LONDON (AP) — A powerful committee of lawmakers that oversees Britain’s intelligence services has been formed after months of delay, and its members rejected the government’s preferred candidate to lead them.
The Intelligence and Security Committee met Wednesday and elected Conservative lawmaker Julian Lewis as chairman. The job had been expected to go to former U.K. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, a loyal supporter of Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Members of the committee are appointed by the government from both government and opposition ranks. Five of the nine members are Conservatives.
Some had concerns about Grayling, who has been dubbed “Failing Grayling” because of his mishaps as a minister. During preparations for Britain’s exit from the European Union, he was criticized for spending millions on a contract for ferry services with a company that did not have any boats.
Johnson’s office said later that Lewis, a Conservative lawmaker since 1997, had been kicked out of the Conservative group in Parliament for working with opposition lawmakers “for his own advantage.”
The intelligence committee plays a key and secretive role, overseeing the work of British spies.
Last year, the committee’s previous members compiled a report on Russian attempts to interfere with Britain’s political system, but the document was not cleared for publication before the general election in December.
As months passed without a new committee being formed, critics accused the government of sitting on the report.
The newly formed committee is now expected to decide what to do with the report.