A derelict, crum­bling old mill.. and HQ for shad­owy char­ity on a mis­sion to fight Putin’s pro­pa­ganda ma­chine

Think tank given Gov­ern­ment cash

Sunday Mail (UK) - - News - John Fer­gu­son

For the tiny num­ber of peo­ple aware of its ex­is­tence, Gate­side Mills is a derelict build­ing in ru­ral Fife with­out any ob­vi­ous signs of life.

Any­one cu­ri­ous enough to carry out fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion might find a seem­ingly small Scot­tish char­ity is reg­is­tered there.

But the Sun­day Mail can re­veal the crum­bling Vic­to­rian mill is ac­tu­ally the of­fi­cial head­quar­ters of the con­tro­ver­sial In­sti­tute for State­craft (IFS) – a shad­owy “think tank” whose In­tegrity Ini­tia­tive pro­gramme has been set up to com­bat Rus­sian pro­pa­ganda.

Leaked doc­u­ments prove the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­ceived hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds of fund­ing from the Bri­tish Gov­ern­ment via the For­eign Of­fice.

Spokesman Stephen Dalziel said: “The In­sti­tute is reg­is­tered in Scot­land be­cause one of its founders is Scot­tish.

“It was set up 14 years ago and the In­tegrity Ini­tia­tive pro­gramme was started three years ago to look at dis­in­for­ma­tion and malign in­flu­ence on demo­cratic so­ci­eties and it just so hap­pens it’s the Rus­sians who are do­ing most of that at the mo­ment.

“It’s the lies they put out about the Skri­pal poi­son­ing and so on.

“What we have done is to set up this net­work across Europe of peo­ple who un­der­stand what the prob­lem is.

“There’s talk about this be­ing se­cre­tive but that’s non­sense. We go around Europe giv­ing talks and speak­ing to peo­ple.

“Yes, this year we’ve got some fund­ing from the For­eign Of­fice as many or­gan­i­sa­tions do be­cause our aims fit in with their aims.

“The IFS is not funded by the For­eign Of­fice but the In­tegrity Ini­tia­tive, which is part of the IFS, is. These doc­u­ments that were leaked have been stolen. Any or­gan­i­sa­tion has in­ter­nal doc­u­ments and that’s what they have pub­lished.”

A mes­sage on the in­sti­tute’s web­site added: “For its first two years, the In­tegrity Ini­tia­tive was funded by pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als.

“Fund­ing for 2017 and 2018 was pro­vided by a grant from the UK For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice (FCO). It is in­evitable that a pro­gramme tack­ling dis­in­for­ma­tion in Europe finds it­self spend­ing much of its time ad­dress­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties of the Rus­sian State, in­clud­ing those car­ried out through its in­tel­li­gence ser­vices.”

But David Miller, a pro­fes­sor of Po­lit­i­cal So­ci­ol­ogy in the School for Pol­icy Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of Bris­tol, be­lieves se­ri­ous ques­tions need to be an­swered. He said: “It seems ex­tra­or­di­nary that the For­eign Of­fice would be fund­ing a Scot­tish char­ity to counter Rus­sian pro­pa­ganda which, for ex­am­ple, ends up soft- ped­alling far-right politi­cians in the Ukraine be­cause they hap­pen to op­pose Putin.

“It must raise ques­tions with OSCR, the Scot­tish char­ity reg­u­la­tor, about breach­ing char­i­ta­ble rules. It would ap­pear this or­gan­i­sa­tion could have re­ceived al­most £2mil­lion from the FCO, so peo­ple have a right to know what’s hap­pen­ing with their money.”

The IFS states in its filed ac­counts they are a reg­is­tered char­ity based at the Fife ad­dress. Its fi­nan­cial state­ment to Com­pa­nies House men­tions the In­tegrity Ini­tia­tive as one of its char­i­ta­ble ac­tiv­i­ties along with run­ning Duke of Ed­in­burgh pro­grammes.

The man­ager of the In­tegrity Ini­tia­tive ap­pears to be Christo­pher Don­nelly.

A web­site bi­og­ra­phy states he is a grad­u­ate of Manch­ester Uni­ver­sity and re­serve of­fi­cer in the Bri­tish Army In­tel­li­gence Corps who pre­vi­ously headed the Bri­tish Army’s So­viet Stud­ies Re­search Cen­tre at Sand­hurst.

Be­tween 1989 and 2003, he was a spe­cial ad­viser to Nato Sec­re­taries Gen­eral and was in­volved in deal­ing with the dis­in­te­gra­tion of the So­viet Union and re­form of newly emerg­ing democ­ra­cies in Cen­tral and Eastern Europe.

He left NATO in 2003 to set up and run the UK De­fence Academy’s Ad­vanced Re­search and As­sess­ment Group. In 2010, he be­came a di­rec­tor of IFS.

The FCO did not re­spond to our re­quest for a com­ment.

TROU­BLE AT MILL Derelict build­ing is base of or­gan­i­sa­tion com­bat­ting Rus­sian dis­in­for­ma­tion

BASE Think tank HQ, Sergei Skri­pal, right, and Putin, in­set

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