For the past couple of weeks, as you may know, I’ve been back in the UK, and have felt some pressure from the authorities in this time here. The conviction and imprisonment of Ben Stimson was framed around his being pictured ‘holding a weapon’ in Donbass, something the FCO have written to me about in the past. And further, they moved on from that by updating their travel guidance to add the threat that those who ‘assist those in the conflict’ in Donbass may be liable to prosecution in the UK.
I’ve written about all of that here –
So, what to expect as I leave the UK in a few hours? Well, of course I hope to normally pass through the border, with no issues. Journalism isn’t a crime, after all, even if the government don’t like it. However, what also happened in my time back here is that the BBC came after me to try to blur the lines, insinuate that I’d crossed journalistic lines. Here’s my response to that:
So what could the UK do against me? Jail me, like Ben? Unlikely they’d dare to go that far. Take my passport? They’d surely like to do that – either to stop me leaving the country, or force me into a position of applying for the passport of another country, i.e. Russia so they could discredit my work with ‘Russian propagandist’ etc. Not that that would or ever could be the case. I’m British, and actually consider myself a true patriot of the UK – in as much as I’d rather go against my country until it becomes the country I was brought up to believe in. For the moment, it’s hard to believe in anything the UK government do, and I’ve covered that on the Truth Speaker –
I will keep challenging the narrative of the UK government as long as they continue acting in an entirely deceitful, immoral way. The next period of work is a hugely important one, and I’m ready for it. I’m pleased to have received my Russian visa, writing of that here:
That, with your support, setting me up for the next year of work in Russia, of course not only. And, if the UK do try to prevent that in any way, they will have their own words to fall on, which they well indeed now wish to take back in light of their recent Ukraine escalation, from September 2016 that:
“Mr. Phillips did not commit an offense in Great Britain that could be a reason for the British government to make him forbidden to leave the country.”
Those by UK ambassador to Ukraine Judith Gough, by the way, and I’ve written of her here. And that came after my interview with Ukrainian POW (shortly before exchange), Vladimir Zhemchugov, and here’s my position on that:
Of course, the sensible thing for the UK to do would be to let me leave the country without any problems, warnings, questioning etc. Last time I left in March, it was 30 minutes of fairly standard questioning at Harwich. However even that shouldn’t be the case – I’m a working journalist, keen to get back to work, to do my job, to bring you reportage. I don’t like fuss, or scandal, just – reporting facts. That they don’t reconcile with the UK government’s version in no way impacts on my right to report them.
If you’re sleeping now, and read this later, I hope this finds you well, and my having left for the next period of work, which will incidentally encompass the completion of my documentary from Belval, Luxembourg, (pictured) about which I’m very excited, and onto Russia, and more!
I hope to return, before too long, to a better Britain…