Founder of Scotland-based ‘charity’ also admitted it broke charity law – and Foreign Office rules
The Integrity Initiative(II), the organisation that received £2 million of state funding yet had interfered in the affairs of other nations such as Spain and listed numerous ‘mainstream’ journalists as resources, has apologised to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for negative social media messages about him.
The II’s founder, the Institute for Statecraft (IFS) also admitted that II had broken charity laws and Foreign Office rules by its political output. Chris Donnelly – an honorary colonel in military intelligence – said:
About 400 [of our tweets] made reference to some political party or politician, and they were roughly equal between the main political parties, but we should not have sent [them] because the Foreign Office does not allow us to make any party political comment, nor does Scottish charity law.
The Scottish Sunday Mail, which first exposed II’s activities, commented last week on the number of ‘mainstream’ journalists acting as ‘outliers’ (presumably ‘outriders’) of the previously-opaque organisation and called for an urgent investigation – as did Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who said:
This is a charity registered in Scotland and overseen by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, funded by UK Government contributions. It should never have been spewing out political attacks on the Labour Party and the Labour movement.
Such clear political attacks shouldn’t be coming from any charity. We need to know why the Foreign Office has been funding it.
This cannot be allowed to pass. We need a full inquiry into the actions of this organisation and its links to the Conservative Government.
The apology may be part of an attempt to rehabilitate the image of the organisation. Articles last month claimed that II, notionally founded to ‘combat Russian disinformation’, had been the victim of a Russian state-sponsored hacking attack – articles written by journalists named in leaked II documents as friendly resources. The articles – condemned by many as a whitewash – did not mention their authors’ conflict of interest and only mentioned the nature of many of the revelations of II’s activities.
Calls for an urgent investigation are entirely merited – and, given the nature or the organisation and the claims about it, it must be 100% public.
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