March 25, 2021

Statement by Dr Piers Robinson Regarding the BBC (Chloe Hadjimatheou), Times (Dominic Kennedy), Daily Beast/Newslinesmag (Michael Weiss and Jett Goldsmith) attacks following the CIJA (Commission for International Justice and Accountability) sting operation targeting Professor Paul McKeigue, 24 March 2021

The WGSPM is a group of over 20 academics and researchers who share an interest in a common research area. The WGSPM is entirely independent of any state or organisation nor does it ‘work with’ any state or organisation. Individuals associated with the working group pursue their own research and writing activities for which they personally take full responsibility. As part of their work, and just like OPCW investigators, all good researchers have contact with senior government officials, politicians and military from multiple states. Indeed, I have personally briefed senior British military commanders on active service and taught hundreds of senior NATO officers. I have also lectured to multiple UK diplomats, officials and senior military with respect to UK government/intelligence service sponsored deception operations. All such contacts are entirely normal and legitimate. Relevant research output from members of the WGSPM is published on the WGSPM website and available for scholarly scrutiny. To date, work published has been of such a high standard that none of it has ever been refuted.

Any of my work related to the alleged chemical weapon attack in Douma, Syria, 2018 beyond the briefing notes published on the WGSPM website has been carried out in my personal capacity and is not in any sense as a representative of the WGSPM. My engagement with this issue has concerned the need for transparency and accountability at the OPCW in the face of concerted attempts, including those led by the US and UK governments, to censor OPCW scientists and information. In the course of my efforts I have had contact with many officials and elected representatives from multiple states as well as many well-known experts and opinion formers. The purpose of these communications has been to attain transparency and accountability regarding the OPCW/Douma issue by endeavouring to have the concerns of an OPCW senior management official and inspectors heard and acted upon and, because of credible information received by me that a threat of harm is posed, to help protect those raising concerns by getting the public to know the truth. Even a cursory review of the events over the last few years will show that this is clearly the case. As such, to accuse me of working in order to spread ‘conspiracy theories’ and ‘misinformation’ aimed at covering up ‘war crimes’ or ‘wrongdoing’ is entirely and demonstrably false.

Myself and some other members of the WGSPM do, however, have grave concerns regarding disturbing conduct by parts of the mainstream media. Attacks on members of the WGSPM started on the front page of the Times on 14 April 2018, the day Britain, America and France were bombing Syria, without UN-authorization, in response to the now controversial incident involving an alleged chemical weapon attack in Douma. The latest attacks are in response to Professor Paul McKeigue’s investigation of CIJA (Commission for International Justice and Accountability). In light of this, I have some questions for the journalists and media organisations concerned.

1) Why is a British government contractor (CIJA), with proximity to the UK intelligence services via its links to ARK, refusing to answer Professor McKeigue’s investigation questions and instead engaging in an elaborate sting operation designed to manipulate and discredit him?

2)  As is now widely known, senior OPCW scientists have repeatedly reported serious scientific and procedural irregularities with regard to the investigation of the alleged chemical weapon attack in Douma, 2018. Why has Ms Hadjimatheou used her platform at the BBC to smear these scientists and also the first director General of the OPCW José Bustani?

3) US journalist Aaron Maté has repeatedly asked Ms Hadjimatheou clear questions regarding errors and irregularities in your MayDay series for the BBC, including your failure to report that BBC producer Riam Dalati is on record as stating that his own research confirms that hospital scenes associated with the alleged Douma chemical attack were staged. After confirming you would answer, why have you now failed to answer Maté’s questions?

4) A senior OPCW official has stated he/she cannot discuss corruption within the OPCW because of the threat to life posed by actors who have perpetrated crimes in the “name of ‘humanity and democracy … even in the UK’”? He/she writes ‘I don’t want to expose myself and my family to their violence and revenge, I don’t want to live in fear of crossing the street’. This official is clearly saying that actors affiliated with the US, UK and France, the countries who bombed Syria following Douma, pose a serious and credible threat to innocent citizens. Why has the BBC and Times failed to investigate this matter?

5) Times columnist Oliver Kamm has publicly stated in a now deleted tweet that the late James le Mesurier requested that The Times continue its attacks on members of the WGSPM:- ‘[Le Mesurier] reached out to this newspaper to urge us to keep on their case’ (Kamm, 13 October 2019’). Why was the Times of London following suggestions from a former British military officer who was then working as a British government contractor in the MayDay organisation?

6) Since the first attack on members of the WGSPM following the alleged chemical weapon attack in Douma, Syria in 2018, documents have been published indicating the involvement of leading UK journalists with the ‘Integrity Initiative’, a UK government sponsored propaganda operation. Why have mainstream  journalists repeatedly refused to answer questions about their involvement with this initiative and when will the BBC and the Times investigate this matter?

7) It is now public knowledge that the UK FCO has managed a ‘stratcomm programme’ related to the Syrian war, ‘the largest of its kind since the Cold War’, and which has involved support for groups opposed to the Syrian government that include Jaish al Islam. Some of these groups fall under the UK terrorism definition.  Why have the Times and the BBC failed to properly investigate this issue and instead attempted to attack academics and scientists via smears?

8) Finally, with questions 1-6 in mind, is it the case that the you and other parts of the UK mainstream media are, through smear campaigns and hatchet journalism, attempting to prevent wider public attention and understanding of important public interest issues concerning potentially illegal covert and overt UK government involvement in the Syrian war?

Please note this response will be published as will be your answers which I very much look forward to receiving.

Yours Sincerely

Dr Piers Robinson