A non-profit investigative journalism outfit has threatened legal action against the Government in an attempt to force it to release a report into possible Russian interference in British politics.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has written to the Prime Minster demanding publication of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report in the public interest.
It said failure to release the 50-page document would lead to an urgent application for a judicial review from lawyers representing the Bureau.
The news outfit is pushing for the report to be published before Britain goes to the polls on 12 December.
Bureau editor Rachel Oldroyd said: “The absolute minimum voters in any democratic election should expect is the knowledge that the previous election was fair and free of outside interference.
“British voters are being denied that by Number Ten’s decision not to publish the parliamentary report on Russian electoral interference.
“It is our duty as journalists to do whatever we can to bring that information to light, and it’s that duty – free of any kind of partisanship – that has driven our decision to launch this legal action.”
Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day, acting on behalf of the Bureau, added: “My client believes that the prime minister is failing to uphold his common law duty to disclose information that is in the public interest.
“Given the subject of the report and the imminent election, that public interest is time-sensitive – people need the information before casting their vote.”
The legal challenge comes as the Bureau begins a “long-term reporting project” into how key UK institutions might have been “compromised” by oligarchs and corrupt officials in Russia, Eastern Europe “and beyond”.
The House of Commons was previously told a report by the ISC was sent to the Prime Minister for approval on October 17.
Although there has been no indication of the precise contents of the report, it will assess the threat posed by Moscow to Britain’s democratic processes following an 18-month inquiry into illicit Russian activities in Britain.
The Sunday Times previously claimed nine Russian business people who have donated money to the Conservative Party were named in the dossier.
Former attorney general Dominic Grieve, who has seen the report, has stressed its publication is essential ahead of the general election, as it contains information “germane” to voters.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, ex-US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said the delay was disgraceful given the upcoming election, referencing the proven Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
The former secretary of state said: “I find it inexplicable that your Government will not release a Government report about Russian influence. Inexplicable and shameful. You’re having an election.
“People deserve to know what is in that report. We had a somewhat similar problem in 2016.”
A report into Russian interference in the US presidential election in 2016 found illegal interference from Moscow occurred in a “sweeping and systemic fashion”, according to special counsel Robert Mueller.