A thinktank Boris Johnson supported is being investigated over links to Russia [VIDEO]

Boris Johnson
Tom Coburg

A thinktank supported by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is under investigation by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).


In November, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw urged the ISC to investigate Legatum. This followed several stories on the Brexit-backing thinktank in The CanaryThe Guardian and OpenDemocracy.

The ISC has now agreed [paywall] to investigate Legatum and its financier’s possible links with Russia.


As The Canary has previously reported, Legatum played a role in sponsoring a paper [pdf] promoting ‘hard Brexit’. Shanker Singham, who heads Legatum’s Special Trade Commission, met with Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) ministers and officials on numerous occasions. The Canary also reported that Legatum staffer Crawford Falconer now works directly for Britain’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox; and that Legatum Senior Fellow Matthew Elliott, who headed the Vote Leave campaign, was reportedly targeted by Russian spy Sergey Nalobin via the Conservative Friends of Russia.

Not the full story

Recently, The Mail on Sunday also published a story on Legatum, It alleged that Singham was co-author of the infamous letter by Gove and Johnson to Prime Minister Theresa May, demanding a ‘hard Brexit’.

Legatum denies that Singham “coordinated” the Gove/Johnson letter.

But there were important links between Legatum and the Conservatives that were not covered by The Mail on Sunday. For example:

  • The Legatum Institute’s CEO is Philippa Stroud, who was special adviser to Iain Duncan Smith when he was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
  • Legatum Institute trustee Toby Baxendale is chair of the neoliberal Cobden Centre and a significant donor to the Conservative Party. He also helped run the (failed) campaign to elect Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom as Tory leader.
  • Legatum trustee Richard Briance was previously a trustee of Policy Exchange, the thinktank co-founded by Environment Minister Michael Gove.

And then there’s pro-Leave Johnson’s support for Legatum and its staunchly free-market approach. Johnson launched the institute’s ‘Prosperity for All’ project in 2015:

A spokesman for the Legatum Institute told The Times it had:

complied with all laws and regulations, is providing a valuable public service in line with our charitable objects, and is therefore more than ready to respond as required.

In Brexit-beleaguered Britain, it’s essential that the full truth of how we arrived at this mess is revealed. That now appears to be emerging, though perhaps too late to halt the damage.

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