Friday, December 30, 2005

UK Government "knew of torture" - ex. Ambassador Craig Murray

I am told that many websites that published the following story have crashed. This is a shortened version of material published by Gloucester Green Party.

We now have evidence from Britain's former Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray which shows that Tony Blair and Jack Straw have lied about their use of intelligence gained by torture and their awareness of the practice of torture.

The government is currently taking action to withdraw the evidence documents from circulation. The Foreign Office has demanded that Craig Murray remove all references to two especially damning documents, indicating that our government was knowingly
receiving information extracted by the Uzbeks through torture, and return every copy that he has in his possession. The Gloucestershire Green party have however published the documents on their website in an effort to promote openness and let the public decide (v).

Other websites around the world are also printing the details (i)

The facts in brief

Constituent: "This question is for Mr Straw; Have you ever read any
documents where the intelligence has been procured through torturous
Jack Straw: "Not to the best of my knowledge... let me make this
clear... the British government does not support torture in any
circumstances. Full stop. We do not support the obtaining of
intelligence by torture, or its use." Foreign Secretary Jack Straw,
election hustings, Blackburn, April 2005

Ambassador Craig Murray, memo to the Foreign Office, July 2004: "I was
summoned to the UK for a meeting on 8 March 2003. Michael Wood gave his
legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use intelligence
acquired by torture... On behalf of the intelligence services, Matthew
Kydd said that they found some of the material very useful indeed with
a direct bearing on the war on terror. Linda Duffield said that she had
been asked to assure me that my qualms of conscience were respected and

Recent law lords decision

It is perhaps not surprising to see why the
government has fought so long and hard to avoid a ban of evidence
obtained by torture all the way from the Special Immigration Appeals
Commission (SIAC) up to the House of Lords? Thankfully earlier this
month the highest judges in the land ruled that evidence obtained under
torture was unable to be used, but the laws still need tightening.

It is good news that a watchdog will investigate claims that British security officers were involved in the abduction and torture of terror suspects in Greece (iii), but we also need a proper investigations into the CIA 'terror' flights in and out of British airports and action on the court of appeal's criticisms that the system of investigating and prosecuting incidents of torture and unlawful killings by British forces in occupied Iraq needs a overhauling. We also urgently need an end to the deportation of alleged terror suspects to countries where they are at risk of torture(iv).


(i) The documents are today being published simultaneously on blogs all around the world.

(ii) A year ago Britain's most senior judges ruled that the detention
without trial of foreign terror suspects was unlawful. This blew a
gaping hole in the draconian anti-terror laws introduced by the former
home secretary David Blunkett. The Government has been attempting to
fill it ever since. Just before Christmas the law lords performed
another vital service by unanimously outlawing the use in British
courts of evidence produced by torture. This will include cases before
the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, a closed court established
four years ago to deal with foreign terrorist suspects. In delivering
their judgment, the law lords said that using any evidence derived from
torture was incompatible with British traditions and our international
obligation to shun torture "and its fruits". The stout refusal by the
top level of our judiciary to compromise on this legal principle
reflects poorly on the Government and its equivocal stance on torture.
The Government, backed by the UK's security services, has been arguing
for several years now that it is impossible to ignore any information
that "may save hundreds of lives", no matter its provenance.
Read more on the background at:,,1663333,00.html

Michael Mansfield QC writing in The Guardian (16/12/05) wrote:
"Charles Clarke's response to the law lords' decision on torture
evidence has attained new heights of disingenuous spin, sophistry and
misrepresentation (Response, December 13). It beggars belief that after
this case has been fought for over a year, through all courts, that the
government should claim that they were in favour of the final decision
all along. Are we living in Wonderland? Why has the home secretary
wasted so much public time, money and energy, if the result was the one
he wanted in the first place? The truth is that their lordships'
opinions are, once again, an embarrassment to a government that has
lost sight of fundamental principles....Put plainly, while Charles
Clarke may claim he wouldn't provide the tribunal knowingly with
torture evidence, he was at the same time arguing that the tribunal was
entitled to consider such evidence. His position caused Lord Bingham to
employ some strident observations. In par 51 of the judgment he says:
"I am startled, even a little dismayed, at the suggestion [and the
acceptance by the court of appeal majority] that this deeply rooted
tradition" - namely abhorrence for torture and its fruits - "and an
international obligation solemnly and explicitly undertaken, can be
overridden by a statute and a procedural rule which makes no mention of
torture at all". It is inconceivable that the home secretary can fail
to understand this clear statement."
For full letter see:,,1668573,00.html

(iii) Parliament's security services watchdog have announced that it is
to investigate claims that British security officers were involved in
the abduction and torture of terror suspects in Greece. The examination
of the claims was confirmed by Paul Murphy, chairman of the all-party
parliamentary intelligence and security committee (ISC).

(iv) The system of investigating and prosecuting incidents of torture
and unlawful killings by British forces in occupied Iraq was lambasted
yesterday by the court of appeal.

(v) The first document contains the text of several telegrams that
Craig Murray sent back to London from 2002 to 2004, warning that the
information being passed on by the Uzbek security services was
torture-tainted, and challenging MI6 claims that the information was
nonetheless "useful".

The second document is the text of a legal opinion from the Foreign
Office's Michael Wood, arguing that the use by intelligence services of
information extracted through torture does not constitute a violation
of the UN Convention Against Torture.

Craig Murray says: "In March 2003 I was summoned back to London from
Tashkent specifically for a meeting at which I was told to stop
protesting. I was told specifically that it was perfectly legal for us
to obtain and to use intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers.
After this meeting Sir Michael Wood, the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office's legal adviser, wrote to confirm this position. This minute
from Michael Wood is perhaps the most important document that has
become public about extraordinary rendition. It is irrefutable evidence
of the government's use of torture material, and that I was attempting
to stop it. It is no wonder that the government is trying to suppress

See more at:

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