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UK withholds security advice over peerage for oligarch's son

By Via AP news wire
ASSOCIATED PRESS

The British government refused Thursday to reveal whether intelligence agencies expressed concerns about the decision to award a noble title and a seat in Parliament to a newspaper owner whose father was a KGB agent.

Lawmakers voted earlier this year to order the government to release documents related to the appointment of Russia-born newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev to the House of Lords.

Opposition politicians have demanded to know about Prime Minister Boris Johnson's involvement in the awarding of a place in Parliament’s unelected upper chamber to Lebedev, whose oligarch father Alexander Lebedev is a former KGB officer.

British media have reported that Johnson overruled British intelligence agencies’ concerns about the 2020 ennobling of Lebedev, who owns the Evening Standard and is a shareholder in The Independent. The government insists that all Lords appointments are vetted by a commission.

Two weeks after the deadline to comply with lawmakers' request, Johnson's Conservative government on Thursday published partial documents: the blank form Lebedev was required to fill in for the House of Lords Appointments Commission, the public citation announcing his appointment as Lord Lebedev of Siberia, a list of the other peerages awarded at the same time and a letter congratulating him on the news.

The government said it was withholding other information “to protect national security.”

“Lord Lebedev is a man of good standing,” Cabinet Office Minister Michael Ellis said. “No complaint has been made about his personal conduct. He has been vocal in his criticism of the Putin regime.”

Ellis said that “when considering requests for information from Parliament, the government has a responsibility to consider whether it is in the public interest to place information into the public domain.”

He said the government plans to send information relating to “any national security matters arising” to Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, whose meetings and findings are normally kept private.

Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, accused the government of “failing to comply with a direct instruction from Parliament."

“This looks like a cover up and smells like a cover up because it is a cover up,” she said.

Johnson’s government has announced moves to clamp down on corruption and money laundering alongside sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Opposition politicians and anti-corruption campaigners say Johnson’s Conservatives have allowed ill-gotten money to slosh into U.K. properties, banks and businesses for years, turning London into a “laundromat” for dirty cash.

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Dive Deeper:
UK refuses to publish security advice around Lebedev's appointment to upper chamber
The British government has refused to publish the advice Prime Minister Boris Johnson received from security services before the British-Russian…
Tory ministers accused of cover-up as release of Lebedev peerage details is blocked
THE UK Government has been accused of a “cover-up” by Labour after withholding detailed security advice over Russian-born businessman Evgeny…
Ministers accused of cover-up as release of Lebedev peerage details is blocked
Questions have emerged whether Boris Johnson intervened to ask the security services to reconsider their assessment.
Intelligence Committee probing Boris Johnson's peerage for his Russian-born pal
The secretive body confirmed it had made a classified request for information about businessman Evgeny Lebedev's peerage - and its…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Ministers accused of 'covering up' MI6 advice on Boris Johnson's Russian-born pal
Despite being ordered by Parliament to release the documents - a minister said in a lengthy statement that they had…
Watchdog investigates amid cover-up allegation over Lebedev peerage details
Labour told Boris Johnson to ‘come clean’ if he has nothing to hide as the Government withheld full details of…
Get all your news in one place