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Fri, 29 May 2020

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Ministers accused of ‘playing politics’ over Salisbury by withholding intelligence from Jeremy Corbyn

Ministers accused of ‘playing politics’ over Salisbury by withholding intelligence from Jeremy Corbyn
2 min read

Labour has accused the Government of “playing party politics” over the Salisbury nerve agent attack after it emerged Jeremy Corbyn has not had access to the same intelligence as ministers.

Security minister Ben Wallace said the Labour leader had seen "more than the average backbench MP", but that some evidence had been withheld from him.

Labour said his comments were an attempt to deflect criticism from Boris Johnson, who has come under fire for claiming experts at the Government's Porton Down lab had told him Russia was behind the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

That was contradicted by the boss of the laboratory, who said it was not their role to identify where the substance came from.

Jeremy Corbyn said the row had left Mr Johnson with "egg on his face", prompting the Foreign Secretary to accuse the Labour leader of "siding with the Russian spin machine".

Asked on Radio Four's Today programme whether Mr Corbyn had been shown the same amount of intelligence as him, Mr Wallace said: "He will have already seen more than the average backbench MP because he had a Privy Council briefing, but at the end of the day, this Government is responsible for the security of the people and the United Kingdom’s interest and as a result we have to take the judgement based on the advice of our professionals, the intelligent service and our police…”

"This is serious stuff and the circle of who gets to see very sensitive information is very small because if you leak it or it gets out people’s lives are put at risk."

But Labour hit back, saying the admission had been “completely irresponsible and another attempt by the Tories to deflect criticism from Boris Johnson’s blatant attempt to mislead the public”.

A spokesperson added: "The Foreign Secretary has still failed to account for himself and still has serious questions to answer.

"Ben Wallace should be acting in the national interest, not playing party politics with the country’s security."

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