BORIS Johnson has been accused of ignoring security advice in recommending Evening Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev be awarded a peerage.

In an opposition day debate in the Commons, Labour's Angela Rayner said there were questions for the Government to answer over the installation of Lord Lebedev of Hampton and Siberia as a crossbench peer in 2020.

It comes after reports by the Guardian and the Sunday Times that intelligence chiefs had concerns about Mr Lebedev prior to his appointment, due to his father Alexander Lebedev being a former KGB spy, who worked undercover in the Soviet Embassy in London.

It has been claimed that the House of Lords appointments commission wrote to Mr Johnson saying they had concerns about the proposed life peerage, after which Downing Street sought assurances from the security services. 

It has also been reported that Mr Johnson asked MI6 to drop its security concerns, describing them as "anti-Russian" with the updated guidance enough to satisfy the appointments committee. Mr Johnson denies the claims and that he interfered in any way in the process. 

In the Commons, Labour deputy leader Ms Rayner said: "Every Minister has a fundamental duty to protect the people of this country. To prioritise their safety above all else.

"We have tabled this Motion because serious questions have been asked about whether the current Prime Minister upheld that duty to the standard we would expect, and because those questions have not been answered with the transparency that we would expect either." 

She added: "The British public have a right to know if - and how - an individual of apparent concern to our intelligence services was granted a seat in the heart of Parliament by personal order of the Prime Minister; whether the Prime Minister was aware of that security advice, but chose to ignore it, over-rule it, or even demand that it be changed."

Responding for the Government, Paymaster General Michael Ellis suggested Labour was anti-Russian, while Tory MP Lee Anderson said the party didn't "like foreign names". 

The deputy Commons speaker then ordered MPs to calm down and stop accusing one another of xenophobia, after accusations were hurled across the chamber from both sides. t

Mr Ellis said: "The Labour Party is focusing on an individual who because of who he is, and they are doing so unfairly and improperly and seeking to break a process in doing so.

"I don't criticise members of the party opposite if they have sent supportive text messages to Lord Lebedev. I don't criticise anyone in this house for doing so...What I criticise, and what I urge the house to exercise with considerable caution is how it looks to attack an individual because of his heritage or because of his extraction. And that is the key point." 

As the debate began this afternoon, Lord Lebedev took to social media to question the purpose of Labour's motion and claimed the party's leader Sir Keir Starmer congratulated him on the appointment into the Lords.

ord Lebedev wrote on Twitter: “Openness and transparency are pillars of our democratic system, so I welcome the call for security advice about me provided to Holac (House of Lords Appointments Commission) to be released.

“I have nothing to hide.”

In separate tweets, Lord Lebedev added: “And in the spirit of transparency here is a text to me from @Keir_Starmer: ‘Congratulations on your elevation to the House of Lords. All best wishes, Keir.’

“There’s a war in Europe. Britain is facing the highest cost of living since the 1950s. And you choose to debate me based on no facts and pure innuendo. What’s become of you @UKLabour #shadowofyourformerself.”

It is expected Conservative MPs will abstain if Labour presses its motion to a vote.