London (Brussels Morning) A group of MPs is suing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for failing to protect the public’s right to free and fair elections, four months after a report on Russian interference in the 2016 EU referendum.
The report by the Intelligence and Security Committee said the UK was “clearly a target for Russia’s disinformation campaigns and political influence operations’ and that the country “must therefore equip itself to counter such efforts”.
It said the government did not adequately investigate if Russian interference had occurred.
Lord Ricketts from the committee said he was surprised the government did not seek evidence on Russia’s actions nor appear to make any assessment of attempts to interfere in elections after the referendum.
“Given the importance of knowing the extent of past Russian interference in assessing the risk for future elections, I do not understand why the Government would choose not to investigate”, he said.
Boris Johnson’s responded to the July report saying, “We have seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU Referendum.
“We keep such assessments under review and, where necessary, update them in response to new intelligence, including during democratic events such as elections and referendums.
“Where new information emerges, the government will always consider the most appropriate use of any intelligence it develops or receives, including whether it is appropriate to make this public.
“Given this long-standing approach, a retrospective assessment of the EU Referendum is not necessary.”
The legal case launched Thursday seeks a judicial review.
“The sovereignty and security of our country, alongside the integrity of our democracy, is at stake, and this government’s wilfully turning a blind eye cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged”, said Caroline Lucas, one of the six MPs making the claim.
Other MPs involved include SNP member Alyn Smith, Labour’s Ben Bradshaw and Chris Bryant, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Strasburger and Baroness Wheatcroft, formerly from the Conservative Party.
The case is being represented by Leigh Day, which said it was asking the court to ensure the “legal duty to independently investigate credible allegations of Russian interference and to adequately protect future elections from foreign interference” was complied with.
Russia has denied any interference.