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UK's Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament - Russia Report

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Sign Petitions such as:
petition . parliament . uk / petitions / 332293

Report suppressed 9 months by Johnson's UK Government, Published 2020-07-21

(He &/or they also illegaly pro-rogued Parliament, but failed to suborn election of new Chair of the ISC)

Original from:

Format Conversions to encourage more to read it, as the ISC's Russia Report is published only in PDF, & 55 pages of printed A4 is weight & inconvenience with other docs on the train etc: book readers are light & can hold lots of docs.

Excerpt Below about Brexit, (*** = Secret, Redacted)

Pages Numbers
  • Shown by PDF viewer XPDF : 19 & 20,
  • Assigned in document page footers : 12 & 13
Sections: 39-42

Case study: the EU referendum

39. There have been widespread public allegations that Russia sought to influence the 2016 referendum on the UK's membership of the EU. The impact of any such attempts would be difficult ­ if not impossible ­ to assess, and we have not sought to do so. However, it is important to establish whether a hostile state took deliberate action with the aim of influencing a UK democratic process, irrespective of whether it was successful or not.

40. Open source studies have pointed to the preponderance of pro-Brexit or anti-EU stories on RT and Sputnik, and the use of `bots' and `trolls', as evidence of Russian attempts to influence the process. 42 We have sought to establish whether there is secret intelligence which supported or built on these studies. In response to our request for written evidence at the outset of the Inquiry, MI5 initially provided just six lines of text. It stated that ***, before referring to academic studies. 43 This was noteworthy in terms of the way it was couched (***) and the reference to open source studies ***. The brevity was also, to us, again, indicative of the extreme caution amongst the intelligence and security Agencies at the thought that they might have any role in relation to the UK's democratic processes, and particularly one as contentious as the EU referendum. We repeat that this attitude is illogical; this is about the protection of the process and mechanism from hostile state interference, which should fall to our intelligence and security Agencies.

(i) Failure to prepare

41. There has been credible open source commentary suggesting that Russia undertook influence campaigns in relation to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. 44 However, at the time ***. It appears that *** what some commentators have described as potentially the first post-Soviet Russian interference in a Western democratic process. We note that ­ almost five years on ­ ***. 45

42. It was only when Russia completed a `hack and leak' operation against the Democratic National Committee in the US ­ with the stolen emails being made public a month after the EU referendum ­ that it appears that the Government belatedly realised the level of threat which Russia could pose in this area, given that the risk thresholds in the Kremlin had clearly shifted, describing the US `hack and leak' as a "game changer", 46 and admitting that "prior to what we saw in the States, [Russian interference] wasn't generally understood as a big threat to [electoral] processes". 47

43. It appears that the Intelligence Community did learn lessons from the US experience, and HMG recognised the Russian threat to the UK's democratic processes and political discourse. In May 2017, the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) concluded that "***" and that "***". 48 Had the relevant parts of the Intelligence Community conducted a similar threat assessment prior to the referendum, it is inconceivable that they would not have reached the same conclusion as to Russian intent, which might then have led them to take action to protect the process.

(ii) Narrow coverage

44. The written evidence provided to us appeared to suggest that HMG had not seen or sought evidence of successful interference in UK democratic processes or any activity that has had a material impact on an election, for example influencing results. 49,50 ***. ***. 51

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