UK

Pro-Trump Fake News Phenomenon Saw British Far-Right Activist Take 'Central' Role

He 'cultivated extremist' links across Europe 'which includes links to Russians'.

14/02/2017 15:54 GMT | Updated 15/02/2017 09:00 GMT
Paul Faith/PA Archive
Britain First founder Jim Dowson has been name as one of the central disseminators of fake news during the US presidential elections 

The founder of Britain First and a London vlogger are being credited with being “central” disseminators of “devastating anti-Clinton” propaganda that helped win Donald Trump the US presidency.

From a bolthole in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, Jim Dowson “engaged in a concerted campaign” to promote Trump by spreading fake news about Hillary Clinton through a constellation of websites such as Patriot News, charity Hope not Hate (HNH), claim.

HNH said, Dowson, along with former British National Party leader Nick Griffin - who is also based there - “cultivated extremist” Far-Right contacts across Europe “which includes links to Russians with allegedly close connections to the Kremlin”.

Hope not Hate
Former British National Party leader Nick Griffin, left, pictured at the Reform Church in Budapest along with Jim Dowson, far right

“Operating behind a plethora of websites and Facebook groups, Dowson announced his mission to ‘spread devastating anti-Clinton, pro-Trump memes and sound bites into sections of the population too disillusioned with politics to have taken any notice of conventional campaigning’,” the charity writes in its annual State of Hate report. 

In one message credited to Dowson, who is also an anti-abortion activist, is alleged to have said: “Together people like us helped change the course of history.”

Another added: “Every single one of you who forwarded even just one of our posts on social media contributed to the stunning victory for Trump, America and God.”

Dowson’s connection to the fake news phenomenon didn’t go unnoticed in America with the New York Times saying his operation was the only politically inspired intervention in the campaign.  

Another “increasingly vocal voice in the alt-right and ‘fake news’ conspiracy world”, HNH wrote, is London-based vlogger Paul Watson, of conspiracy website InfoWars. 

Watson, who has 492,000 Twitter followers and over 700,00 subscribers on YouTube, HNH said, “was a central disseminator of conspiracy theories concerning Hillary Clinton during the Presidential election” and was “one of the main figures behind fake news/conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton having debilitating health issues in the run up to the US election, including the disgusting ‘Is Hillary Dying?’ hoax.”

Patriot News
A picture from one of Dowson's websites claiming Hillary Clinton is linked to a satanic network

HNH said Watson’s videos on the topic were viewed millions of times and were even “taken up by the right-wing network, Fox News”. 

Other Alt-Right commentators were also named as rising stars of the movement, including Milo Yiannopoulos, whose US speaking tour led to university riots earlier this month, and Colin Robertson, who runs the Millennial Woes YouTube channel

HNH noted that “British fascists” Dowson - who is also behind the religious order Knights Templar international - and Griffin, spent 2016 “building an international network of Far-Right, Christian extremist and pro-Russian groups across Europe and boasting of a direct influence on the US Presidential elections” as their “influence at home has waned”. 

The charity detailed the duos’ movements last year in building what it called a “disturbingly large network of alliances and friends that have been formed, ranging from links with pro-Putin extremists in Russia to right-wing self-styled ‘border militias’ in Bulgaria”.

“At a time of growing internationalisation of the Far-Right, Dowson and Griffin have been pioneers,” the State of Hate report said.   

Info Wars
Paul Watson from Info Wars has also been credited as being an 'increasingly vocal voice in the alt-right and ‘fake news’ conspiracy world'

In April 2015, Dowson and Griffin attended a St Petersburg conference “lauding Putin and heaping scorn on the West”, which, the pair then spread across Europe, according to HNH.

“The duo has travelled extensively through eastern and Central Europe lauding Putin as a new messiah and encouraging small – and fractious – nationalist groups in countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain to agitate against the West and, in particular, the European Union.”

HNH claims of Dowson’s current political agenda: “Now based in Budapest, Dowson has ingratiated himself into the radical fringes of polite society. He now travels with a Bible and religious garb – and with Griffin, the faux statesman who was once an MEP, in tow – to pump small groups of individuals with horror tales of western decline, Islamic immigration, abortion and falling birth-rates among European whites.”

Dowson, HNH said, had captured the attention of the European Far-Right through his ability to “manipulate social media”. He is credited for Britain First attaining a million Facebook followers.

“His work has not gone unnoticed. Hope not Hate understands that a growing number of Far-Right groups and leaders from central and eastern Europe are keen to use his services. Among them is Aleksandr Dugin, a Russian academic and fascist with alleged links to the Kremlin and the Russian military,” the report reads. 

While the British Far-Right, HNH said, remains a “bit player” internationally, it is still “dangerous. 

“We are likely to see this danger manifested in more Far-Right violence and terrorism originating from small, secretive and extreme networks. It is also likely that the new generation of vloggers and social media networkers from the Alt-Right and their fellow travellers will have an increasingly influential role on the shape of events.”