A cross-party report [pdf] released on 21 May, has issued a damning condemnation of the UK government in relation to “dirty money” from Russia. But a BBC news report failed to link the findings to the government.
“Let me help you with this headline”
The report – Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK – was issued by the foreign affairs select committee. It was unequivocal in its findings and said [pdf, p7]:
The Government must show stronger political leadership in ending the flow of dirty money into the UK.
But the BBC headline read: UK turns blind eye to dirty Russian money, say MPs. And there was only one mention of the UK government’s responsibility.
Lawyer and campaigner Peter Stefanovic, kindly offered to correct the BBC:
Let me help you with this headline BBC. It should read “UK Government turns blind eye to dirty Russian money” https://t.co/Z9rUmSIIYg
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) May 21, 2018
The report states [pdf, p7] that “despite the strong rhetoric” issued by Theresa May’s government following the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in March 2018:
President Putin and his allies have been able to continue “business as usual” by hiding and laundering their corrupt assets in London.
It directly accuses the government of turning “a blind eye to London’s role in hiding the proceeds of Kremlin-connected corruption”. According to the report, this:
risks signalling that the UK is not serious about confronting the full spectrum of President Putin’s offensive measures.
The select committee asked the government to work with the EU, US and G7 countries, “to tighten loopholes” in sanctions against Russia. And significantly, “to sanction individuals responsible for gross human rights violations”.
It also said the government’s approach was “ad hoc” and “disjointed” and insisted that:
The UK must set out a coherent and pro-active strategy on Russia, led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and co-ordinated across the whole of Government, that clearly links together the diplomatic, military and financial tools that the UK can use to counter Russian state aggression.
The BBC did report this information, but made no reference to the government’s role, until the final line.
The BBC omission is significant, because there are ongoing concerns about Russian donations to the Conservative Party. As Owen Jones wrote in the Guardian, this is a “grotesquely under-reported national scandal”.
According to the Times [paywall], since 2010:
Tories have received more than £3m from Russian-linked tycoons and their companies, as well as from lobbyists for Moscow.
And, since May came to power:
Russian oligarchs and their associates have registered donations of more than £820,000 to the Conservative Party.
Some have said on social media that “the Tories talk tough” about Russia. But, “their bank account tells a different story”.
Next time someone says Jeremy Corbyn is "soft on Russia" – show them this. pic.twitter.com/f3e06K5RK0
— EL4C (@EL4JC) May 21, 2018
And even the Russian embassy seems to suggest that this situation could pose some “awkward questions”:
Do MPs want to root out all foreign “dirty money” (and ask awkward questions to some “friends and allies”) or just use selective justice against one specific nationality? pic.twitter.com/KryQKMA6If
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) May 21, 2018
Look what’s missing…
This report makes some very clear demands of the UK government. But the findings may pose a serious issue for the Tories, because of their Russian ‘friends with benefits’. For the BBC to focus on this as a UK ‘issue’, and largely omit the way in which the government is implicated, seems almost a little ‘dirty’ too.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?