A Westminster Committee has been asked whether Alex Salmond would be considered an "agent of the Russian state" following the publication of a report into the country's meddling in UK democracy.

During a press conference this morning Stewart Hosie, SNP MP and member of the Intelligence and Security committee, was asked if the former First Minister would be considered an agent of Russia.

The ex-MSP and MP premiered his own TV show on the Russian state broadcasting channel RT (Russia Today) in November 2017, supported by fellow former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

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The report published today references evidence that there is "a buffer of Westerners who become de facto Russian state agents" both knowingly and unknowingly. 

Mr Hosie was asked "Do you include the Edinburgh-based Sputnik press agency in this, Russia Today, and particularly, your former colleague Alex Salmond? Is he a de facto agent of the Russian state?"

Mr Hosie responded that the report did not refer to individuals, adding: "We make an explicit criticism..., there was in the run-up to the EU referendum, a proponderance of anti-EU, pro-Brexit pieces on RT and Sputnik.

"What the report does not do is make any criticism of any individual programme maker, commentator or presenter. That's not what this is about.

"It's about RT and Sputnik as institutions who are able, very quickly, very quickly when they need to, to get out the Russian state's version of events.

"It's not a criticism of any particular individual at all. And I don't think it can be much clearer than that." 

When asked what the committee had done to determine what level of interference the independence referendum had been subjected to by Russia, MPs said that the government was asked by another committee to conduct a probe into this.  

Mr Hosie said: "The DCMS Select Committee, called on the government to launch an independent investigation into to foreign influence, disinformation, funding, voter manipulation and the sharing of data in relation to the Scottish independence referendum.

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"So the government were told by a select committee of the house, not us, but another select committee to undertake precisely the work that would have identified the scale and the scope of the threat." 

Kevan Jones MP, also on the Intelligence Committee, said it was clear that the government should have known about the threat of Russian meddling in the Brexit referendum based on actions of RT and Sputnik following the independence referendum of 2014, as well as the findings that French and US elections were interfered with.

He explained: "All the evidence was there from the Scottish referendum. Short of you know having a large banner outside Downing Street, a billboard saying what was going on, what more did the Government need?

"The question is why the decision was taken not to look at the rhetoric. The report, quite rightly, it draws comparisons to the United States, where investigations did take place, but here that decision wasn't taken."