Either Craig Murray or Jack Straw is a Terrible Liar 40

Jack Straw took the policy decision that the UK would receive intelligence obtained under torture by the CIA and other liaison intelligence services. He has been denying it ever since, and described my evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Human Rights Committee as “entirely untrue”.

In the White House and at the Pentagon, such respect had evaporated completely. As Cofer Black, former head of counter-terrorism at the CIA was later to tell a congressional committee: “All you need to know: there was a before 9/11 and there was an after 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves came off.”

There must have been some realisation of this new fact of life at the highest levels of the British government. Craig Murray, who was later removed from his post as ambassador to Uzbekistan after denouncing the use of intelligence extracted under torture, recently told parliament’s joint committee on human rights (JCHR) he had been informed by a senior Foreign Office official that a decision that such intelligence should not be questioned was taken by Jack Straw, then the foreign secretary, following discussions with senior intelligence officials. Straw describes this claim as “entirely untrue”. But when Michael Wood, the FO’s senior legal advisor, was asked his opinion, he is known to have concluded it was not an offence in international law to receive or possess information extracted under torture, although it would not be admissible as evidence in court.


Now either Jack Straw or I must be lying to Parliament. There is no other explanaton. One of us is an extrenely devious man who has poisoned public life with falsehoods on the subject of the British government’s attitude to torture and the validity of much of the “war on terror” narrative as a result. Which one is the liar?

There is a document which will establish the truth of this. It is classified Top Secret and stored in the Permanent Under Secretary’s Department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I judge that the time is now right to try and get hold of it through the Freedom of Information Act. I have little doubt that the FCO will refuse the request, but I believe that, with parliamentary and police investgations underway into this policy, I can now demonstrate enough of a public interest case for the Information Commissioner to release the document on appeal.

This is my email to the FCO. I think the reasons given for release of the document are pretty cogent. The request was dated 20 September and addressed to Peter Ricketts, Permanent Under Secretary, FCO:



I wish formally to request from you under the Freedom of Information Act the minutes of the metting of 7 or 8 March 2003 between Linda Duffield, Michael Wood, Matthew Kydd and I on the subject of the receipt of intelligence obtained under torture. In particular I wish to receive the top copy which includes a manuscript note of the views of Jack Straw. I believe you were in the loop on this discussion at the time in your then position of Director International Security.

There is a strong public interest in the release of this minute. This meeting formed the core of the evidence which I gave recently to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights. The credibility of my evidence is a key issue in the very important report on UK complicity in torture produced by that committee. The release of this minute will go far in establishing the truth or otherwise of my account, which is a matter of major public interest and on which I have given evidence in person before not just the parliamentary joint committee, but also important committees of the European Parlaiment and the Council of Europe. As you will acknowledge, the UK’s attitude towards the receipt of intelligence from torture abroad is a matter of keen parliamentary, academic, media and public debate of late.

There is an undeniable public interest in the truth of the government’s policy on this major issue being known.

You had a personal role in the establishment and implementation of our policy of obtaining intelligence from torture, first as FCO Director of International Security and secondly as Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. Therefore I do not doubt you will immediately be minded to obstruct this FOI request. Let me anticipate your arguments:

This meeting is no longer secret. With the agreement of Treasury Solicitors, I published on my website and in Murder in Samarkand, the letter from Sir Michael Wood of 13 March 2003 which refers to the meeting and sets out his view that to receive intelligence from torture is not a breach of the UN Convention Against Torture. This letter is discussed at length in the recent report and the minutes of evidence of the Parliamentary Joint Committee. The existence of the meeting and the government’s line at the meeting is therefore well established. Publication of the minute will only add the personal involvement of the then Secretary of State. To continue to hide that would be only in the interests of avoiding political embarassment, which is not a legitimate reason under the Freedom of Information Act.

An account of the meeting was published in my book Murder in Samarkand. This account of the meeting was cleared with the FCO and takes into account the input of others at the meeting as given to me by the FCO as part of the clearance process. The table produced by the FCO, giving my account of the meeting alongside the FCO’s comments and request for changes, is an unclassified document and has been published by me on the internet for three years now. So there is no additional damage to relations with the US or Uzbekistan from releasing the minute of a meeting the content of which has already been acknowledged by the FCO in public.

The Obama administration has taken a different line on these issues to its predecessor, has acknowledged that excesses occured in CIA handling of the question of torture and intelligence, and has released key top secret documents on the issue. For the UK to do the same cannot credibly be argued to damage UK/Us relations.

Yours ever,

Craig Murray

If, as Jack Straw says, my story is “Entirely untrue”, then it should be a simple matter to release this document and prove it.

There is a possible downside – I am worried that this request may lead to the destruction of the document, or at least of the top copy with the manuscript note amplifying Jack Straw’s views.

40 thoughts on “Either Craig Murray or Jack Straw is a Terrible Liar

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  • Helen Wright

    I thought you were removed for buying sex from vulnerable young women in foreign countries?

    Apparently you enjoy sex with a kilt on and like to smack womens arses while singing Scottish songs.

    You are a man of questionable morals and brough shame on our country. Crawl back under your rock, you slimeball.

  • Craig


    If you thought that, you are peculiarly susceptible to government propaganda.

    If what you say were true, that would of course be another reason for the government to release the documents.

  • Diversity

    Mr. Murray,

    All I really know about you is that you were emplyed for many years “to lie abroad for your country”. However, I concluded many years ago that if there was a choice between believing Jack Straw and beleiving someone else, any sensible person should believe the someone else.

  • Jives

    Some really petty,simplistic,narrow,judgemental idiots posting here Craig…

    Ignore these trolls.


  • Simplistic Trol

    Should I be ashamed of smacking women’s arses while singing Scottish songs then?

    Would Irish songs be OK?

  • Sabretache

    Power to your elbow Craig!

    I mean that. I may get a bit shirty over your Ahmadinejad foibles – and this – and that – but for sure your general political thrust is laudable and you’re like a jack-Russell after a rat when you get going (and Jack Russells being a major enthusiasm of mine, please take that as a big compliment).

  • Craig


    Thanks. For readers who start here, I might point out that I view Ahmadinejad as a dangerous nutter.

  • Chris

    Given it was Mr Straw who sat next to a certain Mr Powell in the UN during the “mother of all presentations” and did nothing to correct the errors in it, I wouldn’t believe Mr Straw if he came up to me and said “My name is Jack…”

  • dreoilin

    “I am worried that this request may lead to the destruction of the document, or at least of the top copy with the manuscript note amplifying Jack Straw’s views.”

    THAT is what we should plaster as loudly as possible over the internet — so that it can’t be destroyed.

  • dreoilin

    Would Irish songs be OK?

    –Simplistic Trol

    Submit a list to me and I’ll tell you which ones would be acceptable. 🙂

  • Control


    Good man. As you suggest I think the liklihood of this being released is slim to non-existent but I truely believe that your efforts are not in vain. I just wish more people were aware / cared about what is done in our name.

    One thing I would be interested to read a blog post of yours about is your thoughts on BAe and the defence industry in general. I find the idea that the use of ‘jobs will be lost’ as an argument not to touch outrageously expensive and strategically useless defence contracts to be sickening.

    Your thoughts on the SOE attempt number 2 to prosecute BAe would also be welcome. So they fine them £X million but that does nothing to change the political culture does it?!

    Kind Regards,


  • Craig

    Hi Control,

    As you may know, I have posted a great deal in the past on BAE and particularly their relationship with New Labour through Jack Straw and Lord Taylor of Blackburn. You can probably find through the search box in the left margin.

    I was thinking about posting on it today, but might keep my powder dry till something actually happens. I expect Baroness Scotland will block the prosecution. I can guarantee you that Jack Straw and Lord Taylor are working on that at this moment.

  • MJ

    “Apparently you enjoy sex with a kilt on and like to smack womens arses while singing Scottish songs”.

    Most blokes from Norfolk are like that. Nothing to be ashamed of.

  • Jon

    @Helen Wright – I suspect you will be regarded as a forum troll here, especially given the propagandistic tone of “shame on our country” – a questionable assertion in any case. (“Shame on the British government” would be a more accurate statement, and jolly good thing too, I’d say.)

    But if you are not just a drive-by disrupter, by all means do give us a fuller account of your views on any of the issues in the torture/complicity debate. It may help put to rest any spurious suspicions that you are a die-hard Blairite or a neo-conservative who thinks that government impunity is a good thing.

  • Albert M. Bankment

    Jack Straw is not a terrible liar, and you do him a dreadful disservice. He is a smooth and accomplished, unblushing and unembarrassable, malleable and ductile, word-perfect and confident, seasoned and fluent, utterly brilliant liar.

  • Simplistic Trol

    @dreoilin – would love to give you a list but it’s usually all over before I get to the end of “Dirty and Slow”, but I’ve got “Danny Boy” in reserve just in case.

  • Damian Brown

    Do you know that a certain Jack Straw set fire to the Duke of Lancaster’s property in London a few hundred years ago – found out in Blackburn Library reading a History of Lancashire Volume

    has this Jack Straw named himself after an arsonist, set against Royalty?

  • hawley_jr


    You comment above:

    “For readers who start here, I might point out that I view Ahmadinejad as a dangerous nutter.”

    So that ‘readers who start here’ are not misled as to the actual point which Sabretache was making on a previous post, may I reproduce the gist –

    You wrote:

    “…if he [Ahmadinejad] could have further refrained from the couple of sentences which were indeed anti-semitic, he would have made the walkout appear unjustified and puerile,…”

    Sabretache commented:

    “There were NOT “a couple of sentences that were indeed anti-semitic” (my blog quotes the part that cued the walk-out in full).”

    This is that quote from Sabretache’s blog:

    “How can one imagine that the inhuman policies in Palestine may continue; to force the entire population of a country out of their homeland for more than 60 years by resorting to force and coercion; to attack them with all types of arms and even prohibited weapons; to deny them of their legitimate right of self-defense, while much to the chagrin of the international community calling the occupiers as the peacelovers, and portraying the victims as terrorists. How can the crimes of the occupiers against defenceless women and children and destruction of their homes, farms, hospitals and schools be supported unconditionally by certain governments, and at the same time, the oppressed men and women be subject to genocide and heaviest economic blockade being denied of their basic needs, food, water and medicine. They are not even allowed to rebuild their homes which were destroyed during the 22-day barbaric attacks by the Zionist regime while the winter is approaching. Whereas the aggressors and their supporters deceitfully continue their rhetoric in defense of human rights in order to put others under pressure. It is no longer acceptable that a small minority would dominate the politics, economy and culture of major parts of the world by its complicated networks, and establish a new form of slavery, and harm the reputation of other nations, even European nations and the U.S., to attain its racist ambitions.”

    In the interests of truth, would you please point out “the couple of sentences which were indeed anti-semitic”, as you wrote.

  • Craig

    hawley jr

    Frankly, I can’t be bothered to look them up. It was a reference to “a minority” which wrongly wields “excessive influence” in policy making, the media, finance etc – in the context of the speech he plainly meant Jews. It was anti-semitic, and it devalued a lot of good points otherwise made.

  • Craig

    Found it:

    It is unacceptable that a small minority should dominate large parts of the world through a complex network in the US and Europe to retain its racist ambitions

    Plainly and undeniably an attack on Jews. That is out of order. His attack on Israel’s crimes was not out of order.

  • david

    Of course that minority would have to be semitic for the reference to be anti-semitic. It would also have to be a race to be racist (not merely a religion).

  • Polo

    @ Simple Troll

    It’s “easy” and slow. The moral judgment is yours; the style is ours.

    @ mj

    A derriere too far? 🙂

  • Andy

    Sounds like it’s descending to a discussion of semantics.

    Straw is playing with words.

  • anon

    I thought we agreed that anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-Semitic. Former ok, latter not ok on this blog. But it seems that in the West Ahmadinejad’s speech has frequently been interpreted maliciously as the latter rather than the former.

    It is not at all sensible to take the comments of readers of the Qur’an out their Muslim context. The Qur’an consistently differentiates between those who practise their religion correctly from those who do not. God does not condemn the behaviour of righteous people who do not attribute partners to Him, of any race.

    Similarly, if someone says ‘The British….’ in a pejorative sense meaning the British establishment, as happened a few days ago on this blog, we know from the context of a political blog that they did not mean the entire British people. Similarly Muslims know from the context the Holy Qur’an that God is not being racist. He is condemning outrageous behaviour.

    If we hear Clare Short sticking a knife in Blair’s back today about BAE, we don’t criticise her for being too harsh because it might upset his feelings. I hope it didn’t, but I wish very much it would make him change his politics. We know from the context what is being said.

    People in the West take the words of Muslims out of context. The Qur’an is a guide book for Muslims, the Arabic word for those who submit themselves to the will of God, about their religion. It therefore frequently gives examples of previous Muslims who followed earlier holy prophets. Some of these examples concern people from the Jewish race, and many examples are given from even earlier peoples. These are examples to follow or warnings to Muslims against wrongdoing, not a criticism of the Jewish race. God urges the Jews to follow the last prophet,Muhammad, peace be upon him, the same as everbody else.

    We believe in God’s word, and this leads us to use His terminology. If He says the Jews were wrong about this and about this, we believe what He says, even if others do not. If anyone wants to call God racist, Who is the Creator and Sustainer of all life, then in my opinion they must be even more daft than Helen Wright.

  • dreoilin

    ‘Sabretache commented:

    “There were NOT “a couple of sentences that were indeed anti-semitic” (my blog quotes the part that cued the walk-out in full)”.’

    I thought it was said (and not denied) that the walk-out was pre-arranged anyway. Didn’t that come out afterwards?

    @Simplistic Trol and MJ

    Thank god for the humour round here. We haven’t had enough of it lately. 🙂

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