Politicians battle again for Russian interference report to be published

PUBLISHED: 11:15 20 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:15 20 January 2020

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, center left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, second right, meet in Germany. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, center left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, second right, meet in Germany. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Boris Johnson remains under pressure to release a report into alleged Russian interference in UK democratic process, after it was revealed it could be delayed until late spring.

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The report was produced by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) before the general election but has yet to be published.

Johnson claimed in a BBC interview that it would be released in "weeks" - but with the new ISC yet to be reconvened this could still take "months" - and would still only be a redacted version.

The SNP's Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, a member of the committee until April 2019, has urged the prime minister to act urgently.

In a letter to Johnson, he claimed the government had "repeatedly and intentionally failed to take steps to establish the committee and has sought to escape scrutiny on vital issues".

He told the prime minister: "The decision by your government to kick the publication of a key report into Russian interference into the long grass is disgraceful, and it is clear that it has been delayed without justification by Downing Street."

The ISC oversees the work of the intelligence agencies - MI5, MI6 and GCHQ - and in the course of its work has access to highly sensitive material.

Its reports are submitted to the government before publication to ensure no classified information is inadvertently made public.

Blackford said: "Boris Johnson's repeated refusal to publish a key report into Russian interference in UK democracy, and his intentional delay in convening the Intelligence and Security Committee, is nothing short of an abdication of duty as prime minister and a clear attempt at ducking scrutiny."

The push for the release of the report comes a day after Johnson met Russian President Vladimir Putin in the margins of a summit in Berlin.

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