Integrity Initiative/Cover up

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Concept.png Integrity Initiative/Cover up

The cover-up of the activities of the Institute for Statecraft/Integrity Initiative is an ongoing operation which has been only partially successful. Corporate media has very little to say on the group (and especially little on its systematic nurturing of "relationships" with journalists in their employ).

The UK FCO, revealed to have been spending millions of pounds on the Integrity Initiative.

November 2018 - The Leak

Full article:

The first Integrity Initiative leak was on 5 November 2018. This included documents

Official denial

In late 2018, after the initial leak,


The internal documents are a wide mix of strategy documents, meeting reports, name lists, invoices. clearly indicate that the supposedly apolitical charity was pushing an agenda including increased military spending and awareness (i.e. fear) of Russia.

However, no single "smoking gun" document has emerged - the significance of the documents is not easily conveyed in a short article, implications


Facing the exposure of an unknown numnber of internal documents, someone decided to close the institution's website.

Corporate media

Commercially-controlled media in the UK has not reported much about the Integrity Initiative. Exceptions include The Mirror, which published an article on 9 December entitled Labour attack government-funded body for sharing articles critical of Jeremy Corbyn.[1] Also, on the same day the Daily Record wrote that "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."[2]


A Wikipedia page was created on 18 December 2018, and lasted until 24 December 2018 when Wikpiedia User Rwenland replaced it with a redirect to the Institute for Statecraft page.[3] As of January 2020 Wikipedia had a single page on the group. The leak was afforded 3 sentences.

The Guardian

On 9 January 2019, James Ball wrote a piece in the Guardian which concluded that "If we are to tackle Russian-backed misinformation – and to restore trust in our institutions, we must – we can’t do it by trying to beat them at their own game... Working largely from the shadows, Russia has co-opted our information ecosystem. Confronting it will have to be done in the open."[4] A commentator in Off Guardian opined that the article "was so poorly written that they had to close the comment section after 138 comments. People do know a lot more than the Guardian thinks."[5]

The II's UK journalist cluster lists names of journalists employed by the commercially-controlled media. This would suggest that the II was in a position of strong influence over the commercially-controlled media agenda. This, coupled with the relatively inaccessible nature of the documents meant that the corporate media cover-up was a straightforward operation.

Independent media

Prior to the leak, former UK ambassador Craig Murray had already published about Ben Nimmo's misplaced zeal in denouncing Russian trolls. He was quick to grasp the significance of the II leak.


The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator opened an inquiry on the 13 December 2018, which after 10 months found that the charity’s purposes were “not entirely charitable”, that "one of its most significant activities, a project known as the Integrity Initiative did not provide public benefit in furtherance of the charity's purposes" and that "private benenefit to the charity's trustees was not incidental to the charity's activities".[6]

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