Yearly Archives: 2008

Misconduct in Public Office

Damian Green was arrested and bailed by the Police for “Misconduct in public office”.

The most egregious example of “Misconduct in public office” in recent years was the preparation of the “Dirty Dossier” on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. This compilation of lies was used to launch a disastrous war of aggression that cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

Let us test the alleged automaticity of police investigation, which Jacqui Smith claims had no political direction. Go to

and report the promulgation of the “Dirty Dossier” as a crime of misconduct in public office. Name Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Alistair Campbell, John Scarlett, John Kerr, Peter Ricketts, Richard Stagg and John Williams as the offenders (take my word for it as someone who was in the FCO’s Senior Management Structure of the time, they are the main offenders).

I expect the Met’s response will show the extent to which they are the jackbooted and armed wing of NuLabour, rather than a body interested in actual misconduct in public office.

You have to leave your name and address, but if you have been browsing this website from home or work you are pretty certainly on a list already.

I have sent my report in. Apparently I should hear from a police officer within 72 hours. Perhaps the Nulab anti-terror squad may move even faster!

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Do you matter, or are you just a pleb?

Juan Manuel Barroso, President of the European Union, has announced that “the people that matter” in the UK wish to join the Euro. To make this even worse, he made a direct contrast in the same sentence with “I know that the majority are still opposed”, It is impossible to analyze his words in any way that does not indicate that he believes “the majority” do not “matter”.

I would like to think this was a slip of the tongue, but unfortunately it is rather an indication of the fundamental belief system of the Eurocrats. In my professional career I attended many conferences with diplomats and others from EU states, at which the role of “the elite” in forwarding “the European project” was a key theme. On scores of occasions I have heard it propounded that “the elites” initiated “the European project” and would always be its drivers. The contempt for the views of the Irish people shown in attempts to enforce Lisbon is a manifestation of a deep-seated anti-democratic tendency.

The irony is that I am a firm supporter of the EU. I believe European unity to be one of the noblest causes of my lifetime, I think free movement of people and trade is wonderful. I think we should join the Euro immediately. But I wish to see a democratic EU, with directly elected representatives (ie not fatguts Barroso) in the lead and subsidiarity genuinely applied.

The EU’s self-appointed “elite” are not the drivers of the process; by engendering well-deserved public hostility on a continual basis, they are a brake on the process. Doubtless UKIP are today grateful for the existence of Mr Barroso.

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Jack Straw is an Habitual Liar

Jack Straw, so called Justice Minister, denies that he had any foreknowledge of the arrest of Damian Green.

Jack Straw denied directly to the BBC in the documentary “The Ambassador’s Last Stand”, and denied to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, that he had any part in the false accusations laid against me or in my removal as Ambassador for raising human rights concerns. Yet, as detailed in Murder in Samarkand, I have obtained documents in Jack Straw’s own handwriting, directing the process, and he held at least three meetings with Sir John Kerr to organise it.

On being sacked, I very openly leaked a number of government documents concerning UK policy, the use of torture material by our intelligence services, and the government’s attempts to frame me. Most of these documents were classified more highly than the documents leaked to Damian Green, like this one for example:

Yet when I leaked a number of highly classified documents, openly on the internet with my name and address, did the police come knocking at my door? No, they did not. They consulted Home Secretary John Reid, who consulted Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. They concluded that they should seek to kill the story, and not generate publicity by arresting me.

Does anybody really believe that Ministers decided whether someone as obscure as I should be arrested, but were not consulted on whether Damian Green should be arrested?

Jack Straw is a serial liar. Do not believe him.

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A Small Fightback

There are important similarities between the Damian Green case and that of Sally Murrer. Sally is the local journalist who was harassed, strip-searched and intimidated by local police, because she was given information on the police bugging of a Member of Parliament.

As her lawyer said in court “The measures used by Thames Valley Police against Sally Murrer are familiar in authoritarian states where the police are used to discourage the media from reporting on issues of public interest using confidential sources”.

That is absolutely true. The fact that Sally has been cleared in Court after a defence based on the European Convention of Human Rights is a small fightback for liberty. But her unnecessarily brutal treatment by the police (what possible reason can there be for strip-searching a journalist?), and her ordeal have already done that totalitarian work. She has announced she no longer has the confidence to continue journalism.

The extraordinary thing is the way that the media have failed to give Damian Green, let alone Sally Murrer, the prominence they deserve. Media inattention to startling human rights abuses is of course another characterisic of a police state. Indeed we have been treated to an egregious BBC commentator telling us that, after the Bombay incident, the Indian people are demanding “More stringent anti-terror laws and more powerful anti-terror police, as we have in the UK”.

Happily, the blogosphere reflects the concern of the educated public much better than the once free media. And the isolation of the Nu-Lab hacks and trolls on these issues is startling.

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The Jackboots Are On The Move

The Conservative immigration spokesman, Damian Green, is not a figure ordinarily likely to elicit much sympathy from me – although Boris Johnson’s call for an amnesty for illegal immigrants was the most sensible suggestion on immigration for many years. But the arrest of Damian Green MP is a constitutional outrage that may finally motivate our supine parliament to stand up to this domineering executive.

When Tony Blair halted the process of law in the BAE corruption case over arms exports to Saudi Arabia, I commented that we had abandoned the principle that no man, however high, is above the law – a principle which we had chopped off Charles I’s head to entrench.

Charles I famously failed to arrest opposition MPs when he arrived at the House of Commons with his soldiers to be defied by the Speaker and find that, as he observed, “The birds have flown”. That attempt was critical in precipitating the country into civil war.

The good citizenry of London and Cambridge will not be grabbing their pikes and muskets today; but they should. The arrest of Damian Green for doing his job of opposing the executive is a step too far in rolling back centuries of democratic achievement. The pretext is the excessive desire of this government to keep all public information secret, and prevent the taxpayer from finding out what has been done in their name and at their expense. This is the most secretive, as well as the most authoritarian, government of the modern era.

I can comment with more authority than most in saying that civil servants now have a duty to leak: the official narrative is now so often far from the truth across the whole field of government, that if civil servants do not leak there can be no informed democratic debate. To arrest an opposition MP for finding out what is really happening is a grim, grim move.

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Mumbai and the World We Created

The attacks in Mumbai are appalling, but the truth is that to date the numbers killed are small by the standards of inter-communal religious violence in India.

But this time Westerners are involved, so there is far more media attention than when it is “Only Indians”.

This is yet another illustration that the “War on Terror” has been entirely counter-productive and has made the World a much more dangerous place for the very Westerners it was supposed to protect. The apparent al-Qaida copycat motivation of the attackers is a further sign that the “War on Terror” threatens to destabilise not just Pakistan but the whole sub-continent.

William Dalrymple’s excellent “The Last Moghul” details the religous tolerance of old India, and its systematic destruction by the British. These events must be seen in their context, not just of the hideous and violent blundering of Bush and Blair, but of four hundred years of history.

None of which excuses the stupidity of the acts of religiously motivated violence unfolding before us. I am sorry to be obliged to concede that the evidence is strong that we live in a global age of renewed irrationality, where religious impulses can easily be channeled to violence and hate. Important groups of Muslims, Jews, Christians and Hindus seem all prone to the infection. The Christians have commanded the most firepower to date. I do not in the least despise religous faith – it can lead to self-knowledge and to concern for societal good. But Richard Dawkins is quite right about its capacity for evil.

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Rashid Rauf Murdered

There is a highly sensible article in today’s Times by Patrick Mercer MP about the possible death of Rashid Rauf (whose family are denying his demise).

New Labour remains so bent on its simple minded pursuit of a foreign policy based on brute violence, that questions of legality are simply ignored. The Conservatives – in this case Mr Mercer – must again be congratulated for resisting simple populism and standing up for the fabric of legality that must underpin freedom.

To put it bluntly, if Rashid Rauf was indeed killed by US action in Pakistan. then he was murdered. He was killed on no legal authority. US attacks into Pakistan and Syria (which Obama supports) have no legal basis. Rauf was a UK citizen. We do not have the death penalty. Does New Labour accept as a matter of policy that the US can simply murder British citizens abroad at will? The government must be pressed hard on this question.

If Rauf has been killed, the question arises as to why. He was the primary source for information on the famous so-called liquid bomb plot to blow up airlines, which sparked the greatest over-reaction of government measures in the entire debacle of the War on Terror. Ultimately 80% of those arrested in connection with the “Liquid bomb plot” were released without charge, and the jury found that, while a small group did have terrorist intentions, there was no organised plan or airline bomb plot.

That is extraordinary, but even more extraordinary is that the prime informant, the alleged major al-Qaida terrorist, Rashid Rauf, “escaped” from the custody of the Pakistani intelligence services and MI6, apparently by simply walking out of his cell.

Let us add to this the further strangenesss that Rauf had originally left the UK after a warrant was issued for his arrest as a suspect in the murder of his uncle, a death with no apparent political or terrorist motive. Yet the UK authorities failed to request his extradition from Pakistan when he was in custody there, even though they were involved in his interrogation, and he was still wanted for murder in the UK.

So if Rauf was murdered (and his family are denying his death) was it because he was a terror suspect, or because the intelligence agencies were covering their tracks? Was the reason that the UK government did not want to extradite him to testify in the UK, the same reason he had to be silenced by his murder?

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The Balding Butt Plug

I have been offline for almost three weeks, and the reason is that I have been deeply depressed. I guess that it is time I came out as a lifelong sufferer from severe bipolar disorder, or manic depression as it was known when I was first diagnosed at Ninewells Hospital Dundee in 1978.

I have for almost all my adult life eschewed the chemical regulation the medical industry has so kindly proffered, and in general although very unpleasant to me, I have managed through self-will to control the swings as they affect others. The exception is when something depressing happens anyway and an adverse swing reinforces it.

I was very scared that the Government would use this condition to try to explain away the events in Murder in Samarkand as a result of my condition. In fact the government did indeed try to do that, by contacting a number of news editors across the media to inform them helpfully that I had a history of mental illness. In fact it is true that my illness affected the events in Murder in Samarkand, but only in the very limited sense that when they chose to attack me with numerous false accusations, the resulting depression hit me harder than it might have another. My employers, of course, were well aware that would happen.

As other bipolar sufferers, my principal symptom was in general the alternation of periods of unusual high energy with perods of lethargy. In consequence occasionally routine work would be a bit late. That was used as the basis of one of the accusations against me. It was of course more than balanced by longer periods of huge energy and creativity.

Anyway, enough of the past. I was depressed lately partly by the problems over getting the book published, but mostly by despair over the “Bailouts” in the US and UK. This incredible misuse of taxpayers’ money represents the biggest net redistribution of funds from the poor to the rich in all of human history. The lack of real analysis in any of the media is what plunged me in to gloom so deep it was not even much relieved by the death of Jeorg Haider. Incidentally a friend who is a retired member of MI6 texted me that Mossad killed Haider. I replied it was about time they did something useful.

Talking of people the World would be better off without, I see that Nathaniel Rothschild, escort of Gulnara Karimova,

is in the news. The deeply sad thing about this is that Rothschild, Karimov, Osborne, Mandelson et al inhabit the same sleazy space. But I would certainly believe Osborne over Rothschild. God made Nathaniel Rothschild that size to be a convenient butt-plug for Russian and Uzbek oligarchs.

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The Catholic Orangemen of Togo

Yet more depressing correspondence with my publisher today – it really is getting me down. The publisher has an understandable fear of facing malicious and extremely expensive litigation under British libel laws, which exist to protect the reputations of the wealthy and the powerful. As my entire purpose is to expose unsavoury truths about the wealthy and the powerful, I really do not see how we are going to solve this.

I have no fear of libel action myself as I am confident in the truth of what is after all the story of my own life. So we may need to cut out the publisher.

I would be grateful for any practical advice on other publishing options. For example, can you really make it into Waterstones and Amazon if you publish on Lulu? What options are there for electronic publishing that work? I am also likely to need help from someone with genuine expertise in formating for publication – I have looked at the instructions on PDF creation, page numbering, chapter headings etc on Lulu and its all way beyond my ability.

You can comment below or email me at [email protected]

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Mandelson Returns

Peter Mandelson as Trade Secretary oversaw the “light touch” policy of regulation which has just nearly bankrupted us. His is now coming back to essentially the same job, and I just listened in disbelief as a reporter from BBC News just told us, after a lobby briefing, that Mandelson was going to help tackle the financial crisis by “Pushing forward on Brown’s deregulation agenda”.

Words fail me.

I must be going to wake up soon.

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Ian Blair Goes At Last

An astonishing outburst of New Labour pique after the ousting of their acolyte Ian Blair from the Metropolitan Police. If it was a “Tory Plot” as the Guardian screams, the Tories are to be roundly congratulated.

Blair presided over an unprecedented politicisation in which the police saw it as their job to wildly exaggerate the terrorist threat and actively support the attack on civil liberties. He presided over the disgraceful spreading of lies about Jean Charles de Menezes. And he is widely viewed within the Met as personally corrupt. There has been remarkably little coverage in the media for the allegations of his giving out contracts to his own connections. A formal investigation into this, currently in progress, is believed by many in the Met only to be chipping into the tip of an iceberg.

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Spiv and Speculator News


The sickening thing about the current turmoil is that there is a class of spiv which makes money on the movement whether the market goes up or down. So of the very many hundreds of billions of public money “made available to the markets” already around the world, several billion have already lodged in the pockets of these parasites, who feast on the labour of the poor.

Here is one. Paul Myners, Director of GLG Partners. GLG is a hedge fund (which is what ultra posh people call a bookies). GLG has made a massive killing from short-selling recently, including of Lloyds TSB and Bradford and Bingley.

Oh yes, one more thing. Myners is also a good friend of Gordon Brown, is a Labour Party donor and the chairman of the Guardian Media Group. The Guardian, you will have noticed, is very much cheerleading in favour of you and I funding from our shallow pockets massive bailouts that will hugely benefit companies like GLG and put yet more of our money into the pockets of creeps like Myners.

The Guardian is dependent on trust funds set up by the CP Scott Trust. This is why, for example, when the GMG papers lost £50 million in a year they could still give a £175,000 bonus to New Labour acolyte, best friend of the ultra-dodgy David Mills, and notorious nylon wig wearing Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

The interesting thing here is that the CP Scott Trust specifies that the Guardian must maintain the liberal values of its founder. Yet it has continued to support a government which the vast weight of liberal opinion in the UK believes to be the most authoritarian of modern times. This government has rolled back centuries of fundamental civil liberties and engaged in illegal war abroad while feeding lies to its own population. The Guardian still urges its readers to vote for Myners’ and Rusbridger’s pals. Rusbridger has of course been rewarded for this betrayal with a great many more than twenty pieces of silver.

I guess now I definitely still don’t get invited to speak about my books at the Guardian Hay on Wye Book Festival.

I have tried this appeal before, but it seems to me there is a very strong case that the trustees for CP Scott have been acting ultra vires in supporting through their newspapers the most illiberal of governments. This really is worth testing in the courts. Are there no liberal lawyers out there willing to try it pro bono?

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Censorship and Freedom of Speech

This is the key section from my new book which the publisher is unwilling to publish due to legal threats from Schillings libel lawyers, acting on behalf of the mercenary commander Tim Spicer:

” Peter Penfold was back in the UK. He was interviewed separately. Both Penfold and Spicer were interviewed under caution, as suspects for having broken the arms embargo.

Then, suddenly, Tony Blair intervened. On 11 May 1998, without consulting the FCO, he gave a statement to journalists. Penfold, Blair declared, was “a hero”. A dictatorship had been successfully overthrown and democracy restored. Penfold had “Done a superb job in trying to deal with the consequences of the military coup.” All this stuff about Security Council Resolutions and sanctions was “an overblown hoo-ha”.

I believe this episode is extremely important. In 1998 the country was still starry-eyed about Blair, but with the benefit of hindsight, this intervention points the way towards the disasters of his later years in office. It is extraordinarily wrong for a Prime Minister to declare that a man is a hero, when Customs had questioned him two days earlier under caution over the very matter the Prime Minister is praising. It shows Blair’s belief that his judgement stood above the law of the land, something that was to occur again on a much bigger scale when he halted the Serious Fraud Office investigation into British Aerospace’s foreign bribes. But of course Blair’s contempt for UN security council resolutions on the arms embargo, and the belief that installing democracy by invasion could trump the trivia of international law, prefigures precisely the disaster of Iraq. As with Iraq, Blair was also conveniently ignoring the fact that Sierra Leone was left a mess, with Kabbah in charge of little more than Freetown.

In the FCO we were astonished by Blair’s intervention, and deeply puzzled. Where had it come from? It differed completely from Robin Cook’s views. Who was drafting this stuff for Blair to the effect that the UN and the law were unimportant? For most of us, this was the very first indication we had of how deep a hold neo-con thinking and military interests had on the Blair circle. It was also my first encounter with the phenomenon of foreign policy being dictated by Alistair Campbell, the Prime Inister’s Press Secretary, The military lobby, of course, was working hard to defend Spicer, one of their own.

A few days later Customs and Excise concluded their investigations. A thick dossier, including documentation from the FCO, from the raid on Sandline’s offices, and from elsewhere, was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service. The Customs and Excise team who had interviewed us told me that the recommendation was that both Spicer and Penfold be prosecuted for breach of the embargo. The dossier was returned to Customs and Excise from the Crown Prosecution Service the very same day it was sent. It was marked, in effect, for no further action. There would be no prosecution. A customs officer told me bitterly that, given the time between the dossier leaving their offices and the time it was returned, allowing time for both deliveries, it could not have been in the CPS more than half an hour. It was a thick dossier. They could not even have read it before turning it down.

I felt sick to my stomach at the decision not to prosecute Spicer and Penfold. So were the customs officers investigating the case; at least two of them called me to commiserate. They had believed they had put together an extremely strong case, and they told me that their submission to the Crown Prosecution Service said so.

The decision not to prosecute in the Sandline case was the first major instance of the corruption of the legal process that was to be a hallmark of the Blair years. Customs and Excise were stunned by it. There is no doubt whatsoever that Spicer and Penfold had worked together to ship weapons to Sierra Leone in breach of UK law. Security Council 1132 had been given effect in British law by an Order in Council. I had never found in the least credible their assertions that they did not know about it. I had personally told Spicer that it would be illegal to ship arms to Sierra Leone, to any side in the conflict. Penfold’s claim never to have seen an absolutely key Security Council Resolution about a country to which he was High Commissioner is truly extraordinary.

But even if they did not know, ignorance of the law is famously no defence in England. Who knows what a jury would have made of this sorry tale of greed, hired killers and blood diamonds. But I have no doubt at all ?” and more importantly nor did the customs officers investigating the case ?” that there was enough there for a viable prosecution.

The head of the Crown Prosecution Service when it decided not to prosecute was Barbara Mills. Barbara Mills is a very well-connected woman in New Labour circles. She is married to John Mills, a former Labour councillor in Camden. That makes her sister-in-law to Tessa Jowell, the New Labour cabinet minister with a penchant for taking out repeated mortgages on her home, and then paying them off with cash widely alleged to have come from Silvio Berlusconi, the friend and business colleague of her husband David Mills, who according to a BBC documentary by the estimable John Sweeney has created offshore companies for known Camorra and Mafia interests. Tessa Jowell and David Mills were also both Camden Labour Councillors, and are close to Tony Blair. Blair is also a great friend of Berlusconi, despite the numerous criminal allegations against Berlusconi and his long history of political alliances with open fascists. Just to complete the cosy New Labour picture, another brother-in-law of Barbara Mills and Tessa Jowell is Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian.

Did any of those relationships of Barbara Mills, the Director of Public Prosecutions, affect the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to proceed with the case, and to take that decision in less time than it would have taken them to read the dossier Customs and Excise sent them?

Barbara Mills was to resign as Director of Public Prosecutions later that year after being personally criticised in his judgement by a High Court judge who ruled against the Crown Prosecution Service for continually failing to prosecute over deaths in police custody. That has not stopped the extremely well connected Dame Barbara from being appointed to a string of highly paid public positions since then. ”

It is infuriating that, Maxwell style, Spicer (who has made millions form the war in Iraq) is using the prohibitive costs of defending a libel case to intimidate my publisher. The result is that important information I received at first hand, and an account of events to which I am eye-witness, is being repressed, as is an important independent critique of early Blair foreign policy.

I am not currently confident the book will get published at all – I am not prepared to put out anodyne pap, which hides the truth, under my name.

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Text of George Bush’s Address

My Fellow Americans,

It grieves me to see the livelihood of decent ordinary Americans, folk who pay off their mortgages and file their tax returns every April 15, threatened by the behaviour of irresponsible people in the financial sector. That is why I am planning to take the money away from ordinary Americans and give it to those irresponsible people. Because capitalism and democracy is the best system of government in the world, and you can’t have capitalism without irresponsible people in the financial sector.

In normal circumstances I believe that companies which are managed badly should be allowed to go bust. But these are not normal circumstances. The market is not working, as people have lost confidence in the system. That is why, so that ordinary decent people will still be able to get credit to buy homes and pay their children through college, I must take all their money and give it to these very well paid people who mismanaged their companies. Because these are not ordinary people in normal circumstances who use monkey wrenches and stuff and can be allowed to lose their jobs as firms go bust. These are rich folk like me. Society needs rich folk, so unless you give away all your money to these very rich people now, you will end up poor and without a pension and you will die alone and miserable.

This is not like taking money for medical insurance or welfare. I can assure you none of this money will be wasted on poor people, and hardly any of it on black people. So unless we build a bipartisan consensus and you give all your money to me to redistribute to the extremely rich, the plain truth is you will end up poor.

Thank you.

George W Bush

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John Le Carre for Prime Minister


“Partly, I’m angry that there is so little anger around me at what is being done to our society, supposedly in order to protect it,” said the 76-year-old in an interview in Waterstone’s magazine.

“We have been taken to war under false pretences, and stripped of our civil rights in an atmosphere of panic. Our lawyers don’t take to the streets as they have done in Pakistan.

“Our MPs allow themselves to be deluded by their own spin doctors, and end up believing their own propaganda.”

Meantime two items from our too good to be true department:

In his dangerous job the MI6 spy’s identity needs to remain a closely guarded secret.

So you can imagine his surprise when, during an interview with the national broadcaster, his carefully chosen disguise of a fake moustache failed him spectacularly.

The hapless spy, known only as ‘John’, had been trying to discuss the role that MI6 played during inteligence operations.

A delegate to the Republican National Convention gave a TV interview enthusing for a war with Iran. Mr Eugenides takes up the story:

A few hours after that clip was filmed, our galactically smug hero took a girl back to his hotel room and slipped off his clothes in anticipation while she mixed them a couple of drinks…

…and when he woke up, his catch had made off with $120,000 of swag, including his $30,000 watch – yes, I’ve typed that correctly – a $20,000 ring, and jewellery and accessories worth tens of thousands of bucks.

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Attacked By The Sunday Times Again!

I may be just one man and his battered keyboard, but something I have brought to light about Buckingham, Spicer, Usmanov or some other creep has evidently struck home because the Sunday Times has run a character assassination piece on me yet again!

This time I merit a page and a bit in one of their pullouts, and a big picture from which they have very kindly airbrushed the wrinkles, presumably to make me more plausible as the dangerous Lothario they are portraying. To be attacked for antiquated attitudes to women by Murdoch, with his page 3 girls and Jordan/Katie Price industry, is vaguely amusing.

Ms Bowditch, the journalist, was quite pleasant, but kept asking me questions about my love life. For her to write that sex is never far from my mind is a bit rich. Actually it is quite often far from my mind, but not when people ask me repeated questions about it. It is difficult for anything to be far from your mind in those circumstances.

Ms Bowditch came determined to quiz me on and write about my love life. It is ludicrous hypocrisy to do that and then shed crocodile tears that my love life detracts from more important issues in Uzbekistan. I think that there is a simple test of how genuine the Sunday Times is on this:

Question: How many times this century has the Sunday Times sent a correspondent to Uzbekistan?

Answer: Nil

Question: How many serious articles has the Sunday Times written on Uzbekistan other than attacks on me?

Answer: Nil

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I am cleverer than I realise

Apparently I have done something very clever in my respose to Weill and Buckingham.

What’s most interesting is that in response Murray has written a search-engine optimized blog post. Read his last paragraph, beginning “It would be a great pity… .” It’s been lexically massaged until it’s like something off, which is a sure sign that it’s aimed at the search engines as much as at human beings.

I have to admit that was totally accidental. Tim Ireland advises me on that stuff sometimes, and I try to nod and look intelligent, but I have no idea what he is saying most of the time. However if it worked by chance I am very happy.

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Nick Faldo

The hatred of large sections of the British media for Nick Faldo is a puzzle. Faldo has an awkward manner, is uneasy with the press, and has always been inclined to be a bit…well, naff. His attempts to explain off the photo of his pairings as a sandwich list this week was emblematic of his lack of easy grace.

But for a substantial period Faldo was the best golfer in the world. To be the very best in a sport that has two hundred million players is tremendous. Yet compare Faldo’s treatment with that of Steve Redgrave, who was the best in a sport with approximately 200 million less players, or Johnny Wilkinson whose sport has approximately 199.5 million less players. Andy Murray will equal Faldo in stature when he has won six Grand Slam titles, compared to his current total of, umm, nil. All the signs are that Murray has less natural grace than Faldo. Yet in Murray the press portray it is a tigerish will to win.

A narrow loss to the United States in the Ryder Cup is no disgrace, The rubbish performance of seasoned pros like Garcia, Harrington, Jimenez, Westwood and Casey cannot be blamed on Faldo. Golf writers almost unanimously hailed one of the captain’s picks, Casey, as good and condemned the other, Poulter. Yet Casey was rubbish in the match. His decison to take a driver off the tee when Hunter Mahan was in the woods was for me the moment that lost the Ryder Cup. Poulter turned out to be the best player on either side in the entire match. Yet those same golf writers who got that completely wrong are now laying into Faldo big time.

Faldo is a sporting hero. There is not a golf writer in the country who deserves to shine his shoes.

This blog has moved into sport and films because, having seen David Milliband’s speech on TV, the very thought of politics makes me feel sick. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

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The Duchess

I seldom venture into film criticism, but I suspect that like many men I was persuaded by my partner to go and see The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley. Looking at Keira Knightley is always a pleasure, but what a terrible script!

The credits list three screenwriters and an original book author, so you would think they might between them have got some of the period detail right. Unfortunately, in a genre of costume true story which has little but historical accuracy to justify making it at all, the entire film was an exercise in solecism.

Most fundamentally, it viewed Regency Britian through a prism of Victorian sensibility. The living arrangements of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire were no more than very mildly scandalous by the standards of the time. In fact the Duke of Devonshire in question was pretty restrained in his sex life by late 18th century aristocratic standards. Nor was the menage a trois uncommon – this one was contemporary with that of Nelson and the Hamiltons. The attempt to project a modern sensibility onto a very different era was part of an attempt to draw a publicity parallel with the situation of a later Spencer female, Lady Diana Spencer. That commercial potential seems indeed the only possible motivation for the film.

The other fundamental flaw was the attempt to present the Duchess’ lover, Charles Grey, as a man of the people. He was played with a slight Estuary accent and there were several references to his lowly social stature and lack of funds; indeed his alleged dependency on the Duke of Devonshire for cash was brought into the plot at one stage.

What complete piffle. Grey was a senior member of the great Grey family of Northumberland and Yorkshire who people the Shakespeare history plays. He was born in their majestic seat of Fallodon and at about the time of the action of the film moved into his own superb mansion of Howick Hall. Almost all aristocratic families at this time led lifestyles that brought them into substantial short term debt despite their vast incomes, but the Devonshires were more renowned for this than the Greys. If Grey did have an accent (which he probably did – regional accents were more pronounced in aristocratic circles then) it was Northern, not London.

The film rightly connects Grey with progressive politics of the time, but errs ludicrously in trying to make him a working class hero. He was to go on to become the Prime Minister who forced through the Great Reform Act, the first and most crucial step towards British democracy, and the abolition of the slave trade. The tea is named after him. The family were always connected with the progressive side in politics. A Grey was the only member of the House of Lords to sign Charles I’s death warrant. Stephen Grey, the best exposer of extraordinary rendition and author of Ghost Plane, is a member of the family.

Back to the film. Among the scores of the easily avoidable mistakes, the use of titles was wrong more often than not. Grey tells a grieving Duchess: “I am engaged to Lady Ponsonby”. That would come as a hell of a shock to Lord Ponsonby. He meant he was engaged to one of Lady Ponsonby’s daughters, and would in fact have said “I am engaged to Lady Mary Ponsonby”, or much more likely between these two, just “I am engaged to Mary Ponsonby”.

Anyway, “The Duchess” is a lot of unhistorical bollocks written by the terminally ill-educated. It would have been much more enjoyable just to watch Keira Knightley sitting quietly for ninety minutes.

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