Halifax MP questions if Boris Johnson met with Russian oligarch following Salisbury poisonings

The Halifax MP has been left frustrated in her attempts to find out whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson met a Russian oligarch following the Salisbury poisonings in 2018.

By Ian Hirst
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 12:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 1:16 pm

Holly Lynch, MP for Halifax, submitted a written question asking if Mr Johnson met media mogul and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev in April that year in “any capacity”.

It comes after Mr Lebedev told The Guardian he met the then Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson that month in Italy, two days after attending a Nato summit on Russia.

Ms Lynch received a response from Paymaster General Michael Ellis, just four minutes before the Parliamentary session ended.

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Halifax MP Holly Lynch

But he referred her to an answer he had given to a question about Mr Lebedev’s son Evgeny Lebedev, who is a member of the House of Lords.

Ms Lynch called the response “absolutely outrageous” and said it was another example of the Government attempting to “avoid any sort of scrutiny at all costs”.

She said: “I think this is a quite serious issue about national security and the Prime Minister’s judgement and so we do deserve a very clear answer.

“They’ve so far avoided providing one, which only makes everybody more concerned about what the truth of the matter really is.”

The Labour MP has promised to continue pressing for a clear answer when the next Parliamentary session begins on May 10.

Former Russian agent Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia and a police officer, Nick Bailey, were exposed to the poison Novichok during the attack in Salisbury in March 2018.

Mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess then died in July 2018 after she unwittingly came into contact with the nerve agent on a discarded perfume bottle in Amesbury, Wiltshire.

Earlier this week, Ministers also missed the deadline to publish security advice linked to the peerage of Russian-born businessman Evgeny Lebedev.

Mr Ellis said more time was needed to consider whether redactions must be made over “national security”.

He also promised that he would respond promptly following Parliament’s return from its break on May 10 after “necessary consideration has been given to the material”.

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