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Russia report moves a step closer as Number 10 presses ahead with plan to put Chris Grayling on top intelligence committee

Chris Grayling is said to be the Government’s pick to chair the committee. (PA)

2 min read

Former Cabinet minister Chris Grayling is among Boris Johnson’s nominees for Parliament’s powerful intelligence watchdog, as a long-delayed report into Russian influence in UK democracy moved a step closer to publication.

A motion published on Thursday night lists the Brexiteer supporter of the Prime Minister among those it will nominate to take up post on the Intelligence and Security Committee, which scrutinises the work of the UK's intelligence agencies and gets sight of top-secret information.

It was reported earlier this year that Number 10 wants Mr Grayling, who would have to be elected by fellow ISC members to become chairman, to lead the committee.

But such a move could raise eyebrows because of Mr Grayling's association with a string of controversial government projects, including a now-scrapped shake-up of the probation service and his stint as transport secretary during the botched rollout of new railway timetables. 

The former Cabinet minister was also among the most high-profile backers of Mr Johnson's Conservative leadership campaign.

The Government motion confirms that the Prime Minister is nominating Mr Grayling, as well as senior Tory ex-ministers John Hayes and Theresa Villiers; Conservative MPs Julian Lewis and Mark Pritchard; Labour’s Diana Johnson and Kevan Jones; and the SNP’s Stuart Hosie to sit on the committee. 

The ISC can grill ministers, security chiefs and senior officials as part of its work.

It is made up of nine members, who are all bound by the Official Secrets Act and given access to highly classified material. 

Its previous chair was former attorney general Dominic Grieve, who was a fierce critic of the Government's approach to Brexit.

The newly-formed ISC's first job will be to publish a long-delayed report on Russian interference in UK democracy.

The inquiry is said to have taken evidence from members of the intelligence services and looked into claims that the Kremlin tried to influence the outcome of the EU referendum in 2016 as well as the following year's general election.

But its findings were not made public before the general election, sparking anger from Mr Grieve, who pointed out that the report had been sent to Number 10 for clearance in October. 

Number 10 said on Thursday: “The publication will be a matter for the new committee but we will encourage them to publish it as soon as possible.” 

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