United Kingdom looks to new laws on spies after critical intel report

23 Juillet, 2020, 11:54 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • The report said Russian influence in Britain was

Senior Cabinet minister Grants Shapps has sought to discredit some aspects of the Russian Federation report because it was written by an ardent Remainer with "specific" views on the outcome of the Brexit referendum.

"I think the answer is this: It would've undermined the Brexit referendum".

And so, as a result of that failure, the committee said it had been unable to establish the truth or otherwise of those allegations because it had no evidence from the intelligence agencies on which to base any conclusion.

A spokesman for Labour leader Keir Starmer said the main opposition party had deep concerns about a "lack of seriousness" in the prime minister's response, criticising him for delaying the publication of the report for more than a year.

This is a report that has been kept hidden from the public for months.

Hosie also said no-one in Government wanted to touch the issue of Russian interference when it came to elections with a "10-foot pole".

Stewart Hosie, a committee member and member of Parliament for the opposition Scottish National Party, accused the government of "actively avoiding" allegations of Russian meddling, which he said was unforgivable after evidence emerged that Moscow had interfered with the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 and the USA presidential election two years later.

The committee's report also accuses the British government of allowing many Russian oligarchs, including some living in Britain, to use the United Kingdom to whitewash illicit finances through what it called the "London laundromat".

Shapps rejected one of the key findings of the report that authorities failed to investigate whether Moscow interfered in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

A highly-anticipated report by the U.K. Parliament into Russian interference in the country was released on Tuesday, claiming that Russian influence in the U.K.is the "new normal".

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Though Johnson insisted new laws are coming in connection with espionage, theft of intellectual property and sanctions, he sidestepped on the notion put forward by the report's authors that nothing was done to investigate whether Russian Federation had interfered in the referendum.

In a 20-page response obtained by The Associated Press the British government reportedly denied underestimating the Russian threat, and added that there was no evidence that Russia had interfered in the 2016 Brexit vote, a claim the report had urged be investigated.

"Serious questions needed to be asked" why ministers didn't look into the issue after evidence of interference in the 2014 Scottish referendum and reports of similar activity in the U.S. elections, it said. President Trump has dismissed the prospect that Russian Federation meddles on his behalf on numerous occasions and faced backlash for not confronting Russia's President Vladimir Putin on the issue.

That group of remainers are now interested in trying to suggest Moscow was responsible for Brexit, he said.

Mr Shapps dismissed the suggestion that the security services had not looked at potential Russian meddling in the 2016 poll.

Gould-Davies said Russian Federation could not have achieved the type of influence it has in Britain without the support of "vested interests" within the country.

Another parliamentary panel - the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee - previously published the results of its own inquiry into disinformation and "fake news", which called on election regulators and law enforcement to investigate reports that a British businessman with links to Russian Federation donated 8.4 million pounds ($10.6 million) to the Brexit campaign.

The ISC report prompted a wave of criticism directed at the Government with Labour's shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds today accusing ministers of taking "no action" since 2014 to deal with the threat posed by the Kremlin.

"This perception will have been reinforced by the UK's firm stance recently in response to Russian aggression: following the UK-led worldwide response to the Salisbury attack - which saw an unprecedented 153 Russian intelligence officers and diplomats expelled from 29 countries and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - it appears to the Committee that Putin considers the United Kingdom to be a key diplomatic adversary". "But it's not that our intelligence agencies are not looking for interference".

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