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LONDON — The House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee on Tuesday released its long-awaited report into Russian meddling in the U.K. democratic process.
Its conclusions are damning for the British government and there are elements that remain unknown because numerous parts are redacted. It was completed more than a year ago but its release was delayed after Downing Street refused to publish it before the December election then took months setting up the committee again after Boris Johnson won his 80-seat majority.
Here are the five things to know:
1. UK slow to wake up to Russian threat
The crucial thrust of the report is that ministers and the U.K. intelligence agencies left Britain at risk of Russian meddling in the 2016 EU referendum.
It said that despite evidence of Russian interference in other votes around the world, including the U.S. and France, as well as claims of Russian involvement in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, the government “belatedly realized the level of threat which Russia could pose in this area.”
Committee member and Scottish National Party MP Stewart Hosie told reporters at a press conference Tuesday, “The U.K. government have actively avoided looking for evidence that Russia interfered.” The report said intelligence agencies might have better protected Britain against Russian meddling if an assessment of risk had been made.
But the committee stopped short of concluding that the referendum result was influenced by Russian actors, noting that such a verdict would be impossible to prove.