The British Foreign Office is to launch an investigation into reports the UK government has been funding an anti-Russia charity which has promoted unfavorable views of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn via social media.
Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan has ordered an inquiry after the Daily Record leaked documents at the weekend showing anti-Corbyn propaganda promoted by the Institute for Statecraft – veering off its intended remit of countering so-called Russian disinformation.
The charity based in Fife, Scotland, which has received £2m in Foreign Office money, has been found to have promoted tweets labeling Corbyn a “useful idiot” who has aided the Kremlin cause, and attacked members of his staff, the Guardian reports.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Duncan said that after being informed about the allegations he ordered an investigation.
“I don’t know the facts but if there is any kind of organisation for which we are paying which is involved in domestic politics in that way, I would totally condemn it, and I have already over the weekend asked for a report to be on my desk by 10 o’clock this morning to say if there is any such activity,” Duncan said.
Asked if this meant anti-Labour attacks by Statecraft must stop, Duncan said: “Not only must it stop, I want to know why on earth it happened in the first place.”
Statecraft initially seems to be a small organization which claims to counter alleged Russian propaganda by forming communities of journalists and influencers who use social media to push back on any so-called disinformation.
However, leaked documents provided to the Daily Record show that the organization’s Integrity Initiative isn’t as grassroots as it appears on the surface. In fact, it’s funded with millions of Foreign Office cash and run by British military intelligence specialists.
The Integrity Initiative’s spokesman Stephen Dalziel has said he is “not aware” of any Corbyn attacks on the official social media account. “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.”
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