Anti-Brexit protesters urge UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to release the Intelligence and Security Committee report examining Russian infiltration in British politics on 18 January 2020 in London. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under renewed pressure in late June over the government’s refusal to release a potentially damaging report by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) into alleged Russian influence operations in the United Kingdom, including through political contacts and financial donations. Non-release of the report – originally passed to the Prime Minister’s Office for sign-off in late October 2019 – prompted a group of cross-party parliamentarians on 16 June to describe the impasse as “an affront to democracy”.
The government’s refusal to release the Russia report coincided with its failure to reconstitute the ISC, which by late June had not convened for the longest period since its creation under the Intelligence Services Act in 1994. Opposition Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Alistair Carmichael MP claimed that “[Johnson’s] decision to delay nominations to the committee raises serious ethical questions” and Labour shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds called on the government “to urgently get a grip”.
Downing Street responded that further announcements would “be made in due course”, claiming that the situation concerning the Covid-19 pandemic had delayed progress. Sources on 22 June told the BBC that the ISC would be re-established “imminently”, although it remained unclear who would sit on the committee.