MPs and campaigners seek permission to appeal Russia Report decision
A cross-party group of MPs and media non-profit, the Citizens, have made an application for permission to appeal the decision handed down by the High Court to refuse their application for a judicial review.
Posted on 08 July 2021
The judicial review relates to the government’s decision not to act on the findings of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) of Parliament that Russia has interfered in UK electoral processes.
A cross-party group of MPs and media non-profit the Citizens have made an application to appeal the decision handed down by the High Court refusing their application for a judicial review. The judicial review relates to the government’s decision not to act on the findings of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) of Parliament that Russia has interfered in UK electoral processes.
The permission for judicial review hearing was heard on 22 June 2021 and judgment handed down immediately after.
The Citizens and the group of cross-party parliamentarians were asking for the judicial review on the grounds that the government’s inaction breaches its obligations under Article 3 of Protocol 1 (A3P1) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) which protects each citizen’s right to free and fair elections.
The claimants argue that A3P1 creates a positive obligation that the government must investigate credible allegations of interference in the UK electoral system and have a framework in place that will identify and protect against interference in the UK electoral system.
But the judge, Mr Justice Swift, said there was no “arguable case” and declined permission.
The Citizens and MPs are appealing this decision on the grounds that the judge erred in law in relation to his findings on A3P1 and how it should be applied.
The claimants believe that this case is the first time that either a domestic court or the European Court of Human Rights has considered, in any detail, the extent to which a failure to address foreign interference in democratic elections may raise issues under A3P1. Accordingly, the claimants argue that the High Court’s ruling is an important and serious development in the law which warrants further consideration by the Court of Appeal.
The ISC’s findings were published in the long-delayed Russia Report in July 2020 and stated that there was clear evidence of Russian interference with the UK electoral process. The ISC highlighted the urgent need for new legislation and an updated framework to protect the UK’s democratic processes from foreign interference - as well as the failure by the UK Government to investigate the threat of Russian interference in UK democratic processes.
Clara Maguire, executive director of the Citizens, said:
“This is an unprecedented case. It’s the first time a group of MPs have taken action against a sitting prime minister for failing to protect Britain’s national security. We believe that the government has acted unlawfully in failing to direct the security services to protect our elections and will continue to try and prove this in a court of law.”
Tessa Gregory, partner at law firm Leigh Day who is assisted by associate Tom Short and paralegal Rhiannon Adams, said:
“Our clients consider that the High Court erred in law in its decision to dismiss their application for a judicial review. The effect of the Judge’s conclusion is to render our right to free and fair elections as largely meaningless as the Government does not have to afford any protection against foreign attacks on electoral processes or conduct any form of investigation into such attacks. This cannot be right, and our clients will continue their legal fight to protect our democracy.”
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Campaigners and MPs seek permission for judicial review of Russia Report
Campaign group and a number of MPs are seeking permission for a judicial review of the government’s decision not to act on the findings of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament that Russia has interfered in UK electoral processes.