Legal Challenge To Government's Failure To Investigate Russian Threat To UK Democratic Processes

Published date26 November 2020
Subject MatterGovernment, Public Sector, Human Rights
Law FirmLeigh Day
AuthorLeigh Day

A cross-party group of Parliamentarians and democracy campaign group, the Citizens has issued court proceedings challenging both the UK Government's failure to institute an independent investigation into Russian interference in UK democratic processes, and to put in place an adequate legislative framework to protect future elections from foreign interference.

The group has applied for judicial review of the Government's inaction and failure to address the gap in the law, claiming it breaches its obligations under Article 3 of Protocol 1 (A3P1) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) which protects each citizen's right to free and fair elections and the Inquiries Act 2005.

A3P1 requires that free elections are held "under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in their choice of legislature", which the Claimants say have been damaged by Russian interference. The Inquiries Act facilitates an inquiry when it appears to a Minister that particular events have caused public concern, which the Claimants say has happened here.

The Citizens is joined in its claim by Lord Strasburger, Ben Bradshaw MP, Chris Bryant MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Alyn Smith MP and Baroness Wheatcroft. Together, they are represented by Leigh Day solicitors. Lord Ricketts the former National Security Advisor to David Cameron has given a statement in support of the claim.

The claim follows the publication of the Russia Report, by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), in July 2020, nine months after it had been sent to the Prime Minister's Office for a final security check. The Report states:

  • There is credible evidence of attempts to interfere with the United Kingdom's electoral processes from at least the time of the EU referendum in 2016
  • There is an urgent need for new legislation to protect the UK's democratic processes from foreign interference, the Official Secrets Act is no longer fit for purpose, and there is no one body with primary responsibility to defend the UK democratic processes from hostile foreign interference.
  • There has been a failure by the UK Government to investigate the threat of Russian interference in the UK democratic processes and calls for such an investigation.

Evidence of attempts by Russia to interfere in the UK democratic processes include:

  • Cyber-attacks, disinformation and influence campaigns
  • The preponderance of pro-Brexit or anti-EU stories on RT and Sputnik, and the use of 'bots' and 'trolls'
  • "The...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT