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Mon, 6 April 2020

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Boris Johnson vows to launch probe into source of UK-US trade document leak

Boris Johnson vows to launch probe into source of UK-US trade document leak
3 min read

Boris Johnson has announced plans to launch a probe into the source of a leaked UK-US trade document.

The Prime Minister said he was in favour of launching a formal investigation into the leak of the confidential documents which were placed on Reddit almost two months ago.

The papers, which detail confidential talks between UK and US officials, have been used by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to suggest the NHS could be on the table in any future post-Brexit trade deal - claims strongly denied by Mr Johnson.

The government has already launched an investigation alongside the National Cyber Security Centre, but speaking on Saturday, Mr Johnson said it was important for a probe to "get to the bottom" of the leak.

He added: "As far as I'm aware we haven't yet established the truth about that. But what I certainly think is that document, whatever it was intended to prove, did not prove what Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party hoped it would prove. And I'm afraid it was just another distraction."

In its own investigation, Reddit concluded the unredacted 451-page document had been posted to the site as "part of a campaign that has been reported as originating from Russia."

The website said they had suspended 61 accounts and shut down a number of pages on the site after their internal probe found a "pattern of coordination".

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn has refused to divulge the source of the documents which he unveiled at a campaign event last month, but said claims his party had benefited from a Russian operation were "nonsense".

"This is such an advanced state of rather belated conspiracy theories by the Prime Minister," he told Sky News. "When we released the documents, at no stage did the Prime Minister or anybody deny that those documents were real, deny the arguments that we put forward.

"We obtained those documents. We believed those documents to be correct and nobody until yesterday denied the correctness of those documents. The issue is there should be no interference in British politics by anybody else."

The Labour leader also hit out at Mr Johnson for failing to publish a parliamentary report into potential Russian interference in the UK political system, which No10 has refused to clear ahead of the election.

He added: "The Prime Minister has answers to give, which he refuses to do, about Russian donations to the Tory party or the report that he is sitting on about Russian interference in British politics.

"Of course there should be no interference in our political system by Donald Trump or the Russians."

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan said the incident suggested foreign involvement, adding: "I understand from what was being put on that website, those who seem to know about these things say that it seems to have all the hallmarks of some form of interference.

"And if that is the case, that obviously is extremely serious. And actually as culture secretary, obviously one of the things that we are looking for and monitoring is any interference in our elections."

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