Russia report: Investigation finally released – and Brexit WASN’T hit by meddling Putin

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The findings come as part of a long-running investigation into the threats Russia poses to Britain, carried out by MPs and peers on the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). They explore suspicions of Russian interference in UK elections and referendums, Russia-linked donations to political parties, Russian money in the City of London, cyber attacks, espionage and even assassinations. But their delayed report warned not enough was done to establish what role Moscow played in the Brexit vote just over four years ago around whether the UK should leave the European Union.

One senior source from within Whitehall had told The Daily Telegraph the findings raised concerns not enough was done to investigate Russian interference during the referendum in 2016.

Top officials from spy agencies, as well as a number of expert witnesses, gave evidence to the committee.

One of those witnesses was former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, who authored a report into alleged links between Russia and Donald Trump’s US election campaign from 2016.

In his testimony to the committee, he wrote: “My understanding, arising partly from personal experience with the ‘Trump-Russia dossier’, is that this Government perhaps more than its predecessors is reluctant to see (or act upon) intelligence on Russian activities when this presents difficult wider political implications.

“Examples of this include reporting on the Kremlin’s likely hold over President Trump and his family/administration and indications of Russian interference in and clandestine funding of the Brexit referendum.”

But the 18-month inquiry also reveals Russia may have meddled in the Scottish independence referendum from 2014 and was “the first post-Soviet interference in a Western democratic election”.

The report criticised the way successive British Government had not done enough to respond the way Vladimir Putin has dramatically shifted Russia relations with the West.

It covers alleged cyber attacks from Russia and the attempted killing of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in 2018.

This inquiry points to allegations of involvement from Russia in 14 suspicious deaths on UK soil.

The report also questions whether the country has done enough in clamping down on the offshore wealth of Russian oligarchs and imposing tough sanctions on those linked to the Russian President.

The 50-page report comes following an 18-month investigation by the Intelligence and Security Committee, chaired by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve.

The report was initially cleared for release by spies in October last year, but Boris Johnson sparked an outcry by delaying its publication.

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In November 32017, the ISC said it would investigate Russian activities, but the formal inquiry did not interview witnesses until the following year.

It was only then finalised and cleared for publication through official channels last October.

Mr Johnson had refused to give the go-ahead for its publication before Parliament dissolved prior to the general election in December.

This sparked a furious reaction in Westminster, as at that point, the ISC also had to disband and only reconstituted last week.

Mr Grieve, former chairman of the ISC, said: “I’m delighted it is finally coming out.

“It is nine months later than it should have been and there was no good reason not to publish it in October last year.

“Now people will have a better understanding on the threat Russia poses and if we are doing enough to counter it.”

Last week, Dominic Raab said the Government is “almost certain” Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general election.

He said the documents relating to a possible free trade deal between the UK and US were “illicitly acquired”.

The Foreign Secretary wrote in a statement: “On the basis of extensive analysis, the government has concluded that it is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general election through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked Government documents.

“Sensitive Government documents relating to the UK-US free trade agreement were illicitly acquired before the 2019 general election and disseminated online via the social media platform Reddit.

“When these gained no traction, further attempts were made to promote the illicitly acquired material online in the run-up to the general election.”

Mr Raab said there was “no evidence of a broadspectrum Russian campaign” against the election, warning “any attempt to interfere in our democratic processes” was unacceptable.

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