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Tue, 20 October 2020

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Westminster braced for long-awaited report on Russian election interference

Westminster braced for long-awaited report on Russian election interference

The report will look into claims Vladimir Putin’s Russia attempt to meddle in UK elections. (PA)

2 min read

A long-awaited report on the threat posed by Russia to UK democracy is due to be published on Tuesday.

The report by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee was prepared last year, but has been held behind while the watchdog’s new membership was agreed.

It will finally be published on 10:30am, and comes after the Government’s preferred candidate to chair the ISC, Chris Grayling, was beaten to the post by Julian Lewis.

The ISC oversees the work of MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the other intelligence and security services.

Its report on Russia was prepared by its predecessor committee late before the election, with the group at the time saying it would be revealed “imminently”.

But it was not published amid wrangling over the membership of the body, with Number 10 also determining whether any of its material would harm the work of the security and intelligence agencies.

According to leaked extracts of he report published by The Telegraph,  the ISC will say that Russia attempted to “influence” the result of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum — a move it dubs “the first post-Soviet interference in a Western democratic election”.

But it will reportedly show that there is no direct evidence of interference by Moscow in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The publication of the report comes amid worsening relations between the UK and Russia, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last week saying “Russian actors” had attempted to influence December’s general election by circulated leaked documents on a US trade deal which were later used by Labour.

UK, Canadian and US intelligence agencies meanwhile said hackers likely tied to the Russian security services targeted research bodies looking into Covid-19 around the world.

That claim was rejected by Russia’s ambassador to the UK Andrei Kelin, who told the BBC:"I don't believe in this story at all, there is no sense in it."

Pressed on the claims of election interference, he added: "We do not interfere at all. We do not see any point in interference because for us, whether it will be [the] Conservative Party or Labour's party at the head of this country, we will try to settle relations and to establish better relations than now.”

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