A cross-party coalition of MPs and peers is taking the government’s alleged failure to investigate Russian meddling in UK elections to the European court of human rights.
The legal action is being taken following the government’s refusal to order an inquiry into the findings of the bombshell Russia report, published by the intelligence and security committee (ISC) in July 2020, which produced credible evidence of efforts by Moscow to meddle in the British electoral process.
The parliamentary group bringing the action includes Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, the former leader of the Green party Caroline Lucas, the SNP MP Alyn Smith, Lord Strasburger of the Lib Dems and the former Tory peer Lady Wheatcroft.
They claim the government is breaching article 3 of the first protocol to the European convention on human rights, which requires regular, free, secret-ballot elections to “ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people”.
Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, told The Guardian: “As President Putin wages a war of terror on the Ukrainian people, he’s been waging another war on the very principles of democracy.
“The Russia report is clear that there is credible evidence of Russian interference in UK electoral process – and yet our government has consistently refused to investigate these serious conclusions.”
The Russia report claimed Kremlin interference in UK elections is “the new normal” – and cited efforts to meddle in elections from the Brexit referendum onwards.
‘Hostile state interference’
Lucas said: “We now have no other option than to take our case to the European court of human rights, in order to try to force the government to undertake a full investigation into the evidence, or else we jeopardise the free and fair elections we hold dear and allow Putin to believe that, once again, he can get away with hostile state interference in our democratic processes.”
Strasburger added: “For some time it has been obvious that Putin has infiltrated the British establishment and our government. Predictably Boris Johnson delayed publication of the Russia report as long as he could and then ignored its excellent recommendations.
“Likewise he declined to tackle the tsunami of dirty money the Russian oligarchs have been allowed to launder in London and only moved against them when the Ukraine crisis meant he had no choice.
“Even then he did as little as he could get away with and gave the oligarchs ample time to spirit their assets out of the country. It’s high time to deal with this vipers’ nest and hopefully this legal action will lead to full exposure.”