Friday, August 02, 2013


Craig Murray

This is an opportune time to return to Craig Murray.

He rose to eminence as a UK ambassador. He became a whistleblower over UK collusion with torture in Uzbekistan. He was smeared and "sacked" by the UK Foreign Office, then under the sleazeball Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw. And he has had to make his own way in the world ever since.

He is, in effect, a precursor of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, except his authorities did not succeed in criminalising him, despite their best efforts to do so.

He is now a writer and campaigner for human rights, and his latest foray into the field was a talk at Belfast's Féile an Phobail yesterday evening (1/8/2013).

His theme was The Respectability of Torture a subject on which he was well qualified to speak.

Bill Rolston introduces Craig

The venue was St. Mary's University College, a former teacher training college and now a constituent college of Queen's University. The significance of its location on the Falls Road in Belfast was not lost on the audience and it was remarked that there were probably people present who came from a community that had experienced torture first hand, not from Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov, but from "their own" UK authorities, who still claim jurisdiction over the six counties of Northern Ireland.

Craig was introduced by Bill Rolston, and if you think there are a few empty seats there, be assured they were filled by the time Bill finished his introduction. Attendance was round the 60 mark, which wasn't far off the capacity of the lecture theatre itself. The audience was attentive and involved and Craig's talk was followed by a lively discussion.

Craig in action

Craig started, in his usual quiet informal and intimate manner, by recapping on his own experience, from the time he was posted as UK ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2002. Online, you can read the whole story in Wikipedia or listen to Craig tell it himself in RTÉ's radio series on whistleblowers (2006).

He has written a book about his experiences relating to Uzbekistan which is available via Amazon.

The thrust of his talk was how human rights are ignored and collusion with torture becomes a routine part of an administration's plunder of other people's resources, particularly when they find themselves relying on the cooperation of totalitarian leaders.

When Craig raised their collusion in torture with his authorites he was more or less told to shut up and just play second fiddle to the US ambassador in Tashkent. He was told he was "overfocussed on human rights". When he didn't shut up, he was accused of some 18 "offences", some of them criminal, such as selling passports for sex, and being constantly drunk on the job. In the middle of all this, he suffered a relatively rare and mysterious illness, which in the light of what happened to Dr. David Kelly and others, might just have been an attempt to send him back to his maker.

So where does the respectability come in? Well, as Craig explained, this torture is being carried out, colluded in, or justified, by administrations which otherwise hold themselves out as models of democracy, human rights and the rule of law (which, of course, they are not). Craig also mentioned the rampant self-censorship in the mainstream media (MSM), who contrive to ignore all of this even when it is put under their nose. He was a bit at a loss to give a definitive explanation for this perverse behaviour. However, as we all know, the MSM have, by and large, become the creatures of political and commercial vested interests, and, in any event, lack the courage of the Pilgers and Fisks of this world to resist the huge pressure put on them.

Craig told us that he himself has been banned from the BBC. The exception is when he is in the area of one of their outposts who are not up to speed on the ban, as with BBC Radio Ulster yesterday morning when they interviewed him as a speaker at the local (mispronounced) Féile an Phobail.

As it turned out, Craig was eventually cleared of all the charges laid against him by the Foreign Office, except one: that he had revealed the other charges!

The Belfast session was a wonderful experience, and a great tribute to Craig for delivering it, to the Féile's organisers for organising it, and to the audience for turning up to be sensitised to one of the greatest scandals of our time.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

The newly elected Lord Mayor of Belfast, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, turned up, chain and all. No need to tell you which community he came out of. The first thing he did when he came in the door was to take a photo of Craig.

Danny Morrison

Also in attendance was Danny Morrisson, Cathaoirleach na Féile.

Craig blogs at


me said...

It probably would have taken about 4 seconds to check the pronunciation of Féile an Phobail so that he didn't say Phóbal. Silly people. Any idea who that guy was who interviewed him?

I enjoyed the talk in St Mary's very much, and the atmosphere was very comfortable, despite the nasty subject matter. Some of the descriptions of torture that I've heard (not last night, necessarily) have been almost too much for me.

And again, despite the subject, Craig has a good sense of humour, which helps at these events.

Póló said...

I think it was Conor Bradford, who is a son of Roy Bradford. Roy was a Unionist politician and a minister in Brian Faulkner's government.

Just from the interview with Craig, it is clear that Bradford fancies himself enormously.

He studied at Oxford and has been in the BBC for yonks.

Probably just couldn't bother his barney checking the pronounciation, or maybe he was making a point. The Féile is very much a child of Northern Republicanism.

Be interesting to see if he, or his producer, get a kick up the transom from HQ for letting Craig on air.

Stay tuned to this Bat channel.

Póló said...

À propos of nothing.

I shook Craig's hand when nobody was looking.