‘Policies will lead to more terror’

By Daniel Bardsley in GulfNews.com

Dubai: A rebellious former British Ambassador has described his country’s foreign policy as “appalling” and predicted it will lead to more terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom.

Craig Murray, former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, called on Britain to align itself with Europe rather than the United States, saying Tony Blair was “completely out of step”.

Murray, 47, was removed from his post in 2004 after criticising the West’s support for Islam Karimov, the Uzbek leader accused of human rights abuses, among them the boiling alive of dissidents. His recent memoir of his time in Uzbekistan, Murder in Samarkand, has hit bookstores in the UAE and is being reprinted following strong demand.

In a telephone interview with Gulf News from London, Murray said: “Britain should return to being in line with European policy. European policy in the Middle East was respected. We’ve lost that respect.

“With Lebanon, it’s so obvious that it’s only the UK and the US standing in the way of an immediate ceasefire. The idea that we should prevent a ceasefire and allow the Israelis to kill as many Lebanese as possible is appalling.

“The government is completely out of step and sadly it will lead to a lot more terrorist attacks in the UK.

“We should coordinate our foreign policy with France and Germany and distance ourselves from the US.”

Murray had postings in Lagos and Warsaw before becoming Ambassador to Uzbekistan when still in his mid 40s. Within weeks of starting his job he decided that the regime was riding roughshod over human rights.

He said a trial of dissidents accused of killing a policeman and being members of an Islamic organisation was like “a Nazi show trial”. “The judge kept shouting and screaming at the defendants and making anti-Islamic remarks. It was really nasty.

“Within 24 hours I received photos of dissidents boiled to death. That was a hell of an eye opener,” he said.

Murray criticised the Uzbek regime in public and to his employers, and a string of disciplinary charges he described as “trumped up” were levelled against him.

He was cleared of the charges, which ranged from sexual misconduct to misuse of an embassy vehicle, but removed from his post after saying that British intelligence officials used information gained by the Uzbek authorities through torture. He resigned from the foreign office, which he said “destroyed my career”.

Later, he hopes to work promoting development in Africa. “I knew [the book] would be controversial. A lot of what it says is stuff the British Government really wouldn’t want to get out. That’s caused a lot of international interest,” he said, adding that a film version is planned, with Steve Coogan playing Murray and Michael Winterbottom directing.