Craig Murray: Wikis

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Craig Murray

Election date
23 July 2009
Opponent(s) Chloe Smith
Chris Ostrowski
and 9 others
Incumbent Ian Gibson (resigned)

Born October 17, 1958 (1958-10-17) (age 51)
West Runton, Norfolk, England
Nationality British
Political party Independent
Occupation Political activist
University rector
Former ambassador
Website www.craigmurray.org.uk

Craig John Murray[1] (born 17 October 1958[2][3]) is a British political activist, former ambassador to Uzbekistan and former Rector of the University of Dundee.

While at the embassy in Tashkent, he accused the Karimov administration of human rights abuses, a step which, he argued, was against the wishes of the British government and the reason for his removal. Murray complained to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in November 2002, January or early February 2003, and in June 2004 that intelligence linking the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to al-Qaeda, suspected of being gained through torture, was unreliable, immoral, and illegal[4]. He described this as "selling our souls for dross"[5].

Murray was subsequently removed from his ambassadorial post on October 14, 2004.

Contents

Background

Murray was born in West Runton, Norfolk and grew up in neighbouring Sheringham. He was educated at Sheringham Primary and then at the Paston School in North Walsham, Norfolk,[6] an all-boys grammar school where he had an undistinguished record and claims to have barely gained admission to study Modern History at the University of Dundee. Whilst at university he attended few lectures, instead reading voraciously to teach himself and graduated in 1982 with an MA (Hons) 1st Class. During this period, he was a member of the Liberal Party.

Having already been on the Students' Representative Council, Murray became President of Dundee University Students' Association, elected to this sabbatical office twice (1982-1983 and 1983-1984), an occurrence so unusual that the university court (the highest body) changed the rules to stop him running a third time. He was reserve member of the team that won University Challenge in 1983[7]. He spent seven years in total at the university, compared to a normal four for a Scottish first degree[8].

He joined HM Diplomatic Service through the 1984 Civil Service Open Competition. Until 2002, he had a number of overseas postings with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to Africa and to Europe. In London, he was appointed to the FCO's Southern European Department, as Cyprus desk officer, and later became head of the Maritime Section. He also led the Foreign Office team in the Embargo Surveillance Centre between 1990-91, responsible for analysing intelligence on Iraqi attempts to evade sanctions[9].

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Personal life

Murray separated from his first wife, Fiona, with whom he has two children,[10] after starting a relationship with Nadira Alieva, an Uzbek woman who he met while she was working as a belly dancer in a Tashkent night club. She followed him when he left Uzbekistan[11] and they were married on May 6, 2009.[12] He has since had a son, Cameron, with his second wife, born in 2009.[13]

Uzbekistan

In 2002, Murray was appointed British ambassador to Uzbekistan at the relatively young age of 43. He was dismissed from that post in October 2004.[2] In July 2004, he told The Guardian that "there is no point in having cocktail-party relationships with a fascist regime," and that "you don't have to be a pompous old fart to be an ambassador."[10]

In October 2002, Murray made a speech at a human rights conference hosted by Freedom House in Tashkent, in which he asserted that "Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy" and that the boiling to death of two members of Hizb ut-Tahrir "is not an isolated incident."[14] Later, Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan confronted Uzbek President Islom Karimov with Murray's claims.[10]

Murray was summoned to the FCO in London and, on March 8, 2003, was reprimanded for writing, in a letter to his employers, in response to a speech by President of the United States George W. Bush, "when it comes to the Karimov regime, systematic torture and rape appear to be treated as peccadilloes, not to affect the relationship and to be downplayed in the international fora ... I hope that once the present crisis is over we will make plain to the U.S., at senior level, our serious concern over their policy in Uzbekistan."[15]

Discipline charges

In July 2003, some of the embassy staff were sacked while Murray was away on holiday. They were reinstated after he expressed his outrage to the FCO. Later, during another holiday, he was recalled to London for disciplinary reasons. On August 21, 2003, he was confronted with 18 charges including "hiring dolly birds [pretty young women] for above the usual rate" for the visa department, though he claims that the department had an all-male staff, and granting UK visas in exchange for sex. He was told that discussing the charges would be a violation of the 1989 Official Secrets Act. The FCO encouraged him to resign.[10]

He collapsed during a medical check in Tashkent on September 2, 2003 and was airlifted to St Thomas' Hospital in London. After an FCO internal inquiry conducted by Tony Crombie, Head of the FCO's Overseas Territories Department, all but two of the charges (being drunk at work and misusing the embassy's Range Rover) were dropped. The charges were leaked to the press in October 2003[16]. Immediately upon his return to work in November 2003, he suffered a near-fatal pulmonary embolism and was again flown back to London for medical treatment. In January 2004, the FCO, after a four-month investigation exonerated him of all 18 charges, but reprimanded him for speaking about the charges.

Removal from post

Murray was removed from his post in October 2004, shortly after a leaked report in the Financial Times quoted him as claiming that MI6 used intelligence provided by Uzbek authorities through torture[17]. The FCO denied there was any direct connection and stated that Murray had been removed for "operational" reasons. It claimed that he had lost the confidence of senior officials and colleagues. The following day, in an interview on the Today Programme, the BBC's flagship political radio show, Murray countered that he was a "victim of conscience," and in this and other interviews was critical of the FCO[18]. A few days later he was charged with "gross misconduct" by the FCO for making these media appearances[19]. Having negotiated a settlement whereby he was paid six years' salary payment in compensation for the government's attacks on him, Murray agreed to resign from the FCO in February 2005.

Subsequent career

Murray has continued his opposition to the War on Terror since leaving HM Diplomatic Service. He sums up his current occupation: "Being a dissident is quite fun."[8] He has stood on two occasions for election to Parliament.

In November 2005, he took part in the Axis for Peace Conference in Brussels[20].

In December 2005, he published a number of confidential memos on his website, which outlined his condemnation of intelligence procured under torture, and the UK government's ambivalence to this. The British government subsequently claimed copyright over the documents and demanded they be removed[21].

Murray's book Murder in Samarkand — A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror[22] outlining his controversial period as an ambassador was finally published in 2006, but only after several battles. Before its publication, many potential readers were contacted through Internet posts and e-mail listings to raise interest and by creating a body of public opinion, to guard against the publisher being 'bullied' out of printing the book by government pressure. These communications also mentioned how supporting government documents which were originally planned for inclusion had been forcibly removed because of 'copyright' worries. This, despite Murray's claims that many had received a formal release and thus should have been within the public domain. Their forced removal, Murray has stated is the government "trying to claw back the very limited gains in Freedom of Information in the UK",[23] especially attempts to close websites on which the supporting documents were posted instead. Though many attempts to do this have proved successful, media interest has also meant that the documents frequently re-surface on mirror sites.[24] A film version is in development. Paramount hired David Hare to write a script, with Michael Winterbottom attached to direct and Steve Coogan to star as Murray. However following Paramount's decision to pass on the project, Hare rewrote his script to turn it into a radio play. The radio play was broadcast on 20 February 2010 on BBC Radio 4 and starred David Tennant as Murray. A new film script is currently being developed by screenwriter Don McPherson. [25]


A character based on him appears in the 2006 UK–US television co-production The State Within, in which the former British ambassador to the fictional country of Tyrgyzstan, a hard-drinking womaniser, is embroiled in a plot to stop human rights abuses amid escalating threats of war.

On February 16, 2007 he was elected to the position of Rector of the University of Dundee, his alma mater. The other nominee was former British Lion and Scotland rugby captain Andy Nicol.[26] Murray opposes cuts to University departments and services which were proposed in a document drafted by a working group chaired by the outgoing Dean of the School of Engineering, Professor Michael Davies. The election saw an increase in turnout of 50% from the previous election, with Murray winning by 632 votes to 582. Coincidentally, Murray was in the same class at his secondary school as actor Stephen Fry, who also held the title of Dundee's rector[6]

In July 2007, he was elected an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law. His life features in a show by Alieva, The Ambassador's Bellydancer, initially presented at the Arcola Theatre in Hackney, later moving to London's West End.[27][28] She invited him to perform in it, but he declined, citing lack of acting ability.[28]

Murray is Executive Chairman of Atholl Energy Ltd[29] and Chairman of Westminster Development Ltd, a gold mining company, both operating in Accra, Ghana.[30]

Political career

Murray stood for election to the House of Commons on two occasions, in Blackburn, Lancashire and Norwich North, Norfolk. In both, he was an independent candidate.

In the May 2005 general election, he stood against his former boss Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who has long been the MP for Blackburn. He polled 2,082 votes (5.0%), coming in fifth place out of seven candidates.[2]

Following the United Kingdom Parliamentary expenses scandal, Murray stood for election in the July 2009 Norwich North by-election under slogan "Put an honest man into Parliament"[31]. He polled 953 votes (2.77%) putting him in sixth place out of twelve candidates.

Awards

In recognition of his campaigning work on torture and human rights he was awarded the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence in January 2006[32].

In November 2006, he was awarded the Premio Alta Qualità della Città di Bologna[33].

Legal pressure

During an interview with Alex Jones on 21 August 2006, regarding torture and the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot, Murray claimed that false intelligence on al-Qaeda plots was obtained through torture done by CIA proxies, and that the intelligence gained is used as a propaganda tool[34].

The threat of legal action against Murray by the Treasury Solicitor for the unauthorised publication of official documents on his website resulted in a large number of people mirroring the documents on their own websites and releasing them via peer to peer networks[35][36]. The Treasury Solicitor's letter stated that if the documents were not removed by 10 July 2006, which they were not, then a claim would be issued in the High Court for an injunction requiring the documents to be removed[37].

In September 2007, Murray expressed views on the character of Alisher Usmanov, Russia's 18th richest man[38], following Usmanov's investment in Arsenal Football Club[39] but the post[40] had to be removed from his web site following an intervention from Usmanov's lawyers, Schillings, who threatened his webhost. Despite Murray's repeated assertions that he was happy to defend his statements in court, Schillings declined to sue Murray but concentrated on stamping out the story by threatening hosting companies who had no interest in defending the case. Under further pressure from Usmanov's lawyers, the hosting company Fasthosts, decided to permanently close the server for the web site on 20 September 2007, an action that also had the effect of deleting several other related and non-related political blogs. A campaign by bloggers against Usmanov's legal pressure ensued, and Murray's website has since returned.

Murray in popular culture

Robin Soans used an interview with Murray and Alieva as a character for his Verbatim style play Talking to Terrorists. The interview is used as the dialogue for the character "Ex-Ambassador". The play had a very successful run at the Royal Court Theatre and has since been widely produced worldwide. Soans used Murray again as a verbatim character in his later play "Life After Scandal".

On 20 February 2010 BBC Radio Four broadcast a radio play 'Murder in Samarkand, written by David Hare, based on Murray's book of the same name. Actor David Tennant portrayed Craig Murray and the director was Clive Brill.[41] In a review of the radio play in The Independent, Chris Maume said that the 'no-nonsense script' told how "evidence" gleaned from torture and human-rights abuses helped to build a fraudulent case for invading Iraq, as well as telling of Murray's threefold passions, for justice, whisky and women.[42]

Works

Controversies

According to Paul Craig Roberts, [43]

As the former UK Ambassador Craig Murray disclosed, the purpose of the war [in Afghanistan] is to protect Unocal’s interest in the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.

See also

  • Matthew Hoh, American diplomat in Afghanistan who resigned in 2009 due to concerns with the ongoing war

Footnotes

  1. ^ "Parliamentary By-Election: Norwich North Constituency: Statement of Persons Nominated and Notice of Poll" (pdf). Broadland District Council. 8 July 2009. http://www.broadland.gov.uk/images/Statement_persons_nominated_norwich_north.pdf. Retrieved 9 July 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c "Biography". Craig Murray. http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/craig_murray.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  3. ^ Murder in Samarkant page 293
  4. ^ "Extraordinary Rendition". Craig Murray. 2005-07-11. http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2005/07/extraordinary_r_1.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  5. ^ "The Torture Biz: Selling Our Soul for Disinfo Rubbish". European Tribune. 2005-12-13. http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2005/12/13/144449/84. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  6. ^ a b "Peculiar Coincidence". Craig Murray. 2007-05-02. http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2007/05/peculiar_coinci.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  7. ^ "Old Boys Rise to the Challenge". University of Dundee. 2002-05-27. http://www.dundee.ac.uk/pressreleases/prmay02/unichallenge.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  8. ^ a b Sale, Jonathan (2006-11-20). "Passed/Failed: An Education in the Life of Craig Murray, Former Ambassador". Career Planning (The Independent). http://www.independent.co.uk/student/career-planning/getting-job/passedfailed-an-education-in-the-life-of-craig-murray-former-ambassador-426322.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  9. ^ Hainey, Raymond (2005-12-31). "Memos 'Prove Evidence used from Uzbek Secret Police'". Scotsman news online. http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=1300&id=2479642005. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  10. ^ a b c d Paton Walsh, Nick (2004-07-15). "The Envoy who said too much". G2 (The Guardian). http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1261480,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  11. ^ Davies, Barbara (2007-12-22). "The Squalid Truth about Our Man in Uzbekistan and his Belly Dancer Lover". The Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-504117/The-squalid-truth-Our-Man-Uzbekistan-belly-dancer-lover.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  12. ^ "On Being Happy". Craig Murray's personal blog. 2009-05-05. http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2009/05/on_being_happy.html. 
  13. ^ CRAIG MURRAY: I might be the worst by-election candidate in history - but after that result we are all losers | Mail Online
  14. ^ Stern, David (2003-01-14). "British Envoy's Speech Reverberates in Uzbekistan". Civil Society. EurasiaNet. http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/civilsociety/articles/eav011403.shtml. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  15. ^ "The UK was Complicit in Torture in Uzbekistan". Scoop. 2005-12-30. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0512/S00297.htm. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  16. ^ Leigh, David; Paton Walsh, Nick; MacAskill, Ewen (2003-10-18). "Ambassador Accused after Criticising US". The Guardian. http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foreignaffairs/story/0,11538,1065839,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  17. ^ "'Torture Intelligence' Criticised". BBC News. 2004-10-11. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3732488.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  18. ^ Berg, Sanchia (2004-10-15). "Ambassador Speaks Out". Today Programme (BBC Radio 4). http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/reports/politics/craigmurray_20041015.shtml. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  19. ^ MacAskill, Ewen (2004-10-24). "Ex-Envoy to Face Discipline Charges, says FO". World News (The Guardian). http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1332894,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  20. ^ "Panelist — Craig Murray". Axis for Peace. http://www.axisforpeace.net/article212.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  21. ^ "Damning Documentary Evidence Unveiled. Dissident Bloggers in Coordinated Exposé of UK Government Lies over Torture.". Craig Murray. 2005-12-29. http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2005/12/damning_documen.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  22. ^ "Murder in Samarkand — Documents". Craig Murray. http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/documents/docs.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  23. ^ Murder in Samarkand, preface, page 13 2007 paperback edition
  24. ^ Craig Murray documents - The media catches on *UPDATED* | Blairwatch
  25. ^ CRAIG MURRAY: My story's about torture, car chases, sex and an evil tyrant... No wonder they called in Doctor Who, The Daily Mail, 17 February 2010
  26. ^ "No Second Term for Rector Kelly". BBC News. 2007-01-04. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/tayside_and_central/6293883.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  27. ^ Lamb, Christina (2007-12-09), "Ambassador’s belly dancer stages her life", The Times, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3022489.ece, retrieved 2009-11-05 
  28. ^ a b Logan, Brian (2008-01-07), "Sex, scandal and sequins", Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2008/jan/07/theatre, retrieved 2009-11-05 
  29. ^ "Siemens, Atholl Build 75 MW Power". Modern Ghana. 20 Dec 2007. http://www.modernghana.com/news/150593/1/siemens-atholl-build-75-mw-power.html. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  30. ^ "About Craig Murray". Craig Murray. http://www.putanhonestman.org/abour-craig-murray. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  31. ^ Craig Murray
  32. ^ "Craig Murray on Receiving the Samuel Adams Award". World Can't Wait. 2006-02-15. http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3617&Itemid=69. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  33. ^ "Premio Alta Qualità delle Città of Bologna". Premio Alta Qualità. http://www.premioaltaqualita.org/index.php?idarea=1&lang=en. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  34. ^ "Intelligence Gained Through Torture used as a Propaganda Tool". Prison Planet. http://www.prisonplanet.tv/audio/210806murray.mp3. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  35. ^ "Craig Murray vs the Foreign Office". D-Notice. 2006-07-08. http://d-notice.blogspot.com/2006/07/craig-murray-vs-foreign-office_08.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  36. ^ "FCO Moves to Obtain Court Injunction Against Online Murder in Samarkand Documents!". The Craig Murray Friends Blog (Wayback Machine archive). 2006-07-07. http://web.archive.org/web/20070821094656/http://craigmurrayfriends.blogspot.com/2006/07/fco-moves-to-obtain-court-injunction.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  37. ^ "Infringement of Crown Copyright" (PDF). Treasury Solicitors. 2006-07-07. http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/FCO%20injunction%20letter%2007.07.06.pdf. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  38. ^ "The World's Billionaires". Forbes. 2007-08-03. http://www.forbes.com/lists/2007/10/07billionaires_The-Worlds-Billionaires_Rank_6.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  39. ^ Murray's views on Alisher Usmanov
  40. ^ "Alisher Usmanov, potential Arsenal chairman, is a Vicious Thug, Criminal, Racketeer, Heroin Trafficker and Accused Rapist". Alisher Usmanov. September 2007. http://alisherusmanov.blogspot.com/2007/09/alisher-usmanov-potential-arsenal.html. Retrieved 2008-07-18.  (A copy of the original post by Craig Murray)
  41. ^ "Saturday Play, Murder in Samarkand". BBC Radio Drama. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qs5x7. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  42. ^ Maume, Chris (21 February 2010). "The Saturday Play: Murder in Samarkand". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/the-saturday-play-murder-in-samarkand-radio-4brthe-archers-radio-4-1905623.html. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  43. ^ The World’s Least Powerful Man, by Paul Craig Roberts, December 1, 2009

References

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Lorraine Kelly
Rector of the University of Dundee
2007–2010
Succeeded by
Brian Cox

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