BLACK OP TARGETS CORBYN
Foreign Office £2m funded infowar attack on Labour
A secret UK Governmentfunded infowars unit based in Scotland sent out social media posts attacking Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.
On the surface, the cryptically named Institute for Statecraft is a small charity operating from an old Victorian mill in Fife.
But explosive leaked documents passed to the Sunday Mail reveal the organisation’s Integrity Initiative is funded with £2million of Foreign Office cash and run by military intelligence specialists.
The “think tank” is supposed to counter Russian onl ine propaganda by forming “clusters” of friendly journalists and “key influencers” throughout Europe who use social media to hit back against disinformation.
But our investigation has found worrying evidence the shadowy programme’s official Twitter account has been used to attack Corbyn, the Labour Party and their officials.
One tweet quotes a newspaper article calling Corbyn a “useful idiot”, that goes on to state: “His open visceral antiWesternism helped the Kremlin cause, as surely as if he had been secretly peddling Westminster tittle-tattle for money.”
A message from the UK Government- funded organisation promotes an article that states: “Unlike Galloway (former MP George Galloway) Corbyn does not scream conspiracy, he implies it,” while another added: “It’s time for the Corbyn left to confront its Putin problem.”
A further message refers to an “alleged British Corbyn supporter” who “wants to vote for Putin”.
It is not just the Labour leader who has been on the receiving end of online attacks.
His strategy and communications director Seumas Milne was also targeted.
The Integrity Initiative, whose base at Gateside Mill is near Auchtermuchty, retweeted a newspaper report that said: “Milne is not a spy – that would be beneath him.
“But what he has done, wittingly or unwittingly, is work with the Kremlin agenda.”
Another retweet retw promoted a journalist who said: “Just as he supports the Russianssian Rus bombardbombardment of Syria, Seumasumas Seu Milne supporteds the Russiansian Rus slaughter of Afghanistan, whichich whi resulted ini more than a millionlion mill deaths.”
The Th Integrity InitiativeIn has been accusedused accu of supportingsuppor Ukrainian politiciansiticians poli who ooppose Putin – even when ththey also have suspected far-rightrig links.
Further leakedleake documents appear to shoshow a Twit ter campaign that resulted in a Spanish politicianpoliticia believed to be friendly to the KKremlin being denied a job. job The organisation’s “SpSpanish cluster” swung swu into action
on hearing that Pedro Banos was to be appointed director of the national security department.
The papers detai l how the Integrity Initiative alerted “key influencers” around Europe who launched an online campaign against the politician.
In the wake of the leaks, which also detail Government grant applications, the Foreign Office have been forced to confirm they provided massive funding to the Integrity Initiative.
In response to a parliamentary question, Europe Minister Alan Duncan said: “In financial year 2017-18, the FCO funded the Institute for Statecraft’s Integrity Initiative £296,500.
“This financial year, the FCO are funding a further £1,961,000. Both havee been funded through grant agreements.”eements.”
Politiciansoliticians and academics have reactedctedwithfurytonewsacovertwithfurytonewsacovert Government- funded unit had been attacking the of f icial opposition in Parliament.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “It would appear that we have a charity registered in Scotland and overseen by the Off ice of the Scottish Charity Regulator that is funded by the UK Government and is spewing out pol itical attacks on UK politicians, the Labour Party and the Labour movement. t
“Such clear political attacks and propaganda shouldn’t be coming from any charity. We need to know why the Foreign Office have been funding it.”
David Miller, a professor of political sociology in the School for Pol icy Studies at the University of Bristol, added: “It’s extraordinary that the Foreign Office would be funding a Scottish charityhi to counter Russian R i propaganda which ends up a t t a ck ing Her Ma j e s t y ’ s opposition and soft- pedalling far-right politicians in the Ukraine.
“People have a right to know how the Government are spending their money, and the views being promoted in their name.”
The senior manager of the Integrity Initiative appears to be Chr is Donnel ly. A website biography states he is a graduate of Manchester University and reserve officer in the British Army Intelligence Corps who previously headed the Brit ish Army’s Soviet Studies Research Centre at Sandhurst.
Documents passed to the Sunday Mai l suggest he was appointed an “Honorary Colonel in Military Intelligence” in 2015 – the year the Integrity Initiative was formed.
Papers we have viewed also suggest senior operative Dan Lafayeedney was an SAS soldier in 1978 and attached to a regiment which ran spy cells in Russia.
After contacting the Integrity Initiative through its website to ask about the Labour attacks, we received a call from spokesman Stephen Dalziel.
He said: “I’m not aware of that. I’m not the one who controls the Twitter account. If it was criticism of one of our politicians, then that shouldn’t be on there.”
When asked about the military background of Integrity Initiative employees, Dalziel denied any secret service involvement.
He added: “Chris Donnelly wawas in the TA for many years.
“Dan Lafayeedney, who is a Scot, that’s why it is reregistered in Scotland, was mmany years ago in the Army.
“I did one year as a TA ofofficer on attachment. The bibiggest chunk of my career, I waswas a BBC journalist. Definitely nonot secret service, I promise you.”
Previous online biographies ababout Dalziel suggest he spent a yeary in the British Army in 1981, befbefore joining the Soviet Studies ResResearch Centre at the Royal MilMilitary Academy, Sandhurst. ThThe leaked documents show a funding application to the Foreign Office that details the unit’s work.
Further papers reveal a unit in Lithuania which received overseas funding to “support a new hub/ cluster creation and to educate cluster leaders and key people in Vilnius in infowar techniques”.
The Foreign Off ice did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.
QUIZ UNDER FIRE Jeremy Corbyn and, right, Seumas Milne. Above, the mill Findlay, above, and Duncan
LEAKS Crumbling Gateside Mill, which is the address of the black ops unit. Picture Garry F McHarg DODGY AntiLabour tweets shared by group