‘Keep Dominic Cummings away from us’: New chairman of Intelligence and Security Committee warns Downing Street not to let the PM’s chief adviser ‘anywhere near’ the ISC
- Chairman Julian Lewis has warned Downing Street against politicising the ISC
- He said political advisers must not be allowed ‘anywhere near’ the committee
- omments come after Dr Lewis successfully defeated Chris Grayling for top job
Dominic Cummings has been warned not to interfere in the running of the Intelligence and Security Committee by its new chairman after it published a bombshell report into Russian meddling.
Julian Lewis has demanded a ‘categorical commitment’ from Downing Street that Mr Cummings and other political special advisers will not be allowed ‘anywhere near’ the ISC.
He made the demand after he cited unconfirmed reports that Number 10 had previously tried to make political appointments to the committee.
His comments will further intensify a war of words between Dr Lewis and the Government after he secured the chairmanship of the committee by beating Number 10’s preferred candidate Chris Grayling.
Julian Lewis, the new chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, has demanded a ‘categorical commitment’ from the Government that it will not seek to politicise the ISC
Dr Lewis said political advisers like the PM’s top aide Dominic Cummings, pictured in Downing Street on July 21, must not be allowed ‘anywhere near’ the committee’s work
Dr Lewis launched an unexpected and last minute bid for the ISC top job, blindsiding Mr Grayling and the Government.
He won the election after getting the votes of SNP and Labour members in what critics labelled a ‘coup’.
He was then immediately stripped of the Conservative whip as government sources said there must be ‘consequences for that duplicity’.
But Dr Lewis said Boris Johnson had no powers to decide who the chairman of the committee should be and that he believed a request for him to back Mr Grayling was ‘improper’.
Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Dr Lewis asked Security Minister James Brokenshire for a guarantee that Number 10 would not try to politicise the future work of the ISC.
He said: ‘The Russia report could not have been produced to this high standard without the dedication, the expertise and, above all, the objectivity of the ISC’s brilliant staff, some of whom I have worked with previously.
‘Yet according to the journalist, Tim Walker, some people within Government tried to sack the secretariat and make political appointments.
‘Will my right hon. Friend, as I still regard him, resist the temptation to fob us off with clichés about not believing everything we read in the media and give this House now a categorical commitment that no party political special advisers will be allowed anywhere near the ISC?’
Mr Brokenshire replied: I thank my right hon. Friend for his comments on the work of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.
‘He will recall that he and I served on the Bill Committee establishing the ISC so he will know the weight and consideration I give to it, and indeed to the work of its officials and those who work to support its activities, inquiries and investigations.
‘He can certainly have my assurances on the weight and support I give to his Committee.
‘I commend the work of the previous Committee, which produced the report that is the subject of this urgent question. I also commend all members of the Committee on the robust and rigorous work that I know they will do in the course of this Parliament.’
Downing Street said it was unaware of exactly what Dr Lewis had been referring to in the chamber.
The ISC published its long-awaited Russia report on Tuesday as it set out the results of an 18 month probe into the Kremlin’s interference in British democracy.
The report made for damning reading for ministers as successive governments were accused of taking their ‘eye off the ball’ on Russia, with the UK now having to play ‘catch up’.
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