Torture Inquiry: My Letter to William Hague 35

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.

35 thoughts on “Torture Inquiry: My Letter to William Hague

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  • Chris Dooley

    Craig, everything you have been through and how you have acted, shows what a great asset you would be to a real inquiry into these events.

    Now is the time for Mr Hague to prove how fine and upstanding he really is.

  • Anonymous

    ‘ but as he has not replied after six weeks…’

    I think he has. He has told you where all this going….Nowhere.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    A very powerful letter, Craig. Excellently put. Sadly, I agree entirely about the likely direction of the ‘Inquiry’. In fact, why don’t they be done with it and just get Tony Blair or John Scarlett to chair it? If we’re going to have a kangaroo event, let’s have some real kangaroos!

  • MJ

    “Now is the time for Mr Hague to prove how fine and upstanding he really is”.

    I think Hague’s failure after six weeks even to acknowledge Craig’s letter tells us everything we need to know in that regard.

  • Clark


    you should feel neither shame nor reluctance in requesting that your own case be investigated. What the FCO did to you is part of the evidence of the existence of a policy.

    MJ and “”,

    I’m undecided on the six weeks delay, it took over three weeks for my MP to reply to my e-mail about the Mavi Marmara. I think there *may* be considerable turbulence occurring at present.

  • MJ

    Clark: given that Craig was a key witness at the JCHR last year, I think failing even to send a one-line acknowledgement of receipt is contemptuous and inexcusable.

  • Parky

    what has the local MP had to say about this delay, is she following it up? Can we be sure Mr Hague has even seen the letter, it is likely his minders might have “lost” it. An acknowledgement at least would be a courtesy.

  • Richard the 2nd

    Is there any merit in lobbying my MP in support of having Mr Murray as a core participant if this inquiry gets set up or is that pointless pissing against the wind?

  • Cholmondley

    “I came extremely close to sharing the fate of poor David Kelly, and I believe for very similar reasons.”

    I would have left this bit out of the letter. Bit of a red flag, ol’ boy.

  • Jon

    A heartfelt letter, Craig, and powerful too. Well done.

    My letter to Shabana Mahmood on the topic of the flotilla attacks has also not received a reply for some weeks, but at least she’ll be marked down via when the 2010 statistics are released!

  • Iain Orr


    I’d give William Hague considerable leeway for delay in replying to your letter via your MP. As you know better than most, he will reply as Foreign Secretary. Thus his wording ?” whether dismissive or sympathetic ?” will involve many officials and lawyers, probably in the US Administration as well as in several UK government departments and agencies. Indeed, the difficulties in agreeing the drafting would be the greatest if Hague were personally inclined to be sympathetic. There will be scope for denying him full access to some key documents signed off by ministers under the previous administration.

    Which other politicians do you think Hague may feel he needs to consult; and do you think this will be in order to help him come to a decision or simply to ensure that they all take a consistent line?

    While Hague is the key departmental actor, the issues involve the values and commitments of the coalition. However, the PM and Deputy PM need to be aware that the way your request is handled may impact on their own reputations, their relationships and on the values of the coalition. Your letter is now theoretically in the public domain. Have others suggestions about how to give it effective media and/or political attention?

    What about a private letter to Richard Ottaway as Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, since the FCO’s treatment of you falls directly within the FAC’s remit? You could offer more background to the letter and your readiness in due course to interpret the bureaucratese of the response. However independent a Yorkshire tyke the S of S considers himself to be, ministers are not only not above the law; they seldom have the final word in drafting their official letters ?” Sir Michael Wood’s successor as FCO Legal Adviser (Daniel Bethlehem QC) will surely have a hand in both policy and its expression.

  • kingfelix

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

    Craig’s been taking lessons from that mad guy who posts his letters to MPs here. Believe it or not, the use of How the Powers that Be deal with Craig Murray’s Input is not necessarily the final judgment on the meaningfulness or otherwise of the enquiry.

    I actually agree the enquiry will not find what it does not want to find, but the narcissism of Craig is also rather offputting. Maybe he should just place the information in the hand of somebody more mainstream to take it forwards, separating it from the negative of his personality and assorted other views.

  • Craig


    the problem is your own lack of analytic ability. I plainly set out above why the inquiry might not be meaningful:

    “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.”

    I do not claim that accepting evidence from me is a precondition of a meaningful inquiry.

    But what I can offer is eyewitness testimony of a deliberately unwritten ministerial policy, of which the correspondence I caused and have published is the only written evidence. You can’t get somebody else to give eyewitness testimony for you. That is an absurd suggestion.

    What precisely are the “assorted other views” which you find problematic?

  • Tony Dean

    Hague did not reply?

    Who voted him in office that he should ignore the citizenry of this country?

    He should stand up and be a man!

  • Roderick Russell

    Hague did not reply? Craig, I suggest you ask your MP to send a follow up letter, requesting a reply. Perhaps it is possible that people in the FCO are holding your letter up and just sitting on it.

  • ingo

    powerfull letter Craig, just as powerfull as the gewrman disposal of the hand of god this afternoon.

    I have written to my MP and MR. Hague, via his PA Mr. Wharam and I’m flaggoing my ‘mad letter’ up here, just to show how this current shower in power, excruciatingly excused by Kingfelix, is not responding to our concerns at all.

    All very well for us to agree and postulate, but without actually organising and working out a practical/coherent response for physical change we are pissing in the wind.

    Eternal optimism in the system is not something I can allure to, never have, I’d rather get down to it and formulate something of substance.

    Doune the rabbit hole I say. Thanks to Clark for considering to come, always wanted to meet him, so, who else wants to meet new faces and minds?

    TRhis letter was written to Richard bacon MP and to gbe forwarded to William Hague.

    Thanks for your acknowledging response to my letter.

    I am very concerned that our position with regards to the flouting of international law is a tad inadequate and designed to smoothen out facts with news management. Please confer to the Right honorable William Hague MP, that an attack and murder on the high seas, subsequent kidnap of 600 people, including some 30-40 British citizens, a clear flagration against a flagged ship of a NATO country cannot be overridden by spin or news management.

    NATO is in sitting over this issue for some time now and it is hard pressed not to act in some way.

    I also would like to steer the attention to the Irish vessel MV Rachel Corrie, planning to land aid in Gaza within the next few days and urge to lobby and argue for instant EU naval assistance to safeguard its voyage. It is not tenable to watch another ship being taken over by an armed force when one can avert it.

    The situation in Gaza after 4 years of blockade is untenable. The US and Russia are talking to Hamas, the Arab League is almost fully behind their administration, and despite the arranged stop to unification talks between Hamas and Fatah, the proximity talks must be started up again, with a unified and agreed council for both sections, but most important of all, the blockade must be lifted and if incoming wares are screened by EU peace keepers, so be it, but its must be lifted, we cannot subject 1.5 million people to more hardship and harassment by a heavily armed neighbor.

    The San Remo treaty also says a lot about illegal blockades and how it does not apply to states not at war, so please, do not argue for treaties people know don’t apply.

    Should Israel declare war on hamas, it’s the Geneva conventions that apply and that includes inspections of prisoners and rights for individuals as you might well know.

    Please forward this to Richard and William Hague MP,please.

    It is a matter of utmost urgency. Britain cannot be seen to appease those who flout international law and commit an act of war against a fellow NATO member.


  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Craig,

    If the government won’t do the right thing,then you as a citizen are perfectly entitled to do the following:-

    1. Select a committee of eminent people to head a truly “independent commission of inquiry”.

    2. Give national publicity to the fact that this “independent commission” will convene at a particular place and time, and affords ‘x’ period of time for written sumbmissions.

    3. There will then be video viva voce evidence, which you are free to broadcast on the internet, or, the witness may want to be heard in camera ( i.e. as distinct from ‘on camera’ ha, ha – little joke) and the alternative approach will be respected.

    4. A thorough investigation will then be done, and the unofficial independent inquiry can publish its findings for the world to see and read.That report will be taken seriously and be respected, once it is fairly and properly implemented.

    After all, who is the government made up of, but just people like you and me? Why should this independent inquiry be any less credible than the official one that will be conducted? I am not aware of any law preventing this course of action.

  • Randal

    A bit naive to expect anything other than a brush-off or deceit from a neocon like Hague on this kind of issue.

    Hague is just another atlanticist US-UK dual-loyalty Quisling, of the kind that infests our ruling classes these days. Him influencing foreign policy is probably the single biggest drawback of the coalition.

    In a decent world, or if we were a decent nation, we’d have Liberals in charge of defence and foreign policy (except Europe), and Conservatives in charge of the economy and domestic spending. Instead we get it the other way round, so we still get to be taxed in order to fund mass murder around the world in the service ultimately of Washington and big business, and we get to be taxed in order to fund state bureaucracies and the charitable activities that the establishment thinks deserve to be funded (with other peoples’ money of course).

  • Anonymous

    “Perhaps it is possible that people in the FCO are holding your letter up and just sitting on it.”

    It’s a good trick if you can do it.

  • Chris Dooley

    Mr Barnett’s idea is fine, but would the inquiry have the powers of state to call people to before it.

  • Ishmael

    I do not believe you will be called at anytime. The torture continues. Raising it in such a high profile is not what the Tories want. Torture and heavy handed interrogation techniques are nothing new. What is new is your determination to fight back and try and make people understand what happened. Like may who have sought justice from a corrupt regime I fear you may never have your day in court.

  • ingo

    No Chris, but someone with enough collateral who pays their travel expenses might just do it justice.

    Good Idea Courtnay, just my thoughts when I suggested Holland as a venue.

    For that to happen in a coordinated manner, one ought to have a shinding, I would not trust anybody with such an undertaking without seeing them in the flesh, sorry, one would be a tad naive.

  • Tris

    It certainly doesn’t pay to accuse the British government of compliance in torture or any of the other terrible things that it does, possibly at the behest of America, in order to retain its supposed “importance” in the world.

    The image of “fair play” being the hallmark of an Englishman, in all he says and does really belongs in a work of literature.

    Rather like the successful executive who has to walk all over the faces of his colleagues to get to the top, a country doesn’t get to rule a quarter of the world from a tiny island without being utterly and totally ruthless.

    The trouble is that somewhere deep down we want to believe that Britain is not like that.

    We really need to get over ourselves.

    I hope that Hague is a good man; I believe he probably is, but the officials at the FCO are…well, you know better than I.

    What is good is that you are a part of letting us all know just how entirely corrupt our governance is.

  • alan campbell

    No reply from the ConDem nation? Are you really surprised? Let me just put you straight..Tories are naturally far more right-wing and security bonkers than New Labour could ever hope to be. It’s genetic.

    PS In Afghanistan until at least 2015. Hoodwinked again.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Chris,

    In reply to:-

    ” Mr Barnett’s idea is fine, but would the inquiry have the powers of state to call people to before it.”

    My concept is that those who give the evidence do so voluntarily.

    There would be no lawful power to compel attendances or call specific persons before the indpendent inquiry. However, with an eminent panel, say anywhere from 3 to 5 on the tribunal, then the voluntary evidence given, much to the surprise of the government, might be from knowledgeable and highly relevant persons with information who have sufficient conscience and faithfulness to the truth, that they step forward with the information. In this way, the “blind eye” avoidance gaps left by the government’s inquiry will then credibly be filled.

    I doubt that such an approach can be faulted, once it is properly implemented.

    Again, there is no law that would prohibit such an approach. One, of course, would have to be careful about the nature of the Official Secrets Act, as it applies to what can be revealed by certain witnesses, subject to those constraints.

    P.S. this is the type of constraint I am referring to:-


    5. Information resulting from unauthorised disclosures or entrusted in confidence

    (1) Subsection (2) below applies where?”

    (a) any information, document or other article protected against disclosure by the foregoing provisions of this Act has come into a person’s possession as a result of having been?”

    (i) disclosed (whether to him or another) by a Crown servant or government contractor without lawful authority; or

    (ii) entrusted to him by a Crown servant or government contractor on terms requiring it to be held in confidence or in circumstances in which the Crown servant or government contractor could reasonably expect that it would be so held; or

    (iii) disclosed (whether to him or another) without lawful authority by a person to whom it was entrusted as mentioned in sub-paragraph (ii) above; and

    (b) the disclosure without lawful authority of the information, document or article by the person into whose possession it has come is not an offence under any of those provisions.

    (2) Subject to subsections (3) and (4) below, the person into whose possession the information, document or article has come is guilty of an offence if he discloses it without lawful authority knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that it is protected against disclosure by the foregoing provisions of this Act and that it has come into his possession as mentioned in subsection (1) above.

    (3) In the case of information or a document or article protected against disclosure by sections 1 to 3 above, a person does not commit an offence under subsection (2) above unless?”

    (a) the disclosure by him is damaging; and

    (b) he makes it knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that it would be damaging;

    and the question whether a disclosure is damaging shall be determined for the purposes of this subsection as it would be in relation to a disclosure of that information, document or article by a Crown servant in contravention of section 1(3), 2(1) or 3(1) above.

    (4) A person does not commit an offence under subsection (2) above in respect of information or a document or other article which has come into his possession as a result of having been disclosed?”

    (a) as mentioned in subsection (1)(a)(i) above by a government contractor; or

    (b) as mentioned in subsection (1)(a)(iii) above,

    unless that disclosure was by a British citizen or took place in the United Kingdom, in any of the Channel Islands or in the Isle of Man or a colony.

    (5) For the purposes of this section information or a document or article is protected against disclosure by the foregoing provisions of this Act if?”

    (a) it relates to security or intelligence, defence or international relations within the meaning of section 1, 2 or 3 above or is such as is mentioned in section 3(1)(b) above; or

    (b) it is information or a document or article to which section 4 above applies;

    and information or a document or article is protected against disclosure by sections 1 to 3 above if it falls within paragraph (a) above.

    (6) A person is guilty of an offence if without lawful authority he discloses any information, document or other article which he knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, to have come into his possession as a result of a contravention of section 1 of the [1911 c. 28.] Official Secrets Act 1911.”

    My comment is that persons with sensitive information, coming forward to testify before the independent inquiry, who themselves were government employees, will have to walk gingerly in testifying. The intimidatory tactic of attacking those who testify with relevant information, can be expected, and the line of attack from the government will most likely run down the line of ” national security”.

    Why not give it a try Craig?

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