This is the uncorrected transcript of my evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights
I believe these excerpts give the key points in my evidence:
Q77 Chairman: To summarise where we are, we were not directly involved in torturing anybody in Uzbekistan, but effectively there was a chain that ended up with you in Tashkent via the CIA and MI6 in London. It is not like the allegations we have received regarding Pakistan, for example, where basically we are in the prison cell asking the questions and somebody may have been tortured. This is a much more remote chain of circumstances. Your argument is that because Uzbekistan is a country where torture is almost a way of life in that country evidence was being obtained by the CIA indirectly from the Uzbeks and then supplied to MI6 and the sum totality must have been known to ministers. Although we were not directly involved through that chain that is sufficient in your view to create an allegation of complicity by the UK in torture in Uzbekistan?
Mr Murray: I would agree with that.
Q78 Chairman: That is a summary of your case?
Mr Murray: I would add one point. My case is that because as an ambassador I was fortunately a member of the senior civil service and I was arguing against this I was able to be given high-level policy direction and be told that ministers had decided we would get intelligence from torture. The fact that ministers made that decision was the background to what was happening in Pakistan, for example. It is not that MI5 operatives were acting independently; they were pursuing a policy framework set ministerially.
Q79 Chairman: So, ministers specifically used the words “torture”, “evidence from the CIA” and “no questions: turn a blind eye”?
Mr Murray: Ministers certainly had before them and read my telegrams which said that this was torture and detailed the type of torture involved.
Q80 Chairman: What you just said was that ministers said it was okay to use torture?
Mr Murray: No; I think I said that ministers said it was okay to use intelligence from torture.
Q81 Chairman: Therefore, the inference is that it is not just turning a blind eye or “ask no questions, tell no lies”; it is specific knowledge?
Mr Murray: Nobody argued to me once that the Uzbek intelligence we were discussing did not come from torture; everyone accepted that it came from torture and the question was whether or not we accepted it. Nobody said that it was not actually torture.
Mr Murray: That is a reasonable way to express it. The telegrams that I wrote at the end of 2002 and beginning of 2003 were expressed quite specifically in terms of my concern that British government ministers were acting illegally by receiving this material under UNCAT. My telegrams said that the secretary of state might be acting illegally by being in receipt of that material.
Q77 Dr Harris: Can you clarify why you think they described those telegrams as unwise? You do not quote but say that they reported in that conversation that such sensitive questions were best not discussed on paper.
Mr Murray: It is always difficult to answer why somebody said something. You can say what they said, but obviously I am not inside their minds.
Q78 Dr Harris: Did you ask why?
Mr Murray: I would like to put this to you: two telegrams were sent by a British ambassador stating that the secretary of state might be acting illegally. I did not receive any written answer to those two telegrams. It would be extremely unusual for a Foreign Office ambassador to write back on any serious policy problem and not receive any reply from the department. To send two telegrams which actually allege illegality by your own secretary of state and not get a written refutation is quite extraordinary. Instead, I was summoned to a meeting at which I was told that these things were better not put in writing. I was able to get the Sir