The secret panel confirmed that it had made a secret request for information on businessman Evgeny Lebedev’s nobility – and its questions remain unanswered
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Parliament’s powerful Intelligence and Security Committee is investigating Boris Johnson’s decision to bestow a peerage on a Russian-born pal.
The secret panel confirmed it had made a secret request for information about businessman Evgeny Lebedev, who joined the Lords in 2020.
This request has been kept secret to this day but was made public by the government in apparent breach of protocol.
Cabinet Office Secretary Michael Ellis announced: “I can confirm that the Government has provided a response to the ISC after making a separate request from them for information on any national security matters that have arisen.”
In a rare slap, the committee said it was “surprised” as “our request for information at this point should have remained private — and secret.”
The ISC added that its investigations are far from over. The committee said a reply from the government was “received only yesterday”.
It continues: “The committee is therefore not yet in a position to determine whether the information provided is sufficient, whether the response complies with the legal requirements governing the intelligence community’s obligations to the committee, and whether the committee will have any further questions.” .”
It comes after the government was accused of “covering up” intelligence advice on a peerage passed to Lord Lebedev.
MPs backed a Labor motion aimed at forcing ministers to publish documents on the Prime Minister’s involvement in his appointment to the House of Lords.
The Labor motion was entirely separate from the ISC’s request for national security advice.
After missing the deadline to release Labor’s requested documents last month, the government has released a handful of heavily redacted papers.
And despite Parliament’s orders to release the documents, a minister said in a lengthy statement that they had to consider whether it was in the “public interest”.
They published the blank form that Lord Lebedev was required to fill out for the House of Lords’ Nominating Committee, the public announcement of his appointment, a list of the other peerages conferred at the same time, and a letter of congratulations on his appointment.
And even these documents were published only in paper form and could only be obtained in person in an office of the House of Commons.
It follows reports that the Prime Minister has dismissed concerns about the appointment, which are said to have been raised by MI5 and MI6 about the millionaire son of former KGB spy Alexander Lebedev.
Lord Lebedev, who owns the Independent and London Evening Standard, said in March he had “nothing to hide”.
“Openness and transparency are cornerstones of our democratic system, so I welcome the call for security advice over me [The House of Lords Appointments Committee] be released,” he said.
Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner said: “This looks like a cover-up and smells like a cover-up because it is a cover-up. If the Prime Minister claims that he was not involved in enforcing the granting of a peerage to a person affecting our intelligence services, he should be fine and release the documents as Parliament has ordered.
“The government has not provided any information in these heavily redacted documents, failing to comply with a direct order from Parliament. The government is once again trying to hide in the shadows from the sunlight of control. We will take steps to correct this disregard for Parliament.
“The public has a right to know the truth about Boris Johnson’s interference in the appointment of his friend Lord Lebedev, the son and business partner of a former KGB agent, to a seat at the heart of our Parliament. It’s time to get to the bottom of this whole dark story.”
In a statement, Cabinet Secretary Michael Ellis said the government was and remains committed to openness and transparency.
He added: “It is also the case that when examining requests for information from Parliament, the government has a responsibility to consider whether it is in the public interest to make information publicly available.
“As set out in today’s House of Commons paper, the disclosure of these documents reflects the need to protect national security, uphold the integrity of the Crown’s system of bestowing honors and dignities, screening candidates for probity and data protection rights.” the individual.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/intelligence-committee-probing-boris-johnsons-26950413 Intelligence committee is investigating Boris Johnson's peerage for his Russian-born pal