Daily archives: April 21, 2005

Secret memos, allegations, a sacking and a resignation – Timeline of Craig Murray’s posting to Uzbekistan

August 2002: Craig Murray is appointed British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, a US ally in the “war on terror”.

October 2002: In a speech to “Freedom House”, Craig Murray details grave concerns over the human rights situation in Uzbekistan.

November 2002: In a secret telegram to London, Craig Murray first criticises the receipt by the CIA and MI6 of intelligence extracted through torture.

November 2002 – March 2003: Craig Murray continues to speak out about human rights abuse in Uzbekistan, and support local human rights activists.

8th March 2003: Craig Murray is summoned to London and told formally of Jack Straw’s decision that intelligence material obtained under torture is both legal and useful.

March 2003 – August 2003: Craig Murray continues to speak out about human rights abuse in Uzbekistan.

August 2003: The Foreign Office presents Craig Murray with 18 disciplinary charges, including an allegation that he gave out British visas to Uzbek girls in exchange for sex. He is suspended and given a week to resign. He denounces the charges, and refuses to resign. The charges are not made public.

October 2003: The Guardian newspaper discovers that Craig Murray has been suspended, and reports details of the charges against him. A senior unnamed Foreign Office source talks of a “campaign of systematic undermining” against Craig Murray to pressure him to stop criticising the Uzbek government. The source suggests that the pressure was partly “exercised on the orders of No 10”. The Foreign Office refuses to make any official comment.

January 2004: All 18 disciplinary charges are disproved, and Craig Murray returns to his post – though he is disciplined for speaking to colleagues about the charges.

January 2004 – July 2004: Craig Murray continues to speak out about human rights abuse in Uzbekistan, and support local human rights activists.

July 2004: In a strongly-worded secret memo, Craig Murray criticises the British and US policy of accepting information extracted through torture by the Uzbek government. “We are selling our souls for dross”, he says.

October 11th 2004: Craig Murray’s secret memo is published in the Financial Times, following a leak by an unknown official.

October 15th 2004: Craig Murray is sacked from his Ambassadorial post “for operational reasons”, but remains on the Foreign Office payroll.

October 16th 2004: In a Radio 4 interview, Craig Murray speaks out against his sacking, claiming that he is a “victim of conscience”. He goes on to give other media interviews, in which he is critical of the Foreign Office.

October 21st 2004: Craig Murray is charged with “gross misconduct” for criticising the Foreign Office publicly.

February 2005: Craig Murray resigns from the Foreign Office, and announces his intention to stand as an Independent candidate against Jack Straw in Blackburn.

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Was Craig Murray sacked or did he resign?

Q: Was Craig Murray sacked or did he resign?

A: Both. Craig Murray was sacked from his post as British Ambassador to Uzbekistan in October 2004, but remained on the Foreign Office Payroll. He resigned from the Foreign Office in February 2005.

Q: Why was Craig Murray sacked from his post as British Ambassador to Uzbekistan in October 2004?

A: According to the Foreign Office, Craig was removed from his post for “operational reasons”. This followed the leak of a secret memo Craig had written, in which he raised serious doubts about the wisdom of US and British policy in Uzbekistan. When these doubts became public, it was deemed that Craig could no longer work effectively in his post, and he was removed.

Q: Was Craig behind the leak which led to his sacking?

A: No. We do not know who was behind the leak, or what their motivation was.

Q: Is it true that Craig Murray was under investigation for gross misconduct at the time of his sacking?

A: No. Craig was sacked from his post in Uzbekistan on October 15th 2004 for “operational reasons”, although he remained on the Foreign Office payroll. Shortly afterwards, he gave a number of interviews to the media, speaking out about human rights abuse in Uzbekistan and criticising the decision to withdraw him. The Foreign Office then charged him with gross misconduct on October 21st 2004 because of what he had said to the media. Ten months earlier, the Foreign Office had been forced to withdraw 18 other bogus disciplinary disciplinary charges (see our timeline for more details of these).

Q: Why did Craig resign from the Foreign Office?

A: Craig resigned from the Foreign Office over Western support for the brutal dictatorship in Uzbekistan.

Click here for a full timeline of Craig Murray’s posting to Uzbekistan

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‘Craig Murray. Middle-class hippy. Almost a gay icon’ – Craig’s campaign diary from today’s Guardian

The Guardian – Murray. Middle class hippy. Almost a gay icon’: I could actually win this election. The realisation came as something of a shock. It was not really part of the original game plan. Two months ago I arrived here alone, standing forlornly with my rucksack on Blackburn railway station, in the midnight snow. I wanted to make a stand on principle against illegal war, and against Jack Straw’s decision that we should use intelligence obtained under torture. I wanted to get some national publicity for these issues during the campaign, to counter Tony Blair’s mantra: “Let’s move on” from the war.

(Am I the only one to find this mantra insulting? I think I’ll rob a bank to get some campaign funds. When the police come to take me away, I’ll say, “Hey, let’s move on. OK, so I robbed a bank. Whatever the rights and wrongs, that phase is over. What is important is that we all come together now and get behind the really great things I’m going to do with the money.”)

Today, however, the campaign HQ is buzzing. Sixty-two local people have so far delivered leaflets for us, in many cases just to their own street. Last night nine volunteers from London were on spare beds and sofas, and 11 more are coming at the weekend. Last weekend, the flood of volunteers included Poles, Ghanaians, Swedes, Canadians and Kiwis.

The Green Goddess is about to go out on yet another mission with a leafleting crew. It is a great campaigning vehicle – a huge free mobile billboard with a big crew cab. It blasts out our campaign song, Hit the Road, Jack Straw by The Rub. The lyrics are really funky: “Yeah, shout out to Blackburn from the rest from the rest of the country/We’re hopin’ the people in that fine constituency/Can see the new world order ain’t no good for humanity./ So hit the road, Jack Straw, and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more … ”

The campaign is not popular with everyone. One irate voter called me a middle-class hippy. I was pretty chuffed, having aspired to membership of both for years. I also had an argument with yet another council flunky. This one told me I couldn’t park the Goddess outside the town hall to campaign around the shopping centre. I pointed out that Jack Straw regularly does just that. The notion of democracy still seems difficult for some of the authorities here to grasp.

I did some canvassing around the gay bars which are centred, wonderfully, on Mincing Lane. An enthusiastic young man called Geoff told me I was “almost a gay icon, which is really impressive, seeing how you’re ugly”. Put that on my stone when I go: “Craig Murray. Middle-class hippy. Almost a gay icon.”

Robin Cook came to Blackburn to support Jack Straw this week, presumably in a desperate effort to get a place in Gordon Brown’s eventual cabinet. Deeply sad. Cook spoke to a strictly limited audience of around 60. The BBC were not admitted, but the Guardian were, up for the day alongside the Murdoch press for a piece on Jack. They accompanied him on a tour that featured carefully staged spontaneity. The everyday activity stumbled across included interracial street football. One local Asian, Vaz, told me he had not seen this in 30 years.

Massoud had let his Labour party membership lapse because of the war. The local party plainly didn’t notice, because he was rung and told to be shopping in Asda during Straw’s hack-accompanied walkabout. Perhaps that was what Labour offered Asda as an incentive to let them do it – extra shoppers on a Monday morning.

Next week we are anticipating an even stranger source of support for Jack. Local rumour has it that the Saudi ambassador, representative of that fine democracy with a great human rights record, is coming to Blackburn. He and Straw, it seems, will address a meeting of Muslims hosted by the Lancashire Council of Mosques, chairman one Ibrahim Masters, a major Labour party fixer in Blackburn. Announcements are expected of Saudi largesse for the community. Election interference? Perish the thought.

The man who called me a middle-class hippy gave me a note saying, “Don’t forget our dead troops.” I can’t. Much more poignantly, neither can Reg Keays or Rose Gentle. That’s why we are standing.

‘ Craig Murray is standing against Jack Straw in the general election for the Blackburn seat. This column will appear in G2 every Thursday until the election. www.craigmurray.co.uk

click here to listen to Craig’s campaign song, “Hit The Road Jack Straw”

Click here to find out how you can help Craig beat Jack in Blackburn

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