The Book


Death of Alexander Burnes

Bombay Times, April 23 1842 Deposition of Bowh Singh, lately a Chuprasse in Sir Alexander’s service

“Sir Alexander Burnes was duly informed by his Afghan servants, the day previous to his murder, that there was a stir in the city, and that, if he remained in it, his life would be in danger; they told him that he had better go to the cantonments; this he declined doing, giving as his reason that the Afghans never suffered any injury from him, but on the contrary he had dome much for them, and he was quite sure they would never injure him.

On the day of the murder, as early as three o’clock in the morning, a cossid came to me, on duty outside; he said “Go and inform your master immediately that there is a tumult in the city, and that the merchants are removing their goods and valuables from the shops.” I knew what my master had said on this subject the day before, so I did not waken him, but put on my chupras and went to the char choukh. Here I met the wuzeer, Nazamat Dowlah, going towards my master’s house; I immediately turned with him, and on our arrival awoke him, when my master dressed quickly, and went to the wuzeer, and talked with him some time. The wuzeer endeavoured to induce him to go immediately into cantonments, assuring him that it was not safe to remain in the city; he, however, persisted in remaining, saying: “If I go, the Afghans will say I was afraid, and ran away.”

He however sent a note to Sir W. Macnaghten, by Wallee Mahomed.

A chobar came from the king to call the wuzeer, who asked and obtained permission to stay at the door; the wuzeer said to Sir Alexander Burnes, “Why, you see already that some of Ameen oola Khan’s people have collected to attack you; if you will allow me I shall disperse them.”

He (Sir A Burnes) said, “No, the King sent for [you] to go to him without delay.”

The wuzeer accordingly mounted his horse, and went away. The gates were then closed, and then in a little time surrounded by Ameen oola Khan and his rabble. Hydur Khan, the late kotwal of the city, whom Sir Alexander Burnes had turned out of office, brought fuel from the human on the opposite side of the street, and set fire to the gates.

The wuzeer shortly returned from the Bala Hissar, with one of the king’s pultuns, on seeing the gates on fire, and an immense crowd about, he took it apparently for granted that Sir A Burnes had either escaped or been destroyed, and withdrew the regiment.

At this time, the whole mob of the city was collected, and the house in flames.

The jemadar of chuprassees told Sir A Burnes that there was a report of a regiment having come to assist him; he was going to the top of the house to look, and had got half way, when he met an Afghan, who said that he had been looking about, and there was not the least sign of a regiment.

My master then turned back, and remarked, there was no chance of assistance coming from the cantonments or the king. A muslim, a Cashmeeree, came forward, and said “If your brother and the chuprassees cease firing on the people, I swear by the Koran that I will take you safe through the kirkee of the garden to the fort of the Kuzzilbashes”.

The firing ceased, and Sir A Burnes agreed to accompany him, and for the sake of disguise, put on a chogha and a longee.

The moment he came out of the door, a few yards, with the Cashmeeree, the wretch called out “Here is Sikunder Burnes.”

He was rushed on by hundreds, and cut to pieces with their knives. His brother Captain Burnes went out with him, and was killed dead before Sir Alexander.

Captain Broadfoot was shot sometime before, in the house, and expired in half an hour. There was a guard of fourteen sepoys, they were all killed in the affair. All the Hindoostanees except myself were killed. His sirdar-bearer, who is with me, escaped, as he was at home. I got away, having an Afghan dress. All the Afghan servants deserted. I got into cantonments, after being several days in a shop. Sir Alexander forbade the chuprassees and others firing on people until they set fire to the gates.”

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Jealous Superiors

Alexander Burnes is going to dominate my thoughts and my time for a few months. I am going to continue to post my transcripts as I make them so they are more readily available to other researchers.

There is a syndrome at play in this letter that I very much recognise from my own days as an up and coming diplomat. Burnes gets carpeted for suggesting Karachi should become the major regional trading centre by an old hand who knew better from his thirty years experience in the field! Burnes was of course proved right about Karachi, but did not live to see it.
NLS MS 5899 f 151 Inv

From Colonel Pottinger Bhooj Residency
Apr 15 1837

To the Honourable Sir Charles Metcalfe

My Dear Sir Charles,

I have been so very busy of late that I have not had time before to thank you for your letter of 21 February last with the two accompanying Indus reports which has been at last got up in a very complete and businesslike form – I was glad to find from Corless when he was here with me last month, that his examination and survey of this year go decidedly to support the opinion that I have entertained from the first, that the Indus affords the greatest facilities for navigation.

The last time I was at Hyderabad, the native agent who came from Calcutta was was with me and he had travelled a great deal on the Bengal rivers – his opinion was strongly in favour of the Indus, but if people expect that they are to ascend a superb river like it against the current without difficulty (I mean of course when they have not steam or a fair wind) they will be disappointed. I went up at the worst period of the year (in December) without any particular exertion at the rate of 14 miles a day with a fleet of seven boats abd when the southerly wind blows fresh a boat will often clear 50 miles between sunrise and sunset.

I have nothing to do with Capt. Burnes’ reports except to pass them on to the supreme government, but I have seen enough of them to satisfy me that his information is incorrect. He asserts in one of them that Karachee has been – I think his expression is – “for ages” the sea port of Scinde and dwells on the “beaten path” thence to Tattoh as the desirable one for a passage – so far from this being the case, Karachee was only taken from the Khan of Khelat (Beloochistan) by the present family of the Emirs in 1795 and previous to that the whole trade of Scinde went into and came out of the Indus and goods that are now landed at Karachee are chiefly conveyed thence over the range of mountains into the small district of [Lus?] of which [Sommeam?] is the seaport and out of it by the “Kohunwat” or “mountain road” by which Captain Christie and myself travelled to Kelat in 1810.

The boats of Cutch ply to and from the Indus from the 15th September to the 15th April and I see no good reason why our merchant’s boats should not do the same. The agreement however which I have made with the Ameers for warehousing goods will overcome every difficulty in the way of trade, so far as Scinde is concerned. It is quite clear at the same time, that we cannot hope for any great extension of it until the countries to the northward are tranquillized.

Believe me etc.,
Pottinger

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Murder in Samarkand Nominated

If you scroll down, down, down on this link, far, far past Chris Evans and Nick Ferrari, you will see that serious radio still does exist, and that Murder in Samarkand, by David Hare, adapted from my memoir, has just been nominated for best radio drama at the Sony Radio Awards. I do hope it wins – the BBC may have to dust it down and make it available somewhere other than on this website.

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Diplomacia Suja

diplomaciasuja.jpg

My last post did not signal a return to blogging but rather explained why I need a few days’ break. But I have to share with you my joy at the release of the Brazilian edition of Murder in Samarkand, translated from the US edition and entitled Diplomacia Suja.

This is the first foreign language edition and I am childishly excited to hold it in my hands. I was actually jumping up and down a few minutes ago. There seems something magical about seeing your work in a tongue which is mysterious to you. Many thanks to Companhia Das Letras and especially to the translator, Berilo Vargas, whom I am yet to meet.

http://www.companhiadasletras.com.br/detalhe.php?codigo=12648

Good progress is being made on a Turkish translation.

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Light in the Darkness

I hope that I have been able to tell people quite a lot of truth about the deeply unpleasant workings of government. It cheers me up a lot when I stumble across something like this, part of a reader’s review of Andrew Rawnsley’s hagiography of the Blairites, Servants of the People:

This book is fairly authoritative. The reader is fairly convinced that he is getting an accurate picture. It is of course only one view. If you compare Rawnsley’s account of the Arms for Africa affair with that of high-ranking civil servant Craig Murray in his ‘The Catholic Orangemen of Togo’, you see how a ‘Blair rides to the rescue’ story conceals another narrative of corruption and mass-murder in Africa with Britain unwilling to look under the headlines and uncaring about the consequences as long as they get their boys out of the swamp.

http://www.books2read.co.uk/blog/general/servants-of-the-people-the-inside-story-of-new-labour/

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In Conversation in Glasgow Tuesday 20 April

I am appearing on Tuesday in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’s “In Conversation” series.

http://www.glasgowconcerthalls.com/whatson/event/97590-Conversation-Pieces-Spring-2010-Craig-Murray

Do come along if you live in the area, as I shall look silly if nobody turns up. Having said that, it is a curious fact that when people have to pay to hear me, the audiences have always been bigger than when it is free. I remember some 450 paid for Amnesty in Malvern, and twice selling out the Edinburgh Book Festival, for example.

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The Independent – Review of Murder in Samarkand

The only review I have seen of Murder in Samarkand on Radio 4 is from Chris Maume in The Independent. While he says some great things about the play:

The terrific Murder in Samarkand

David Hare’s superbly brisk, no-nonsense script

[David Tennant]

put in a fantastic performance

I really don’t agree with his balancing criticisms of David Tennant – I think David pulled off the huge emotional range required brilliantly.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/the-saturday-play-murder-in-samarkand-radio-4brthe-archers-radio-4-1905623.html

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Murder in Samarkand

If you missed the broadcast of David Tennant in David Hare’s adaptation of Murder in Samarkand, or if you just want to hear it again, it is available for the next seven days here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qs5x7

You can buy the book, and my second book, via the links in the top left hand corner. I should frankly be grateful if you would!

Thank you so many kind comments. I thought the production was brilliant and the performances extremely moving. I found the emotional callouses hadn’t stemmed the tears, and so did Nadira. Mind you I confess I was dead chuffed when the very first person to phone congratulations as the credits were being read was Bianca Jagger.

I have to lead the rest of my life meeting people who will be disappointed because of their mental picture of me as David Tennant. 🙂

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David Hare and David Tennant “Murder in Samarkand” Broadcasts Today

This is the big day, and I confess to being much too excited about it for a person of my advanced years.

Murder in Samarkand broadcasts today on BBC Radio 4 at 2.30pm.

It has been adapted as a radio drama by David Hare, and I am played by David Tennant.

Do spread the word, and do leave me some feedback when you have herard it. And do buy the book!

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The Other Book

This reader’s review of The Catholic Orangemen of Togo appeared on Amazon yesterday. I like it very much because it seems to understand what I was trying to do. I really enjoy reading the readers’ reviews on both Amazon and on Facebook virtual bookshelf. When you write a book you crave feedback from those who experience reading it.

I remain very sad that my publisher buckled at the libel threats from Schillings on behalf of mercenary killer Tim Spicer, and I had to publish The Catholic Orangemen myself. The result was a much smaller readership. Murder in Samarkand deals with the extremes of human experience; The Catholic Orangemen is less spectacular, but I think it is better written and it contains the little wisdom I distilled from over a decade of working intensively on Africa and its problems,

As in his earlier book, Murray is enormously entertaining. But this is also by far the most informative book I have read about the nature of the problems modern African states tend to have. For instance he describes how many modern African countries have developed very restrictive trade agreements which allow them to accept subsidised US or EU produce, thereby bankrupting their own businesses, but won’t trade with each other because so many businesses are corrupt monopolies owned by relatives of government officials and they don’t want their neighbours to get the jump on them.

Murray also details a colossal level of corruption and bloodletting among all the West African countries, even the relatively stable Ghana. In the earlier part of the book Murray details his role in London having responsibilities for West Africa as a whole. Later he became Deputy High Commissioner of Ghana.

His most remarkable achievement here was in going to enormous lengths to facilitate a free election at the point when Jerry Rawlings had to give up power, having served two terms, and by virtue of incredible levels of organisation and very hard work managed to get a result.

This book is also frequently hilarious, never more so than in recounting his stage management of a Royal visit to Ghana, Duke of Edinburgh and all. At one stage the royal support team set up camp, so to speak, at an Accra hotel, at another the High Commissioner is gloriously upstaged. Some sections remind me of Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Black Mischief’. Murray speaks the truth and sometimes its shocking, often it confirms in glorious detail what one had often suspected, and sometimes it’s hilarious.

This book is set in the 90s, before Murray went to Uzbekistan, but was written quite recently, and Murray wasn’t as cynical about the morality of his own government during his stay in Africa as he later became. But what he has to tell us about the Arms for Africa affair reveals that what has shocked so many of us about Blair’s involvement in the Iraq war was not a one-off, driven by some compulsion to kowtow to the Americans. Long before 9/11 he was ignoring the painstaking work of whole departments of the Foreign Office to get his mates off the hook with their massively profitable corrupt arms dealing.

To anyone who loves Africa, and to anyone who wants chapter on verse on exactly how degraded the conduct of our government has become, this is essential reading.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/0956129900/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R35CPZL41NHT7D

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David Hare: “They Knew Bloody Well They Were Getting Information From Torture”

Great interview with David Hare on Front Row yesterday.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qsq5

An MP3 grab here might be more permanent:

http://www.kasiminfo.co.uk/DT/2010/Audio/DH.mp3

Mark Lawson The playwright David Hare written scripts of stage including Plenty and most recently The Power of Yes, television such as Licking Hitler and movies The Hours and The Reader. But he has so far only been represented on radio by adaptations of his theatre pieces.

This weekend though Radio 4 broadcasts a previously unperformed play which grew out of an abandoned movie script. Murder in Samarkand is based on the memoirs of Craig Murray, who was removed in 2004 as British Ambassador to Uzbekistan after publicly protesting that the British and American governments were using intelligence procured through torturing prisoners.

The majority of movie scripts fail to get made but for different reasons. So why had this script finished up as a radio play?

David Hare I wrote it for Michael Winterbottom and he and I did not see eye to eye. He when he read the book thought that it was a farce and he imagined it with a comedian like Steve Coogan. I saw it as rather more serious so we were artistically at odds.

But also I don’t think people outside the film industry understand the degree to which drama really is disappearing from the English-speaking cinema. It’s been a sort of perfect storm that at the exact moment the studios lost their faith in what you might call human being based drama, at that exact moment the recession came along and now the success of Avatar is just confirming them in their judgement that that kind of film is finished.

I don’t think anyone yet knows, there’ll be a lagging couple of years before you realise, that there aren’t any human beings on the screen in your local Odeon anymore.

Mark Lawson Even if you had agreed with Michael Winterbottom, it would have been a hard movie to get funding for, wouldn’t it, I expect because of the theme of it. It explicitly attacks the British and American governments over torture in particular; in effect over their whole foreign policy. So it might have been hard to attract finance.

David Hare I don’t know. I mean it is a very funny story. It is about this man Craig Murray who is our Ambassador in Uzbekistan, and who is by his own admission a somewhat flawed character, meaning his private life was completely chaotic, his way of conducting business was extremely unusual, he wasn’t your representative Ambassador.

He was also a great high flyer: he didn’t go into Uzbekistan, and he didn’t go into the effects of the War on Terror, intending to come apart from his government or the Foreign Office. He simply regards himself as a classic liberal, and his government has changed beyond recognition.

Mark Lawson In the narration in the radio play he says lets get this out of the way, usual rules, its basically true but some names have been changed, but it is essentially it is based on his memoir.

David Hare It is, and the thing I did was to take out any accusation he makes in the memoir which can’t be corroborated. I only make those allegations which we know to be true and which are corroborated by other people.

That’s to say Craig Murray is the person who drew Foreign Office attention to the fact that they were receiving information which had been basically gained in the Tashkent torture chambers. The Foreign Office had a view of complicity which was that they said that, if we aren’t the people who actually do the torturing, there is no moral obligation on us to ask where did this information come from.

So they knew bloody well that they were getting information from torture. You can then have a legal argument about whether, by receiving that information, you are or are not complicit. But I am keeping to what is known, and it is a shocking enough story without any allegations which can’t be proven.

Mark Lawson One of the fascinating things about the play is that he is sleazy, he is arrogant; and in Hollywood whistleblowers ten to be quite saintly people.

David Hare That’s right. You know I think that’s probably why Michael Winterbottom wanted to do it as a farce, because he said let’s get somebody who is sort of nakedly ridiculous to play this part.

I thought that was the wrong way to go and I thought that a great actor – and I feel that David Tennant is a great actor – could give you both things. In other words he could give you the moral seriousness of the character, but he could also give you the wild side which undoubtedly is part of Craig.

Mark Lawson To what extent have you changed it from the screenplay, because there is a lot of narration in this which in your film scripts you have quite often shied away from.

David Hare Oh definitely. One of the things I did was to talk to a lot of people around the story, and one of them was his wife Fiona, and so I’ve included a lot of what Fiona told me which is not in the book, which was the point of view of somebody who was basically sympathetic to what Craig wanted to do, which was to alert the Foreign Secretay to the fact that he might be breaking international law, but who thought he was tactically very stupid and exhibitionist in the way he went about it.

That said, what I most admire about Craig is that he has been willing to pay the price for his principles. He adored being a diplomat and he will never go back to his jon in the Foreign Office and he really has, like many whistleblowers, really paid the price.

Mark Lawson To what extent did you consult him about what you were doing?

David Hare Not very much. I read an earlier draft of the book, which was even wilder and more scabrous. It was hilarious, I mean it was Rabelaisian, I mean it was not like any diplomatic memoir. But having said that I have written something closer to my own version of events. I went to Tashkent. I interviewed people who worked for him: it is strongly adapted.

Mark Lawson It is wild stuff as you suggest. At one pint he marries a pole dancer who has been working as an interpreter for him, and people think he has made this up but that did really happen.

David Hare Yes, and Nadira is now living happily, she has a child, she lives with Craig, and his life is now with his Uzbek girlfriend.

Mark Lawson The BBC is known to be very nervous about dramatisations of living people and there have been many problems over this over they years. There are certain rules. You are supposed to have permission I think if you dramatise a living person. Did any of this affect you?

David Hare Not in the slightest. I think BBC Radio is just exemplary; I mean it reminds me of what BBC Television used to be like in the good days. It’s moved at the speed of light. Obviously the subject of British complicity in torture is hotly topical at the moment and Wow! It’s going out a week after the principle evidence in the Chilcot inquiry. And I can’t think of any medium which moves as fast as radio can do.

Mark Lawson It has the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and actually he’s dramatised in this. There were no BBC nerves over that?

David Hare I dont detect any nerves at all from the BBC. I have been incredibly cooperative myself. In other words, my days in which I used to fight the BBC are long over.

Mark Lawson You wrote a famous essay on this issue. You used actually to trade expletives in pubs for your television plays.

David Hare Well, television used to be a bartering job where you would sit down and say I’ll have two B words for an S word, and there would simply be a trading session in the pub. But those days are gone, I think.

Mark Lawson Finally there have been cases of radio plays becoming movies. I think A Man For All Seasons was originally a radio play and one of Lee Hall’s also became a movie. You never know, you might get an offer to make a move of this now.

David Hare Yeah, I’ve had three offers already to make it a stage play since I wrote it as a radio play, but I am just going to wait and see how people like it on Saturday.

Mark Lawson David Hare. Muder in Samarkand is on Saturday at 2.30pm here on BBC Radio 4.

It is important for me that David makes the point so strongly that he has corroborated the story. It rather puts the lies of Jack Straw, David Miliband and Kim Howells in perspective, doesn’t it?

twodavids.jpg

David Hare and David Tennant at the recording of Murder in Samarkand.

WHY WAS THIS POSTED TWICE?

Because a 10am posting gets several thousand more readers than a 10pm posting – will tidy up later.

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DAVID HARE: “So they knew bloody well that they were getting information from torture”

Great interview with David Hare on Front Row today.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qsq5

An MP3 grab here might be more permanent:

http://www.kasiminfo.co.uk/DT/2010/Audio/DH.mp3

Mark Lawson The playwright David Hare written scripts of stage including Plenty and most recently The Power of Yes, television such as Licking Hitler and movies The Hours and The Reader. But he has so far only been represented on radio by adaptations of his theatre pieces.

This weekend though Radio 4 broadcasts a previously unperformed play which grew out of an abandoned movie script. Murder in Samarkand is based on the memoirs of Craig Murray, who was removed in 2004 as British Ambassador to Uzbekistan after publicly protesting that the British and American governments were using intelligence procured through torturing prisoners.

The majority of movie scripts fail to get made but for different reasons. So why had this script finished up as a radio play?

David Hare I wrote it for Michael Winterbottom and he and I did not see eye to eye. He when he read the book thought that it was a farce and he imagined it with a comedian like Steve Coogan. I saw it as rather more serious so we were artistically at odds.

But also I don’t think people outside the film industry understand the degree to which drama really is disappearing from the English-speaking cinema. It’s been a sort of perfect storm that at the exact moment the studios lost their faith in what you might call human being based drama, at that exact moment the recession came along and now the success of Avatar is just confirming them in their judgement that that kind of film is finished.

I don’t think anyone yet knows, there’ll be a lagging couple of years before you realise, that there aren’t any human beings on the screen in your local Odeon anymore.

Mark Lawson Even if you had agreed with Michael Winterbottom, it would have been a hard movie to get funding for, wouldn’t it, I expect because of the theme of it. It explicitly attacks the British and American governments over torture in particular; in effect over their whole foreign policy. So it might have been hard to attract finance.

David Hare I don’t know. I mean it is a very funny story. It is about this man Craig Murray who is our Ambassador in Uzbekistan, and who is by his own admission a somewhat flawed character, meaning his private life was completely chaotic, his way of conducting business was extremely unusual, he wasn’t your representative Ambassador.

He was also a great high flyer: he didn’t go into Uzbekistan, and he didn’t go into the effects of the War on Terror, intending to come apart from his government or the Foreign Office. He simply regards himself as a classic liberal, and his government has changed beyond recognition.

Mark Lawson In the narration in the radio play he says lets get this out of the way, usual rules, its basically true but some names have been changed, but it is essentially it is based on his memoir.

David Hare It is, and the thing I did was to take out any accusation he makes in the memoir which can’t be corroborated. I only make those allegations which we know to be true and which are corroborated by other people.

That’s to say Craig Murray is the person who drew Foreign Office attention to the fact that they were receiving information which had been basically gained in the Tashkent torture chambers. The Foreign Office had a view of complicity which was that they said that, if we aren’t the people who actually do the torturing, there is no moral obligation on us to ask where did this information come from.

So they knew bloody well that they were getting information from torture. You can then have a legal argument about whether, by receiving that information, you are or are not complicit. But I am keeping to what is known, and it is a shocking enough story without any allegations which can’t be proven.

Mark Lawson One of the fascinating things about the play is that he is sleazy, he is arrogant; and in Hollywood whistleblowers ten to be quite saintly people.

David Hare That’s right. You know I think that’s probably why Michael Winterbottom wanted to do it as a farce, because he said let’s get somebody who is sort of nakedly ridiculous to play this part.

I thought that was the wrong way to go and I thought that a great actor – and I feel that David Tennant is a great actor – could give you both things. In other words he could give you the moral seriousness of the character, but he could also give you the wild side which undoubtedly is part of Craig.

Mark Lawson To what extent have you changed it from the screenplay, because there is a lot of narration in this which in your film scripts you have quite often shied away from.

David Hare Oh definitely. One of the things I did was to talk to a lot of people around the story, and one of them was his wife Fiona, and so I’ve included a lot of what Fiona told me which is not in the book, which was the point of view of somebody who was basically sympathetic to what Craig wanted to do, which was to alert the Foreign Secretay to the fact that he might be breaking international law, but who thought he was tactically very stupid and exhibitionist in the way he went about it.

That said, what I most admire about Craig is that he has been willing to pay the price for his principles. He adored being a diplomat and he will never go back to his jon in the Foreign Office and he really has, like many whistleblowers, really paid the price.

Mark Lawson To what extent did you consult him about what you were doing?

David Hare Not very much. I read an earlier draft of the book, which was even wilder and more scabrous. It was hilarious, I mean it was Rabelaisian, I mean it was not like any diplomatic memoir. But having said that I have written something closer to my own version of events. I went to Tashkent. I interviewed people who worked for him: it is strongly adapted.

Mark Lawson It is wild stuff as you suggest. At one pint he marries a pole dancer who has been working as an interpreter for him, and people think he has made this up but that did really happen.

David Hare Yes, and Nadira is now living happily, she has a child, she lives with Craig, and his life is now with his Uzbek girlfriend.

Mark Lawson The BBC is known to be very nervous about dramatisations of living people and there have been many problems over this over they years. There are certain rules. You are supposed to have permission I think if you dramatise a living person. Did any of this affect you?

David Hare Not in the slightest. I think BBC Radio is just exemplary; I mean it reminds me of what BBC Television used to be like in the good days. It’s moved at the speed of light. Obviously the subject of British complicity in torture is hotly topical at the moment and Wow! It’s going out a week after the principle evidence in the Chilcot inquiry. And I can’t think of any medium which moves as fast as radio can do.

Mark Lawson It has the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and actually he’s dramatised in this. There were no BBC nerves over that?

David Hare I dont detect any nerves at all from the BBC. I have been incredibly cooperative myself. In other words, my days in which I used to fight the BBC are long over.

Mark Lawson You wrote a famous essay on this issue. You used actually to trade expletives in pubs for your television plays.

David Hare Well, television used to be a bartering job where you would sit down and say I’ll have two B words for an S word, and there would simply be a trading session in the pub. But those days are gone, I think.

Mark Lawson Finally there have been cases of radio plays becoming movies. I think A Man For All Seasons was originally a radio play and one of Lee Hall’s also became a movie. You never know, you might get an offer to make a move of this now.

David Hare Yeah, I’ve had three offers already to make it a stage play since I wrote it as a radio play, but I am just going to wait and see how people like it on Saturday.

Mark Lawson David Hare. Muder in Samarkand is on Saturday at 2.30pm here on BBC Radio 4.

It is important for me that David makes the point so strongly that he has corroborated the story. It rather puts the lies of Jack Straw, David Miliband and Kim Howells in perspective, doesn’t it?

twodavids.jpg

David Hare and David Tennant at the recording of Murder in Samarkand.

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Murder in Samarkand

By combining my story with the recent evidence from the Chilcot Inquiry, people may fully appreciate what an unprincipled and internationally violent Government we have. Once we understand that, we can look to mend it.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1250751/CRAIG-MURRAY-My-storys-torture-car-chases-sex-evil-tyrant–No-wonder-called-Doctor-Who.html

If I can sneak that hard political point into the Showbiz pages of the Mail on Sunday, I must be doing something right.

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I Bet They Did

The Daily Telegraph let slip a most revealing fact:

“the BBC insisted that the play not be uncritical”,

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/7134792/David-Tennant-to-play-former-ambassador-Craig-Murray-in-new-BBC-Radio-4-play.html

The BBC was not insisting that the play be not uncriticial of a New Labour government which agreed to use intelligence from terrible torture in Uzbekistan, and cooperated with torture worldwide in the extraordinary rendition programme.

The BBC was in fact concerned that those facts were not given too much prominence compared to diversionary criticism of me for not being a teetotal monogamist, which is of course much worse than being a warmongering torturing murderous bastard.

Nadira was wondering when the media would stop calling her a lap dancer, when they would start using her married name, or mentioning her acting achievements (including the fact that she plays multiple characters in David Hare’s adaptation of Murder in Samarkand for Radio 4, in four different languages).

The answer I fear is never, not even in the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2010/feb/02/david-tennant-samarkand-radio-4

nor in the EDP

http://www.edp24.co.uk/content/edp24/news/story.aspx?brand=EDPOnline&category=News&tBrand=EDPOnline&tCategory=xDefault&itemid=NOED02%20Feb%202010%2019%3A32%3A59%3A813

I will say however that I think David Hare had done a tremendous job and produced an excellent play which is both entertaining and profound. As I gather is usual for David, he did a tremendous amount of research, even travelling to Tashkent to interview eye witnesses as well as holding a meeting with the FCO to get their side of the story. I am actually quite relieved that the production does not simply rely on my word for the key events.

Please do publicise the broadcast by whatever means are at your disposal.

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David Tennant Plays Craig Murray

I am a great fan of BBC Radio 4 in general, so I am really pleased that this is quite a coup for them.

World Premiere of Murder in Samarkand by Sir David Hare

Based on the memoir by Craig Murray.

Saturday 20 February 2010 at 2.30pm BBC Radio 4 “The Saturday Play”.

Starring

David Tennant as Craig Murray

Jemima Rooper as Nadira

There is a large and truly impressive cast of some of the finest stage actors in Britain. Nadira herself plays Dilobar as well as two or three other small parts. I will link to a full cast list as soon as the BBC publish it.

I watched David Tennant’s Hamlet over Christmas and was very impressed, so I am delighted to have him as my alter ego. I have to confess to being a Dr Who fan ever since William Hartnell. I actually knitted myself a Tom Baker scarf!

Of course, David Tennant is not really good looking enough to play me, but it’ll be OK on radio.

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The Sad Death of craigmurray.co.uk

craigmurray.co.uk is no more. When Alisher Usmanov set Schillings on to me for daring to publish the truth about his past as a convicted racketeer and blackmailer, he caused my webhosts to pull the plug. Happily, after a very few days the blog returned hosted outside the UK, with a new domain name – craigmurray.org.uk instead of the craigmurray.co.uk used the previous three years.

Richard, Wibbler, Tim, Jeroen and Andrew between them did something brilliant so all the previous co.uk entres were copied to org.uk, and if you entered an old craigmurray.co.uk url, you got instantly redirected.

But sadly this no longer works. craigmurray.co.uk has now disappeared completely. It was hosted by Lycos, which went out of business, and we could not rescue it because nobody remembered any of the usernames, passwords or credit card details used when it was set up five years ago for the Blackburn election.

The content still exists safely on org.uk, but literally thousands of links around the net to craigmurray.co.uk addresses no longer work. This includes those to the Murder in Samarkand leaked FCO documents, and the urls printed in the books. The loss of many thousand old links has also of course led to a slump in various rankings on the blog – including a spectacular fall on Wikio which actually measures craigmurray.co.uk and not craigmurray.org.uk.

Anyone who has a site with a search and replace facility, if you could replace craigmurray.co.uk with craigmurray.org.uk that would be very helpful (if you have the ability to do it when it forms a part of an url).

Anyway, that’s the boring housekeeping announcement. My internet connection went down in Accra before I left, so some postings promised earlier were delayed but I hope to do them later today.

On arrival back in London I found that I had no court papers delivered from the Qulliam Foundation. So they join pathetic worms Jack Straw, Tim Spicer and Alisher Usmanov in the list of those who set lawyers on me to try to bully away the truth, but lacked the guts to go to court (though of course Usmanov has no lack of gut).

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