LONDON (Labour Buzz) - This week, the shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry wrote to the government seeking clarification over Cumming’s connections to Russia. Cummings worked in Russia between 1994 and 1997. Labour sought information as to the status of Cumming’s security clearance after concerns were raised by a whistleblower.
In her letter to the government Thornberry writes, “I would assume that – given the seniority of his position and the influence it gives him over decision-making at the top of government – that he was subject to the highest level of developed vetting (DV) and that – as a result – he is able to study ‘top secret’ intelligence material and attend meetings on the UK’s military and security operations overseas.”
The letter is sent to Sir Mark Sedwill, the head of the UK civil service, and is copied to the head of MI5 and MI6. She adds, “Was Mr Cummings questioned about the purpose of, and his activities during, his three-year period of work in post-Communist Russia between 1994-7, including all relationships he established with figures in the fields of Russian politics, intelligence and security.”
Cummings was a former advisor to Michael Gove when he was education secretary in David Cameron’s government.
In reference to the letter from the shadow foreign secretary, the Cabinet Office said, “We do not comment on individuals’ security clearance.”
The correspondence between Labour and the government comes at a difficult time for the Prime Minister. A report by the Intelligence and Security Committee into Russian meddling in the British democratic process will be delayed until after the general election, prompting much criticism of the government.
Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General, said on BBC Radio 4 “I cannot think of a reason why he should wish to prevent this report being published. Its very demoralizing for us when we find we put in months of work and at the end of it, we’re not getting an adequate response.”
Jeremy Corbyn has called for the report to be published, saying, “I suspect the reason it hasn’t been published is because they’re going to delay it past the dissolution of parliament on Tuesday, and then they can hide it away until some point in the future. If a report has been called for and written, and it should be in the public domain, then what have they got to hide?”
It has been widely speculated that the report will be very damaging for the government. It is claimed that the report provides information on the amount of Russian money circulating in British politics, in particular to the Conservative party.
(Written by Brendan Chilton, edited by Sam Gallagher)