Boris Johnson confirmed a “careless disregard for nationwide safety” in holding a non-public assembly with an ex-KGB agent within the wake of the Salisbury poisoning, Labour has mentioned.
Shadow dwelling secretary Yvette Cooper advised Sky Information’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme it was “irresponsible” and “unthinkable” that Mr Johnson, who was then overseas secretary, would have such an encounter with out officers being current following the chemical attack on UK soil.
The opposition frontbencher repeated requires an investigation after Mr Johnson advised MPs he “actually” met Russian oligarch and former Night Customary proprietor, Alexander Lebedev, in Italy unaccompanied in April 2018.
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This was only one month after the lethal Salisbury Novichok nerve agent assault, which provoked worldwide condemnation of Russian chief Vladimir Putin, who rejected claims of Kremlin involvement.
Ministers initially advised the Commons final week that Mr Johnson had reported the assembly to officers “as required”, however issued a clarification inside minutes saying the prime minister “thinks” he talked about it to civil servants.
The controversy has fuelled opposition calls for for the prime minister to give up instantly following his resignation as Tory chief and never cling on in Downing Avenue till his alternative is elected.
Ms Cooper advised Ridge: “I feel the problem is about whether or not you have got anyone who’s simply careless about nationwide safety pursuits. We do not know what occurred at this assembly, we do not know even whether or not the prime minister really declared the assembly correctly or advised officers about it afterwards.”
She added: “It simply feels unthinkable that at a time after we had a chemical assault on UK soil, and it was so critical that we had a NATO assembly about it, about how to answer Russia, at the moment you may have a overseas secretary who would then simply go and have a gathering with an ex-KGB agent, somebody who has since been sanctioned by Canada for shut hyperlinks to Putin.
“To have that assembly at the moment exhibits a careless disregard for nationwide safety dangers. We really must know the info about what occurred and why on earth he was so irresponsible with our nationwide safety at the moment.”
Mr Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings has additionally alleged the prime minister met Mr Lebedev at first of the COVID-19 disaster in March 2020, with out officers current.
It comes amid an inquiry by the Commons Intelligence and Safety Committee over the appointment to the Home of Lords in 2020 of Mr Lebedev’s son, Evgeny Lebedev, the proprietor of the London Night Customary and a shareholder in The Impartial.
The prime minister has repeatedly denied he intervened to make sure Lord Lebedev was provided a peerage regardless of being warned by British intelligence the transfer might pose a safety menace.
The peer, whose full title is Baron Lebedev of Hampton and Siberia, has mentioned he has “nothing to hide” and backed the publication recommendation linked to his appointment.