The FBI’s attempts to spy on the Russian government and its people were the “dirty tricks” of the UK’s spies, a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee has found.

The Senate committee has revealed that British intelligence agents, led by the former Metropolitan Police officer Sir John Woodcock, were “very interested in Russia” and were “quite confident” they could use Russian operatives to spy for MI6.

Sir John Woodlock, who led MI6 from 1976 to 1984, was appointed by the government in March as a special adviser on counter-intelligence and counter-espionage, a role he has held since.

The committee said the UK was involved in “a long and complex partnership” with the Kremlin, and said that Sir John was “very concerned” about Russia’s behaviour and activities in Europe and the Middle East.

It said Sir John “thought that the UK would be at the front of a global campaign to undermine the rule of law and undermine democratic institutions, including the European Union, and he believed that the Russians were a key partner”.

The committee also said that British officials “had a deep suspicion of Russian involvement in cyber attacks and attempted hacking” and they had “feared the emergence of Russian influence operations” in the US.

“Sir John, who was deeply involved in UK-Russia relations, was deeply concerned that MI6, which was not the agency with which he was most familiar, was conducting covert cyber operations with Russia,” the report said.

“The intelligence and security agencies were working with their Russian counterparts, and MI6 knew that Russia was behind a number of Russian-specific operations.”

These included attempts to undermine democratic processes, hack the US political system and influence the US election.

“He believed that it was vital that MI5 and MI 6, as well as the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), were aware of these operations and they were concerned that they could be directed against the United States or UK interests.”

Sir John is not the first British intelligence officer to be linked to the Russian spy ring.

Former Metropolitan Police head Sir Michael Fallon, who now works as a foreign policy adviser to the Prime Minister, was also a former spy, the report found.

In a statement, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “Our diplomatic and consular personnel continue to work closely with the Russian authorities to protect their interests and to ensure their own security.”

“Our Foreign and Secret Intelligence Services continue to engage with their counterparts in the UK on matters of mutual concern.”‘

Russian spies’ in US media’ The Senate committee said that Britain had long known that Russian intelligence was active in the media and that it “played a role in a range of international media operations”.

Sir John said that when he was in the police, he saw “Russian-style” Russian-style behaviour in American and British media.

“I had an encounter with a Russian undercover agent who wanted to take photographs of me, and the photograph was taken, and then he was taken back to the US,” he said.

Sir Paul Woodcock told the committee that he was told by MI6 that Russia had a “large and well-established network of spies in the United Kingdom and the United State” and that the Russian “spy rings” were “one of the biggest of all”.

“The vast majority of these are people who are Russian intelligence,” he added.

Sir Woodcock said he believed there were “a few dozen” Russian spies in Britain.

He also said there were a “significant number of people who have worked with Russian intelligence” in Britain and that “the Russians were probably doing it in the same way they did in the Soviet Union.”

Sir Paul said he had heard from people who worked with British spies in Russia, and was told that there was “a degree of fear in some of them”.

“They were a bit of a mystery to me.

They were a lot of trouble.”

Sir Peter Fahy, the former head of MI6 and now a professor at the University of Exeter, said that Russian agents were in the British media because of the “complexity of the Russian-British relationship”.

“We had a lot more complex relationships than the West, so the Russian presence was of the utmost concern to the British intelligence services,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Sir Peter also said he thought the US and UK were both “part of the problem” with Russia.

“We are a country that has no history of any kind of a diplomatic relationship with Russia, we don’t have any history of diplomatic relations with Russia.”

The FBI has said it is investigating the allegations.

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