The UK’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report which has now been published says, that British spy agencies took their “eye off the ball” over Russian interference.
The ISC found that Vladimir Putin’s administration have been “engaged in hostile foreign intelligence,” the long-awaited report claims.
MI5 the Security Service has been heavily criticised over the “illogical” approach in not fully investigating how much the Kremlin had influenced Brexit.
The ISC report says that MI5 have been reluctant and used extreme caution as they did not want to be seen to be interfering with the “democratic process,” and treated it like a “hot potato.”
The committee also said that the government were “actively” avoiding for interference during the Brexit EU referendum.
Stewart Hosei MP, said the government “badly underestimated” Russia’s threat towards the UK as ministers “did not want to know” and they “actively avoided looking for evidence,” with a “10-foot pole.”
Russia are very easily able to deal in espionage and “illicit financial dealings” by some of the “Russian elite,” who are already embedded into the UK. As a result of this the ISC said the Official Secrets Act is “out of date” and new laws must passed to curb these real threats by Russia.
Hosie told reporters, “There has been no assessment of Russian interference in the EU referendum and this goes back to nobody wanting to touch the issue with a 10-foot pole.
“This is in stark contrast to the US response to reported interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“There should have been an assessment of Russian interference in the EU referendum and there must now be one, and the public must be told the results of that assessment.”
The ISC Committee report warned that “In brief, Russian influence in the UK is ‘the new normal’, and there are a lot of Russians with very close links to Putin who are well integrated into the UK business and social scene, and accepted because of their wealth.
“This level of integration… means that any measures now being taken by the government are not preventative but rather constitute damage limitation.”
The report warned that the Kremlin could exploit members of the House of Lords who have “business interests linked to Russia.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab responded to the report, and said, “We will be resolute in defending our country, our democracy and our values from such hostile state activity.”
The British government responded to committee’s report and said, “We have seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU referendum.”
The government further said that UK spy agencies do make regular “assessments” of threats and so “given this long-standing approach, a retrospective assessment” of the Brexit referendum “is not necessary.”
The ISC said there was “no reason” for the report’s publication to be delayed, and Downing Street was accused of holding back the committee’s report ahead of December’s UK election, to which they denied.