| Mark Urban |
(soldier, academic, journalist, author, presenter, spook?)
Marylebone, London, England
|Alma mater||Rokeby School, King's College School, London School of Economics|
Mark Urban is a UK Establishment-friendly journalist, author, academic and was the diplomatic and defence editor for BBC Two's Newsnight at the time of the Skripal Affair. Asked by Craig Murray in an email (email@example.com):
- "You were an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment together with Skripal’s MI6 handler, Pablo Miller, who also lived in Salisbury. Have you maintained friendship with Miller over the years and how often do you communicate?"
In their response, the BBC avoided the question, saying:
- "Some of the information you’ve requested we are not obliged to share as it is held for purposes of journalism."
“Mark Urban’s piece for Newsnight tonight was simply disgusting; it did not even pretend to be more than a propaganda piece on behalf of the security services, who had told Urban (as he said) that Yulia Skripal's phone “could have been” tapped by the Russians and they “might even” have listened to her conversations through the microphone in her telephone. That was the “new evidence” that the Russians were behind everything. As a former British Ambassador I can tell you with certainty that indeed the Russians might have tapped Yulia, but GCHQ most definitely would have. It is, after all, their job, and billions of our taxes go into it. If tapping of phones is seriously presented as evidence of intent to murder, the British government must be very murderous indeed.”
Craig Murray (5 July 2018) 
Published on 4 October 2018, "The Skripal Files: The Life and Near Death of a Russian Spy" is, according to the blurb, "the explosive story of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and the new spy war between the West and Russia. The Skripal Files is based on hours of exclusive interviews Skripal gave before his near-death with number one bestseller Mark Urban, diplomatic and defence editor for BBC Newsnight." On 21 December 2018 Dan Kaszeta of the Integrity Initiative "heartily recommend[ed]" the book and termed it "the best starting point available at the moment" on the Skripal Affair.
Gatecrashing the book launch
On 5 October 2018, Sputnik News journalists Johanna Ross and Kit Klarenberg reported that they had gatecrashed the launch of "The Skripal Files" at Waterstones, Piccadilly. Ross and Klarenberg were concerned that the book far from putting people’s mind to rest regarding the Skripal case seemed to raise more questions than answers:
- "The timing of the interviews by Urban, at a time when Sergei Skripal was of little interest, but immediately prior to him becoming an international celebrity, and the fact these meetings were not made public until now, has raised questions.
- "Urban, served in the same British army regiment as an individual named Pablo Miller, who has been identified by Russia as an MI6 agent, and who Sergei Skripal states was his recruiter.
- "Sputnik spoke to former MI5 intelligence officer, Annie Machon, to ask what the likelihood was of Mark Urban, Pablo Miller and Skripal, being connected. Also in this report Sputnik directly questions Mark Urban on his connection to Pablo Miller..."
FOIA request to the BBC
- Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,
- 1: Why did BBC Newsnight correspondent Mark Urban keep secret from the licence payers that he had been having meetings with Sergei Skripal only last summer.
- 2: When did the BBC know this?
- 3: Please provide me with copies of all correspondence between yourselves and Mark Urban on the subject of Sergei Skripal.
- Yours faithfully,
Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as detailed in your email below. Your request was received on 8th July 2018. We will deal with your request as promptly as possible, and at the latest within 20 working days. If you have any queries about your request, please contact us at the address below.
The reference number for your request is RFI20181319.
BBC Freedom of Information BC2 A4, Broadcast Centre 201 Wood Lane London W12 7TP
BBC's dismissive reply
Dear Ms Eccles,
Freedom of Information request – RFI20181319
Thank you for your request to the BBC of 8th July 2018, seeking the following information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000:
2: When did the BBC know this?
3: Please provide me with copies of al correspondence between yourselves and Mark Urban on the subject of Sergei Skripal.
The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.’ The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information to you. Part VI of Schedule 1 to FOIA provides that information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters is only covered by the Act if it is held for ‘purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature”. The BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.
You may not be aware that one of the main policy drivers behind the limited application of the Act to public service broadcasters was to protect freedom of expression and the rights of the media under Article 10 European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”). The BBC, as a media organisation, is under a duty to impart information and ideas on all matters of public interest and the importance of this function has been recognised by the European Court of Human Rights. Maintaining our editorial independence is a crucial factor in enabling the media to fulfil this function.
For more information about how the Act applies to the BBC please see the enclosure which follows this letter. Please note that this guidance is not intended to be a comprehensive legal interpretation of how the Act applies to the BBC. That said, the BBC makes a huge range of information available about our programmes and content on bbc.co.uk. We also proactively publish information covered by the Act on our publication scheme and regularly handle requests for information under the Act.
The BBC does not offer an internal review when the information requested is not covered by the Act. If you disagree with our decision you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. Contact details are: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF or telephone 01625 545 700 (http://www.ico.org.uk).
Please note that should the Information Commissioner’s Office decide that the Act does cover this information, exemptions under the Act might then apply.
BBC Freedom of Information
“We have not yet begun to fight”
On 27 August 2018, Craig Murray wrote:
The BBC is of course being entirely tendentious here – journalism does not include the deliberate suppression of vital information from the public, particularly in order to facilitate the propagation of fake news on behalf of the security services. That black propaganda is precisely what the BBC is knowingly engaged in, and here trying hard to hide.
I have today attempted to contact Mark Urban at Newsnight by phone, with no success, and sent him this email (firstname.lastname@example.org):
As you may know, I am a journalist working in alternative media, a member of the NUJ, as well as a former British Ambassador. I am researching the Skripal case.
I wish to ask you the following questions:
- 1) When the Skripals were first poisoned, it was the largest news story in the entire World and you were uniquely positioned having held several meetings with Sergei Skripal the previous year. Yet faced with what should have been a massive career break, you withheld that unique information on a major story from the public for four months. Why?
- 2) You were an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment together with Skripal’s MI6 handler, Pablo Miller, who also lived in Salisbury. Have you maintained friendship with Miller over the years and how often do you communicate?
- 3) When you met Skripal in Salisbury, was Miller present all or part of the time, or did you meet Miller separately?
- 4) Was the BBC aware of your meetings with Miller and/or Skripal at the time?
- 5) When, four months later, you told the world about your meetings with Skripal after the Rowley/Sturgess incident, you said you had met him to research a book. Yet the only forthcoming book by you advertised is on the Skripal attack. What was the subject of your discussions with Skripal?
- 6) Pablo Miller worked for Orbis Intelligence. Do you know if Miller contributed to the Christopher Steele dossier on Trump/Russia?
- 7) Did you discuss the Trump dossier with Skripal and/or Miller?
- 8) Do you know whether Skripal contributed to the Trump dossier?
- 9) In your Newsnight piece following the Rowley/Sturgess incident, you stated that security service sources had told you that Yulia Skripal’s telephone may have been bugged. Since January 2017, how many security service briefings or discussions have you had on any of the matter above.
I look forward to hearing from you.
I should very much welcome others also sending emails to Mark Urban to emphasise the public demand for an answer from the BBC to these vital questions. If you have time, write your own email, or if not copy and paste from mine.
To quote that great Scot John Paul Jones:
- “We have not yet begun to fight”.
"A morally repugnant lying shill"
- "Some of the information you’ve requested we are not obliged to share as it is held for purposes of journalism, but I can provide you with a more general response regarding Mark’s meetings with Mr Skripal."
Craig Murray commented:
"The questions the BBC has refused to address at all are all those related to Pablo Miller, UK intelligence services and the Steele Orbis dossier on Trump/Russia. That is an extremely telling omission. Their attempt to issue a statement rather than address the questions individually, is a deliberate ruse to disguise that.
"On a balance of probabilities measure, I am willing to take the BBC’s refusal to answer these very specific questions as strong evidence that the Skripal case is indeed about Miller, Steele, Orbis and the Trump/Russia dossier. Furthermore the BBC knows that and is deliberately concealing the truth, and instead broadcasting evidence-free nonsense about Russian agents, knowing that to be untrue. If that were not the case, it would take the BBC quite literally two minutes to give the answers above. There would be no downside for the BBC in giving those answers; indeed they would be vindicated to a sceptical public.
"I asked you to imagine those answers were true. In asking us to imagine a better world, John Lennon told us “its easy if you try”. Sadly I find it is not easy. It is not easy to imagine a world in which Mark Urban is not a morally repugnant lying shill for the security services, that takes a very great deal of effort."
A Document by Mark Urban
|Title||Document type||Publication date||Subject(s)||Description|
|Document:Sergei Skripal - "I wanted a life outside Russia"||Article||28 September 2018||Sergei Skripal|
|Adapted from "The Skripal Files, The Life and Near Death of a Russian Spy" by Mark Urban, to be published by Macmillan on 4 October 2018 at £20|
|OffGuardian||“The BBC’s new drama “The Salisbury Poisonings” concluded over the weekend. A three-part story “based on actual events”, claiming to tell the story of the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in 2018. It’s exactly what you’d expect. Schlocky tat. Poorly researched, badly written and woefully factually inaccurate. The Guardian gave it four stars. Because of course they did. Because when you’re dealing with government-backed narrative everything that reinforces it must be described as having value. It’s one of the hallmarks of propaganda, that no story which supports the propaganda – however ridiculous – can ever be questioned, criticised or disputed. There’s room for an in-depth review, and indeed Craig Murray has done a fine job deconstructing the series. But here, I just want to focus on everything they don’t tell you.”||OffGuardian||19 June 2020|
|Document:Narrative Managers In Overdrive After Death Of White Helmets Founder||blog post||12 November 2019||Caitlin Johnstone||There is an immense narrative management campaign dedicated to controlling what people think about what’s happening in Syria. Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Official Narrative control comes before any other priority the empire might have: before resources, before land, before even war itself. It’s up to us to see through their lies and bring an end to the lie factory.|
|Document:Northern Ireland Information Service - Misinformation||Book||1994||David Miller||It is now well established (and has been admitted by the government), that the task of the Information Policy branch of Army headquarters in the early to mid 1970s was disinformation. False stories were spread in order to discredit the IRA as well as other enemies of the Intelligence services, such as Loyalist politicians and the Labour government.|
|Document:Novichok Part Deux: A Fusion of Media, Government & Military||Article||10 July 2018||Kenny Coyle||BBC diplomatic and defence correspondent Mark Urban revealed this week that he had in fact been meeting secretly with Sergei Skripal over a year ago.|
|Document:Sputnik Gatecrashes Launch of Mark Urban's Book 'The Skripal Files'||Article||5 October 2018||Kit Klarenberg|
|Sputnik Gatecrashes Launch of Mark Urban's Book 'The Skripal Files'|
- "The Skripal Files: The Life and Near Death of a Russian Spy"
- "'Mark Urban serves as a conduit between British Intelligence and the media' - Annie Machon"
- "Freedom of information request to BBC"
- "Skripals – When the BBC Hide the Truth"
- "Imagine if the BBC Were Honest"