BORIS Johnson personally intervened to help a Russian media mogul gain a peerage after security services raised concerns about national security.

Evgeny Lebedev – son of oligarch and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev, and a long-time friend of the Prime Minister – was introduced to the House of Lords as a life peer in December 2020 despite warnings from M15 and M16.

Those warnings were reported to the Cabinet Office, which passed them on to the House of Lords Appointments Commission (Holac). The commission wrote to Johnson in March 2020 advising him of the concerns.

According to the Sunday Times, the Tory leader dismissed the warnings as “anti-Russianism” and is said to have pushed for the concerns to be dropped. He met Lebedev at his home just two days after the initial rejection. No 10 declined to reveal what was discussed.

By June 2020, the Cabinet Office advised Holac that the security services no longer had an issue with the appointment.

A source told the Times that Johnson insisted Lebedev’s peerage “go through”. They added: “Initial advice was that they considered that there could be a threat to national security.”

After the Prime Minister's intervention, the source noted: “What the intelligence would say was, that with the extra information it got, they felt it wasn't as big a threat as they had initially thought.”

The revelations have raised fresh concerns about the British establishment’s ties to influential Russian figures as Vladimir Putin is accused of committing atrocities in Ukraine.

Labour leader Keir Starmer called for the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) to look into the decision to grant Lebedev a peerage

The National:

He told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “I’m very concerned about that story, because it goes to the heart of national security and there’s at least the suggestion that the Government and the Prime Minister were warned that there was a national security risk in this particular appointment.

“I think, in the circumstances, what the appropriate thing is for the Intelligence and Security Committee, which is a cross-party committee in Parliament that can have access to confidential material – I think this case should be referred to that committee so they can look into this story.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer backtracks on demand for Boris Johnson to quit over partygate scandal

“This allegation – which is very serious because, of course, it’s a matter of national security – I hope the Government will answer it today.”

He added: “I think the right thing to do is to refer it to the committee, cross-party committee, that can look at the confidential material and come to a view on what actually happened and the risks that the Government may or may not have taken.”

The National: Sir Keir Starmer

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said the PM had "risked national security". 

She said: "There must be an urgent investigation into how the Prime Minister was able to ignore security reports, including what requests were made of the intelligence services to overturn their decision, and whether parliamentary bodies were consulted.

"Boris Johnson's disregard for the facts is a threat to us all."

A UK Government spokesman commented: “All individuals nominated for a peerage are done so in recognition of their contribution to society and all peerages are vetted by the House of Lords Appointments Commission.”

Lord Lebedev, who is yet to make a contribution in Parliament, insists the Sunday Times report is untrue.

The dual British citizen last week penned an open letter urging Putin to stop the war. He wrote: “As Europe stands on the brink of another world war, and the world on the brink of a possible nuclear disaster, I plead with you to use today’s negotiations to bring this terrible conflict in Ukraine to an end.

"As a Russian citizen I plead with you to stop Russians killing their Ukrainian brothers and sisters. As a British citizen I ask you to save Europe from war."

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said there was “a very strict and stringent process when anyone is granted a peerage” when asked about Lebedev’s elevation to the House of Lords.

Raab told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “I don’t know the facts of the case, I wasn’t involved in it. But I do know that it was applied very rigorously in this case.”

He added: “This was done properly and correctly, and we have procedures and systems in place to make sure it is.”