Evgeny Lebedev, owner of the Independent and the Evening Standard – and son of the former KGB spy Alexander Lebedev – has been nominated for a peerage by Boris Johnson today.
The appointment has certainly raised eyebrows in Westminster, and perhaps suggests that Boris will be hoping for slightly more positive press in the tycoon's papers in the months and years to come. Perhaps the appointment is not too surprising though. The Prime Minister attended a lavish party thrown by Lebedev in Regent’s Park the day after winning the 2019 election, as well as attending one of the media owner’s Italian parties in 2018.
After being accused of collecting compromising material on Boris Johnson during the media owner’s Italian party, Lebedev claimed that Britain has been seized by ‘an ugly strain of Russia phobia’.
But the media owner’s recommendation to the House of Lords comes just over a week after the publication of the Russia report, which warned of attempts to build Russian influence across the British establishment, and raised concerns about peers’ links to Russia. If Boris was hoping to dispel rumours that he was under the shadowy influence of Russian oligarchs, Lebedev's appointment probably wasn't the wisest pick...