New Labour’s Complicity in Torture – Truly Evil 99

I have now obtained under the Freedom of Information Act a heavily censored copy of one of my telegrams from Tashkent protesting at the use by the UK government of intelligence obtained under torture.

Every British person should read this telegram and hang their head in the deepest of shame. This is the pitch blackness of New Labour’s embrace of authoritarianism. Read it, and remember I was both smeared and sacked for this attempt to apply simply the most basic of humane standards.

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The censored passages detail British ministers’ receipt of the torture intelligence from the CIA, and point out that the purpose of the CIA intelligence is consistently to paint a false picture, exaggerating the strength of al-Qaida in Central Asia. Miliband approved the redactions from the telegrams “On grounds of national security”. Those are precisely the grounds on which he unsuccesfully sought to suppress the evidence of UK collusion with torture in the Binyam Mohammed court cases.

Here is the text of the telegram Miliband did not redact. It is incredibly damning – you can imagine just how damning the redacted parts are!



Manuscript Note: Matthew Kidd, Redacted

Grateful for views from both Redacted and Legal Advisers.

Wm Ehrman

Fm Tashkent

To Routine FCO

TELNO Misc 01

Of 220903 January 03



Your relno 323


1. Thank you for TUR. I apologise for not findng you at the Leadership Conference, but I had decided to drop this. What seemed to be a major concern seemed not a problem to others, and this caused me some self-doubt.

2. However I see that the Economist of 11 to 17 January devoted its front cover, a full page editorial and four whole pages of article to precisely the question I had raised. Reading a newspaper on the flight back here 12 January, I was astonished to find two pages of the Sunday Mail devoted to exactly the same concerns. Back in Tashkent, I find Human Rights Watch urging the US government not to extradite Uzbek detainees from Afghanistan back to Uzbekistan on the same grounds. All of which emboldens me to think I am in good company in my concern. These stories all quote US sources as indicating that the CIA is accepting intelligence obtained under torture by “allied” governments. As I already explained, I too believe that to be most probably true here.

3. Redacted. You accept that torture of detainees in Uzbekistan is widespread. Redacted.

4. Redacted. I can give you mounds of evidence on torture by the Uzbek security services, and I have et victims and their families. I have seen with my own eyes a respected elder break down in court as he recounted how his sons were tortured in front of him as he was urged to confess to links – I have no doubt entirely spurious – with Bin Laden. Redacted.

5. Redacted.

6. I am worried about the legal position. I am not sure that a wilful blindness to how material is obtained would be found a valid defence in law to the accusation of having received material obtained under torture. My understanding is that receiving such material would be both a crime in UK domestic law and contrary to international law. Is this true? I would like a direct answer on this.

7. Redacted.

8. The methods of the Uzbek intelligence services are completely beyond the pale. Torture including pulling out of fingernails, electrocution through genitals, rape of dependants, immersion in boiling liquid – is becoming common, and I weigh those words very carefully. Redacted.



Single Copies



The final codes are significant. it means that this was considered so hot that only a single copy was made in the FCO – very unusual indeed – and given to the Director General Defence and Intelligence.

It is both pathetic and evil that Miliband is still attempting to hide the UK’s complicity in torture by redacting those parts which state in terms that the CIA torture material was being given to me and to ministers in the UK. I am willing to testify on oath anywhere that this was stated clearly in the redacted material.

Miliband’s redactions are not in the interests of national security, but rather are intended solely to hide New Labour complicity in torture – just as the judge ruled in the Binyam Mohammed case.

It is also very significant that Miliband has redacted my observation that the torture intelligence painted an entirely false picture which exagerrated the strength of Al-Qaida.

All of which explains why the security services are desperately working to keep the LibDems out of office.

That is why it is essential that Miliband’s enthusiastic espousal of Jack Straw’s torture policy should debar either of them from any potential coalition involving the Lib Dems after the election. It also explains why I view those thinking of voting New Labour as endorsing the most vile practices know to mankind.

It is now beyond argument that, taken together, the documents I have obtained under FOI prove that there was a positive UK policy of complicity in torture. They also prove beyond doubt that, contrary to the lies of Jack Straw and Michael Jay, my account of events in Murder in Samarkand is true, not only in general but in the finest detail.

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99 thoughts on “New Labour’s Complicity in Torture – Truly Evil

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  • MJ

    Craig, the image in your first link isn’t displaying. Probably a filenmae issue.

  • technicolour

    Mmm. I got back to the UK this week and was hanging my head in shame. What the hell? Why is this still going on: Afghanistan, torture, kidnap, murder?

    My brother’s voting New Labour. He went on all the peace marches. He cares. In his area the Tories are currently close runners-up with the Lib Dems nowhere. The Tory vote is growing. He can’t bear the idea of Cameron.

    STW should have had a pre-election demo. Dammit, someone should. We’re all paralysed; everyone’s repeating themselves, it’s Nietzsche’s idea of hell.

    THanks, Mr Murray, for keeping this up, and keeping the focus. How are your Lib Dems responding?

  • MJ

    “We’re all paralysed”

    Yes. Reports today of huge numbers of postal ballots being stuffed into key marginals. Expect Labour to do better than expected.

  • Abe Rene

    I think Nick Clegg (as reported in the Daily Mail) handled the ‘retired establishment figures’ very well. One more reason to vote Lib Dem!

  • kingfelix

    Why should people reading this feel shame, other than the relevant participants?

    The UK government has chosen to simply no longer be responsive, neither to the electorate nor to the rule of law.

    I don’t see anything that will make a difference, and as the three main parties have closed ranks on Afghanistan, there is no way to make this election a referendum on the war and make Labour understand that they are being punished specifically for particular decisions.

    Instead, we will see on Thursday night that amazing phenomenon of all the parties claiming victory. Tories with their slim majority (but not a majority of the votes cast), Lib Dems with their increased representation, and Labour, well, that such an unpopular government received any votes at all will be greeted as some sort of vindication.

    And will the Tories investigate Labour’s abuses? No. And will the Tories continue the policy of accepting evidence acquired under torture? Don’t bet on it.

    The UK govt has simply parted company with the charade of representing the electorate, just as people in Israel are doomed to their fanatics, just as the US voters are.

  • kingfelix

    That’s not to say that I do not admire the tenacity you have shown over this and how much of the facts have emerged because of your personal sacrifice. It’s just that nothing will make these facts a live issue, they’re not even coming out during the heat of an election campaign.

  • logos

    The FoI request has finally dug up the gold! I wonder is there any prospect that the next administration might emulate Obama and release the redacted information (perhaps with an immunity clause, if need be)?

    This evidence speaks for itself. So I think it’s important to keep a very cool head here. Too many rhetorical phrases like “beyond doubt” can spoil the impact, because people sense they are being dissuaded from exercising their own judgement and reaching their own conclusions. (Ironically, such rhetorical argumentation is usually counter-productive because it tends to evoke doubt and suspicion – I think that may be why the JCHR committee expressed reservations in their report last year, even though they could not discredit your claims.)

    Simple statements of the significance of the evidence allow people reach their own conclusions and ‘own’ them without becoming defensive against indoctrination. That’s the best way to retain a sceptical audience. If they then express their doubts, you can highlight the contradictions and pick those off sequentially.

    Your persistence is paying off. All credit for hanging in there – one day you will be vindicated. I’ll raise a glass; this could be a significant landmark in the resurgence of ethical government.

  • technicolour

    Maybe Clegg is saving the “we will pull our troops out as soon as possible” announcement until the day before the election. You know, since it would swing the 45 percent who are currently undecided.

    Why doesn’t he do that?

  • Ishmael

    Your account of torture dished out by ‘that’ regime is truly horrific. Now, why would anyone want to hype up a threat when they don’t need to. Are the Curious Individual Actums, paid by the very same people who supply the methods to deal with these very bad people?

  • technicolour

    Sorry, just realised that saying ‘The Lib Dems are nowhere’ in my brother’s area is purely based on the turnout at the last election. Does not take account of surge once voters were actually allowed to see Clegg & hear policies. I think we can assume from (real) polls that the three are currently neck & neck, no?

    kingfelix, I didn’t expect to feel ashamed, just did.

  • kingfelix

    “Every British person should read this telegram and hang their head in the deepest of shame.” – Craig


    It’s not about you

  • technicolour


    Er, quite. It’s about the impact of our government’s decisions on a) the direct victims and b) on our national psyche.

    And actually, as far as our national psyche goes, it is ‘about me’ just as much as it’s ‘about’ anyone.

    Any comment on not dismissing the Lib Dem surge? The press are in full pro Cameron throttle, I see.

  • Craig

    Clegg mentioned Britain’s complicity in torture with disgust in his opening statement of the second debate.

    There is no doubt that the Bush/Blair combination represented a nadir in western morality, and that New Labour were deeply implicated. It is simply a lie that Liberals, Conservatives and New Labour are equally uncaring on human rights. And to use that line as an excuse for supporting New Labour is sick.

  • Clark


    you wrote: “…I view those thinking of voting New Labour as endorsing the most vile practices know to mankind”.

    please make an exception and forgive those who will vote tactically for Labour. Given the way votes are counted, it’s essential to all (especially the lib Dems) to prevent a Tory overall majority. I’m very lucky to live in a constituency where such a vote is unnecessary, but in a Labour / Tory marginal, I’d have to put the actual numbers ahead of the message I’d like to send, and, with disgust, vote for the Labour candidate.

  • Redders

    In my opinion, sadly, this type of human rights abuse, government, manipulation and overt corruption will not vanish even if the Lib Dems rolled home with an outright majority. Their policies and position are only degrees away from both Labour and Conservative.

    The truth seems to be that since the first world war when, as I understand it, income tax was introduced at 10% or so to fund the war effort, income tax was conveniently retained and our government embarked on finding ways to spend it.

    Although I agree with the NHS and the welfare system I agree more that they should be safety nets and not hammocks. I value my personal freedom which has been systematically violated since even before new labour and although not wealthy, I support the free market system rather than the state system we has been growing like a cancer for the last 90 years.

    If we care about the issues and are interested in a foreign policy change then have a look at the Libertarian Party. Other than a fairly non electable leader they are the only party proposing a radical government change, but not into the unknown, rather, adapting the system we used to have to modern day use; “UK Government – Lite”

    I’m no politician, nor senior civil servant, and my knowledge of politics is limited but I can’t see human rights abuses, that you have exposed so comprehensively, being addressed any more effectively by Lib Dems when they propose running the country with only a few tweaks. It always reminds me of an engineers solution to a problem, solve it with more technology which ultimately masks it but doesn’t eliminate it.

  • technicolour

    The rallying cry of ‘they haven’t been given a chance to screw it up for ages’ may seem a feeble one, but it works for me. ‘Vote Lib Dem (unless your candiate is awful)’ works for me, too.

    Clark, how do you know it’s still a Labour/Tory marginal? That’s what I was thinking about my bro’s area, but realise he/I have no real idea.

  • Craig


    Sorry, I don’t make an exception for voting tactically. You are still endorsing war criminals – unless your Labour man was one of the very small minority of Labour rebels on these issues. Keep war criminals in to keep the Tories out? Don’t bother.


    fair point. there is a strong proudhonist tendency in the lib dems, you know! I find the so-called liberatrians often to be just right wingers with no concern for civil liberties (a la Guido Fawkes).

  • Tim

    New Labour has been the most evil administration I’ve seen in my lifetime, and I’ve seen them all way back to the 1960s.

    Blair and Mandelson are of course at the heart of this evil. That’s now obvious.

    The important question for our democracy is how these evil men took total control of the Labour party and used it to inflict their evil upon our country.

    How do we that ensure that evil men like these never abuse us again?

  • mary

    Concur with Tim.

    After Labor’s 13 Years

    No Hope for Britain


    I can think of no better context in which to view the run-up to Election Day here, on May 6, May than Brian de Palma’s film, “Redacted.” That film, ignored by the Oscars but a winner in Venice, tells the story of the gang-raping and killing of a young girl in Iraq. Her mother, father, and 5-year-old sister were also killed.

  • Clark


    the Torys (nearly?) all voted for the illegal Iraq war. It was a matter of coincidence that Labour were in power following 9/11 rather than the Tories. There was a significant Labour rebellion over the Iraq vote, whittled down by the whip. The Tories are only any better by default. Where they would have stood on torture has not been tested. They didn’t support you much when you were stiched up, did they?

    Our votes are only secondarily “endorsement”. I want to see the Lib Dems with as much real power as possible, so that they can change the voting system, and our endorsements can align with who we actually give power to when we vote. And that requires trading Tory off against Labour, not “Keep(ing) war criminals in”.

  • Abe Rene


    “New Labour” was about trying to make Labour electable. This began with setting aside socialist principles, which led to the so-called public-private partnerships and the internal market in the NHS. It was accompanied by a creeping authoritarianism and the creation of an obsession with targets which the former head of MI5 correctly predicted would create a culture of dishonesty. This authoritarianism has also manifested itself in “control orders”. The wish of Blair to gain kudos with the Americans led to the history of the past two governments. What a mess!

  • Clark


    sorry, I only just noticed your question. Well, we just have to take the best guess, based on previous elections and the most relevant opinion polls we can find. That is one of the things that is so frustrating about the current electoral system; you can’t tell what effect your vote has until *after* the election! That seems very undemocratic to me…

  • Clark


    that’s not an “engineer’s solution”; it’s the solution the costing department insist the engineers adopt!

  • technicolour

    Clark, no, it’s just about not being Jesuitical. The means does not justify the ends. You have to vote for what you believe in.


  • Richard Robinson

    “there is a strong proudhonist tendency in the lib dems, you know”

    They’ve got a problem with proper tea ? Is this the real meaning of ‘teabagger’ ?

    Sorry …

  • Jon

    @Clark – I agree that the Tories may not have been better in practise on war and torture, but I’ve made this issue a vote loser. Admittedly I’m in an easier area where it’s 52% Lab, 32% LD and 10% Con.

    But before I checked the past results, I promised myself I would use this formulation: I’m not voting for war criminals, so I’m not voting for Labour. I’m not voting for regressive policies generally, so I’m not voting Tory. If this formulation would let in the Tories, it’s Labour’s fault, not mine. (Not likely to in my area, but I would recommend this approach to anyone who has opposition to war high on their voting priorities). Labour needs to be hurt by the electoral response to Iraq – if the electorate has one to offer!

    And in case any Labour activists are lurking about, no, this is not a joke.

  • Richard Robinson

    “How do we that ensure that evil men like these never abuse us again?”

    I had a young Labour person bang on my door a few days ago, and asked him pretty much exactly that, saying there was no possibility of my voting for them until they got to grips with how it could have been done, and offered a good reassurance that Never Again.

    He wasn’t even prepared to be asked such a thing, he had no line ready. He looked as though he may have been too young to even remember it; not that’s that’s an excuse, even the police seemed to be grinning with pride as they escorted the outraged schoolkids’ demo along the main road, back 7 years ago.

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