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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The strange case of the unpublished report

Do governments suppress a lot of reports? I am aware that they certainly ignore a great many, or at the very least just pick out the bits that they like, but how many do they commission and then shelve away without them seeing the light of day? I suspect it is more than we would like to think.

Either way, the report into Russian interference in the British political system does not seem to want to go away. This was the tome that was suppressed before the election and which has still not been published.

However, as the Guardian reports, SNP Leader Ian Blackford has now called on the prime minister to begin appointing members of parliament’s intelligence and security committee, necessary to allow the controversial document to be released.

He is absolutely right when he says: “It is unacceptable that your government has repeatedly and intentionally failed to take steps to establish the committee and has sought to escape scrutiny on vital issues,” Blackford writes in a letter that has been shared with the Guardian.

“The public interest and the imperative is and has always been clear: lift your sanction on publishing this report and re-establish the intelligence and security committee so that it can be immediately published.”

The paper explains: A report on Russia’s spying activities against the UK and its attempts to penetrate the British establishment had been prepared by the committee in the last parliament, and had been made ready to publish when the election was called.

Members of the committee saw evidence of Russian infiltration in Conservative political circles, but it is unclear how much of that concern reached the final document, which some sources say was watered down even before it went to Johnson.

Ministers have repeatedly said there are no examples of “successful Russian interference” in the 2016 EU referendum or an election, although there is scepticism as to whether that has been properly investigated

. The report was nevertheless awaiting final clearance from Downing Street, to check it did not contain any classified information, when the election was called. No 10 said it was not possible to clear it in time, a point disputed by the previous chairman of the committee, former MP Dominic Grieve.

Downing Street eventually said after the election that the report was cleared. But its release depends on the appointment of nine cross-party backbench MPs and peers to the committee’s membership, a task that falls to Johnson after consulting with other parties.

Last time, committee members were not appointed until November 2017 – five months after the general election, prompting complaints that “effective and robust oversight of the intelligence community” had been “left in a vacuum for so many months”.

It may be some time before this report enters the public domain.
The pressure to publish these papers should be continued.If the Tories have nothing to hide ,why not publish?Or they whitewashing the info.?
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