Daily archives: July 3, 2010

Torture Inquiry: My Letter to William Hague

This is the letter I wrote to William Hague, via my local MP Angela Bray, on 24 May. I was not going to publish it until I received Hague’s reply, but as he has not replied after six weeks…

I did receive almost immediately from Angela Bray a copy of the very fair letter with which she forwarded mine to William Hague.

24 May 2010

Dear Ms Bray,

UK Ministers’ Complicity in Torture

May I congratulate you upon your election? I should confess I was campaigning hard for your

Lib Dem opponent Jon Ball, but I offer you my sincere good wishes for your career in parliament.

I should be most grateful if you could forward this letter and attachments to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, for his comments. The attachments are FCO documents but I rather suspect are not amongst those which his officials would select to show to him.

The documents arise from my time as British Ambassador to Uzbekistan. I have obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act. Those not written by me were carefully drafted to lessen the disclosure of culpability, and have further been carefully redacted. However I believe you will agree with me that it is impossible to read this short series of documents without drawing the conclusion that they reveal a policy of knowing complicity in torture. The Secretary of State referred to in the documents is, of course, Jack Straw.

I should also be most grateful if Mr Hague would personally consider again the substantial redactions which have been made from the documents. I of course saw the originals and I would argue that these redactions are not genuinely made in the interest of national security, but rather to avoid embarrassment to ministers. In the real world, it is not a secret that we receive intelligence reports from the CIA, nor that ministers read them. No specific intelligence is disclosed under the redactions.

The Guardian has reported that Mr Hague is considering the initiation of a public inquiry into allegations of UK complicity in torture. I would applaud this. I would however urge that it is essential that any evidence to such an inquiry be given under oath and at risk of perjury proceedings. I believe that otherwise the truth may be hard to discover. I should most certainly be prepared to give evidence to any such inquiry.

Finally, and with both shame and reluctance, I feel compelled to ask something for myself. I should state that this request is of nowhere near the same order of importance as the matters above, and I do pray that in dismissing it you do not dismiss the rest.

I believe I was the only senior official to minute his opposition to our complicity with torture, and very shortly after the events outlined in these documents, I was suspended and faced with 18 disciplinary allegations which branded me a sexual blackmailer, an alcoholic and a thief.

I am not, and have never been, any of those things and, after a four month investigation, was cleared on all those charges. But in the meantime my physical and mental health and, more dear to me, my public reputation had been destroyed. I came extremely close to sharing the fate of poor David Kelly, and I believe for very similar reasons.

The only disciplinary charge on which I was convicted was that of telling people about the false charges which I had been told to keep secret ?” but without telling people, how could I clear my name? The FCO line has always been that, when faced with such serious allegations, it had no choice but to investigate them. But that is completely at odds with the fact that the formal investigation found there was “No evidence” to support 16 of 18 allegations.

I genuinely believe that the allegations were concocted within the FCO, with malicious intent, because my internal opposition to torture was seen as endangering our secret policy of collusion with torture In fact I can think of no other explanation.

As you may be aware, a great many other people believe the same and the case has become justly notorious.

My request for myself is that the Secretary of State initiate an inquiry, by somebody external to the FCO, into what was done to me and why. Failing that, a simple apology that I was faced in such a public way with such heinous charges, of which I was innocent. To this day, the FCO has always avoided acknowledging my innocence of these dreadful accusations. It would mean the world to me.

Yours faithfully,

Craig J Murray

I have censored part of the final sentence, relating to impact on my family, for personal reasons.

If the government’s inquiry does go ahead, and is a formal inquiry under the Inquiries Act, I shall be applying to be a core participant. As the only civil servant who attempted to stop the policy which the inquiry is investigating, and having been sacked for my pains, I feel I have a strong case. As a core participant I would have the right to counsel who could submit questions to all witnesses. Frankly, few are in as good a position as I to know the right questions to ask.

Senior civil servants are pushing very hard to ensure the inquiry does not consider the general policy of torture, but only looks at individual cases of those who were tortured. A few MI5 and MI6 junior officers would be scapegoated, and compensation paid to a few victims of torture. Ministerial and senior civil service direction would be ignored. They also want most of the proceedings to be secret and – amazingly – at one stage MI6 have even been pushing for disgraced 79 year old Lord Hutton to head the inquiry.

It is by no means certain that there will be a meaningful inquiry at all.

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