Charity in Corbyn tweets row

P7 jeremy corbyn and john mcdonnell

The Institute of Statecraft has been criticised for political tweets - but claims it has been the victim of a cyber attack

11th December 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A mysterious Scottish charity is at the centre of a row over spreading fake news about Jeremy Corbyn.

The Institute of Statecraft has been accused of using public money to target the Labour Party.

The think tank has received £2.25 million of funding from the Foreign Office, but has been found to have sent a number of political tweets – several of which criticised the Labour Party’s relationship with Russia.

OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator, said it had opened an inquiry into the charity's activity.

A spokesman said: "OSCR has opened an inquiry into the Institute for Statecraft, a Scottish charity (SC040870). The inquiry relates to the charity’s involvement in the Integrity Initiative.

"The charity itself has reported to us on some of the matters involved. In the light of this and other information available to us we have decided that further inquiry is necessary. Our inquiry will be carried out in line with our inquiry policy .  As always, the fact that we are undertaking an inquiry does not imply that we have formed any view as to any misconduct in the management and control of the charity.

"Our policy is not to comment on inquiries while they are ongoing, but when we use our formal powers or where public interest justifies it we will publish a report at the end of our inquiry."

The registered charity claims it is the victim of a disinformation campaign, and the Foreign Office confirmed the group was the victim of a hack.

A spokesman said: “The Institute for Statecraft, an independent charity, was hacked several weeks ago and numerous documents were published and amplified by Kremlin news channels.

"This is yet another example of Russian disinformation intended to confuse audiences and discredit an organisation which is working independently to tackle the threat of disinformation."

However Labour disagreed with the claim.

"This isn't about Russia," shadow Justice Minister Richard Burgon told Sky News. "This isn't about anything other than our concern that the Conservative government in this country shouldn't be using public funds or the state to undermine or attack the official opposition.

"That's why we're calling for a full enquiry, an independent inquiry. We can't have a Conservative Party, establishment cover up. We need to know the full facts."

A spokesman for the charity said: “In sharing information about such malign activities, the Integrity Initiative uses Twitter as a key method of sharing knowledge.

“This includes the usual Twitter practice of re-tweeting and liking tweets.

“However, at no time has the Integrity Initiative engaged in party political activity and would never take up a party-political stance.

“Disinformation and malign influence from rogue states and certain non-state actors are a threat to democratic values and transcend any party political cause.”