Shame, Lies and Secrecy on Diego Garcia 93

Diego Garcia and the Chagos Islands remains a deep shame to the United Kingdom. In the 1960’s we forcibly deported an entire population a thousand miles, very much against their will, to make way for a United States air base. This is not an ancient evil; it continues to seep its poison into current actions, and the remnants of the deported population still linger in Mauritius, dreaming of home.

The Chagos outlines the stark hyprocrisy of UK policy on the Falklands. There we state the will of the islanders is paramount. In the Chagos, we state the will of the islanders is meaningless. Of course, the Falklanders are white-skinned, the Chagossians brown-skinned. That is the limit of the FCO’s attachment to self-determination as a principle. It is not for “Man Fridays”.

“Man Fridays”, according to the US Embassy Cable describing the briefing on Diego Garcia given them by FCO official Colin Roberts, is how Roberts referred to the inhabitants:

Roberts stated that, according to the HGM,s current thinking on a reserve, there would be “no human footprints” or “Man Fridays” on the BIOT’s uninhabited islands.

In the Diego Garcians’ latest attempt to get their home back, Roberts under cross-examination denied emphatically that he had used the term “Man Fridays”. It is difficult to see why the US diplomats who recorded his meeting with them used the term and put it in quotation marks, if Roberts did not use it. Roberts appears, on the face of it, to be potentially a perjurer in court. It was at this point the judges brilliantly resolved this issue by declaring the US Embassy cable ineligible in court on two grounds; firstly, its possession was a contravention of the UK’s official secrets act, as Roberts’ disclosure of the UK government’s duplicity was an official secret; secondly for it to be noticed by a court would contravene the Vienna Convention on the confidentiality of diplomatic communications.

This not only wiped out the problem of the apparent perjury by Colin Roberts; it collapsed the Chagos Islanders’ case that the US Embassy Cable clearly shows that the declaration of a Chagos Islands marine conservation area was merely a ruse to make it impossible for the inhabitants – who are artisan fishermen – to return:

He asserted that establishing a marine park would, in effect, put paid to resettlement claims of the archipelago’s former residents. Responding to Polcouns’ observation that the advocates of Chagossian resettlement continue to vigorously press their case, Roberts opined that the UK’s “environmental lobby is far more powerful than the Chagossians’ advocates.”

Of course, I knew at the time what the evil David Miliband was doing, and I blogged about it in May 2010:

Miliband has now produced what is one of the most cynical acts in the history of British foreign policy. Dressed up as an environmentalist move, and with support from a number of purblind environmentalists, the waters around the Chagos Archipelago have been declared the world’s largest marine reserve – in which all fishing is banned. The islanders, of course, are fishermen.

The sheer cynicism of this effort by Miliband to dress up genocide as environmentalism is simply breathtaking. If we were really cooncerned about the environment of Diego Garcia we would not have built a massive airbase and harbour on a fragile coral atoll and filled it with nuclear weapons.

The subsequent wikileaks release of the cable recording the US Embassy briefing by Colin Roberts – which shows just what an odious, immoral creep Colin Roberts is – confirms the truth at what I am saying. I am still very angry at the environmental organisations which allowed themselves to be used in this way; they were blinkered and stupid. There is nothing more dangerous than a good man with a monomania.

The Guardian rightly execrated the ludicrous court decision to pretend the wikileaked US cable did not exist. It rather undermines the famous legal maxim that “facts are stubborn things”. A truer maxim would be “Facts are things which vicious, authoritarian judges can make disappear when it benefits the government for them to do so”.

The implication that facts, no matter how true, can be ignored in court if the government did not wish those facts to emerge, is a major blow to the very possibility of whistleblowing. A judicial system where the court only considers government approved fact, is a cornerstone of fascism. What happened in that court was very serious indeed. Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Mitting are a disgrace to their profession, the compliant tools of a policy that should disgust all moral men.

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93 thoughts on “Shame, Lies and Secrecy on Diego Garcia

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  • Iain Orr

    Craig – In your blog you answered in the affirmative your own question about whether we should treat the US cable as a reliable account of what Colin Roberts said at his meeting with US Embassy officials on 12 May 2009.

    There are broader reasons to be confident about the quality of US diplomatic cables. These flow from the considerable experience which you, I and our FCO colleagues have of US diplomatic cables that have been shared with us as allies – nothing to do with ones that have leaked into the public domain. Similarly, I have passed copies of UK diplomatic “telegrams” (in FCO terminology) sent from any Whitehall department or from another UK mission, containing complicated or precise information that needs to be shared with US or other colleagues. Sometimes one wants to emphasis the precise terms in which one has been instructed to act, to prevent any misunderstanding which might result if the point were purely made orally on in a bullet-point Aide Mémoire.

    It is because of these standard diplomatic practices that many UK diplomats have been entirely familiar with the format and general quality of US diplomatic reporting, long before there were ever the Wikileaked examples, now widely disseminated, to widen one’s knowledge of US drafting and reporting skills. I should add that quite often in sharing telegrams/ cables diplomats often “top and tail”the documents or the parts of them that are handed over, generally as an advised precaution – especially if the documents should ever fall into the hands of a hostile government’s agents – since the parts not handed over might well include details identifying some or all of the direct and copy addressees and the date/time groups showing when a telegram was drafted and/or sent, all of which could help a hostile agent to penetrate the communications systems of the the UK, US or other allies and friends.

    So, I am very familiar with US diplomats’ reporting styles and, like you, I am confident that they only put the words used by someone at a meeting in quotation marks when they are recording these as the words actually used. Some of these points may be unfamiliar to judges, though my worry here is that judges sometimes delight in ignoring what is simply commonsense to those in other trades and professions.

  • doug scorgie

    “A SENIOR judge yesterday showed a court his Calvin Klein pants as he denied twice flashing at a woman on a train.”

    “Lord Justice Richards, 56, held up his trendy black briefs as he began his defence of charges that he opened his trousers to show his penis.”

    “He told David Fisher QC, defending, he would need to use both hands to open his underwear enough to expose himself. He added: “That is the natural way of doing it.”

    “Whether one could do it with one hand I don’t know, it is not something I do. For a man, it is natural to use two hands to assist in removing one’s penis.”

    The Court of Appeal judge, also known as Sir Stephen Richards, denies claims by the 23-year-old PR worker of “boxing her in” and flashing at her on a London train on October 16 and 24 last year.
    Yesterday, Mr Fisher asked him: “Did you expose your penis to the victim whilst travelling on a crowded commuter train?”

    Richards replied: “I most certainly did not.”

    He was then asked: “Why would you not expose your penis?”

    Lord Justice Richards] laughed before telling City of Westminster Magistrates Court: “I have no desire to engage in such behaviour. I’m a happily married family man. I can’t perceive any form of gratification from exposing my penis as alleged.”

  • English Knight

    It is rumored by the fishermen in those parts that the out of bounds French held islands in the Indian Ocean are being used to store French nuclear waste. I have pursued this story for many years without any joy, perhaps the Chagos environmentalists can help. There are fishermen who have definitely disappeared in those parts after approaching the French island(s).

  • Jay

    But Craig , the islands are needed to conduct more war and why would the islanders wish to return home, no Tescos on the islands and internet shopping is sporadic at the best of times: monsoon rains would really mess up deliveries.

    All for war….and free markets.

    Sorry Craig the comment on skin colour was not necessary.

    I am sure the Islanders can be repatriated, would make good telly, can they sing?

  • Bird of family Troglolytidae

    At least it’s not the Bikini atoll…. At least they declared it protected instead of nuking it….

  • Bird of family Troglolytidae

    April Showers,

    What do you propose? If taken by imperialist conquest or not, should these lands now be given back? If so how?

    What’s your definition of self determination?

  • nevermind

    @ Komodo. Yes it is ethnic cleansing, although they speak the same kind of creole language as the Mauritians , which once used to own the Chagos until Britain did a deal with France and took it.

  • Fedup

    … at this point the judges brilliantly resolved this issue by declaring the US Embassy cable ineligible in court on two grounds…….

    Patently a brilliant example of separation of the powers! (My foot, I should cocoa too).

    The systemic racism; “Man Fridays”, further is extended to the degrees of justice the poor Chagossian can expect, fighting their case in the courts of the same bunch of crooks whom dispossessed them from their home lands.

    Evil David Miliband, has since moved on, and no longer content with the paltry money and perks of a lowly MP. He has resigned his safe seat and is moving on to US as a pay off for his role in supporting his masters cause, and being a damn fine Hasbara Author.

  • wikispooks

    Roberts is a parrot. He parroted his elders/seniors/betters – caught out he claims otherwise but the following gives the lies to his dissembling:

    A 1966 FO memo from Sir Paul Gore Booth to Dennis Greenhill stated:

    “We must surely be very tough about this. The object of the exercise is to get some rocks which will remain ours… There will be no indigenous population except seagulls who have not yet got a committee (the Status of Women Committee does not cover the rights of birds)…..The United States Government will require the removal of the entire population of the atoll by July.”

    A handwritten note on the memo by Greenhill, later Baron Greenhill of Harrow, reads:

    “Unfortunately, along with the birds go some few Tarzans or Men Fridays whose origins are obscure and who are hopefully being wished on to Mauritius etc. When this has been done I agree we must be very tough and a submission is being done accordingly.”

    ‘Man Friday’ was/is, it seems, a trendy favoured epithet in senior FCO circles – emblematic of the haughty arrogance of the arbiters of Britains foreign policy – Prince Machiavelli would be proud of them.

    All referenced in the Wikispooks article linked by John Goss 11:19am

  • craig Post author


    Also indicative of hereditary class rule, Sir Paul Gore Booth’s father was Cabinet Secretary; his son Sir David Gore-Booth was a very senior foreign office official when I first joined (and a very nice man, but that is hardly the point).

  • John Goss

    According to Wikipedia

    “Diego Garcia had no permanent inhabitants when discovered by the Spanish explorer Diego García de Moguer in the 16th century and remained so until settled as a French colony in 1793.”[13]

    Stoddart and Taylor of the Smithsonian Institute make this claim. I find it hard to believe. There would almost certainly permanent settlers. Diego García de Moguer may have not seen any islanders so would have stuck a Spanish flag in it for his King. Stoddart and Taylor could not possibly know there were no permanent residents for the next 250 years.

  • Herbie

    “Man Fridays and Birds”

    And thanks to identity politics they can’t use language like that anymore!

    What a win, eh.

  • dunwich

    Craig, nothing to add except more posts like this please. Don’t take any dirth of comments to heart. There are quite a few anyway.

  • guano


    I am the bait on the Zionist hook which now owns all the security, military, financial, infrastructure and communications companies that run this country, bought cheap in various recessions. Why ever should we worry about our nuclear bombs or airports being owned and controlled by Israelis?

    I was asking you to notice the hook instead of ‘biting the worm.

  • Rose

    Craig at 1.23 – Just to endorse Chris 2 and Kown’s comments; I have neither the knowledge nor the diligence of our lovely Dragon and others to add anything of substance to your post, other than to bang the table in agreement.

    I remember the outrage we all felt at the crime perpetrated against the Chagossians in the 1960’s, but am ashamed now to admit that it was probably the gassed dogs that made it seem all the more heinous – surrounded as we were then by umpteen of the buggers from the RSPCA shelter.

    So thanks for bringing this up again and no, you’re not shouting in vain; you’ve poked the embers and who knows what will come out of it; hopefully justice for the islanders.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella)

    Just wanted those who fear me (and those who admire) to know that I’ve neither “retired” nor am posting under a new name.

    Just sunnning myself (no, Guano, not in one of the sheikdoms and no, Scorgie, not in Eilat)…..but keeping a watchful eye on all of you. My apologies for not posting for a couple of days!

    I quite like the brand-new poster called April Showers. She reminds me a lot of the late Mary, especially in the way she interupts each and every thread with off-topic posts, but on the other hand she doesn’t seem to share Mary’s obsession with the Jewish bloodline and her comments have avoided snide-ness (is that a word?) so far.

    Back soon,k bear with me!

    pip, pip!

  • Bob R

    The implication that facts, no matter how true, can be ignored in court if the government did not wish those facts to emerge, is a major blow to the very possibility of whistleblowing.
    Bollox; it’s got bugger all to do with whistleblowing, unless the evidence related to said whistleblowing is covered by the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964.

  • ToivoS

    The sheer cynicism of this effort by Miliband to dress up genocide as environmentalism is simply breathtaking.

    Perhaps, but environmentalism does have a long history in this regard. Wasn’t poaching on the king’s land a capital crime in Medieval England? About 20 years back I attended a Green Party convention of some sort in Oregon that had a fairly large contingent from Europe. I swear about 1/3 of them sounded like Malthusians if not proto-fascist.

  • OldMark

    ‘Stoddart and Taylor of the Smithsonian Institute make this claim. I find it hard to believe. There would almost certainly permanent settlers.’

    There would almost certainly have been previous inhabitants, if not settlers; the Malays who crossed the Indian Ocean in their journey to Madagascar must surely have used the islands as a stop over. The displaced Chagossians however are clearly descended from slaves and indentured labourers imported from Mauritius around 200 years ago- and then promptly re-exported there by Denis Healey & the FCO in the late 60s.

  • Ruth

    Gerald James,
    ‘In the course of my own experiences I took considerable note and interest in parallel cases like Matrix Churchill, Ordtec, Euromac, Atlantic Commercial, BNJ, SRC, Forgemasters, Walter Somers, Polly Peck, Foxley Ferranti/ISC, BCCI, Maxwell etc. All these cases and others and the Astra case involved the gross abuse of power by Government and its agencies and servants, concealment of key evidence, intimidation, threats, false and selective prosecutions, manipulation of evidence, perversion of the course of justice. It has also been clearly demonstrated that there is no separation of powers within the United Kingdom. Key legal appointments like Lord Chancellor and attorney General, Solicitor General are wholly political. It has also been clearly demonstrated that Parliament has no control of knowledge of events and that a vast apparatus of permanent unelected Government exists. This permanent Government consists of senior civil servants, intelligence and security officers, key figures in certain city and financial institutions (including Lloyds of London), key industrialists and directors of major monopolistic companies, senior politicians. The Lord Chancellors Office which is responsible for the appointment of Judges, Clerks of the House of Commons select Committees and approval of Chairmen of such committees and the approval of the Queen’s Counsel, holds a total control of the legal administrative framework and has strong connections to the security and intelligence services. The last Clerk to the Crown in Chancery was Sir Thomas Legg, KCB QC who had strong links to the intelligence and security establishment and who was responsible for allocating Judges to controversial trials of a political nature where the “national interest” and “national security” (those much abused phrases) were involved, ie the Ponting Case. Legg’s successor will have a similar role. Sir Thomas was duly wheeled out to keep the lid on the Sandline Inquiry re the strange events surrounding the FCO, Sierra Leone and real foreign policy as opposed to the sham variety discussed at Westminster. He has been wheeled out again to keep the lid on an inquiry regarding the corruption in the hugely expensive building of new MP’s offices opposite Big Ben. The companies involved in this case are Alvis, formerly United Scientific Holdings and its Germany partner in the installation of a £35m contract for copper cladding. United Scientific Holdings is the company where ex Chief of defence Procurement and ex Lord Mayor Sir Peter, now Lord Levene was Managing director (later a Director of N.M. Rothschild) was Chairman. An American competitor alleges irregularities and corruption as it offered to do the work for a much lower price.’

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