The main objective is “to provide a coordinated Western response to Russian disinformation and other elements of hybrid warfare.” The Institute for Statecraft is affiliated with the NATO HQ Public Diplomacy Division and the Home Office-funded ‘Prevent’ program, so objectivity is, of course, at the forefront of their work.
Integrity Initiative: A Look Into the Deep State?
Early in 2018 the name Andy Pryce began to circulate around the rumour mill. He had been making statements to the press about Russia, where he was described as ‘Head of Counter Disinformation and Media Development’ at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
I asked some former Foreign Office people I know if they had ever heard of a ‘counter disinformation’ team – they hadn’t. The earliest press reference I could find to him and his job was in September 2017, so this was apparently a relatively new role.
Also in September 2017, Pryce took part in an event called ‘DEMOCRACY AND PROPAGANDA: Can independent media defend universal values?’, held in the Hilton Hotel in London. This was organised jointly by the European Endowment for Democracy and the EU Eastern Partnership, which, it turns out, is an FCO programme that “works to counter and reduce the effect of destabilising disinformation”.
Pryce took part in the first round of Ukrainian-British interagency consultations on countering cyber threats held in London in March this year.
He took part in the 2018 EU DisinfoLab, in April.
In October he took part in the Atlantic Council’s Global Forum on Strategic Communications and Digital Disinformation event, held in Washington DC. Of note here is that this was a two day event. Andy Pryce’s contribution came on day two, which has not been made available on video.
To get to the bottom of what Andy Pryce is, and what he does, I decided Freedom of Information was probably the best approach. I asked about the scope of his role and the size of his team, and was both bemused and amused that the request for information was refused on the basis of ‘national security’: the Freedom of Information act says that national security can only be used as grounds for refusal where intelligence services are involved.
Nearly a year since the submission of that question, the FCO’s response is now under investigation by the Information Commissioner.