I have today submitted the text of my book to the FCO for clearance, as I am contractually obliged to do. I have already received four letters, an email and a phone call to tell me I must not publish without clearance, so I have little doubt that the FCO intends to prevent publication. I thought it might be interesting to publish the correspondence as it develops.
Apart from the Official Secrets Act, or the ironically named Freedom of Information Act, the government can use civil litigation under contract. A civil servant’s contract nowadays states that they will never publish anything they learnt or saw in the course of their work, whether it is secret or not. This removes any public interest defence, or need for the government to prove questions of national security. It should cause more alarm than it does that civil servants are gagged by such draconian anti-whistleblower legislation.
I have finished 26 chapters of the book, and the final three are part complete. Publishers abroad seem very keen, but not in this country, which I don’t completely understand. There is one firm bid in to option the film rights, and five other expressions of interest in bidding for these. My agents are David Higham.
From: Craig Murray
Sent: 29 September 2005 07:17
To: Richard Stagg
Subject: Should Not Be Known
As promised, I attach the text of my memoir. This is not actually quite finished yet, but I thought you might like to be getting on with clearance.
I note that Mr Price has gone ahead and published his account of life in No 10, without clearance. I bought a copy of the Mail to read it. It was rather boring. The interesting thing is that I would not have bought it, had the government not tried to ban it. The same is true of Spycatcher, a mind-numbingly dull book which I bought because it was banned, as did 220,000 other people. I rather hope that you do try to prevent publication, because you won’t succeed, and it may help me secure a publisher. Publishers in this country remain less than interested.
That is probably because there is nothing new in the book ‘ it is all very much in the public domain. I hope that the writing makes it still interesting.
The book reproduces a number of official documents. These are either in the public domain, being readily available on the internet (and not originally placed there by me, though I subsequently copied some to my website), or were released to me under the Data Protection Act.
The exception might be some of the detail on the Chris Hirst case. Here I think there is a duty to contradict the extraordinarily tendentious account of events given to the Foreign Affairs Committee by Sir Michael Jay. I also believe that one of the more disturbing episodes of the whole story, is the fact that the FCO were much less concerned that Hirst was conducting murderous assaults, than they were interested in using him to obtain evidence that I visited bars. I expect the reading public will think so too.
I have tried to be scrupulously fair to my colleagues, however little they deserve it, and to be more than fair to the more junior. I would like to believe that the Office might learn some lessons from this account, but of course you won’t.
I would finally add that attempting to avoid embarrassment is not a legitimate reason to ban a book or parts of it. However I expect that to be the Office’s reaction.
I hope that whoever gets the task of ploughing through this, finds at least bits of it enjoyable. It is actually quite an interesting story, even though I say it myself. I fully believe it to be entirely true. Where information comes not from my direct observation but from another source, I say so.