MPs to go to Human Rights Court on Russian election interference

LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – The European Court of Human Rights is being used by a host of different political parties’ coalition of MPs and peers to challenge the UK government’s apparent reluctance to probe Russian election meddling.

The legal action was taken in response to the UK government’s refusal to order an investigation into the findings of the Russia report, which was published by the intelligence and security committee (ISC) in July 2020 and reported credible evidence of Russian attempts to sabotage the UK’s electoral processes.

The case is being brought by a parliamentary group that includes Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, SNP MP Alyn Smith, Lib Dem Lord Strasburger, and Lady Wheatcroft, a former Tory peer.

According to the group, the administration is in violation of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights’ first protocol, which demands frequent, free, secret-ballot elections to guarantee the free expression of the people’s opinions.

As President Putin fights a war of terror on the Ukrainian people, he’s been conducting another attack on the core ideas of democracy, said Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion.

The Russian report made it obvious that there was credible evidence of Russian meddling in the UK political process – but their own administration had continuously refused to look into these serious conclusions, he added.

According to the Russia report, Russian involvement in the UK has become “the new normal,” with real attempts to meddle in the UK’s election processes dating back to at least the time of the EU referendum in the year 2016.

To defend such procedures from foreign meddling, the ISC has asked for a probe as well as an updated institutional and legal framework.

When the government failed to act on the recommendations, the cross-parliamentary group teamed up with the Citizens, a non-profit journalism organisation, to launch a court review application in August 2020. The high court denied permission for judicial review, and the court of appeals denied the group’s request for permission to appeal.

They had no choice now but to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in order to force the government to conduct a full investigation into the evidence, or they risk jeopardising the free and fair elections they hold dear and allowing Putin to believe that he can get away with aggressive state interference in their democratic processes once again, Lucas said.

It had been evident for some time that the British establishment and their government had been infiltrated by Putin, Strasburger added. Boris Johnson, predictably, postponed the release of the Russia report for as long as he could and then ignored its outstanding suggestions.

Similarly, he refused to deal with the tsunami of illicit money that Russian oligarchs have been permitted to launder in London, only intervening when the Ukraine crisis forced him to.

Yet he did as little as he could get away with, giving the oligarchs plenty of time to flee the country with their assets.  It’s past time to deal with this nest of vipers, and perhaps their legal action will result in complete exposure, he continued.

The long-awaited Russian report found that the British government and intelligence agencies failed to properly assess Russian attempts to sway the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The government “had not seen or sought evidence of successful interference in UK democratic processes” at the time, and it was made clear that they had made no serious effort to do so.

Kourtney Spak

Kourtney Spak is an american journalist and political commentator. Her journalism career focuses on American domestic policy and also foreign affairs. She also writes on environment, climate change and economy.