US Senate report shows UK democracy vulnerable to outside influence

By agency reporter
January 14, 2018

A new report from the US Senate adds to the body of evidence, revealed in Transparency International reports, that the UK democratic process is vulnerable to outside influence, including corrupt regimes abroad.

The report highlights that UK campaign finance laws contain loopholes that allow money of unknown provenance funding political parties and referendum campaigns. This was an issue raised in Transparency International UK 2016 report Take Back Control, which highlighted the role of secretive funding for campaigns at the EU referendum.

The Senators' report also notes the presence of large amounts of Russian money in the UK, in particular the property market; wealth which due to anonymous purchasing processes could be the proceeds of corruption.

Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said: "Whether or not Russian efforts influenced the EU referendum, a consensus is developing that interfering in democratic political systems is an increasing feature of hostile foreign and security policies. We do know with some certainty that UK politics is vulnerable to such tactics, which is in large part due to weaknesses in the rules on political party funding."

"The UK has become a magnet for corrupt wealth, stolen from some of the most impoverished and downtrodden people on the planet. We are already beginning to see the potential impacts this is having on the property market, and there are some emerging signs that this is now permeating into our political culture. Without urgent action our democracy is vulnerable to interference by foreign interests."

"Successive governments have recognised the need to reform political party funding, yet inaction has let inertia become a national security risk. To maintain integrity and trust in our democratic system we need to reform who can donate, how much, and increase transparency about the origins of these funds."

Duncan Hames spoke at "Defending Democracy", an event in Washington DC on 11 January 2017,  hosted by Transparency International and Global Integrity, in which he warned of the UK's vulnerabilities against outside influence. He also met with the authors of the Senate report on Wednesday 10 January.

* Download Take Back Control here

* Read the US Senate report here

* Transparency International UK http://www.transparency.org.uk/

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