The Disappearance of Craig Murray 134

Ian Cobain’s history of British state involvement in torture, “Cruel Britannia” – appears to have been radically censored between the review copies and publication.

This from Peter Oborne’s review of Cruel Britannia :

Some heroes do emerge from this sordid story. There is Lt Col Nicholas Mercer, the British army lawyer, who warned against the Iraqi atrocities. He was frozen out of the army and is now an Anglican priest. And Craig Murray, the British ambassador to Uzbekistan, was horrified by what he found out and lost his job.

While Nicholas Mercer’s own review has this:

At the same time, the few good men who do speak out know what fate will befall them. Craig Murray was drummed out of the Foreign Office for revealing Foreign Office connivance with torture evidence and Ben Griffin, the former SAS Trooper who spoke out against the UK treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, is now living under a Government injunction which prevents him from speaking any further. If he breaks the terms of the injunction he will go to jail. In Cruel Britannia you can lose your job or go to jail for revealing UK complicity in torture and rendition. Those who are complicit meanwhile remain untouched and untroubled. The only tap on the shoulder is the sword used to knight them.

Yet the book as put on sale contains not one single mention of me or my evidence, and the book’s chapters on British complicity with torture in the war on terror are extremely short and scanty, given Cobain’s genuine wide knowledge and expertise in the subject.

For a book to be radically changed between the review copies and general release is very unusual. What exactly has happened here?

UPDATE Comment from Ian Cobain below states that I was never in the book. I should be interested in any further comment he has as to why it is so thin on recent torture; there is a great deal of fascinating and directly relevant stuff that I know he knows that is not there.

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134 thoughts on “The Disappearance of Craig Murray

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  • A Casual Observer

    You were cast into the Memory Hole Craig… ours is not to reason why – no doubt an expensive law firm and a masonic handshake were involved somewhere in the process.

  • nevermind

    Excellent, now we are getting somewhere. The bullying and beasting of army recruits, as well as terrorising and torturing of prisoners come from one and the same mindset.

    Its brutal and not very clever, distorts and makes up false pictures to suit agenda’s.

  • Clark

    Who is the publisher? Amazon don’t say, but they’re making it available for the Kindle “rent our books but we won’t let you own them” Swindle; does that mean Amazon is the publisher?

  • mike cobley

    Portobello Books is supposedly a small independent publisher – did they get a visit, I wonder, or a message along the lines of “nice little publishing house ya got there, shame if anything happened to it, hur, hur, hur!”

  • kashmiri

    What’s wrong? Did anyone believe, even for a moment, that Western Europe is more “free” and “democratic” than, say, Egypt or China? Come on….

  • Ben

    A very good question. Perhaps Mr Cobain or somebody else connected to the publication of the book can provide an answer.

    What is truly sad is that no journalist seems to have picked up on this and is publicising the issue. Such in Britain today.

  • Mary

    Weird or what? Heiress to Tetrapak £billions

    Company Summary
    Portobello Books Limited is an Inactive business incorporated in England & Wales on 21st October 1994. Their business activity is recorded as Book Publishing. Portobello Books Limited is run by 3 current directors and 1 company secretary. 1 Shareholders own the total shares within the company. It is also part of a group. The latest Annual Accounts submitted to Companies House for the year up to 31/12/2011 reported ‘cash at bank’ of £0, ‘liabilities’ worth £0, ‘net worth’ of £0 and ‘assets’ worth £0. Portobello Books Limited’s Risk Score was amended on 16/08/2011.

    Previous Names

    Date changed: 12/02/2004

    Date changed: 13/05/2004

    Date changed: 26/10/2004

    Date changed: 29/10/1996

    Current Directors
    Dr Sigrid Maria Elisabet Rausing
    Mr Eric Abraham
    Mr Philip Gwyn Jones

    Current Secretaries
    Mr Craig Nicholson

  • MJ

    On the other hand, the book was published on 1 November and those reviews date from late November and early December. The review copies will have come from that first print run. It is possible but unlikely that the publisher has quietly pulped the first edition and replaced it with a new, censored version.

    It is also possible that the reviewers, in referring to your case, were drawing on their own knowledge rather than citing the book directly.

  • Komodo

    Scroll down to “UN’s Syria Study Contractor Benetech Has “Anonymous” Funder, State Dept Funds Affiliate” to find an interesting reference to the Sigrid Rausing Trust.

    Sig’s a bit of an anomaly. Heiress to the Tetrapak fortune, and living on a paltry few thousand acres in the Monadhliaths (Central Highlands, Sassenachs), she nevertheless writes for the New Statesman and supports a lot of humanitarian charities. Might be worth asking her, Craig.

  • Ian Cobain


    Here’s your answer.
    The book wasn’t “radically changed” between the review copies going out and the book being published. In fact, it wasn’t changed one jot.
    Craig Murray appears in the acknowledgements section of the book.
    I’m sorry if Craig believes that to be insufficient credit for the work that he has done.
    If anyone on this thread has – or believes they have – any criticisms of the book, perhaps I can suggest something radical?
    Why don’t you read it before posting a comment?

  • GF

    One of the main reasons why complicity to torture and other awful abuses by the powerful go unpunished is because of the corruption of our judiciary system, it composition and its head. And whose fault is that?

  • David

    It’s certainly very curious that Craig’s contribution was left out of the main narrative of a book concerning British state involvement in torture, and indeed those others mentioned above.

    Has anyone provided an answer yet for these elephantine omissions?

    Perhaps the story of Britain’s history of involvement in torture would benefit from a fuller telling. This censored version seems little more than the crumbs of the story.

    Maybe that’s the point.

  • John Goss

    David, you should read Ian Cobain’s comment at 12.25 pm.

    I can understand a reviewer relating to Craig Murray, as a whistleblower on torture, without there being anything really concrete in the book under review to say in what way he exposed torture, because he is one of the most famous. Everybody who has regularly read this blog knows that. We know how he offered his services to a whitewash, sorry Inquiry, that never went ahead. However, under the circumstances, I think Ian Cobain, should not have treated Craig Murray’s contribution in exposing extraordinary rendition with the disdain with which he appears to have treated it, and his comment, especially since Craig Murray is recovering from heart problems, are also disdainful. If there is nothing about how cruel Britain has been and is in ‘Cruel Brittania’ I’m going to save myself a few quid.

  • craig Post author

    Am still stuck in the coronary unit in hospital – but I refuse flatly to die until I finally get to testify at a proper inquiry!

  • David

    Hi John,

    Thanks. I’d read Ian’s comment prior to posing my question. I thought it didn’t answer the obvious questions.

    It seems to me that Ian’s treatment of British state torture is incomplete without the story of how the very same state treated one of its own ambassadors when he queried their support for torture in Uzbekistan. That would seem central to the story.

    Ian entitles his book “Cruel Britannia: A Secret History of Torture”, yet the truth is that this secrecy is as much a story of media as of government. Media were of course very much complicit in the smearing of Craig when he began to blow the whistle, as of course they currently are of Julian Assange as he exposes the corruption, criminality and barbarism of western governments.

    The Guardian, for whom Ian writes, is very much a part of this smearing of whistleblowers and the attendant secrecy of current western actions.

    It’s all very well exposing “secrecy” from WWII or The Boer War etc, but even the offical papers will do this. It ain’t radical or revolutionary, however it’s painted. It’s history, not journalism.

    No. Ian’s account is incomplete and it’s incomplete because embedded mainstram hacks like him are simply not allowed to tell the truth about current and ongoing actions. To do so would open him to the fate of brave people like Craig and Julian, and he would know this better than most.

    I’m afraid that the stakes are now much too high to be entertaining any longer the mainstream in their charade.

  • John Goss

    I’ve just read the Telegraph review of Ian Cobain’s Cruel Brittania.

    Although the review mentions some sins of omission perhaps I will read it after all. I am particularly interested to know what coverage it gives to the way Babar Ahmad was beaten by police, then put in prison without charge for eight years, before being extradited to the United States where he is now being held in a Supermax prison – another form of torture.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    Food 4 thought – The world’s elite, their puppets and money launderers hate solidarity, hate communities of mutual support, that is their greatest fear.

    I am calling 2013 the ‘Year of Solidarity’ because I believe that is the way forward to a world without torture, death squads and assassinations (Occupy movement targeted?).

    Whether it be the ‘Occupy’ movement, ‘Stop the War’ or ‘Craig followers’ we must I believe continue to unite and spread an awareness that elicits enlightenment; that which educates a credulous public is a responsibility, a commitment of those gathered here, at Craig’s bedside.

  • Jives

    David 1.40pm,

    Excellent post.

    Spot on about The Grauniad being part of the brutal culture.

    Ian Cobain has written regularly for them on this topic.I always got the impression from reading his work that the scope was limited.

    Whether that was deliberately controlled i dont know.

    Its certainly possible.

  • John Goss

    David, Mark, cannot agree more. I’m just a bit wary Mark about, not Occupy so much, as Anonymous. Of course any organisation can claim to be Anonymous in order to denigrate Anonymous and I think that might be from where this problem has arisen.

    I’m a fan of Michel Chossudovsky, director of Global Research in Canada, but this disturbs me. I’d be particularly interested in your view on this Mark. Is it actually Anonymous? Or what?

  • Fred


    There is no such thing as Anonymous. It doesn’t exist. Anyone can put on a mask and call themselves Anonymous and be Anonymous. There is no membership, no common goal, no manifesto, no organisation.

    But if anyone tries to shut down the internet anywhere they can expect a visit, the rights and wrongs of the politics doesn’t come into it, there are no sides and no allegiances nobody shuts down the internet as who they are.

  • Wikispooks

    I got the Kindle version from Amazon well before the official published date.

    It is a first rate work of reference on a deeply unpleasant subject and Ian Cobain will not have endeared himself to the Establishment by having it published. I heartily recommend it – ommissions and all – to one and all. Nick Mercer’s review + a Wikispooks comment is also available here

    Craig is mentioned both in the Acknowledgements and the Bibliography (Murder in Samarkand) but not in the text itself. As someone who is both familiar with and sympathetic to Craig’ work, I did not consider this a serious omission since the book deals primarily with the hands-on involvement of British personnel in the physical (and mental) administration of torture from and including WW2 to the present – and truly amazing, stomach-churning stuff it is too. It does necessarily deal with the decisions, obfuscation and excuses of politicians, civil servants and the police/security/military to some extent, especially with regard to Northern Ireland (hint 2 former Chief Constables who demonstrably lied to Parliament on the issue of torture, were rewarded with peerages – thata’s how thouroughly corrupt our precious EStablishment really is). It is however clear to me that the politicos and those that pull their strings, have learned much from handling the shameful episodes detailed in the book, such that they are now even more devious, deceitful and practiced at hiding what really goes on. Craig’s experiences per his ‘Murder in Samarkand’ were probably a bit complex to easily fit into the flow of the rest of the book – IMHO and FWIW.

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