Saturday 7 December 2019 4:00 pm

Corbyn defends leaked NHS documents amid 'links to Russia'

Jeremy Corbyn has defended his party’s decision to release leaked documents detailing UK-US trade talks despite apparent links to Russia.

Reddit revealed on Friday that the documents were posted on its platform by an account linked to a campaign “originating from Russia”.

The site said it had suspended 61 accounts that were part of a co-ordinated effort.

Read more: Boris johnson likens Labour’s NHS plot dossier to UFO pictures

The documents first came to public attention when unveiled by Jeremy Corbyn earlier in the election campaign.

The Labour leader said at the time that the papers showed the NHS is “for sale” and that the release of the information was in the public interest.

However, Corbyn has moved today to dismiss the reports of Russian interference as “nonsense” and maintains the documents are legitimate.

“When we released the documents, at no stage did the prime minister or anybody deny that those documents were real, deny the arguments that we put forward,” Corbyn said. “If there has been no discussion with the USA about access to our health markets, if all that is wrong, how come after a week they still haven’t said that?

“The issues are that those documents show exactly what the British government was doing in discussions with Donald Trump’s administration in the USA and also why the prime minister has refused to release the report on Russian interference in British politics, which he’s been sitting on for a very long time.

“We obtained those documents, we believe those documents to be correct and nobody until yesterday had denied the correctness of those documents.”

Reddit did not provide further details on the evidence behind its conclusions, although the government has said it is now “looking into the matter”.

Reddit said the suspect accounts “provides us with important attribution for the recent posting of the leaked UK documents, as well as insights into how adversaries are adapting their tactics”.

It has led to renewed calls that the government publish a report into possible Russian interference in elections.

The NHS has been a focal point of the election campaign, with Labour repeatedly accusing the Tories of wanting to sell off the NHS in a US trade deal.

Corbyn said the leaked documents proved that privatisation of the NHS was on the table and that a trade deal would likely result in higher drug costs. Johnson has denied both claims.

Culture secretary Nicky Morgan said the link to Russia was “extremely serious”.

“I understand, from what was being put on that [Reddit] website, those who seem to know about these things say that it seems to have all the hallmarks of some form of interference,” she told the BBC.

Read more: Bookies slash odds on Tories to win general election after Donald Trump denies NHS plot

“And if that is the case, that obviously is extremely serious. And actually as culture secretary, obviously one of the things that we are looking for and monitoring is any interference in our elections.”

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “If we want to get to the bottom of the extent to which the Russian state interferes in elections, can we please publish the Intelligence and Security Committee report?

“Let’s get that out there. That should have been published ages ago.”

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