MI5 refused to investigate ‘Russian spy’s’ links to Tories, says whistleblower

By | January 22, 2023

Carole Cadwalladr reports:

MI5 repeatedly refused to investigate evidence that an alleged Russian spy was attempting to cultivate influence with senior Conservative politicians and channel illegal Russian funds into the party, a Tory member has alleged in a new complaint lodged with the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT).

Sergei Cristo, a Conservative party activist and a former journalist with the BBC World Service, has lodged a complaint with the investigatory powers tribunal, filing the case after corresponding with the chair of parliament’s intelligence and security committee, Conservative MP Julian Lewis, who recommended he take the information to the authorities.

The committee’s Russia report claimed in 2020 that the security services had turned a blind eye to “credible evidence” of Russian interference and Cristo’s allegations offer potentially explosive new evidence that confirms its findings. Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said “allegations that the security services ignored evidence from a Conservative whistleblower exposing Russian infiltration at the highest levels of the party are truly shocking” and claimed the “Conservative party’s Russia problem” was an ongoing threat to Britain’s national security.

Cristo says that it was reading the Russia report that made him “suddenly aware that maybe the story I had was more significant than I thought” and, at Lewis’s suggestion, he wrote to Cressida Dick, then commissioner of the Met police.

He received a response from the counter-terrorism command (SO15) who said it was not a matter for the Met and advised him to take it to the IPT – which oversees the security services – which he has now done.

The allegations centre around the formation of a group called Conservative Friends of Russia in 2012, and its relationship with a Russian diplomat, Sergey Nalobin.

In August of that year, the Russian ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko, hosted a lavish launch party for the group in the gardens of his residence in Kensington with guests who included the former minister of culture, media and sport, John Whittingdale, and Boris Johnson’s now wife, Carrie Symonds. The Russian government also funded an all-expenses-paid trip to Moscow for a handpicked group of members including the future CEO of Vote Leave, Matthew Elliott. [Continue reading…]

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