Britain’s Most Undesirable Immigrant: Why Was Shai Masot Given a Visa? 111

For over twelve hours there has been stunned silence from the FCO media department in reply to my questions about the Shai Masot case – I am an NUJ member, and I think the idea of a British journalist actually doing real journalism and asking real questions has astonished them. They have now asked me to put them in writing, and I have just done so. This is what I have submitted.

I am investigating the status of Shai Masot, the Israeli Embassy officer caught plotting against Alan Duncan and who was very active with UK political parties.

I appreciate the FCO line is that the case of his conduct is now closed. But I am not investigating his conduct, I am investigating the improper conduct of the FCO in granting him a visa and residency status in the first place.

My initial questions are these:

1) On what basis was Mr Masot in the UK?
2) He was not on the Diplomatic List, but plainly was a senior officer (an ex Major and current executive in the Directorate of Strategic Affairs) and therefore not qualified in the normal categories of technical and support staff. What precise visa and residence status did he hold?
3) How many more officers does the Israeli Embassy have with that same visa and residence status?
4) Has the FCO connived with the Israeli Embassy to allow many more Israeli intelligence operatives residence in the country than the official and reciprocated diplomatic staff allocation of the Embassy?
5) Did MI5, MI6 or any other of the security services have any input into Mr Masot’s acceptance and visa/residency status?

It is over 12 hours since I contacted the FCO’s media people with these questions. I would appreciate your earliest contact. My number is …

Craig Murray

Do not hold your breath

Astonishingly, the Israeli Embassy’s Senior Political Officer Shai Masot, implicated in a plot against the Deputy Foreign Minister, was not on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Diplomatic List, the Bible for the status of accredited diplomats. This opens up a number of extremely important questions. Who was he, what was his visa status and why was he resident in the UK? It is very plain that the work he was doing as “Senior Political Officer” would equate normally to senior diplomatic rank.

He was a major in the Israeli Navy – in the FCO’s own table of equivalent rank, Major equates to Second Secretary in the Diplomatic Service. After that he went on to apparently executive positions in the Ministry for Strategic Affairs, before moving to the Israeli Embassy in London. There he held many recorded meetings with politicians, including giving briefings in parliament and at party conferences, and acted in a way that in general would accord with a rank around First Secretary to Counsellor.

So why exactly has he never featured in the FCO’s Diplomatic List? He very plainly outranks many of those Israeli diplomats who are featured. It should be noted it is perfectly normal for diplomats not to come from a country’s foreign affairs ministry. For one example Ivan Rogers who spectacularly resigned recently as Britain’s Ambassador to the EU, was from the Treasury not the FCO. Several people in the Israeli Embassy, who are on the Diplomatic List, are not from the foreign service. So that is not the reason.

This is not an obscure point. As a former diplomat, my first instinct was to look him up on the Diplomatic List. Every country in the world controls the number of permitted foreign diplomats very closely, for two reasons. Firstly it confers an immigration residency status, and secondly it confers tax exemption and an immunity from prosecution. The Diplomatic List is therefore not a loose thing – there is an entire section of good employees in the FCO tasked with policing it in close liaison with the Home Office.

Embassies are allowed a very small number of technical and support staff – IT people and cleaners – in addition. But these must be what they say they are. Plainly Masot was not in reality one of these, and plainly the official Israeli Embassy explanation that he was a “junior member of staff” is a lie. The Israeli Embassy is not given visas for “junior members of staff” except in very specific job categories which Masot plainly does not meet.

It is a lie in which the FCO must have been absolutely complicit in organising his immigration residency status in the UK.

I have contacted the media office of the FCO to query Masot’s immigration status, and so far received no reply. But the key questions are these:

Shai Masot was not on the Diplomatic List. What kind of visa and residence status did he have in the UK?
How many other operatives does the Israeli have with the same UK residence status as Masot?
Why is the British Government granting Israeli intelligence operatives false residency immigration status in the UK based on a deliberate lie about their role and position?
How many other Israeli intelligence officers are active in the UK with a false immigration status?
Who, specifically, authorised Masot’s visa, and why?

My advantage as an ex-British Ambassador is that I know the bureaucratically correct questions to ask to get to the heart of a matter. Please do ask them of your MP, and get them to demand answers from the FCO.

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111 thoughts on “Britain’s Most Undesirable Immigrant: Why Was Shai Masot Given a Visa?

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  • Peter Downey

    Why do Israelis get their visas issued on arrival. Palestinians need sponsors, guarantees, isometrics and substantial fees,
    Not only that have to leave by way of Amman requiring overnight stays.
    Keep asking the questions Craig.

  • Sharp Ears

    IOP headlines for 08 JANUARY 2017:

    Israeli Army position opens fire on Gaza farms

    Israeli soldiers, firing stun grenades and tear gas, abduct Palestinian boy (15)

    Israeli soldiers terrorise 4 Palestinian children

    Israeli Army orders destruction of 2 Palestinian homes

    Night peace disruption and/or home invasions in 8 towns and villages

    2 attacks (2 Israeli ceasefire violations)

    21 raids including home invasions

    5 dead (1 Palestinian, 4 Israeli)

    2 abducted (aged 15 and 16)

    3 acts of agricultural/economic sabotage

    22 taken prisoner – 4 detained

    Details on link.

  • David Bracewell

    FCO should be asked if this type of arrangement is exclusive to Israel or whether there are other nations who are also the beneficiaries of it.

  • Conan

    Real question for sensible folks… is there any possibility that the ‘civil servant’ swanning around with Shai was acting with an MI5 brief? I thought her reaction and disappearing act was remarkably well managed, possibly aided by a quiet editorial word from powers that be?

  • David Marchesi

    thank you for your apt questions.
    I tend to think that the FCO and the State generally are sold ouit entirely to the US/Israel axis, and that they will either ignore or cleverly evade your enquiry. The point always, as Humpty Dumpty remarked, is who has the power ? Not rational, disinterested enquirers perhaps least of all. It would be virtually unprecedented for the media to pick up the details of your letter and insist on an unequivocal answer from the FCO and from Mr Regev. Honesty and integrity are quite unknown to this sort of person, and, sadly, to most of the UK media and political establishment.
    One can but try, I suppose.However, whilst a constituent of Mr Ellwood, who may be a minister involved, I have long since decided that any attempt to get an honest answer from him is futile.

  • tony greenstein

    Disgraceful set of questions Craig. It is clearly a matter of national security. Poor Shai Masot was simply trying to help out his friends in the Labour and Tory parties and help them deal with the awkward squad politically. We are allies after all. I understand that the JLM is going to bring a legal action 4 breach of privacy. quite right.

    There is a fundamental human right to threaten to kill your political enemies without sneaky undercover journalists taping you.

  • Abe Hayeem

    The activities of the various branches of the Israel lobby are well known. BICOM especially has almost free access into parliament and holds regular briefing for ministers and MPs. All the Conservative Friends of Israel MPs and peers (80% of them) have constant influence and again open access to ministers and frequently ask questions in support of Israel, parroting the Embassy hasbara line. Now we know that their questions are even drafted for them by the Embassy staff.
    The Board of Deputies, the CST, the Jewish Leadership Council all have open access to all ministers, and especially MPs like Michael Gove and Eric Pickles are first in the line to quash Palestinian events, meetings and condemn BDS, as do the PM and Labour Friends of Israel.
    We have seen how the whole sordid antisemitism campaign by the Lobby has wrought havoc in the Labour Party, and has been used as a political tool and witch-hunt against MPs and activists, many Jewish themslelves
    The whole thing is a tangled web, and thus searching questions are needed to confront these de-stabilising forces in British parliamentary, judicial and civil life and are a threat to free speech and democracy.

    Freedom of Information requests should be used to get answers to Craig Murray’s admirable set of questions. Why has the mainstream media not taken up this scandalous story? The Daily Mail seems to have done admirable work in starting the revelations. They should pursue it relentlessly.

  • chris Coppock

    Great, Craig–keep at it! Israel’s efforts to subvert democratic government here, in the US and maybe elsewhere, demand full exposure.

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