March 19, 2009
Justice Secretary Jack
Straw to be Accused
on Torture in Parliamentary
The Parliamentary Joint Committee
on Human Rights has agreed to hear my evidence on
torture on Tuesday 28 April at 1.45pm. Many thanks
to everyone who helped lobby for this.
I am delighted, as I have been trying for over four years
to lay the truth about British torture policy before
Parliament. I will testify that as British Ambassador I
was told there is a very definite policy to accept
intelligence from torture abroad, and that the policy was
instituted and approved by Jack Straw when Foreign
Secretary. I will tell them that as Ambassador I protested
formally three times in writing to Jack Straw, and that
the Foreign Office told me in reply to my protests that
this was perfectly legal.
I will prove my evidence with
Here is the written evidence I will speak to
There is now a wealth of evidence from individual cases to
support my testimony that such an underlying secret policy
It is likely that I will face hostile questioning from
government supporters and from "War on Terror" hawks. In
the past the government has accused me of corruption,
sexual blackmail, and alcoholism (all completely untrue)
and hinted that I am insane, in an effort to deflect
attention from the cold facts of my testimony. The hearing
will be open to the public, so if anyone can make it
along, some friendly faces in the gallery would be
I will also see if I can discover if anything usefully can
be done by way of lobbying to ensure that the Parliament
channel films it for broadcast.
Craig Murray's website:
Above 'March 19, 2009' entry at:
CRAIG MURRAY'S EVIDENCE
March 13, 2009
Trying Again to Stop Torture:
My Formal Statement for the Joint Committee on Human
WITNESS STATEMENT TO THE
PARLIAMENTARY JOINT COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS
My name is Craig Murray. I was
British Ambassador in Uzbekistan from August 2002 to
I had joined the Diplomatic Service in 1984 and became a
member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Senior
Management Structure in 1998. I had held a variety of
posts including Deputy High Commissioner, Accra (1998 to
2001) and First Secretary Political and Economic, Warsaw
(1994 to 1997).
I had also been head of the FCO section of the Embargo
Surveillance Sector leading up to and during the first
Gulf War, monitoring and interdicting Iraqi attempts at
weapons procurement. In consequence I had obtained
security clearances even higher than those routinely given
to all executive members of the Diplomatic Service. I had
extensive experience throughout my career of dealing with
intelligence material and the intelligence services.
It was made plain to me in briefing in London before
initial departure for Tashkent that Uzbekistan was a key
ally in the War on Terror and to be treated as such. It
was particularly important to the USA who valued its
security cooperation and its provision of a major US
airbase at Karshi-Khanabad.
As Ambassador in Uzbekistan I regularly received
intelligence material released by MI6. This material was
given to MI6 by the CIA, mostly originating from their
Tashkent station. It was normally issued to me
telegraphically by MI6 at the same time it was issued to
UK ministers and officials in London.
From the start of my time as Ambassador, I was also
receiving a continual stream of information about
widespread torture of suspected political or religious
dissidents in Tashkent. This was taking place on a
phenomenal scale. In early 2003 a report by the UN Special
Rapporteur on Torture, in the preparation of which my
Embassy much assisted, described torture in Uzbekistan as
“routine and systemic”.
The horror and staggering extent of torture in Uzbekistan
is well documented and I have been informed by the Chair
is not in the purview of the Joint Committee on Human
Rights. But what follows goes directly to the question of
UK non-compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture.
In gathering evidence from victims of torture, we built a
consistent picture of the narrative which the torturers
were seeking to validate from confessions under torture.
They sought confessions which linked domestic opposition
to President Karimov with Al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden;
they sought to exaggerate the strength of the terrorist
threat in Central Asia. People arrested on all sorts of
pretexts – (I recall one involved in a dispute over
ownership of a garage plot) suddenly found themselves
tortured into confessing to membership of both the Islamic
Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Al-Qaida. They were also
made to confess to attending Al-Qaida training camps in
Tajikistan and Afghanistan. In an echo of Stalin’s
security services from which the Uzbek SNB had an unbroken
institutional descent, they were given long lists of names
of people they had to confess were also in IMU and
It became obvious to me after just a few weeks that the
CIA material from Uzbekistan was giving precisely the same
narrative being extracted by the Uzbek torturers – and
that the CIA “intelligence” was giving information far
from the truth.
I was immediately concerned that British ministers and
officials were being unknowingly exposed to material
derived from torture, and therefore were acting illegally.
I asked my Deputy, Karen Moran, to call on a senior member
of the US Embassy and tell him I was concerned that the
CIA intelligence was probably derived from torture by the
Uzbek security services. Karen Moran reported back to me
that the US Embassy had replied that it probably did come
from torture, but in the War on Terror they did not view
that as a problem.
In October or November of 2002 I
sent the FCO a telegram classified Top Secret and
addressed specifically for the attention of the Secretary
of State. I argued that to receive this material from
• Illegal – Plainly it was a breach
• Immoral – To support such despicable practices
undermined our claims to civilisation
• Impractical – The material was designed to paint a false
I received no reply, so in January
or February of 2003 I sent a further telegram repeating
the same points.
I was summoned back to a meeting which was held in the FCO
on 7 or 8 March 2003. Present were Linda Duffield,
Director Wider Europe; Matthew Kydd, Head Permanent Under
Secretary’s Department; Sir Michael Wood, Legal Adviser.
At the start of the meeting Linda Duffield told me that
Sir Michael Jay, Permanent Under Secretary, wished me to
know that my telegrams were unwise and that these
sensitive questions were best not discussed on paper.
In the meeting, Sir Michael Wood told me that it was not
illegal for us to obtain intelligence from torture,
provided someone else did the torture. He added “I make no
comment on the moral aspect” and appeared to me to be
Matthew Kydd told me that the Security Services considered
the material from the CIA in Tashkent useful. He also
argued that, as the final intelligence report issued by
the security services excludes the name of the detainee
interrogated, it is not possible to prove that torture was
involved in any particular piece of intelligence.
Linda Duffield told me that Jack Straw had discussed this
question with Sir Richard Dearlove and the policy was
that, in the War on Terror, we should not question such
intelligence. The UK/US intelligence sharing agreement
stipulated that all intelligence must be shared.
Influential figures in the US
believed this was an unfair agreement as we received much
more from the US than they did from us. It was not in our
interest to abandon the universality principle and refuse
categories of CIA material.
It was agreed that Sir Michael Wood’s view that it was not
illegal to receive intelligence from torture would be put
in writing. I attach a copy of his letter of 13 March
This meeting was minuted. I have seen the minute, which is
classified Top Secret. On the top copy is a manuscript
note giving Jack Straw’s views. It is entirely plain from
this note that this torture policy was under his personal
I returned to Tashkent. In May 2003, during a visit to
Tashkent by my line manager, Simon Butt, he told me I was
viewed in London as “unpatriotic”. This hurt me enormously
as I had served my country with great enthusiasm for 19
years. Every traceable generation of my family had served
in the British military. I felt it was my country which
had abandoned the principles I had believed I was working
In August 2003 the FCO attempted to frame me on eighteen
false charges of gross misconduct and demanded my
resignation. I refused and after a sickening fight was
acquitted and returned to Tashkent in January 2004.
While in London in approximately May 2004 for a medical
check-up I was informed by Jon Benjamin, Head of Human
Rights Policy Department FCO, that there had just been a
senior level interdepartmental FCO meeting on receiving
intelligence from torture and he had been surprised I was
not invited. The policy that we would accept this
intelligence had been re-affirmed.
On return to Tashkent I sent on 22 July 2004 yet a further
telegram arguing we should not obtain intelligence from
torture. I kept an electronic copy and this is attached.
I specifically argued (paras 16 to 18) that we were in
breach of Article 4 of UNCAT which concerns complicity
with torture. I also referred to the US transport of
detainees to Uzbekistan (para 18). I referred to the
London interdepartmental meeting (paras 8 to 9).
I received a brief and extraordinary reply to the effect
that there had been no such meeting in the last two weeks.
I knew it had been before then and had not referred to a
date in my telegram.
This telegram, which was sparked by my anger at the lies
in our public position on torture after Abu Ghraib became
public, resulted in my dismissal as ambassador when it was
leaked to the Financial Times (not by me).
1. All CIA intelligence is received
by the UK. MI6 has seen the fruits of every CIA
waterboarding session and rendition torture. Very many
will have been passed on to ministers and senior
2. Ministers decided the principle of the universality of
the UK/US intelligence sharing agreement was more
important than any aversion to torture. We could not
refuse this material from the CIA without compromising the
3. Ministers did know they were receiving intelligence
from torture. There was a definite, internally promulgated
and legally cleared policy to receive intelligence from
torture, directed in person by Jack Straw.
4. The format of intelligence reports contains a
deliberate double blind; by excluding the name of the
detainee from the final report, Ministers can state they
have never knowingly seen intelligence from torture.
5. The government’s public lines that we do not condone,
endorse, encourage or instigate torture, even that we
condemn it and work against it, do not answer the key
“Are we prepared on a regular basis
to receive intelligence from torture?”
That question is capable of a one word answer. The true
answer is yes. The government refuses to give a straight
Craig J Murray
13 March 2009
Craig Murray's website: