Labour demands issuance of guidelines on Evgeny Lebedev’s peerage

LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – Before PM Johnson allegedly intervened to overcome intelligence services’ security concerns, Labour demanded the release of the Cabinet Office’s full recommendations on a peerage for Evgeny Lebedev, the newspaper owner and son of a KGB spy.

The deputy Labour leader, Angela Rayner, called on the Cabinet Office to provide the instructions it prepared for the House of Lords’ nomination commission before it was “sanitised” as the PM continues to face pressure over his acquaintance with the Russian-born peer.

Given that former No. 10 staffer Dominic Cummings has said that concerns raised by the “deep state,” Angela Rayner said the guidelines were critical for the public of Britain to understand why and how Johnson nominated Lebedev for a peerage.

Rayner is pushing for further records to be released, and Labour feels that the guidance should be made public in the national interest, with any security-related information redacted. The party believes Johnson is on shaky ground on the issue and intends to keep the heat on the PM.

Reports that the PM tried to intervene to give Lebedev a seat in the House of Lords and law-making powers for life against the advice of UK intelligence agents have been refuted by the prime minister as simply false.

Cummings, on the other hand, said he was present when Boris Johnson was told by the Cabinet Office officials that the intelligence services and other sectors of the deep state had strong reservations about the PM’s strategy.

Rayner also sought a reform of how peerages are handled in a letter to Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay, following reports that the PM might ask for intelligence concerns to be dropped.

Given the Cabinet Office’s crucial position in the Lords appointment process, one has an urgent responsibility to evaluate this matter, ascertain the facts, and determine if this is a one-off incident or part of a larger issue of this government’s insufficient security for House of Lords nominations.

The Cabinet Office plays a crucial role in the vetting process of Lords appointments, Rayner said in her letter to Barclay.

In fact, in the instance of Lord Lebedev, Cabinet Office security personnel were in charge of transmitting guidance and intelligence to the House of Lords nomination commission, which formed the foundation for their objections to his appointment.  According to reporting in the Sunday Times and a written statement by the PM’s then chief of staff, he struck a deal to submit a sanitised version of the advice to the House of Lords appointments commission.

She said she strongly urges them to make public the Cabinet Office’s full recommendations to the House of Lords appointment commission in the Lebedev matter, in order to ensure complete transparency about the genuine risks of this appointment.

A spokesperson for Barclay has been contacted for comment.

Eleni Kyriakou

Eleni is a journalist and analyst at Parliament Magazine focusing on European News and current affairs. She worked as Press and Communication Office – Greek Embassy in Lisbon and Quattro Books Publications, Canada. She is Multilingual with a good grip of cultures, eye in detail, communicative, effective. She holds Master in degree from York University.