Nicola Sturgeon has said she is open to an inquiry being launched looking at Russian interference in the Scottish independence referendum, but says it falls into the remit of the Westminster government.
Speaking after a heavily redacted report by Westminster’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) was published, Sturgeon said governments should not be ‘complacent’ about the possibility of interference in democratic processes.
The report, which was due to be published before the 2019 general election but faced months of delays, said there is ‘credible open source commentary’ suggesting Russia used influence campaigns during the independence referendum campaign in 2014.
Evidence of the claims in the report were redacted by the committee.
The Scottish Tories and Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray have called for inquiries to be launched into the matter.
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Sturgeon clarified that as intelligence and security is a devolved matter, it will be for the UK government to undertake an investigation.
She said: ‘If there’s to be an inquiry into that – and I would have no objections, to the contrary – it is for the UK government to do.’
The first minister said she hopes the report will lead to a ‘much more rigorous approach’ by the UK government in dealing with interference.
But as the 2014 referendum is only mentioned in one passage and two footnotes of the report. she said she was unsure what could be gleaned from the document.
The ISC said: ‘There has been credible open source commentary suggesting that Russia undertook influence campaigns in relation to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.’
In censored comments that follow, it notes: ‘It appears that (redacted) what some commentators have described as potentially the first post-Soviet Russian interference in a Western democratic process.’
Sturgeon told journalists: ‘I don’t think you can draw any conclusions from the three lines or thereabouts that the report has on the Scottish independence referendum.’
The first minister added she does not think her values, along with those of the SNP and the wider independence movement ‘could be further removed from the values that Vladimir Putin and the Russian regime stand for’.