Russia tried to interfere in general election, claims Raab

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said 'Russian actors' almost certainly tried to amplify sensitive leaked documents.

Russian actors almost certainly tried to interfere in last year’s general election, foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said.

Leaked government documents highlighted by Jeremy Corbyn during a 2019 televised election debate were “amplified” online by agents for the Russian state, he claimed.

The papers, which related to the UK-US free trade agreement, were used by the then-Labour leader to back his claims that the Conservatives were preparing to “sell-off” the NHS.

Raab told MPs the documents were obtained illicitly and shared on Reddit during the build-up to the election.

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A criminal investigation into how the documents were acquired is now taking place.

In a written statement, the foreign secretary said: “On the basis of extensive analysis, the government has concluded that it is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general election through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked government documents.

“Sensitive government documents relating to the UK-US Free Trade Agreement were illicitly acquired before the 2019 general election and disseminated online via the social media platform Reddit.

“When these gained no traction, further attempts were made to promote the illicitly acquired material online in the run up to the general election.”

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Raab added there was no evidence of a “broad spectrum Russian campaign” against the general election or that the Russian state was involved.

His statement follows the formation of the new parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).

At it first meeting, the ISC agreed that it would shortly publish a long-awaited report into Russian interference in UK politics drawn up before the last election.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman dismissed suggestions that the timing of Raab’s statement was intended to pre-empt that report as “nonsense”.