Monthly archives: March 2009

Great News From Dundee

One of the most venial administrations in the UK’s many rotten boroughs was finally kicked out yesterday as New Labour lost power in Dundee City Council for the first time in my political lifetime.

It was Gordon Brown what done it. The day after Gordon’s speech to the Scottish New Labour Conference in Dundee earlier this month, New Labour lost a key by-election there to the SNP. Even then they had to be prised out kicking and screaming. For the last three years the SNP has been the largest party but kept out of power by a New Labour/Lib Dem alliance, with Tory voting support. Which illustrates perfectly the fact that the only actual choice in Scottish politics is between nationalists and unionists.

Manouverings to keep New Labour in power now included the offer of an OBE to John Letford, Lord Provost. I know John Letford, who is a good man from a trade union background. A Labour Party man his entire adult life, he has been so disgusted by the sordid dealings of Scottish New Labour in attempting to cling on to power that he has resigned from the party and offered his voting support to the SNP.

I won’t now go into the detail of the massively corrupt demolition and construction contracts, or the jerry built huge shopping centre and hotel that lasted fifteen years. Let us just be grateful we got them out at last, and make sure they don’t get back.

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Why Was Alisher Usmanov Jailed?

I keep being asked this, so I thought I would set the record straight. Arsenal’s main shareholder Alisher Usmanov was jailed in Soviet times for blackmail. He and a colleague in the KGB attempted to blackmail another KGB officer. The KGB officer they tried to blackmail was Jewish and they seem to have felt that would make it easier to isolate him and his “roof”, or network of protective interests, would be weak. They miscalculated badly. Many believe that Usmanov was involved generally in extortion and overreached himself in this one case.

Contrary to assertions made by Usmanov’s lawyers Schillings, liars for the wealthy, Usmanov was not any kind of political prisoner. He was convicted as a straightforward criminal. He was later pardoned by Uzbek dictator President Karimov of Uzbekistan – not by Gorbachev, another Schillings lie.

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Giving Evidence to Parliament

As I prepare for my evidence session before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights on 28 April, I was looking back for the evidence I gave to the European Parliament on extraordinary rendition. Unfortunately it seems that no transcript was made of the committee questioning me (unless anyone who knows the system there better than I can come up with one) but rather a kind of precis made of my evidence as a “working document”.

It also helpfully published the supporting documentation I gave.

What still surprises me is that, after I gave my evidence, I was mobbed by media, gave numerous television interviews, and was headline news all over Europe. Except in the UK where there was no mention of it at all. I was pondering this over the weekend as I read a very large number of commentary pieces, in every serious newspaper, on the apparent complicity in torture and what enquiries into it may find.

I have been answering the question of the moment – was there a policy of torture – for the last five years, with eye-witness testimony backed up with documentary proof. Yet I appear not to exist to the media. Will my testimony to the JCHR also be simply ignored?

At least this time I am going to get to give evidence. This was the response when I tried to give evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in 2006:

Dear Mr Murray, The Committee considered your e-mail at its meeting yesterday, 15 March. As you requested, it was made available to all members. The Committee decided not to receive the communication as evidence. Steve Priestley Clerk of FAC

It is, I think, worth thinking about this again

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Politically Incorrect Thought For the Day

If I were married to Jacqui Smith, I would probably watch a lot of porn too. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

Meantime I see the police have arrested some teenage “Terrorists” in an “anti-terror raid” in Plymouth to foil “an attack on the G20”. They have discovered “explosives, weapons, imitation firearms and extremist literature”. Why do I suspect these to be knives in the kitchen, fireworks, a toy gun and something by Kropotkin?

By and large, it is better to protest without making anything go bang. It scares cats.

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FCO Finally Admits To Receiving Intelligence From Torture

With thanks to Andrew.

This is the most important blog post I have ever made. I would be grateful if you could do everything in your power to disseminate a link to anyone you know who has the remotest interest in human rights – or should have. This blog will be silent for a few days now.

Tucked away at Page 15 of its annual Human Rights report, the FCO has finally made a public admission of its use of intelligence from torture. Despite the Orwellian doublespeak about “unreserved condemnation of torture”, this is the clearest statement the government has ever made that it, as a policy, employs intelligence from torture.

“One example is the question of the use of intelligence

provided to the UK by other countries. The provenance of

such intelligence is often unclear ?” partners rarely share

details of their sources. All intelligence received, whatever

its source, is carefully evaluated, particularly where it is clear

that it has been obtained from individuals in detention.

The use of intelligence possibly derived through torture

presents a very real dilemma, given our unreserved

condemnation of torture and our efforts to eradicate it.

Where there is intelligence that bears on threats to life, we

cannot reject it out of hand. What is quite clear, however, is

that information obtained as a result of torture would not

be admissible as evidence in any criminal or civil

proceedings in the UK. It does not matter whether the

evidence was obtained here or abroad.”

Let us take this apart.

Let me start by noting that it confirms precisely the response I was given by the FCO when I tried to stop this back in 2003.

It is worth noting two things. First it follows not just the precise legal distinctions made by Sir Michael Wood between intelligence and evidence, but it also very carefully mirrors the heading of his letter by referring to “Intelligence possibly obtained under torture” – even where there really was no actual doubt.

Secondly, it deploys the argument that you cannot be sure if the intelligence was obtained by torture or not, because the intelligence report does not give you the source. As I explain in my evidence statement to the Joint Commission on Human Rights, that is a deliberate double blind. The name of the source is always omitted from the intelligence report, on purpose so you cannot prove they were tortured to give that intelligence.

Trying Again to Stop Torture: My Formal Statement for the Joint Committee on Human Rights

I might pause here to say that this stunning new admission by the FCO proves I was telling the truth all along. Given that Jack Straw in particular and the FCO in general have been calling me mad and a liar for the last five years, I hope you might forgive me for asking you to dwell on that for a moment.

Now let me return to analyse what the FCO statement means. It is a piece of mind-blowing hypocrisy. You cannot, in the same paragraph, argue our unreserved condemnation of torture, and that it save lives so we use intelligence from it. I would add that it is also an outright lie. Not a single one of the many pieces of torture intelligence I saw in Uzbekistan had the slightest bearing on saving lives in the UK. In fact the “intelligence” was, on the whole and in detail, highly misleading. Yet the FCO made a very definite policy decision to continue to receive it – because it came from the CIA.

The FCO has in fact under New Labour never rejected any intelligence on the grounds that it came from torture.

The fact that the government accepts that it cannot use such intelligence as evidence in court, is not of great comfort when instead it is used to have people kidnapped and sent on extraordinary rendition, or severely beaten and detained without charge, or deported to home countries where they will be murdered.

The ticking bomb scenario is a Hollywood myth. 99 per cent of the tens of thousands of cases of torture in the War on Terror have been “Fishing expedition”. Torture does not work. The tortured individual will not tell you the truth, but will tell whatever he or she thinks will satisfy the torturer and stop the pain. We know this from history. People confessed under torture that their cat was the Devil and they flew on broomsticks. In my time in Uzbekistan children were tortured in front of their parents and dissidents were boiled alive.

Yet by accepting torture material for “Careful evaluation” we create a market for it. We increase the amount of torture in the World by putting a value on its result. And we are breaking international law by complicity in torture, which is plainly against Article 4 of the UN Convention Against Torture.

The government has set up its usual planned exoneration by allowing their cronies at Scotland Yard to conduct a highly circumscribed investigation into the MI5 agents involved in the torture of Binyan Mohammed.

In fact the guilt lies plainly with those who set this policy of compliance with evil. The most guilty is Jack Straw.

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Obama – Making Your Mind Up

Barack Obama does not lie awake at night worrying what Craig Murray thinks of him. One day he will go to his grave without ever knowing what Craig Murray thought of him. But as an infinitesimal fraction of the spreading of views and information in the digital age, I thought I might tell you anyway.

I am not a socialist. I have to say that from time to time, because people imagine that I am, from my dislike of the abuse of power and wealth. But my view remains that organised socialism has generally turned out to be one of the nastier ways of concentrating power and wealth. I am a liberal. My political inspiration has come from Mill, Bright, Hobson, Gladstone, Lloyd George, Keynes and Grimond, from Paine, Cobbett and Carlyle, from Milton, Byron, Burns and William Morris. I am a radical. I am not a socialist.

The point of which disquisition is to explain to you why I was prepared to give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt. Many of my fellow campaigners against war and for human rights, were writing him off after a couple of weeks.

“Give the man time”, I said.

I corresponded with Democrat friends in the US, who explained that, in trying to turn round the neoconservative juggernaut, Obama needed a critical mass of support. His aim was to capture people to his side. Many of those retained, who had served Bush, were careerists not ideologues. Their loyalty was to the Commander-in-Chief. With his authority allied to his charisma, Obama would align them to the new agenda. Give it time – the result would be the most powerful change in modern US history.

The problem is, to believe that someone is changing course, you do have to observe them putting some pressure on the tiller. I see none. On human rights, Obama’s government lawyers have continued seamlessly the positions adopted by the Bush administration in seeking to deny any rights before US courts for detainees in Guantanamo Bay, arguing that they are not legal persons in the US.

The US detention centre at Baghram airbase in Afghanistan, where prisoners have been subject to terrible deprivation and torture, and many have died, is being expanded to take another 244 prisoners. That appears to be the plan for closing Guantanamo Bay, and is one of the few things that could actually make life worse for the prisoners there.

Extraordinary rendition has not been stopped. And to quote just one of myriad cases, Obama continued the Bush administration’s efforts to have the details of the torture suffered by Binyam Mohammed kept secret by the puppet UK government, which complied, and the British courts – the latter thankfully having resisted.

There are to be no prosecutions of Bush administration officals or security service personnel for instituting or implementing the policy of torture worldwide. Which policy, as far as records of the law are concerned, was entirely dreamt up by Ms Lyndie England.

Obama ought to have encouraged prosecutions to deter from it happening again – except it appears not to have stopped. But there are not just to be no prosecutions – the truth is to be buried forever. It was under Obama that Binyan Mohammed was still held, with the complicity of Miliband, while he was pressured to sign a condition of release that he would not tell anyone about his torture. We still don’t know which basements Khalil Sheikh Mohammed was held in over three years and precisely what tortures he was subjected too. At the very least, we need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Torture and Extraordinary Rendition.

Those rendered to the unspeakable torture of Uzbekistan came on CIA flights from Baghram and from the secret prison at Szymano-Szczytny in Poland. Most if not all now lie in graves in the Kizyl Kum desert. The Americans must have lists of who they transported. We – and their relatives all over the World – don’t know their names.

In January, one of Obama’s first foreign policy initiatives was to send General Petraeus to Tashkent for talks with President Karimov, with a view to reopening the US airbase in Uzbekistan. Diplomatic talks continue. Interestingly, I hear from my Uzbek government moles that they have stalled over Karimov’s demand for a photoshoot with President Obama. That sounds crazy if you don’t know Karimov’s megalomania, and his desire to revive a faltering personality cult.

Hillary Clinton is resisting this strongly. She has nothing against an alliance with Karimov, opening the airbase, paying him a large subsidy and resuming the Bush policy of denying Karimov’s massive human rights abuses at the UN, OSCE and elsewhere. But she has made plain that she will not under any circumstances be pictured with Karimov, who boils opponents alive (literally). She doesn’t think Obama should do it either. But there is now a split over this issue in Washington between White House and State Department, with White House senior staff seeing no harm in a photocall with a man that 99.9% of Americans have never heard of, and who (this is a telling factor) is strongly allied with Israel.

The Uzbek policy particularly interests me, and is a subset of Obama’s disastrous Central Asian policy. In Afghanistan we have presided over massive increases in opium production, to exceed all previous levels by over 50%. The Karzai family and the majority of the Ministers and Governors of the government we installed, are deeply implicated in the industrial scale refining of opium into heroin and its export – much of it through neighbouring Uzbekistan and in collaboration with the Karimov family and their bagman Gafur Rakhimov.

What Obama expects to gain by a massive surge of Western troops into this mess is beyond me. Meantime he has actually increased the rate of air strikes into Pakistan, killing many scores of innocent civilians and contributing to the destabilisaton and growth of radical insurgency in that country.

Then we have economic policy.

I praised Obama’s initial economic stimulus bill for old-fashioned Keynesianism, creating jobs in a recession through public works. But it has now been followed up by Geithner’s Public-Private Investment Program. No wonder Wall Street cheered. It represents a huge transfer of money from the man in the street, not just to the wealthy, but specifically to the speculators.

The plan will bankroll private investment firms and guarantee them huge profits in return for buying failed home loans and securities from the banks at vastly inflated prices. Its name conceals the fact that it involves no private investment of any value, and certainly no private risk. It aims to get the whole speculative hedge fund casino back up and running.

But this is not any casino. This is an exclusive casino with a very tough door policy, where the high rollers can keep their winnings, but know that if they lose, their losses will be taken by force from all the little people who were not allowed into the casino. What fun!

Barack Obama will always have the benefit of not being George Bush. I like him for that. But then I like my cat for not being George Bush. Does he really represent the positive change for which Americans yearned? Will he fulfil the aspirations of his ethereal oratory?


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Terrorist Scare No. 372 Bollocks

So now the government are training a Stasi of 60,000 selected nutters to spy on potential terrorists. The government is still trailing in the opinion polls, so we have Home Secretary Jacqui Smith taking a break from filling in expense claims on her sister’s home, to warn us a terror attack is “Very likely”.

Listen up everybody. You have more chance of winning first prize in the National Lottery than you have of being killed by a terrorist. On average, each year in the past decade approximately 150 people drown in their own bath in the UK. On average, each year in the past decade approximately eight people are killed in the UK by terrorists. One death is too many, but it is one of the very least likely ways you might die. Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith are trying to panic you for political reasons. Your kettle, your stepladder, a kitchen cupboard falling on your head, all much more likely to kill you than a terrorist. Terrorists do exist, but they are much, much less dangerous than your staircase.

Two excellent comments, one from Gerard Mulholland posted on the BBC website:

For 30 years we -under both Labour and Tory governments- combated serious, organised US-financed Irish terrorism.

We lost 3000 civilians and 2000 soldiers.

We had car bombs.

We had truck bombs.

We had pub bombs.

We had shopping-centre bombs.

We had letter-box bombs.

We had shoot-outs.

We had sieges.

We were mortared.

We didn’t panic.

Nu-Labour are panic-stricken wimps, stampeded into unbelievable panic.

They stir up fear and dread.

Stupid Al Qa’ida nutters aren’t the enemy.

Nu-Labour is.

One from Anticant on this website

I’m old enough to remember the Blitz in WW2, when 40,000 people were killed in a single year. They [my parents’ generation] just got on with their lives and said “sod it” when a bomb fell. They didn’t scare themselves witless with phantom plots and plotters like this daft lot, who resemble kids at hallowe’en giving themselves cheap thrills with pumpkin bogies.

Yes, there IS a threat – but this government doesn’t seem to have the least clue as to what it actually is. They can’t see that they are a large part of the problem, not the answer. That is what really scares me.

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Sufi Muslim Council a Karimov/CIA Front

I have been asked to provide more proof that the Sufi Muslim Council is funded by the Karimov government and the CIA. Well, to some extent you have to take my word that as British Ambassador in Uzbekistan I had my informers and sources. But let me give you some strong supporting evidence.

The Head of the Sufi Muslim Council is Sheikh Kabbani. That is not entirely acknowledged, but is pretty clear from the SMC website.

Kabbani is also the head of the self-styled and CIA backed Islamic Supreme Council of America, a body which devotes much of its energy to propagandising for Karimov.

Fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith, like praying five times a day, possessing a Koran at home or fasting at Ramadan, will bring you to the attention of the Uzbek security services as an “extremist”. Ironically religous worship is banned in the Mosque pictured in the website! There are some eleven thousand people in prison for Islamic religous observance outside the strictly controlled and limited state Mosques. They are subject to the most vile torture and frequently killed. Yet Kabbani has made numerous evidence submissions to bodies including the UN and OSCE, denying that there is any religious persecution in Uzbekistan.

The Karimov regime is strongly pro-Israel. The Israelis run Karimov’s personal security. Interestingly, Sheikh Kabbani belongs to a tiny Lebanese Muslim faction aligned to Israel and the Christian Falangists, and has been the envoy for Karimov’s dealings with Israel. This article in the Jewish Daily Forward is interesting.

Now this Karimov organisation is pro-actively promoted by New Labour, and pimped by Sky News, as the way forward for British Muslims.

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Sky News, “First For Faking News”

Quite interesting filming in Sky News on the situation in Pakistan, including an interview with President Asif Ali Zirdari, in which his slow-witted performance indicates why he so rarely gives them. The Pakistanis, Italians and Israelis are quite happy to elect crooks to lead the nation. The rest of us tend only to find out we have elected crooks after the event.

But Sky of course go on to hype the “Terrorist threat in the UK”, and mar their report by faking a discussion among “Community and business leaders in Rochdale” into which they introduce a spokesman for the Sufi Muslim Council, attempting to pass him off as a representative of the Rochdale community. This is quite simply fake journalism. Rafiq is now Rochdale based – which I strongly suspect is why Sky News chose Rochdale – but his accent and above all his jargon and use of language are totally different from the others, and the body language of the others when he talks shows he is not one of them.

The Sufi Muslim Council is a propaganda initiative of the Uzbek government of President Karimov and US Neocon foundations, embraced in this country by the Blairites and Blearsites. It had its genesis in cooperation between the CIA, German and Uzbek security services. It is the counterpart of a “Black” organisation the same security services set up, the Islamic Jihad Union. The Islamic Jihad Union was blamed for faked “Bombings” in Tashkent and remains a cover for agent provocateur operations, particularly in Germany.

Despite government promotion, and almost unlimited access to funds enabling it to start up its own TV channel,

the Sufi Muslim Council has had no success in attaining a mass membership in the UK, where its adulation of the Karimov regime is well understood. It represents nobody in Rochdale and Sky’s use of it to direct a conversation of the Rochdale community is highly reprehensible fake journalism.

99% of Britain’s Sufi Muslims have no connection to the Sufi Muslim Council.

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A Nation Mourns

I cannot ignore the fact that the whole nation is in mourning. I view the current mawkishness with even more bemused detachment than I did the dead Diana phenomenon. If only we saw such outpourings of grief for the British soldiers – let alone their opponents and hundreds of thousands of civilians – who have died in recent evil motivated wars. I am sorry when anyone dies prematurely, even Saddam Hussein. I tried hard not to rejoice when Suni Abacha died.

Death is a sad thing, especially for family. But someone has to stand against the excess. I am not afraid to say that there is something really gone wrong with the national psyche when a person deficient in intelligence, talent and even looks can rise to such national prominence for no apparent reason, except for an apparent desire to celebrate something aspiring to mediocrity. I am talking of course of Employment Secretary Tony McNulty and the shock this morning of the death of his political career.

The scarcely articulate McNulty was cashing in on his parents’ house as his parliamentary “Second home”, even though his constituency home was already in London and he spent only 20 nights a year in the parental home. He has claimed some £60,000. He is now insulting our intelligence by appearing all over the TV channels as a campaigner against the system he himself abused. Not one journalist has so far dared ask him the obvious questions about his hypocrisy.

What a sleazy shower of little crooks. I don’t care how sad Gordon Brown is, I shan’t shed a tear for McNulty’s political demise. He will linger a bit, of course, perhaps to the next election, because being a crook is a pre-qualification for membership of Brown’s cabinet.

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Intellectual Protectionism

I am stunned by Canada’s decision to ban George Galloway from entering the country. I have known George for too many decades to share in the hero-worship he attracts from some; but he is a truly talented speaker and debater. George was right on Iraq when so many Western politicians hid behind the coward’s shield of patriotism. He is right on the disaster of Afghanistan too, the full horror of which is still unfoldng. I see that three more Canadian soldiers were killed there yeasterday, and nine maimed. The kind of debate George brings is urgently needed in Canada.

I was also surprised by the Canadian government spokesman’s description of him as an “Infandous street corner Cromwell”. Cromwell was a truly great man, a towering figure, with a driving concern for the common good. His statue stands guard outside Parliament. A peculiar comparison indeed.

Canadians should be ashamed today. George has fallen foul of the trick by the Israeli lobby of tarring everybody sympathetic to the Palestinians as a terrorist.

There is a spirit of protectionism abroad in these troubled times – of intellectual protectionism. As the frailties of an economic system built upon unrestrained greed and speculation become clear, as it becomes more and more obvious that recent Western invasions of Muslim lands are a drive to corner key areas for access to increasingly scarce hydrocarbons, and as the spectre of climate change looms over everything that was viewed as “Progress”, governments are desperate to control the narrative thier population hears.

The British government banned Geerst Wilders and several Muslim theologians. Canada is banning George Galloway, of all people. When the British banned the Dutch MEP Wilders, the Dutch government commendably supported the right to free speech in Europe and the Dutch Ambassador offered to meet him at Heathrow. The British government should make Canada know of our displeasure at the banning of somone for voicing opinions which are held by a large proportion of the British nation.

Fat chance.

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Justice Secretary Jack Straw to be Accused on Torture in Parliamentary Inquiry

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has agreed to hear my evidence on torture on Tuesday 28 April at 1.45pm. Many thanks to everyone who helped lobby for this.

I am delighted, as I have been trying for over four years to lay the truth about British torture policy before Parliament. I will testify that as British Ambassador I was told there is a very definite policy to accept intelligence from torture abroad, and that the policy was instituted and approved by Jack Straw when Foreign Secretary. I will tell them that as Ambassador I protested formally three times in writing to Jack Straw, and that the Foreign Office told me in reply to my protests that this was perfectly legal.

I will prove my evidence with documentation.

Here is the written evidence I will speak to

There is now a wealth of evidence from individual cases to support my testimony that such an underlying secret policy exists.

It is likely that I will face hostile questioning from government supporters and from “War on Terror” hawks. In the past the government has accused me of corruption, sexual blackmail, and alcoholism (all completely untrue) and hinted that I am insane, in an effort to deflect attention from the cold facts of my testimony. The hearing will be open to the public, so if anyone can make it along, some friendly faces in the gallery would be extremely welcome.

I will also see if I can discover if anything usefully can be done by way of lobbying to ensure that the Parliament channel films it for broadcast.

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Motion of Support For Torture Truth Formally Tabled in Scottish Parliament



Date of Lodging: 18 March 2009

Short Title: University Rector’s Torture Evidence

S3M-03730 Bill Wilson (West of Scotland) (SNP): That the Parliament

supports the request by the rector of the University of Dundee, Craig Murray, to give evidence to the Westminster Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights on the subject of the UK Government’s policy on receiving intelligence obtained by torture abroad and considers that Mr Murray is offering first-hand eye-witness testimony with documentary proof of a secret and reprehensible policy of attempting to benefit from torture, endorsed and directed by UK ministers.

Bill Wilson MSP has also put out this press release:

University Rector Must Present Torture Evidence, says MSP

Dr Bill Wilson, SNP MSP for the West of Scotland, announced today that he had just lodged a motion calling for the Rector of the University of Dundee, Craig Murray, to be allowed to present evidence of the UK Government’s involvement in torture to Westminster’s Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Dr Wilson commented, “I have long admired Mr Murray’s principled stand against UK complicity in human rights abuses, a stand that lost him his job as British Ambassador to Uzbekistan. He has clear evidence of the fact that the UK Government is prepared on a regular basis to receive intelligence from torture.

“I agree with the suggestion by commentators on Mr Murray’s website that the fact that he is not being allowed to present his evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights strongly suggests that the purpose of this committee is not to uncover the truth but to bury it, to ‘prove’ that the government isn’t involved.”

Mr Murray commented on Dr Wilson’s Motion: “It is essential that people are told the truth about some of the terrible things that have been done in their name, if we are to avoid such outrages in future. There is a degree of integrity on this issue being shown in Holyrood that appears so far lacking in Westminster.”

I can make contact details for Bill Wilson available to anyone who wants them. I am very grateful for this support, which makes it still more difficult for the government to pretend that my evidence does not exist.


MSPs Robin Harper, Dr Christopher Harvie, Christina McKelvie, Stuart McMillan, Joe FitzPatrick, and Bill Kidd have now added their names to Dr Bill Wilson’s motion calling for my evidence to be heard.

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The 207, A Bendy Bus

Yesterday, as I often do, I took the 207 bus from Ealing Common to Shepherds Bush. Coming back again, I decided to make a survey of something I had noted many times.

Of those who could not have been too old or too young to pay, only 17 of the 42 people I managed to watch touched in an Oyster card on the bus. Now the remaining 25 could have had pre-bought paper tickets or travelcards, but I very much doubt that many of them did. I never see any significant percentage of passengers at a stop use one of those machines.

I hate Bendy Buses. They are a disaster in terms of road safety. Not only have they maimed or murdered hundreds of cyclists, but on numerous occasions when I have tried to cross on a little green man I have had to negotiate my way past thirty metres of bendy bus parked right across it.

On top of that there is evidently a widespread perception that it is OK to ride them without paying. I should say that I have never seen one of London Transport’s claimed random ticket inspections.

I do not approve of fare-dodging. Public goods need to be financed. And these completely inappropriate monstrosities need to be off our roads sooner rather than later.

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Unicef Must Break Ties With Child Slavery Supporters Barcelona FC

Kudos to for an excellent article on the disgusting decision by Barcelona FC to accept sackloads of cash to promote Islam Karimov, the world’s most vicious dictator.

Pitch invasion were building on an article in the Observer by Kevin O’Flynn, who is almost the only sports journalist who ever tackles the seamy underside of the beautiful game.

Kevin O’Flynn’s reckoning of salaries in Uzbekistan as £25 a week is an official statistic. Some urban folk get that. Most of the population live on much, much less. For this poor and terrorised state to be spending hundreds of millions of pounds of money stolen from the Uzbek people on building a glamour football club to glorify the President’s daughter, is obscene in the extreme.

High among the many horrors of the Karimov regime is the mass use of child slavery to pick the State – ie Karimov family – owned cotton crop. Hundreds of thousands of children are forced into the cotton fields for weeks in conditions that mirror those of black slaves in the USA in the 19th century. Uzbekistan is the second largest exporter of cotton in the world.

The situation is so appalling that even Walmart and Tesco have joined a voluntary private sector boycott in the US and UK of all items containing Uzbek cotton.

Barcelona should be ashamed of the collaboration with Karimov. They carry the Unicef logo on their shirts. The irony of Unicef being advertised on a team that is paid to glorify the leader of the world’s largest system of child slavery, is staggering.

Unicef must break their ties with Barcelona. Now.

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Tuition Fees

The BBC Today programme haven’t asked me to appear, but have used a quote from me on their website on the tuition fees debate. That is as close as I’ve been allowed to get to coverage by the BBC in the last twelve months. Presumably it will disappear shortly, but while it’s there:

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Emails to Joint Human Rights Committee Were Read

Mark Egan, clerk to the committee, has sent an assurance that the emails to the Joint Human Rights Commission were in fact read, at least by the secretariat. Thanks to the correspondent who passed this on:

Thank you for your email to Andrew Dismore MP, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Mr Dismore has asked me to reply.

The Committee staff received over 500 emails relating to Craig Murray’s request to give oral evidence to the Committee. All were read by the staff – I read many of them myself – and the Committee was informed of the number of emails we received and the nature of them.

The emails were deleted on Friday because Mr Dismore had replied to Mr Murray and indicated that people who had emailed the Committee should read his reply, and we needed to free up space in our inbox. We were not able to respond to each email individually because of the number we received.

Most of the emails were read using Outlook’s preview facility, which is why they were technically “unread” according to Outlook. Those which were opened properly were converted back to “unread” so that we could more easily count the total number we had received.

I hope this fully explains how we handled the Murray emails and deals with your suggestion of discourtesy.

Yours sincerely

Mark Egan, Commons Clerk, JCHR

I accept Mark Egan’s word on this. It remains the fact however that the Committee has still not agreed to hear my evidence.

Mark Egan should be receivng the signed top copy by registered post today. This bears repeating at every possible occasion: this is the signed statement I have sent to the Joint Committee and on which I wish to testify.


My name is Craig Murray. I was British Ambassador in Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004.

I had joined the Diplomatic Service in 1984 and became a member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Senior Management Structure in 1998. I had held a variety of posts including Deputy High Commissioner, Accra (1998 to 2001) and First Secretary Political and Economic, Warsaw (1994 to 1997).

I had also been head of the FCO section of the Embargo Surveillance Sector leading up to and during the first Gulf War, monitoring and interdicting Iraqi attempts at weapons procurement. In consequence I had obtained security clearances even higher than those routinely given to all executive members of the Diplomatic Service. I had extensive experience throughout my career of dealing with intelligence material and the intelligence services.

It was made plain to me in briefing in London before initial departure for Tashkent that Uzbekistan was a key ally in the War on Terror and to be treated as such. It was particularly important to the USA who valued its security cooperation and its provision of a major US airbase at Karshi-Khanabad.

As Ambassador in Uzbekistan I regularly received intelligence material released by MI6. This material was given to MI6 by the CIA, mostly originating from their Tashkent station. It was normally issued to me telegraphically by MI6 at the same time it was issued to UK ministers and officials in London.

From the start of my time as Ambassador, I was also receiving a continual stream of information about widespread torture of suspected political or religious dissidents in Tashkent. This was taking place on a phenomenal scale. In early 2003 a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, in the preparation of which my Embassy much assisted, described torture in Uzbekistan as “routine and systemic”.

The horror and staggering extent of torture in Uzbekistan is well documented and I have been informed by the Chair is not in the purview of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. But what follows goes directly to the question of UK non-compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture.

In gathering evidence from victims of torture, we built a consistent picture of the narrative which the torturers were seeking to validate from confessions under torture. They sought confessions which linked domestic opposition to President Karimov with Al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden; they sought to exaggerate the strength of the terrorist threat in Central Asia. People arrested on all sorts of pretexts ?” (I recall one involved in a dispute over ownership of a garage plot) suddenly found themselves tortured into confessing to membership of both the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Al-Qaida. They were also made to confess to attending Al-Qaida training camps in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. In an echo of Stalin’s security services from which the Uzbek SNB had an unbroken institutional descent, they were given long lists of names of people they had to confess were also in IMU and Al-Qaida.

It became obvious to me after just a few weeks that the CIA material from Uzbekistan was giving precisely the same narrative being extracted by the Uzbek torturers ?” and that the CIA “intelligence” was giving information far from the truth.

I was immediately concerned that British ministers and officials were being unknowingly exposed to material derived from torture, and therefore were acting illegally.

I asked my Deputy, Karen Moran, to call on a senior member of the US Embassy and tell him I was concerned that the CIA intelligence was probably derived from torture by the Uzbek security services. Karen Moran reported back to me that the US Embassy had replied that it probably did come from torture, but in the War on Terror they did not view that as a problem.

In October or November of 2002 I sent the FCO a telegram classified Top Secret and addressed specifically for the attention of the Secretary of State. I argued that to receive this material from torture was:

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A Really Stupid Policy from some Really Stupid People

A report today from Universities UK addresses the very real problem of underfunding in our universities, and suggests tution fees may need to double. In tandem, a BBC survey of Vice Chancellors and Principals in England and Wales finds that over half of them wish tuition fees to be at least £5,000 pa, and suggestions ranged from £4,000 to £20,000.

I feel called upon to make an ex cathedra pronouncement as Rector of the University of Dundee.

What a bunch of arseholes!

How did we reach the position where the people in charge of our institutions of higher learning are among the most stupid in the country? Only one third of them have retained half a marble. “Two thirds believed fees had not deterred applications from students from poorer families.”

That is a terrible condemnation of how remote these people are from their students in particular, and reality in general. The macho management culture that beset these isles led to these people becoming vastly overpaid and cosseted.

The Thatcherite New Labour system of a mass market for higher education, in which students pay, has never been tested in this country in a period of recession. It ran as a model only during the artificial boom of the Brown South Sea Bubble. At present it is mostly the very poor who are put off university by the levels of debt it entails. Whether demand will hold up as it becomes increasingly clear that the choice of whether to go to university will be between unemployment now, or unemployment in three or four years saddled with a huge debt, is still unclear. My money is that demand will be affected. To increase fees at the present would be a ridiculous gamble.

There is also, of course, the very real loss of social mobility. The deterrence to potential students from poorer backgrounds will worsen as the debt mountains become higher – and the number of people who have poorer backgrounds is about to rise substantially.

I regard the ending of the social mobility that came from free university education as the biggest single disaster of the Thatcher/Blair era.

The tragedy is that our universities could be fixed with under 1 per cent of the money that has been poured into the insatiable maw of corrupt financiers. Scotland’s universities need only an extra £200 miilion pa to return to financial soundness. For the UK, the figure is about £2 billion.

The failure of this stupid government to realise that universities are in fact more economically essential than the speculative wings of banks, is criminal.

The money must be found. But not from the students. And those leaders of universities who favour screwing the students further should be sacked en masse.

How the hell did they get the job in the first place?

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Islamophobia and the Jailing of Hicham Yezza

In May 2008 Hicham Yezza, an IT technician at the University of Nottingham, was arrested, together with student Rizwaan Sabir, in a well-publicised anti-terrorist swoop. They had downloaded al-Qaida material from the US Department of Defense website as part of Sabir’s academic work on terrorism.

Disgracefully, they were reported to the police by Nottingham University. The abandonment by British universities of any idea of academic independence is one of the unsung tragedies of our recent history. Our universities have become factories for churning out ever increasing numbers of “vocationally trained” graduates into a market with far less graduate jobs than the supply. Such research as is undertaken is tightly targeted, measured and constrained in terms not of human knowledge but of such state concepts as economic and social impact.

In the panic to be seen as helpful to the government, Nottingham University turned in these two Muslims, presumably on the basis that if you were planning to commit terrorist offences, then openly studying terrorism at university would be a good cover.

Actually, as far as I can tell no recent terrorist has had a proper qualification in terrorism from a British university. Surely, given the government’s obsession with vocational training as the purpose of university education, that is something the government must seek to remedy?

The ludicrous nature of the arrests quickly became apparent even to Nottinghamshire Police, and after an unpleasant six days in cells and the permanent shredding of their reputations, the men were released. Disgracefully, there has been no public apology from Nottingham University.

Just as with the face saving alleged “discovery” of child porn on the computer of the innocent “terrorist suspect” the police shot in Leyton, lo and behold Nottinghamshire Police discovered that Yezza was a criminal after all. He was an illegal immigrant!

Yezza has now been jailed for nine months for “securing avoidance of enforcement action by deceptive means”. As he was working and studying at Nottingham University under his own name, the deception is not apparent. But a formal jail sentence for an illegal immigrant in this country is extremely unusual. Yezza was not part of the criminal underworld and if he had applied properly his immigration status would in all probability have been able to be regularised. It is very hard to believe the judge was not motivated by the original slur of terrorism. This must go down as yet another striking example of Islamophobia in this country.

The government refuses to put a figure on the number of illegal immigrants in the UK. Academic estimates tend to put the figure around 800,000. It is generally agreed that aound 1 in 25 Londoners is an illegal immigrant. Having much professional experience with immigration and close personal links to a number of immigrant communities, I would put the overall figure much higher, at around 1.5 million. But to take even the lower estimates, can you imagine the chaos if we started to jail illegal immigrants for nine months? The singling out of Yezza is appalling victimisation.

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