Number 10 ‘deliberately and improperly suppressed’ Russia report, claims peer

Boris Johnson as foreign secretary during a visit to Red Square in Moscow. Photograph: Stefan Rousse

Boris Johnson as foreign secretary during a visit to Red Square in Moscow. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Number 10 'deliberately and improperly suppressed' Russia report to avoid embarrassment during the general election campaign, a Lord has claimed.

Downing Street has been accused of acting 'irresponsibly' in failing to set up the body, which has not sat since before the December election, meaning it has been unable to publish a report into allegations of Russian interference in British democracy.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Campbell claimed the government had 'deliberately and improperly suppressed' the release of the document to avoid embarrassment during the election campaign.

It comes as the membership of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) was expected to be presented to the House of Commons and Lords for approval on Monday.

Lord Campbell said: 'Isn't it abundantly clear that the government deliberately and improperly suppressed the publication of the report in order to avoid embarrassment in last year's general election?

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'Why is it that, six months later, after the general election, the government irresponsibly has failed to appoint a new intelligence committee, which could publish the report?

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'This is a shabby episode increasingly typical of Number 10 Downing Street.'

Labour former defence secretary Lord Browne of Ladyton said it was 'widely known' that Russia had interfered in the Brexit campaign and it continued with the Covid-19 crisis.

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He said: 'The continued obstruction of the Russia report reinforces the reasons for an already catastrophic decline of trust in this Government, enables the continued undermining of democratic debate, and damages the credibility of the ISC and the integrity of our democracy.

'How can this be justified?'

Cabinet Office minister Lord True dismissed the claims of the opposition peers as 'wild charges' which were 'wholly unfounded'.

He said: 'I reject the charge of delay or conspiracy of any kind.'

The Tory frontbencher said it is the ISC's property and not for the government to publish.

But he added: 'We do know that disinformation is a common tactic used by the Kremlin and we always take proactive action to defend our democracy.'

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