The following is an important press statement from the Federal Commissioner of Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic, concerning the recent allegations made against Jeremy Corbyn:
Currently there is a debate in Great Britain about a possible documentation of activities of the Labour politician Jeremy Corbyn in the Stasi records. The Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records (BStU) usually only releases information with connection to a person to journalists and researchers when records document an official or unofficial collaboration with the Ministry of State Security. Otherwise there is no further disclosure. But because speculations have risen because of this policy in the case of Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott, the BStU for this case makes the following statement:
The most recent researches in the written records of the Ministry for State Security of East Germany have not produced any records or any other information on Jeremy Corbyn or Diane Abbott.
press spokeswoman BStU
Over the past week the right-wing gutter press have published a series of completely false and ridiculous smears, claiming that Labour politicians are ‘traitors’ and attempting to link them with Soviet bloc spies. Of course this is part of a broader strategy of tension, designed purposefully to create public alarm – to portray the left as a threat to the wellbeing and security of our society – and it has continued to reverberate around the media; used as part of an arsenal of pro-establishment, anti-progressive propaganda to discredit Corbyn and the left.
It’s a long-standing propaganda strategy from the right wing Westminster media bubble.
On 8 October, 1924, Britain’s first Labour government lost a vote of confidence in the House of Commons. The next day the Foreign Office was evidently sent a copy of a letter, purportedly originally sent from Grigori Zinoviev, the president of Comintern, addressed to the central committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The letter urged the party to stir up the British proletariat and the military in preparation for class war.
On 25 October the fake letter appeared in the heavily Conservative-biased Daily Mail just four days before the election. The political and diplomatic repercussions were immense.
The letter came at a sensitive time in relations between Britain and the Soviet Union, due to the Conservative opposition to the parliamentary ratification of the Anglo-Soviet trade agreement of 8 August 1924.
The publication of the fake letter was severely embarrassing to Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald and his Labour party. The chance of a victory was dashed as the manufactured spectre of internal revolution and a government oblivious to the “red peril” dominated the public consciousness, via the media. The Daily Mail published a series of sensationalist headlines, such as:
- Civil War Plot by Socialists’ Masters
- Moscow Order to Our Reds
- Great Plot Disclosed Yesterday
- Paralyse the Army and Navy
- Mr. MacDonald Would Lend Russia Our Money
The more things change, the more they stay the same for the pro-establishment media mouthpieces. Of course this is propaganda, not journalism. The letter was confirmed as a forgery as well as a filthy, deceitful propaganda pre-election campaign. However, it was too late, as the damage was done to the Labour Party and affected the General Election outcome in 1924.
Jan Sarkocy, a former Czech spy who worked for the Statni Bezpecnost (StB) secret police during the Cold War, claims he met Jeremy Corbyn a number of times in 1986 and 1987 – including twice in the House of Commons and once in the Islington North MP’s constituency office.
Svetlana Ptáčníková, who heads the Czech Security Forces Archive – which holds documents relating to StB spies and their contacts, also says the story about Corbyn isn’t true.
“Mr. Corbyn was neither registered [by the StB] as a collaborator, nor does this [his alleged collaboration] stem from archive documents,” she told Czech News agency CTK.
Ptáčníková, who heads the Czech Security Forces Archive that keeps documents of the now defunct StB, said that The Sun’s headline branding Corbyn a communist spy definitely does not correspond to reality.
“Mr Corbyn was neither registered [by the StB] as a collaborator, nor does this [his collaboration] stem from archive documents,” Ptacnikova said.
On the contrary, the Czech archive keepers, who are studying the relevant files, have found signs showing that the StB tried hard to prevent Corbyn from uncovering the real identity of the Czechoslovak official he was meeting, Ptáčníková said. Dymic was a secretary at the embassy in London and he was meeting Corbyn in his capacity as a diplomat. He was expelled from Britain in 1989.
In a supreme act of self harm to his credibility, Sarkocy, who now lives in the Slovakian capital Bratislava, went on to claim that he personally organised the Live Aid concern in 1985, which he said was “funded by Czechoslovakia”.
Sarkocy, who operated under the name Jan Dymic, claims there were more than 10 meetings between the two.
He claims that the Labour MP was a “paid informant”, known by the codename Agent Cob (how very original), who passed on information as part of a process of “conscious cooperation”. However, records show there were only 3 meetings.
Czech authorities have also confirmed the meetings, but say that Corbyn was not an informant. There are signs that Czechoslovakian intelligence officials made attempts to hide Sarkocy’s true identity from the Labour MP, they said.
Furthermore, the Czech Prime Minister has described the spy who made the claims as “totally untrustworthy”.
Conservative MPs have ludicrously called on Corbyn to release his Stasi file, compiled by the east German secret police. The German authorities responsible for the Stasi archive confirmed on Tuesday that they had found no documents on Corbyn. (See opening paragraphs) and this included all files that can’t be released publicly for privacy protection reasons, spokesman Matthias Dziomba said.
Sarkocy has also made claims that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis cooperated with the Czechoslovakian secret police – a charge Babis has long denied and which is the subject of a long running court case.
“Mr Sarkocy is lying,” Mr Babis told Czech tabloid CTK. “He is an absolutely untrustworthy person and I am shocked that Czech media consider him a relevant source of information.”
Sarkocy’s other claims have also remained completely unsubstantiated.
A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said: “The claim that he was an agent, asset or informer for any intelligence agency is entirely false and a ridiculous smear.
“Like other MPs, Jeremy has met diplomats from many countries. In the 1980s he met a Czech diplomat, who did not go by the name of Jan Dymic, for a cup of tea in the House of Commons.
“Jeremy neither had nor offered any privileged information to this or any other diplomat.
“During the Cold War, intelligence officers notoriously claimed to superiors to have recruited people they had merely met. The existence of these bogus claims does not make them in any way true.”
A Labour Party spokesman dismissed Sarkocy as “a fantasist, whose claims are entirely false and becoming more absurd by the day”.
“These ridiculous smears should be given no credence whatsoever,” he added.
Ken Livingstone, also claimed to have been involved in said he had “no recollection of meeting anyone from the Czech embassy” and dismissed the claims as a “tissue of lies”.
John McDonnell, it was claimed had met with a KGB agent also strongly denied this allegation.
He said: “These are ridiculous and false allegations. I have never met any Czechoslovak or Soviet agent, nor visited the Soviet or Russian embassy and have only visited Guildford once in my life, which was last year for a Labour Party public meeting.”
Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has dismissed the claims. In a strongly worded attack on the newspapers reporting them, he said: “This journalism is not worth the paper it’s printed on. The only thing these articles reveal is just how concerned some tax dodging media barons are about a Labour government.
“In an era when the traditional press is fighting for survival newspapers should be upping their journalistic standards not falling onto the wrong side of the fake news divide.
“These irresponsible scurrilous stories do a disservice to the titles they are printed in and undermine the British newspaper industry during a very febrile time. For newspapers to have a brighter future than they look to now, proprietors must focus on ensuring their publication’s long term health and reputation, rather than on cheap political attacks.”
Corbyn is telling the truth
Communist-era files from the intelligence agency of Czechoslovakia provide no evidence whatsoever that Corbyn was ever a spy or agent of influence, say experts and academic researchers who have reviewed the papers on Tuesday.
Radek Schovánek, an analyst with the defence ministry of the Czech Republic – which emerged, along with Slovakia, from the peaceful breakup of Czechoslovakia in 1993 – has spent 25 years researching documents filed by the now-defunct spy service. He told the Guardian the suspicions against Corbyn were unfounded, and the claims of Ján Sarkocy, a former intelligence officer expelled from Britain in 1989, to have signed the Labour leader up were false.
Schovánek said Sarkocy’s assertions were at odds with the security files, which represented the definitive record on agents and contacts, and made no reference to Corbyn as a recruited agent, or to McDonnell or Livingstone.
Asked if he was calling the ex-intelligence officer, now living near the Slovakian capital Bratislava, a liar, Schovánek said: “When you compare the documents which he had written and signed himself with what he is saying today, based on that he is a liar. He signed a list of documents in the UK which said Corbyn was an intelligence contact, not an agent.”
Schovánek, 54, who secretly smuggled banned books from the west into Czechoslovakia during the cold war, said he felt compelled to speak out on Corbyn’s behalf, despite strongly disagreeing with the Labour leader’s left wing politics.
“I personally don’t like Corbyn. I’m Roman Catholic and conservative, but I think we have to defend people against a lie,” he said.
Daniela Richterová, a politics and international studies researcher at the University of Warwick, said the files showed the Labour leader was never a “source”. “We know how the process of arranging a collaboration works,” she said. There was “no evidence” Corbyn was recruited during four meetings with Sarcozy, she added.
These accounts resonate with Darren G Lilleker, associate professor at Bournemouth University and author of the 2004 book Against The Cold War: The History and Political Traditions of Pro-Sovietism in the British Labour Party, 1945-1989.
Lilleker said Corbyn was not among those Labour MPs who were sympathetic to the Soviet Union. “He was against both sides, the US and the Soviet Union, seeing them both as a danger to world peace.”
Conservatives are telling lies
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has demanded an apology and a donation to charity from a Conservative MP who claimed the Labour leader sold British secrets to “communist spies”.
Ben Bradley, a Tory party vice-chairman, made the claim in a Twitter message which he subsequently deleted. Corbyn has branded newspaper allegations that he met with a communist spy during the Cold War “increasingly wild and entirely false”. Quite properly so.
Lawyers acting for the Labour leader note that while the tweet has been removed, “serious harm has been caused by the libellous statement”.
In a four-page letter to the Mansfield MP, they demand that Mr Bradley:
- Confirms in writing that the defamatory statement will not be repeated in any form;
- Tweets an apology and asks followers to retweet it;
- Makes a donation to a charity of Mr Corbyn’s choice in lieu of damages;
- And pays Mr Corbyn’s legal costs.
In Corbyn’s response to the right wing lies (see video below), he says:
“In the last few days The Sun, The Mail, The Telegraph and The Express have gone a little bit James Bond.”
He goes on to say: We’ve got news for the billionaire, tax exile press barons: Change is coming.”
Quite right. It’s long overdue. It’s time we stopped permitting the one-party gutter press to stage-manage our democracy.
Andrew Neil, on the Daily Politics show today, accused the Conservatives of “outrageous smears” and peddling “outright lies” about Jeremy Corbyn, as he dismantled Tory Brexit minister Steve Baker and handed him his ass over claims the Labour leader was connected to a communist spy.
The video can be found here on the Huff Post, and it’s well worth watching.
Here is a copy of the letter to Ben Bradley from Corbyn’s solictor:
Dear Mr Bradley
OUR CLIENT: RT HON JEREMY CORBYN MP
We act for the Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP.
This is a Letter of Claim for the purposes of the Pre-action Protocol for Defamation. The prospective Claimant is our client, the Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP. The prospective Defendant is you, Mr Ben Bradley MP.
Yesterday, 19 February 2018, you published the following tweet on your Twitter account, Ben Bradley MP (@bbradleymp):
“Corbyn sold British secrets to communist spies…get some perspective mate!! Your priorities are a bit awry! # AreYouSerious”
Your statement that our client sold British secrets to communist spies is untrue. The inference that our client, whom you know to be the Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition and the Leader of the Labour Party, had engaged in criminal acts of treachery and spying could not be more seriously harmful of a British citizen, let alone such a prominent politician. As the vice-chairman of the Conservative Party you are fully aware of the serious harm that was caused or was likely to be caused to our client’s reputation by your defamatory statement.
The natural and ordinary meaning of your words is that our client engaged in criminal activity at the most serious level. For example, espionage and serious breaches of the Official Secrets Act 1911; that he acted in a manner which was/is prejudicial to the safety or interests of the United Kingdom; that he colluded with representatives of the secret services of foreign states to the detriment of the national interests of the United Kingdom, putting its citizens and its allies at serious risk of harm by passing confidential secret information to foreign agents/intelligence officers. Furthermore the natural and ordinary meaning of your words is that our client made financial gain for such criminal acts and espionage.
Our client’s reputation has been or is likely to be seriously harmed by your publication of the offending tweet and by re-tweets. Furthermore, your tweet has been quoted in full in the Guardian newspaper, the Mirror newspaper, the Huffington Post, Sky News, the Mail Online and has been paraphrased in other national print newspapers, and online, which is unsurprising given your own high profile within the Conservative Party and your status as an MP.
Our client instructed us yesterday evening and we advised his office to put out an immediate statement notifying you and others of the fact that he had taken legal advice and that the tweet should be deleted from your Twitter account. We note that you have removed the tweet but nevertheless serious harm has been caused by your libellous statement.
Our client requires you to immediately agree to take the following steps:
1. Provide a written undertaking, in terms to be agreed with us, that you will not repeat the defamatory statement identified above in your offending tweet or utter or publish any allegations/statements to similar effect about our client on Twitter or on any other social media platform or in any other form both written and oral.
2. Immediately agree to publish on your Twitter account an apology, in terms to be agreed with us, and with the additional statement that you will ask your followers to retweet your apology.
3. Agree to pay a sum of money direct to a charity of our client’s choice, in lieu of damages payable to our client for the injury you have caused to his reputation and also for the embarrassment and distress caused to him by your defamatory statement. We invite your proposals by return with regard to the amount that you will pay which we would expect to be substantial, as our client’s attitude towards the level of payment will take into account the speed with which you make sensible proposals or not. Our client does not seek any personal financial benefit from this litigation and if you force him to issue proceedings and recover substantial damages through the courts he will donate the damages to a charity of his choice.
4. Pay our client’s legal costs incurred in relation to this matter. If you delay the resolution of this case our client will commence legal proceedings against you in the High Court and our client will seek from you not only his basic legal costs but also a success fee (as our client has agreed a Conditional Fee Agreement which provides for a success fee) and payment of an after the event insurance premium. If proceedings are commenced legal costs payable by you will increase significantly, especially if the matter proceeds to a full trial. Your swift agreement to the matters set out in the numbered paragraphs above will assist you in limiting your exposure to our client’s legal costs. Any failure by you to respond swiftly will undoubtedly mean that our client’s legal costs will increase significantly.
We look forward to your immediate and positive response. If there is any delay our client reserves the right to commence legal proceedings against you for damages and ancillary relief for defamation without further notice. In that event, our client will rely on the terms of this letter and the lack of an adequate response, by drawing your conduct to the attention of the Court.
Please indicate if you intend to nominate solicitors to accept service of proceedings on your behalf, should you seek to defend this claim.
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