Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
Russia Report author tells James O'Brien the delayed publish was "inexplicable"
21 July 2020, 13:56 | Updated: 21 July 2020, 15:46
Russia Report author Dominic Grieve told James O'Brien the delay in publishing it was "inexplicable" and the reasons given by the Government were "just untrue."
Russia poses a ‘significant threat to the UK’ on multiple fronts including espionage, interference in democracy and serious crime, according to the long-awaited 'Russia Report' that was released today.
The Intelligence and Security Committee report states: "It is clear that Russia currently poses a significant threat to the UK on a number of fronts – from espionage to interference in democratic processes, and to serious crime."
Dominic Grieve QC was chair of the Committee when the report was written and confirmed that while classified material had been removed, every detail deemed acceptable for public consumption had remained.
However he didn't know why the Russia Report took so long to be published, branding the delay "regrettable" and "inexplicable."
"The decision of the Government to sit on it for nine months, the explanations they put forward for having done so, were just untrue," Mr Grieve said, "they were incredible and not worthy of any belief. I don't know what the motivation was as I've said on a number of occasions."
Mr Grieve told James he regrets having to use such strong terms to describe a Prime Minister, pointing out that the Committee is non-partisan and cross-party.
"We don't run around publishing sensationalist reports and we expect to be treated seriously and honestly by the Government and I have to say, last October we were not," Mr Grieve continued, branding Mr Johnson's conduct as a "wall of silence."
James asked the Committee chair why he thought the publishing was delayed; while Mr Grieve said one could only speculate, but if the Government did not want this report published on the eve of an election then this was "utterly unworthy and wrong."
"I cannot see that there was anything that could not be published then, it's been suggested it was done...against me as by then I was an independent MP and no longer a Conservative MP but still the chair of the Committee.
"If that's the case that is a base and shallow way of proceeding," Mr Grieve said.
Of the report itself, Mr Grieve reflected that there was not one significant aspect of the report it has to be looked at in its totality.
"Russia is engaged in unlawful activities which I think overall are designed to destabilise democracy and trust in institutions and it takes a wide variety of forms," Mr Grieve said, branding them "ruthless."
He told James evidence shows there are groups of people in the United Kingdom who are still deeply embedded in the Russian regime, which is particularly important to consider when political speakers are funded.
On the Brexit referendum he said, "Just because an event is ended doesn't mean we should say that's over now, let's forget about anything that was not working properly or went wrong. I think that's a mistake because otherwise it will just come back and bite you."
The crucial element is to maintain our democracy and not be manipulated by external actors who we may not know are external actors, Mr Grieve said.