“The report didn’t find any evidence of interference in the EU referendum”

Grant Shapps, BBC Breakfast

July 22, 2020

Facts

On BBC Breakfast, Grant Shapps claimed that the Russia Report found “no evidence of interference in the EU referendum.”

This statement suggests that the commission could not find any evidence of interference, when in actual fact the inquiry did not seek to assess the impact of Russia’s alleged attempts to influence the 2016 EU referendum, and the report explains that it would be “difficult – if not impossible” to do so. Damningly, the report states that the government did not seek to find any evidence of interference.

Paragraph 44 of the Russia Report said: “the written evidence provided to us appeared to suggest that HMG had not seen or sought evidence of successful interference in UK democratic processes or any activity that has had a material impact on an election, for example influencing results.”

And on the subject of specific interference in the EU referendum, the committee who helped write the report said: “there has been no assessment in Russian interference in the EU referendum and this goes back to nobody wanting to touch this issue with a ten foot pole.”

“There has, however, been speculation that this report was going to reveal either that Russia had interfered in or sought to influence the referendum. In actual fact its worse than that. The report reveals that no one in government knew if Russia interfered in or sought to influence the referendum because they did not want to know.”

In the same interview, Grant Shapps said: “It has taken a while for the parliamentary committee whose job it was to issue this report to be formed and then issued it.”

But Kevan Jones, a member of the ISC, the committee who issued this report, said: “What shocked me is the way in which number 10 has tried to mislead. They said that the Prime Minister only had six days to read this report – not true. They then said it needed six weeks to get his confirmation – that’s not true either.  They then said it needed to go around for more work on – that’s not true. And then they tried to rubbish the whole process – and that’s not true either.”

Verdict

Grant Shapps’ answer gave the impression that the ISC report had sought evidence of interference in the EU referendum. In fact, the Inquiry seems not to have sought evidence of interference aimed at influencing the referendum. 

We approached Grant Shapps office for comment, but no reply.

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