THE delay in the release of the MPs' report examining Russian influence in British politics is "not normal", Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Foreign Secretary, has insisted.

The Scot, who also once chaired the Intelligence and Security Committee[ISC] declared: "It is an absurd position that No 10 Downing Street have put themselves in."

His comments came after Hillary Clinton, the former Democrat presidential candidate, said it was "inexplicable and shameful" that the UK Government would not publish the report until after the General Election on December 12.

The House of Commons was previously told a report by the ISC was sent to Boris Johnson for approval on October 17.

Sir Malcolm, who also served as the Scottish Secretary, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "When you have a report on whether there's been Russian interference in our elections, in our domestic politics and we have a General Election coming up, which means that the ISC is dissolved as Parliament is dissolved, then - as Hillary Clinton is entirely correct - it is an absurd position that Number 10 Downing Street have put themselves in."

He admitted there was a "lot of speculation" about the contents of the report but noted: "The proper course of action would have been for the Prime Minister to invite the chair of the committee, Dominic Grieve, on a Privy Council basis, to have a private conversation as to why unfortunately it's not possible to release the report, then Grieve could come to his own view as to whether that was reasonable or not. Now, that has not happened."

Sir Malcolm argued that the delay could be two to three months, which made it all the more intolerable.

"The Prime Minister has been totally in support of sanctions because sanctions are imposed on Russia as a result of the Crimea and matters of that kind. So there's no self-interest that the Prime Minister could have, if some individuals in the Conservative Party have been receiving money from Russians.

"He would be as anxious as the rest of us to see that exposed and be grateful to the committee for identifying them if that's what they do."

Although there has been no indication of the precise contents of the report, it will assess the threat posed by Moscow to Britain's democratic processes following an 18-month inquiry into illicit Russian activities in Britain.

It was claimed at the weekend that nine Russian business people, who had donated money to the Conservative Party, were named in the dossier.

Mr Grieve, the former Attorney General who has seen the report, has stressed its publication is essential ahead of the election as it contained information "germane" to voters.