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Government admits that Institute of Statecraft was funded through CSSF

A SLUSH fund has been used to bankroll an anti-Russia charity that was engaged in an online smear campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the government has confirmed.

Brighton Kemptown Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in a parliamentary question earlier this week whether funding of the Institute for Statecraft (IfS) was through the government’s controversial and murky Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF).

Today, FCO minister Sir Alan Duncan replied: “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s support for the Integrity Initiative is CSSF funded.”

This comes after the FCO was found to have funded the IfS and its programme Integrity Initiative by £2 million this year so far.

Integrity Initiative had retweeted articles accusing Mr Corbyn and his team of being accomplices to the Kremlin, as well as reports critical of Conservative politicians.

Mr Russell-Moyle said: “This is why we need more transparency from the CSSF, which is getting budget increases despite awful audits. 

“The public should know if their tax is spent on an organisation that repeatedly attacks the leader of the opposition in the name of fighting Russian disinformation.”

The FCO has been accused by human rights group Reprieve of being complicit in human rights abuses in Bahrain by funding its security and justice reform programme to the tune of £5 million between 2012 and 2017 through the CSSF.

Reprieve’s report said that, despite British companies training Bahraini prison officers, police and other officials, the number of inmates on death row has tripled, torture in detention has continued and executions have resumed for the first time since 2010.

The CSSF has also allocated £403,000 to be spent between 2016-18 on courses for the Burmese military. The FCO suspended the aid to Burma in September 2017 after around 400,000 people
in the country’s Muslim Rohingya community were forced flee to Bangladesh.

The support was suspended only after a three week ethnic cleansing campaign by the Burmese Army in which at least 5,000 people were killed.

The fund has a budget of £1.2 billion a year, split between overseas development assistance, which counts towards Britain’s 0.7 per cent aid target, and other funding.

The CSSF was criticised in March by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact being insufficiently rigorous in applying safeguards to prevent collaboration with foreign entities with suspect human rights records.

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