Dominic Grieve Calls For Publication Of Report On Russian Interference In UK Elections
2 November 2019, 14:49
Speaking to LBC, the former Attorney General told Matt Frei that the Government is taking too long to publish a report on Russian interference in UK elections.
Papers today reported on a report, seen by the Intelligence and Security Committee, about Russian interference in the last election and 2016 referendum.
Grieve said: "Let me explain, the Intelligence and Security Committee of which I'm the Chair, nonpartisan committee, cross-party, never divides on party lines, we've carried out an inquiry into Russia. It's a wide inquiry.
"It's not just about subversion. It's also about espionage. It's about the whole range of challenges that Russia poses for this country and whether our responses are satisfactory.
"We finished that report in March and on 28th March, we started a process called redaction, which is where you consult with the intelligence agencies in the Cabinet Office to get a report which is in a position where you can publish it because there are national security issues.
"It's a bit like a game of ping pong, backwards and forwards the drafts go, you have a discussion and you arrive at a final text. And we had reached that final text by mid October, early October and so we submitted the final report to the Prime Minister on the 17th October.
"And under the protocols which operate and which govern the way the committee works, we would normally expect a response within 10 days and it should normally be a formality.
"There's no instance in which a prime minister has vetoed the publication of a report once it's been cleared by the intelligence agencies and the Cabinet Office. But as of last Thursday, which was the deadline date, we had not had a response from the Prime Minister and I was obviously very worried about that, because we're coming up to an election and once parliament is dissolved, this report can't be published.
And I think it's informative and I think it will be useful so I raised a point of order in the House of Commons about it in the hopes that that might jog 10 Downing Street into paying some attention to it, because it's possible they've just overlooked it."
He continued: "What has been much more surprising is that the response from Number 10 has not been to say, 'I'm sorry, we understand the urgency and we will clear it because there's still time to do it', to come back and say these things normally take six weeks, the proper process hasn't been followed, it's asking far too much to get it out.
All this is complete and utter rubbish and it's very worrying, to my mind, that Government spokesmen, speaking in the name of the Prime Minister, should come out and say things which are simply manifestly untrue about the process."
Grieve urged the Prime Minister to look at it over the weekend, give the go-ahead on Monday and get it published on Tuesday. Otherwise, he said, "it will be too late".
He also said: "I can think of absolutely no reason why the government shouldn't wish to see this report published.
It's a factual and informative report, obviously heavily redacted, because we have to do that in order to preserve national security, but informative to the public, the very thing that this committee was set up to do."