of urgency."

Chuka Umunna's letter to Sir Mark Sedwill, sent yesterday, was as follows:

Dear Sir Mark,

As you will be aware, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has failed to publish the anticipated report compiled by the cross-party Intelligence and Security Committee.

The report, which examines a host of issues related to Russia, including Russian interference in democratic processes, was expected on Thursday and will contain information that I believe should be in the public domain before the country goes to the polls.

There is no good reason for the Prime Minister to delay the report's publication. People must be given all information about Russian involvement in British politics prior to the General Election. Failing to provide this information demeans our democratic process.

Number 10 have sat on this report since 17th October. As the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee Dominic Grieve MP has highlighted, the usual ten-day wait for publication has now long-passed. The insistence by Government figures that there is nothing unusual about this delay would therefore seem inaccurate. I would be grateful if you could clarify if and why this standard protocol has been cast aside and what action you intend to take to expedite the publication of this report before the dissolution of Parliament.

Understandably, there is particular interest in the findings of this report given reports in the Sunday Times this weekend about Senior Number 10 Adviser, Dominic Cummings. These reports suggest that despite reportedly having received Developed Vetting status, he is prevented from seeing some aspects of Government business. I would ask you to clarify if this is the case, and if so why it is necessary to prevent him seeing certain aspects of business, which is a situation I do not believe to be routine for someone holding such a level of security clearance.

Given the range of potential implications for our democracy, I therefore urge you to clarify the process and timelines for publication of such a report, to expedite the publication of the report and to confirm what level of access to sensitive Government documents Dominic Cummings has.

Yours sincerely

Chuka Umunna MP
Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary