United Kingdom

Leaked documents on US-UK trade talks 'almost certainly' spread by Russian actors

Leaked documents on US-UK trade talks deployed by Jeremy Corbyn during the election were 'almost certainly' spread by 'Russian actors', the government said today.

The papers were brandished by the then-Labour leader during the campaign for the December poll as evidence that the NHS was at risk from a Transatlantic deal.

But the government furiously denied the claims and launched an investigation with the National Cyber Security Centre after complaining that the material had been circulated by Russia. 

The papers were brandished by the then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during the campaign last year as evidence that the NHS was at risk from a Transatlantic deal.

In a statement to MPs today, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said during the campaign - which resulted in a huge Tory majority - a 'cross-Government election security cell was stood up to coordinate responses to threats and hazards relating to the election'.

'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,' he said.

'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.

'Whilst there is no evidence of a broad spectrum Russian campaign against the General Election, any attempt to interfere in our democratic processes is completely unacceptable. It is, and will always be, an absolute priority to protect our democracy and elections.

'There is an ongoing criminal investigation and it would be inappropriate for us to say anything further at this point.

'The Government reserves the right to respond with appropriate measures in the future.

Mr Raab said the UK would 'continue to call out and respond to malign activity, including any attempts to interfere in our democratic processes, alongside our international partners'. 

'We fully support the recent action taken by our German partners who exposed Russian responsibility for the hack of their Parliament in 2015 as well as their intention to act against those responsible under the cyber sanctions regime,' he added.

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