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Evgeny Lebedev Says Keir Starmer Congratulated Him On His Peerage Ahead Of Labour Debate On His Appointment

Evgeny Lebedev Says Keir Starmer Congratulated Him On His Peerage Ahead Of Labour Debate On His Appointment
2 min read

Newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev has said that Keir Starmer congratulated him on his peerage, just as Labour is set to force a vote calling for transparency over his appointment.

This afternoon, Labour is set to force a binding vote in the Commons calling on the government to release information about Boris Johnson’s involvement in the decision to award Lebedev a peerage. 

According to The Sunday Times, Boris Johnson had dismissed concerns raised by the House of Lords appointments commission (HOLAC) about the appointment of Lebedev to the upper chamber in 2020.

Writing on Twitter today, the Russian-born businessman criticised Labour for choosing to debate the issue of his elevation to the Lords while there was also “war in Europe” and “the highest cost of living since the 1950s”.

“Openness and transparency are pillars of our democratic system, so I welcome the call for security advice about me provided to HOLAC to be released. I have nothing to hide,” Lebedev said on Twitter. 

The media tycoon, who owns the Evening Standard and The Independent newspapers, also “in the spirit of transparency” released a message from Keir Starmer which appears to show the Labour leader backing his appointment. 

The text from Starmer read: “Congratulations on your elevation to the House of Lords. All best wishes, Keir.”

Labour sources pointed out that the text message was sent before concerns over Lebedev’s security status came to light. 

Setting out her party’s humble address, which would legally bind the government to disclose the information, deputy leader Angela Rayner said there were “serious questions” about the appointment process.

“The Commission concluded it could not support [Lebedev’s] nomination. 48 hours later, the Prime Minister visited Lebedev at his home in London. 

“Details of that meeting have never been released to the public – and questions remain about whether the security services knew about this meeting, or whether their assessments show that the Kremin were keeping tabs on these activities.”

She continued: “In July 2020, Lebedev’s appointment as a peer was announced. So the question is - what changed between the security warning and the appointment?
Responding to Lebedev’s accusations in the Commons, deputy speaker Eleanor Laing dismissed suggestions that the debate was not appropriate.

She told MPs: "Of course I have not seen the contents of the tweets...if it was inappropriate for any debates to be occurring in this chamber it would not be occurring."

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