Andy McDonald tries to justify Labour's use of 'Russia-linked' leaked documents

7 December 2019, 08:42 | Updated: 7 December 2019, 10:54

Andrew Castle asked the shadow transport secretary about classified documents detailing trade talks between the US and the UK.

Andrew Castle asked Andy McDonald about the leaked documents released by Labour - alleged to have been posted on Reddit by an account linked to a Russian disinformation campaign.

McDonald replied: "I do know where the documents emanate from. Her Majesty's Government. It's got HMG written all over it."

Castle pushed him on this, saying it emanates from Russian accounts that have since been suspended.

McDonald said: "What's important - either the source of the information or its accuracy and truthfulness and I haven't heard anybody from the Government saying that these are wrong.We're dismissing them. Same with the 451 pages about the trade talks of the US."

He added: "Nobody's denying the veracity of the documents."

He continued: "The Government could clear this up if they would just publish the Intelligence and Security Committee report. I don't see why they haven't done that.

That should have been done a long time ago. They can't really have it both ways."

Andrew Castle asked whether he saw it as Russia interfering in a general election.

Andy McDonald tries to justify Labour's use of Russia-linked leaked documents
Andy McDonald tries to justify Labour's use of Russia-linked leaked documents. Picture: PA

McDonald replied: "You make my point for me. That's why the Intelligence and Security Committee report should have been published.

"Let's have that out so we can know the extent to which the Russian state have been found to interfere.

Not just on this occasion but on previous occasions. That's critically important for our security."

Andrew, however, pushed him on this. He said: "But you're comfortable having the Russians help you, in this regard, dropping you a document which you can then use to smack the Conservative government with. You're okay with that?"

McDonald said: "Those are your words, not mine. Of course, I'm not comfortable.

"What I would want to happen is for a government to be open and transparent and honest with the people it's supposed to be governing.

"You cannot do this by secrecy and stealth and this government are trying to do things behind our backs.

"Just be upfront about where we are with these trade talks with the United States.

"Be upfront about the advice that you're getting for your own civil servants about the barriers that you're going to place into the system for trade between parts of the same country, between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

They're not being honest."