UK taking election interference threats ‘very seriously’

London: The United Kingdom is taking threats of foreign interference in elections expected later this year “very seriously”, its defence minister said on Sunday (Jan 21), after a warning from a counterterrorism official.

“Obviously, that’s something that we take very seriously,” Grant Shapps told the Sky News channel.

Counterterrorism bodies and other institutions would “be looking very carefully at that”, he said.

UK counterterrorism chief Matt Jukes said on Friday that the espionage threat from foreign states – such as China, Russia and Iran – is greater now than it has been “since the days of the Cold War”.

He said the police had set up a new unit to counter the threats of interference ahead of the election, which is expected to be called later this year.

The unit would use powers granted by the National Security Act passed last July to make it harder for countries to spy on and interfere in the political process, he said.

“We are talking about parts of the state apparatus of Iran, China and Russia,” Jukes said.