This post from the Good Law Project is both revealing and thought provoking, and is a good example of what is meant by cyber warfare, only in this case it might be better called, cyber destabilisation . . .
Who pulls the strings of the shady groups in Tufton Street?
For years sections of the media have worked to expose 55 Tufton Street and its outsized and malign hold over the Government via the opaque lobby groups and right-wing think tanks like the so-called Global Warming Policy Foundation, the Liz Truss linked Institute for Economic Affairs and ‘anti-woke’ groups like Restore Trust.
Now Good Law Project has embarked on a series of legal interventions focused on Tufton Street cronyism: undisclosed donors, misinformation, astro-turfing, opacity and lobbying.
Restore Trust – far from restoring trust – is one of many organisations which needs scrutiny. It recently tried – and failed – to seize control of the National Trust, to stop it exploring debates on issues like slavery and LGBTQ+ inclusivity. Although Restore Trust claims to be grassroots it won’t say who funds it, or even who it is. It has many of the hallmarks of an astro-turfed – a fake grassroots – organisation whose function is to mask the real actors who have a vested and often financial interest in the message they sell.
We instructed expert data rights agency AWO to write to Restore Trust on behalf of our Legal Manager and National Trust member, Ian Browne, asking for a full explanation of who is behind their website and who holds and analyses the data. They have yet to provide a substantive response. So we have taken the first formal step in legal proceedings against them.
Last month we worked with MPs to write to the Charity Commission about another Tufton Street Group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), whose board has links to investors in oil, and lobbies Government to water down measures to address climate change. Their charity status means their misinformation, remarkably, is subsidised with public funds.
The Charity Commission has responded to us to say that they are actively considering the information we have shared with them about how, we believe, the GWPF breaks charity law. We will monitor the Charity Commission investigation and are likely to take action if the Charity Commission fails to discharge its obligations.
These two interventions are just the start. Tufton Street is not just about denying climate change and promoting fake history. For example, Tufton Street also hosts the Institute for Economic Affairs whose catastrophic economic policies were adopted by Liz Truss and drove up mortgage rates for millions of families across the country. Its funding and motivations, too, are opaque.
Unmasking these organisations, and challenging their abuse of charity status, are just two of the litigation tools we are using to tackle dark money in our politics. We want to degrade the whole ugly Tufton Street infrastructure – bring it into the light and force it to comply with the law.
This is complicated and important work requiring specialist legal help. And we need your help. Please donate if you are able to. We will use the money to support cases tackling dark money in politics.
It is our policy to only raise sums that we reasonably anticipate could be spent on this litigation. If for some reason we don’t spend all the money raised on this case, for instance if the Government backs down or we win, the donations will go towards supporting other litigation we bring.
I, personally, support the Good Law Project because they do a tremendous job of uncovering things that the owners would rather stayed hidden – and Full Fact (also supported by me) do the same thing in another way . . .