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Foreign Office denies its funds were used to smear Corbyn

FOREIGN and Commonwealth Office (FCO) minister Sir Alan Duncan denied yesterday that the department’s funding has been used for domestic party political activity that sought to undermine senior politicians including Jeremy Corbyn.

His assertion that the claims are “wholly untrue” came in response to an urgent question granted to shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry on the Institute for Statecraft’s (IfS) Integrity Initiative.

The charity declares itself “non-partisan” and claims its initiative’s objectives is to dispel “Russian disinformation.”

It was found earlier this week to have posted tweets linking articles that say Mr Corbyn was a “useful idiot” who “helped the Kremlin cause,” as well as one saying his communications chief Seumas Milne had worked “with the Kremlin agenda.”

It was also revealed to have received £2 million in FCO funds.

Mr Duncan, who had pledged to investigate the funding, said: “That funding covers its activity outside the UK and it does not fund any activity within the UK, nor does it fund the management of the Integrity Initiative’s social media account.”

Ms Thornberry argued that the initiative had a budget of £270,000 in this financial year for its “agreed objective to increase reporting in the media and expand the impact of their website and Twitter account.”

“Why was this misuse of public funds going unchecked?” she asked.

Mr Duncan claimed that the retweeting of anti-Russia articles was a result of the IfS having been “hacked several weeks ago” by Russia and that “numerous documents were published and amplified by Kremlin news channels.”

He added: “She can look at me as aghast as she likes, but the money that comes from the Foreign Office is used for activity overseas and she should accept that.”

 

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