Revealed: How Britain’s former Syria ambassador appeared on BBC to defend Assad… after quietly taking a job with dictator’s father-in-law

23 Apr

The British Syrian Society’s accounts do not show whether Mr Forde receives any payment or remuneration for his role.

However, the society has been mired in controversy in recent years over its role in providing support for President Assad, with a string of senior British figures resigning from its board.

It was accused last year of running a propaganda event in Damascus which was supported by Syrian government officials.

In 2012 Sir Andrew Green, another former British ambassador to Syria and then co-chairman of the society, quit after emails showed Dr Akhras had advised Assad on how to rebut evidence of civilians apparently being tortured.

Dr Akhras used a private email channel to the Syrian leader to offer advice on how the regime should handle criticism of its suppression of the opposition uprising, including how to counter video footage appearing to show the torture of children.

Other resignations included the society’s treasurer, Brian Constant and Sir Gavyn Arthur, a former Lord Mayor of London.

Sir Andrew said at the time: “This is all very sad. The BSS has done a lot of useful work but it’s very hard to see how it can continue. In the light of the recent revelations, the five British board members have decided to resign.”

In an earlier blow to the BSS, in September 2011, the HSBC bank said it would no longer represent the society.

Dr Akhras, a Harley street cardiologist who divides his time between London and Damascus, faced embarrassment over the 2012 leaked emails, which showed he was advising President Assad on how to handle the Syrian crisis.

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