CIJA Sting Operation Stirs FCDO’s ‘Hotch Potch’ of Spooks
A recent sting operation carried out by the Commission for International Justice and Accountablity (CIJA) entrapped an unsuspecting academic member of the Working Group on Syria Media and Propganda (WGSPM) into engaging in a series of email conversations with a fake “Russian agent”. These emails were then supplied to the BBC producer, Chloe Hadjimatheou, who is responsible for a prolonged smear campaign against the Working Group, journalists and former diplomats who are challenging the establishment narratives on Syria — narratives that have sustained the “humanitarian” pretexts used to justify the ten-year proxy war against Syria by hostile states forming the US Coalition. The UK has played a major role in the war to topple the Syrian government and to reassert US/UK rule-by-puppet over the country and, effectively, in the region.
The academic Paul McKeigue, who was targeted by CIJA, was in the process of investigating the organisation’s financial background, their intelligence agency, US State Department and other government connections and their collaboration with extremist armed groups fighting inside Syria.. McKeigue’s briefing on CIJA was published shortly after the revelation that he had been the victim of the protracted sting operation launched by CIJA.
Professor Tim Hayward, another member of the WGSPM, has asked important questions about the conflict of basic principles demonstrated by CIJA’s entrapment.
McKeigue’s briefing demonstrates that “in the Syrian conflict, one of the most prominent organizations reported to be gathering evidence of crimes allegedly committed by the Syrian government is the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), established by William Harry Wiley, a Canadian former army officer.” CIJA is at the centre of a number of initiatives to push through charges of alleged “war crimes” against Syrian officials and President Bashar Al Assad himself.
CIJA is a major cog in the wheel of politicised justice designed to crush countries legally that have resisted UK/US-dominated military interventionism, as Syria and her allies have done successfully for ten years. McKeigue’s briefing provides a rigorously researched analysis of why CIJA was incubated, and of the nexus of UK government bodies and intelligence agencies behind the operations in Syria.
My focus in this article is not on CIJA but on an ostensibly minor spin-off from the parent complex. I was intrigued by an “entertainment” company established in November 2019, one week after the death of James Le Mesurier, the former British military intelligence officer who founded the terrorist-linked White Helmets organisation financed by multiple governments invested in regime change in Syria, headed up by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (UK FCDO).
The CIJA sting and McKeigue’s subsequent briefing included the first mention of a company called Hotch Potch Entertainment, established by an erstwhile colleague of Le Mesurier, Alistair Harris, who is an influential fixer for UK FCDO interventionist policies globally. Harris was interviewed by BBC producer, Hadjimatheou, for the Mayday series, a concerted attack against the WGSPM and associated independent journalists who have been questioning mainstream narratives on Syria for years. The timing of the establishment of the company led me to investigate further.
Hotch Potch Entertainment, Alistair Harris and the MI6 spin-offs
Alistair Harris is listed as one of three directors of Hotch Potch Entertainment Ltd (HP), which was set up on 18th November 2019, and has its registered office listed as Lower Newnham Farm in Dorset, UK. Harris has a history of involvement with UK FCDO foreign policy operations in the Balkans, Pakistan, Central Europe, Yemen, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Syria.
Harris, with the reversed baseball cap. Photo taken from LinkedIn.
Harris was the founder/director of Analysis Research and Knowledge (ARK) Lebanon in 2009. In 2011, as the “Arab Springs” swept across the Middle East plunging the region into orchestrated chaos, Harris established ARK FZC (registered in Dubai), later renamed ARK Group DMCC, as another of the multiple outreach agents providing intelligence support for UK FCDO foreign policy in nations targeted for regime change.
CIJA was an ARK creation, as were the White Helmets, founded by James Le Mesurier while he was employed by ARK in 2013. Le Mesurier was with ARK from 2011 until 2014, when he established Mayday Rescue (also originally registered in Dubai, later in the Netherlands) as a so-called NGO which acted as intermediary between UK and EU governments and the White Helmets, funnelling funding to that entity embedded with armed groups dominated by Nusra Front (Al Qaeda) in Syria.
Le Mesurier’s second wife, Sarah Tosh — who also conducted work in Lebanon for UK FCDO contractor Siren — was likewise an ARK employee from 2013 to 2020, and his third wife Emma Winberg founded Innovative Communications and Strategies (InCoStrat) together with Paul Tilley, another suspected MI6 agent and former military officer. Incostrat was tasked and funded by the UK FCDO to provide PR and media support for US/UK-backed armed groups in Syria. These groups included Jaish Al Islam (Army of Islam), a group renowned for sectarian brutality and ethnic cleansing pogroms across Syria. Jaish Al Islam admitted using banned chemical weapons against the Kurds in Sheikh Maqsoud in 2016, to the north of Aleppo City. Winberg later joined Mayday Rescue as a director alongside Le Mesurier.
CIJA, the organisation behind the sting operation that effectively entrapped McKeigue, was spawned from Harris’ ARK Group. All these connections demonstrate the incestuous nature of these barely concealed UK government- and intelligence agency-linked networks that provide essential legal, media and intelligence/information back-up for Global Britain’s neo-colonialist, hybrid-war-focused foreign policy.
While Harris appeared to dodge the issue of his potential MI6 connections when interviewed by Hadjimatheou for the BBC’s Mayday series, McKeigue had concluded that Harris is or was very probably a British intelligence operative. His UK FCDO-linked operations certainly reinforce that conclusion.
The activities of Harris’s ARK Group DMCC in the Syrian conflict and in Lebanon are described in detail in batches of leaked FCDO documents that appeared online in September 2020, labelled as Operation HMG Trojan Horse. When the first batch of files revealing the extent of UK FCDO (the recent rebranding of the previous FCO) subversive operations in Lebanon were released on 11 December 2020, the Anon preface to the leaked material included a warning to British Embassy intelligence officers to leave Beirut before the second batch of documents was released. McKeigue points out that Harris did indeed relocate from Beirut to London at this time, “announcing on his LinkedIn profile that on 21 December 2020 he had been appointed to a new post with the Stabilisation Unit’s Civilian Stabilisation Unit.” The British Ambassador to Beirut, Chris Rampling, also resigned “for personal reasons” during the same period; perhaps a coincidence.
The three directors of Hotch Potch and their spy ring potential
In Companies House records, Harris is listed as a “business owner” by occupation, and his country of residence is given as the United Arab Emirates. His co-directors in HP, both appointed on 18 November 2019, are Helen Frances Busby (Solicitor) and Simon Jules Wilson (Consultant). Busby is listed as UK resident, Wilson based in Oman. The registered address of HP is Lower Newnham Farm, Broadwindsor, Beaminster, Dorset, UK.
Tellingly, a Google Maps search for the property reveals that the building has been obscured. This is not necessarily unusual, but the investigation into the other businesses registered at this address and the British government/intelligence links of company directors do increase suspicion. It also reminds me of the Integrity Initiative disused mill scam — yet another military/intelligence operation running (dis)information campaigns, with Russia as a primary target.
Wilson appears on a list of MI6 officers published in 1999, detailed as “Simon Jules Wilson: date of birth 1966; [diplomatic cover postings with year —] 91 Athens, 93 Zagreb, 199 New York, 02 Budapest”. Wilson’s biography confirms these postings, followed by missions in Oman, Iraq and Kuwait. He left the “British Diplomatic” service in 2012 and now works as “an advisor on government relations for a number of companies specialising in the Gulf”. Wilson speaks Russian, Hungarian, Serbian, French, Greek and Arabic. Wilson was appointed OBE in June 1997.
When the spy list was leaked in 1999, the British government tried unsuccessfully to prevent the informations publication on the web. Blame for the breach of security was attributed to Richard Tomlinson, an “embittered” MI6 agent who was released from service in 1995 and later served a jail sentence for “violating Britain’s Official Secrets Act” . The UK Foreign Secretary at the time, Robin Cook, claimed the list was “riddled with inaccuracies” but admitted that some names were indeed those of current MI6 operatives.
After being “let go”, Tomlinson made a number of assertions, some quite impactful, “including accusations that MI6 tried to assassinate the Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milošević, in 1992”; that British intelligence was involved in the death of Princess Diana; and that the UK had a “highly placed spy in German’s central bank who leaked secrets over a 12-year period”. Tomlinson was, unsurprisingly, discredited as being “prone to fantasy” by a UK Foreign Office (UK FCDO) spokesperson.
The release of the MI6 agent names led to the withdrawal of operatives from the Balkans, as widely reported in 2004 here and here, and it exposed the murky, clandestine operations of the British government and intelligence agencies as part of NATO operations to destabilise and forcibly partition the former Yugoslavia, a dismemberment perceived by various analysts to be the blueprint for operations against Syria and other target nations.
Harris was also working for the UK FCDO from 1996 to 2002 and his postings included the Balkans, Central Europe and Pakistan. Harris speaks Serbo-Croat and “operational”-level French and Arabic. Harris was appointed an OBE in 2013 “for services to stability in Lebanon”: ironic, as the recent UK FCDO document leak has revealed that Harris was yet again involved in an extensive destabilisation project in a country torn apart by externally-orchestrated sectarian divisions.
Why would two such high level UK FCDO operatives, both suspected MI6 agents, combine to establish a company that purports to provide motion picture and television programme production activities, immediately after the death of James Le Mesurier? It is also worth observing that Le Mesurier’s death on 11 November 2019 followed on from a protracted investigation into suspected fraud and embezzlement by the Mayday Rescue NGO founder and director who had set up the NGO, in 2014, to funnel government funds to the terrorist-embedded White Helmets inside Syria.
There is the possibility of another connection between Le Mesurier and Simon Wilson, namely in Iraq. Wilson was there in 2005 and Le Mesurier was adviser to the Minister of Interior in Iraq around the same time.
Work on the BBC Mayday radio ‘documentary’ began in late 2019; the series was eventually broadcast in November 2020. Harris was interviewed by Hadjimatheou, as was Abdul AlKader Habak, a former ARK-trained videographer and stringer working inside Syria, who was also listed as a researcher for the entire Mayday series. Chloe Hadjimatheou has been asked, by myself and journalist Kit Klarenberg, whether she or the BBC have any connection to Hotch Potch. The response I received, not from Hadjimatheou herself but from a BBC publicist, is as follows:
This programme is the result of independent investigation by an experienced team of BBC journalists and we stand by it and our journalism.
In regards to your specific query regarding Hotch Potch Entertainment, there is no connection between this organisation and the series. Please make this clear.
This response clearly does not address the possibility of a connection between Hadjimatheou and Hotch Potch, a possibility raised in McKeigue’s briefing; it answers a question I did not actually ask. Why?
On 10 February 2021, Wilson and Helen Busby applied for Hotch Potch to be dissolved before accounts would become due, resulting in the disappearance from view of Hotch Potch and a lack of website or any accounts to give some indication of the outfit’s purpose or client base.
The Lower Newnham Farm / Beaminster company cluster
Hotch Potch is not the only company apparently linked to a former MI6 VIP registered at Lower Newnham Farm.
George Busby Ltd
George Busby Ltd was registered at Lower Newnham Farm in April 2015. Listed as a management consultancy (in the sub-category “Activities other than financial management”), its directors are Helen Frances Busby and George Busby. A filing of micro-company accounts in April 2020 show a turnover of £192,189 — as against £473, 016 in 2019. Capital and reserves also dropped from £363,780 in 2019 to £125,558 in 2020.
Apart from the obvious connection to Helen Frances Busby, who was also listed as “solicitor” for Hotch Potch, the George Busby links took us back into MI6 territory.
Busby was named alongside Hotch Potch’s Simon Wilson in the 1999 Balkans MI6 agents leak: “George Benedict Joseph P Busby: [diplomatic-cover postings] 89 Bonn, 92 Belgrade; date of birth 1960; OBE.” Thus, Busby was in Belgrade one year before Wilson was in Zagreb — and the disgraced spy Tomlinson claimed that the MI6 assassination plot against Milošević was in 1992. Busby was appointed an OBE in 2015, when he was serving as Counsellor, British High Commission, Islamabad, Pakistan. The appointment was for services to international security.
An article published in the Nacional, a Serbian daily newspaper, in 2004, alleges the pivotal role played by Busby to further British interests in the Balkans as a senior MI6 operative. He is described as later becoming “one of the six top men in the agency”. After Belgrade, Busby was relocated to Vienna, which, according to Nacional, is considered the main spy headquarters for the Balkans and Central Europe. The Nacional names Busby as one of those most intent on the overthrow of Milošević, alongside another MI6 agent, Anthony Monckton, who is credited with helping to arrange the flight of Milošević to The Hague to face trial for “war crimes” — accusations for which Milošević was posthumously exonerated. The section detailing Busby’s connections to Serbian underworld figures and influential oligarchs has been recorded here.
The Balkan connection
We now have two confirmed MI6 agents, Wilson and Busby, and two suspected MI6 agents, Harris and Le Mesurier, all with connections to the Balkans and the Middle East, all appointed OBEs (Le Mesurier was appointed in 2016) and born around the same time, all acknowledged as “international security” specialists. Le Mesurier founded the UK FCDO-incubated White Helmets while working for Harris at ARK, which then spawned CIJA.
Le Mesurier operated extensively in the Balkans both while serving with the British military and then as policy adviser on security justice to the United Nations mission to Kosovo. In July 1999 and continuing until 2000, Le Mesurier “was appointed Intelligence Coordinator for Priština City, acting as liaison officer between intelligence officers of different national contingents” forming KFOR (the NATO-led Kosovo Force). It was under these auspices that Le Mesurier helped transform, or rather, rebrand the Al Qaeda/Albanian warlords of the Kosovo Liberation Army into the Kosovo Protection Corps.
Burstock Ltd — military-intelligence networking
Burstock is registered at PO Box 9256, Beaminster, Dorset, UK. The company is listed as carrying out “other professional, scientific and technical activities not elsewhere classified”. It was incorporated in July 2015. Its directors are Helen Frances Busby, George Busby, Sir Barnabas White-Spunner and Lady Amanda White-Spunner. George Busby and Sir Barnabas White-Spunner were the original directors “with significant control”. Helen Busby and Lady Amanda White-Spunner joined in January 2018. Notably, in the company filings another address is also listed: “Lower Sandpit Farm, Drimpton Road, Broadwindsor, Beaminster, Dorset DT8 3RS”.
Burstock is one of the few companies among this cluster that actually has a website. Their mission statement reads as follows:
Burstock helps governments, commercial organisations and institutions to achieve their goals. We can help you to understand how the United Kingdom works and how to engage successfully with British partners. We also help British and multinational organisations engage overseas.
It appears that Busby is maintaining his Balkans role as facilitator for overseas oligarchs and corporate interests to gain a foothold in the UK. According to the website, “Sir Barney White-Spunner KCB, CBE served in the British Army for thirty-ﬁve years, ﬁnishing as the Army Commander. He has extensive experience in the Middle East, Africa and Asia leading both British and multinational forces. Most recently he has run the largest UK rural campaigning group representing the interests of 500,000 people. He is an Honorary Member of the French Foreign Legion and holds the US Legion of Merit.”
White-Spunner served in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq, eventually retiring from the Army in 2012. So the links to the Balkans and the Middle East are maintained. White-Spunner commanded the Household Cavalry Regiment in 1996, making four deployments to Bosnia. In 1998, he was deputy director of defence policy at the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). In 2003, White-Spunner became Chief of Joint Force Operations and Chief of Staff of the national contingent in the Middle East. The general later went on to become the British commanding officer in southern Iraq after the country had been decimated by the US/UK-led war against it, justified by the non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Further details are found here.
In 2020, Burstock declared £403,000 in the bank/cash in hand, owing £357,414, and the directors’ salaries amounted to £56,172. In 2016/17 the company appeared to be dormant; in 2018, 2019 and again in 2020, Burstock was exempted from audit due to its size as a small company.
On the Burstock Ltd website, there are lofty and vague claims of projects in hand. They are working with an unnamed Central European government, an unnamed Middle East client, an unnamed government, an unnamed African government and an unnamed but major US aviation service corporation. It is curious that a company ostensibly offering “other professional, scientific and technical activities not elsewhere classified” is not highlighting major government and corporate clients — unless, of course, these collaborations are intelligence-related and must be shrouded in secrecy, despite the public website.
Pillsdown Partners Ltd
Pillsdown Partners Ltd is another management consultancy (non-financial sub-category), incorporated in April 2018, and registered at the same Beaminster PO Box address. The two directors are Busby and Sir Barney White-Spunner, Helen Busby is Company Secretary. Up to 5 February 2021, the company has been dormant; therefore, no audit has been carried out.
Center for Dynamic Research and BNWS Cladding Ltd
The Busby connections lead us on to a cluster of companies, most with links to Beaminster and some to Lower Newnham Farm. According to Companies House, Busby holds a total of seven company appointments. Of those seven, two are registered to a Beaminster PO Box 9256 — namely Pilsdon Partners Ltd (previously Pilsdon Consultancy Services LLP) and Burstock Ltd (previously Burstock Partners LLP, registered at the Lower Newnham Farm, Beaminster address). George Busby is registered at Lower Newnham Farm. The Centre for Dynamic Research is registered in Grays, Essex, and BNWS Cladding UK Ltd is registered in Covent Garden, London. A telephone number listings webpage, however, shows BNWS Cladding to be a builders’ merchant based at Lower Newnham Farm, Beaminster.
BNWS Cladding Ltd. — registered in Covent Garden, London, and incorporated in July 2020
In October 2020, the company changed its name from Alubond Cladding UK Ltd. to BNWS Cladding Ltd. and the address was changed from Lower Newnham Farm to Covent Garden in the same month. So, Alubond Cladding UK had been registered at the same address as Hotch Potch and George Busby Ltd. The Covent Garden neighbourhood of London’s entertainment district certainly seems a strange relocation for a company registered as “agents involved in the sale of timber and building materials”. A look at the Covent Garden premises on Google Maps shows what appears to be office buildings, some apparently vacant.
The Centre for Dynamic Research has Busby as Director, is registered in Grays, Essex, UK, and was incorporated in April 2018. The company is listed as undertaking “other information service activities not elsewhere classified” and it does have a website and email address — email@example.com.
According to the website, C4DRES (the abbreviated company name given on the website) provides insights and intelligence to give clients the ‘edge’ in their geopolitical decision-making. Its clients are NGOs, government agencies, campaigning bodies and individuals. The company claims to have influenced the Bank of England, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister), and a global foundation providing networking and advisory services to former and current world leaders. The company claims to have enabled the countering of propaganda by militaries and governments. Once again, there are no client names disclosed. The website is a single page, indicative of it not being a working site, more of a front cover for what appears to be an intelligence-related operation run by a former top man in MI6.
C4DRES is also listed as a dormant company, and it’s accounts show only £100 cash at hand, which begs the question, how did this ‘dormant’ company influence the Bank of England?.
Walsingham Foundation — named after Queen Elizabeth I’s spymaster?
The final piece of the puzzle registered at Lower Newnham Farm, Beaminster, UK is a charity that goes by the name of the Walsingham Foundation. This perhaps reveals a little dark humour on Busby’s part: Sir Francis Walsingham was spymaster to Queen Elizabeth I. The charity was registered in February 2020: four months after the death of James Le Mesurier and eight months before the BBC Mayday series was broadcast and was closed down three months later.
Its trustees are George Busby, Helen Frances Busby and Sir Barney White-Spunner.
According to the Charity Commission for England and Wales website, this is how Walsingham will spend its money:
The charity aims to promote, sustain and increase individual and collective knowledge and understanding of intelligence analysis and studies for the public benefit. The funds raised by the charity will be used in supporting academic institutions, granting scholarships and teaching intelligence skills. (Emphasis added)
The Walsingham Foundation provides grants to organisations and individuals, provides advocacy, advice and information, and sponsors or undertakes research. The Foundation operates in Wales and England, and, according to the Charities Commission website, it helps mankind. Again, there are no accounts available to afford transparency to the Foundation’s operations. The website reveals nothing regarding sponsors or donors, nor does it specify recipients of the grants. Is it a barely disguised front for intelligence agency activities with undisclosed funding?
Keeping it in the Intelligence family
I asked journalist Kit Klarenberg for his comments on the constellation of companies in Beaminster, and elsewhere in the UK, established by former British spies who operated in similar regions targeted for UK FCDO interference. Klarenberg told me:
There’s an enormous constellation of Whitehall contractors founded and staffed by former military and intelligence veterans — or are they truly former? — engaged in industrial-scale grift, leeching untold millions from the Exchequer [the British taxpayer] each and every year. Despite the number of firms involved, though, the sphere is incestuous in the absolute extreme and there’s a high degree of staff and operational overlap between them all — much like the highly fluid movement of fighters between separate jihadist groups in the Middle East, ironically enough.
Often, individuals running ostensibly separate companies will work on the same or similar projects. These same people will have connections that may go back to education, military, government etc. MI6 is nothing if not an old boys’ club, specifically recruiting from elite institutions.
There is also the issue of spooks setting up companies of undefined origin that never file accounts throughout their existence. In September 2019, I exposed Citizens=Network, a seeming front for private intelligence firm Hakluyt, which is staffed by ex MI5/6 operatives and widely believed to be a façade behind which those agencies operate in secret.
Individuals involved in Citizens=Network have set up dozens of companies across the globe over many years, all of which remain officially dormant, sometimes for years. By definition, we don’t know if these entities are used to siphon and/or distribute illicit government or corporate cash. They could also serve as vehicles to conceal and facilitate fraud.
In April 2017, Le Mesurier and Winberg founded a “resilience solutions” company in the Netherlands, R3covery BV. It has never filed accounts, in breach of Dutch law, and Winberg has refused to answer questions about the entity. One could speculate that the company may have permitted Le Mesurier to funnel money out of Mayday via purchasing “resilience solutions” from himself. It would have shown up on the supposed charitable organisation’s balance sheet as a payment made to an external supplier and slipped beneath an audit radar.
Assumptions of bad faith on the part of these characters should be reflexive. In early 2019, Aktis Strategy, a “conflict resolution” specialist founded by two veteran FCDO operators, went bust, despite multi-million funding from the UK FCDO. A vast number of staff, and subcontractors, are still owed months of pay, expenses, and pension contributions. Yet one of its directors, Andrew Rathmell — former deputy director of the Foreign Office Strategy Unit — lives in a £2 million home in Oxfordshire. He charges members of the public £5 to visit his garden, which the National Garden Scheme describes as a “wildlife haven”.
The sting operation to entrap individuals seeking justice
Questions should definitely be raised as to the purpose of a media company established so soon after the suspicious death of James Le Mesurier and hot on the heels of a financial controversy surrounding the organisation Le Mesurier had established to siphon government funds to the equally controversial White Helmets. Did Mesurier’s former employer, Harris, establish Hotch Potch so soon after the suspicious death of Mayday Rescue’s Founder in order to help with the cleaning up of suspected financial irregularities? Was Hotch Potch involved in providing information for Hadjimatheou’s “investigation” despite the BBC’s denial?
While the BBC is refusing to provide any further details on its involvement, if any, with Hotch Potch, it is clear that the director of the company, Harris, is intrinsically linked to UK FCDO-outsourced intelligence operations that have destabilised multiple countries, including Syria, Lebanon and states in the Western Balkans. Harris is, in fact, at the centre of the web of entities pushing to bring Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
CIJA deployed an unethical sting operation to entrap McKeigue into revealing details about colleagues who are working to expose the black ops that the UK FCDO has planned and carried out against Syria for more than a decade. Who is going to put the boot on the other foot and entrap the BBC, the MI6 spin-off agencies and UK FCDO outreach organisations into revealing the extent of their campaign to destroy Syria and other sovereign nations, concealed beneath the fig leaves of “humanitarian aid”, “diplomacy” and “security solutions”? When will these entities be held accountable or forced to respond to the questions that any thinking person would ask?