Labour fury at 'politically motivated' block on report into Russian interference

Posted On: 
10th November 2019

Labour have accused Boris Johnson of a "politically motivated" decision to block the publication of a report into Russian interference in UK politics.

The Prime Minister has come under fire for blocking the publication of the report
Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister has been accused of deliberately blocking the publication of a cross-party report ahead of the 12 December election because he fears it could his "derail" his election campaign.

According to the Sunday Times, the bombshell report names nine major Conservative donors who have handed the party millions and developed personal relationships with Mr Johnson.

The paper claims Alexander Temerko, who formerly worked for the Kremlin's defence ministry, is named after donating more than £1.2m to the party and describing Boris Johnson as a "friend".

Meanwhile, major Tory donor Lubov Chernukhin, wife of former Putin ally Vladimir Chernukhin, is also said to be included in the report.

Ms Chernukin has handed the party over £450,000 in the past 12 months, and famously paid £160,000 during a Conservative fund raising event to play a tennis match with Mr Johnson.

But Britain's intelligence agencies are reportedly "furious" at the delay, which No10 claims is necessary to ensure the report is correctly redacted before publication.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said the delay had come because Boris Johnson feared the revelations risk "derailing their election campaign".

She said: “I fear it is because they realise that this report will lead to other questions about the links between Russia and Brexit and the current leadership of the Tory party, which risks derailing their election campaign. What is Downing Street so worried about?”

A spokesperson for the Conservative Party, said: "We cannot speculate on what may or may not be in a leaked parliamentary report."

Labour candidate Andrew Gwynne added: "Billionaires fund the Conservative Party, so this sordid cover-up shouldn't be surprising. The Tories blocked this report and oppose tax transparency so their billionaire backers can continue to rip us off unchallenged.

"Labour is on the side of the many, not the few, so we'll get dirty money out of politics, introduce an oligarchy levy and take on the vested interests selling out our people and public services."

ARCURI REPORT ROW

The decision came amid reports that the independent police watchdog is delaying an announcement on whether Mr Johnson could face an investigation into potential criminal misconduct over links to American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri until after the election.

According to the Observer, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) agreed in a private meeting to wait until after the 12 December poll to say whether they were going to investigate Mr Johnson over "possible criminality".

The US tech entreprenuer was allegedly given favourable treatment from the then-London Mayor, included invites on overseas trips and access to public funds.

According to the paper, the IOPC has delayed any decision due to 'purdah' rules, which sees restrictions placed on major announcements in the run-up to an election.

An IOPC spokesperson hit back at the claims, saying: “The IOPC strongly refutes claims published in the Observer. This matter has not been finalised.

"We have not delayed any announcements on the status of this referral. Our assessment of this matter is ongoing as we continue to collect information and seek legal advice.”

But Labour's shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said: "This is incredible. It's a suppression of information which the public is entitled to have. Given the fact we're in a general election there should be maximum transparency.

"This decision must be reversed immediately."