Express.co.uk can exclusively reveal this evening that Whitehall was under severe pressure to respond to Scottish politicians' calls for an inquiry
Express.co.uk can exclusively reveal this evening that Whitehall was under severe pressure to respond to Scottish politicians’ calls for an inquiry following the release of Westminster’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report into Russian interference in UK politics. The report was due to be published before the 2019 General Election but faced months of delays.
It said there is “credible open source commentary” suggesting Russia used influence campaigns during the independence referendum campaign in 2014.
SNP MP and ISC member Stewart Hosie said another Westminster committee had previously recommended the UK Government look into interference concerning the 2014 vote but stressed that Whitehall had ignored the calls.
Speaking today, he said: “It wasn’t the case the Government weren’t told that they should be looking at this.
“The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee called on the Government to launch an investigation into foreign influence, disinformation funding, voter manipulation and the sharing of data in relation to the Scottish independence referendum.
“So the Government were told by a Select Committee of the House to undertake precisely the work that would have identified the scale and scope of this threat.”
The ISC’s report also found the Government did not properly consider whether Moscow could interfere in the Brexit referendum until after the event.
But in a 20-page response, the UK Government said there was “no evidence” of successful Russian interference in the vote and kept quiet about Scotland until now.
A Government spokesman told Express.co.uk this evening that after mounting pressure from politicians, they stressed it “not necessary to hold a specific retrospective inquiry”.
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She stressed that the UK Government response to such warnings could be viewed as “negligence”.
She added: “If there’s to be an inquiry into that – and I would have no objections, to the contrary – it is for the UK Government to do.”
The First Minister said she hoped the report will lead to a “much more rigorous approach” by the UK Government in dealing with interference.
Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray and the Scottish Greens had backed Ms Sturgeon’s calls for inquiries to be launched into the matter.