A secret UK Government-funded 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 online propaganda by forming “clusters” of friendly journalists and “key influencers” throughout Europe who use social media to hit back against disinformation.
Politicians and academics have reacted with fury to news a covert Government-funded unit had been attacking the official opposition in Parliament.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “It would appear that we have a charity registered in Scotland and overseen by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator that is funded by the UK Government and is spewing out political attacks on UK politicians, the Labour Party and the Labour movement. 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 Policy Studies at the University of Bristol, added: “It’s extraordinary that the Foreign Office would be funding a Scottish charity to counter Russian propaganda which ends up attacking Her Majesty’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 Chris 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.
Documents passed to the Sunday Mail suggest he was appointed an “Honorary Colonel in Military Intelligence” in 2015 – the year the Integrity Initiative was formed.