From the Evening Standard, an article about Alisher Usmanov and me that is almost entirely wrong.
Arsenal billionaire in Red and White rumpus
A legal row has blown up between billionaire Alisher Usmanov, the man who has bought a ’75million stake in Arsenal, and the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan.
Craig Murray, who became a fierce critic of the Uzbek government after being the ambassador to the country from 2002 to 2004, was yesterday forced to remove a series of critical comments about Usmanov from his personal website.
The former diplomat penned a piece about Usmanov after his company Red and White bought ex-Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein’s 14.58% stake in the club last week.
Usmanov was born in Uzbekistan before moving to Russia and Murray made a number of allegations about the tycoon’s links with the Uzbek regime.
Usmanov has instructed solicitors to take action against media outlets making any damaging claims about the businessman and they threatened to sue Murray unless the article was removed.
In fact, I have received no communication of any kind from Usmanov or his solicitors. the opposite is true; I telephoned Schillings and asked them to sue me, but they didn’t seem keen.
I know lawyers who would be delighted to have the chance to quiz Usmanov in the witness stand (if we can find one wide enough), about his criminal conviction in the Soviet Union, how he secured his pardon, his relationship with President Islam Karimov, Gulnara Karimova and Gafur Rakhimov, the sources of his wealth and the doings of Gazprom Investholdings. I should be interested in his views on the mysterious fall from a window of his employee Igor Safronov.
I know several people who would like to take the witness stand themselves.
To many people it might seem strange that somebody should need to get expensive libel lawyers to write to all newspapers, before anyone had published anything, threatening to take them to court if they did. Some people might conclude that indicates something to hide.
My earlier post was removed by my web server after the webhost was threatened with legal action. I have heard nothing – a cowardly way of proceeding, in my view. I support the webhost’s decision to remove the article rather than have the site, and other valuable sites, perhaps closed down. But once the truth has escaped onto the internet, it is out there, despite all their frantic efforts.
Everyone, whatever their crimes, deserves legal representation in the criminal law. But lawyers who, for money, work on suppressing the truth for people like Usmanov, are themselves slugs.