Craig Murray

Scottish author, human rights campaigner, journalist and former diplomat

Craig John Murray (born 17 October 1958) is a Scottish former diplomat for the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office who was the ambassador to Uzbekistan between 2002 and 2004, a post from which he was removed. In later years, he has been known for his defence of Julian Assange, and for contentious claims published on his blog and X, formerly known as Twitter.

Craig Murray in 2021

Quotes edit

2004–2005 edit

  • Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy, nor does it appear to be moving in the direction of democracy. The major political parties are banned; Parliament is not subject to democratic election and checks and balances on the authority of the electorate are lacking. There is worse: we believe there to be between 7,000 and 10,000 people in detention whom we would consider as political and/or religious prisoners. In many cases they have been falsely convicted of crimes with which there appears to be no credible evidence they had any connection.
  • There is worse: we believe there to be between 7,000 and 10,000 people in detention whom we would consider as political and/or religious prisoners. In many cases they have been falsely convicted of crimes with which there appears to be no credible evidence they had any connection.
    • Speech delivered at Freedom House, Uzbekistan on 17 October 2002, cited by David Stern "British Envoy's Speech Reverberates Reverberates in Uzbekistan" (14 January 2003).
  • The next morning brings good news. The two shops I specified are both available. They both belong to the local brewer, Thwaites. The one I choose has two pubs to its immediate right and one to its left. Only one of them is a going concern.
    This is one of Blackburn's most striking features. It has an astonishing number of ex-pubs. Some have been converted to other uses, but many more are derelict. I wonder why there were so many and what factors caused this cull. Something else I have yet to learn.
    I return to London to find messages waiting from Martin Bell and Brian Eno; both want to help my campaign. Then I receive news from the estate agent. Thwaites has decided it will not let me rent any of its property in Blackburn. Its directors feel it would not be in the company's interests to allow its premises to be used to campaign against Jack Straw.
  • One of our slogans has been "British Bulldog, not Bush's Poodle", which has the advantage of confusing people entirely about the political direction we are coming from. This at least gets them to open the leaflet and read more. It was devised by Edward, who used to work for Saatchi and Saatchi. He claims it appeals to both left and right. It could, of course, alienate both instead. I suppose we'll soon know.
  • So how will we do? Well, surprisingly well. There is real anger at the war. People don't like liars. And Straw is plainly very worried. Unlike previous elections, he has not been out to marginals to support other candidates. Rather Gordon Brown, Robin Cook and even the Iraqi deputy prime minister have been here to bolster him. Neither the Lib Dems nor the Tories see this as winnable; they have not brought in a single big hitter. Of whom is he scared? Me.
    • "Our man in Blackburn" The Guardian (5 May 2005).
    • The general election was held on the day of publication of the article. Murray received 2,082 votes (5.0% share) as an Independent candidate.

2006–2009 edit

  • [As the British Ambassador in Uzbekistan.] At the same time that I was receiving word from Uzbek citizens about the gruesome affronts to their humanity, I was also getting CIA intelligence on Uzbekistan, under the U.S.-U.K. intelligence-sharing agreement. This information — fed to the CIA by Karimov's security services — revealed the same pattern of information as those forced confessions.
    And it was a pattern that was false, often demonstrably so. One piece of CIA intelligence named a Muslim terrorism suspect with alleged links to al-Qaeda, except I happened to know that the person in question was a Jehovah's Witness, not a Sunni Muslim extremist. Another gave a specific location for a terrorist training camp in the hills above Samarkand, a spot I knew was empty.
    The CIA was apparently well aware that it was getting material drawn from torture. At my request, my deputy confirmed this with the U.S. Embassy. She reported back to me that she had been told that the United States did not see a problem "in the context of the war on terror." (I immediately reported this back to Britain in a top-secret telegram.) And both the CIA and the British intelligence service, MI6, were accepting and using this intelligence in their assessments, despite its highly questionable validity.
  • Her body invited sex while her eyes screamed, 'Save me.'
    • Murder in Samarkand (Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 2006 [2007]), p. 164
    • On first meeting Nadira Alieva, who was working as a belly dancer in a Tashkent night club in April 2003 and later became Murray's second wife.
  • The Paston was an old-fashioned grammar [school] that was trying its best to be an independent school [...] It felt as if the teachers were still fighting the second world war, and once a week we were all made to dress up in military uniform and become cadets. Either I skipped school or refused to take part, so I was frequently suspended.
  • [On his early diplomatic career.] You have to realise I never set out to be a hero [...] I was never a great campaigner for human rights. In many ways, I'd always been just as compromised as any other diplomat. When I was working on the South African desk of the London office I had had to send out letters saying we believed that the African National Congress was a terrorist organisation. I didn't think that for a second and nor did anyone else I was working with, but we did it because it was the price of an impartial, depoliticised civil service. The closest I had ever got to any form of stand was by refusing to implement a government directive to persuade the Poles to reduce the size of the health warnings on cigarette packets to conform with EU law.
  • I am standing to give the voters a chance to reject all the political parties and put an honest man into parliament. I will not put my snout in the trough. I have proved I am not motivated by money by giving up an extremely lucrative career as ambassador on principle, in opposition to our complicity in torture.

2014–2021 edit

  • I said this in my talk to Edinburgh SNP club on March 6 and repeated it on this blog last week. There is something delightfully old-fashioned about MI5. Is spraying Q for quisling not rather an obscure reference to today's generation?
    • From a blog entry cited in "Swastika daubed on Tory office", The Times (12 April 2015)
    • The Conservative and Labour offices in Aberdeen had been vandalised by graffiti also including the letter "Q" (for "quisling") on both buildings. In an earlier blog entry, Murray had warned his followers to expect "false flag events" in an attempt to discredit the SNP, a party he then supported.
  • While I am struggling to see a Russian motive for damaging its own international reputation so grievously, Israel has a clear motivation for damaging the Russian reputation.
  • Remarkable correlation between Labour MPs who attacked Corbyn in EDM wanting no investigation into Salisbury before firmly attributing blame, and parliamentary Labour friends of Israel, I wonder why?
  • A conspiracy to attack the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, perhaps. If you think I was accusing them of being part of a conspiracy to kill Skripal, you are daft.
  • Russia has developed an astonishing new technology enabling its secret agents to occupy precisely the same space at precisely the same time.
    • Blog entry cited at "Russia is spreading discredited theories about the Salisbury attack", Channel 4 Factcheck (7 September 2018).
    • Channel 4 Factcheck contributor Patrick Worrall wrote: "The truth was more prosaic. After passengers clear passport control and customs at Gatwick, they are obliged to walk separately through a row of identical barriers: The two men simply walked through two adjacent corridors, the synchronized barriers letting them in at exactly the same time."
  • The problem with the world is there are conspiracies [...] The idea that they don't happen is ridiculous. As an ambassador I have seen the establishment from the inside, the workings of GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 with millions in their budgets — what kind of things do you think they are doing?
    The hands of the British state are all over this. The roots of it were a political conspiracy against Alex Salmond, to destroy both his reputation and career, and why, because he was a threat to the British state, one of the biggest threats in 300 years who had taken the country to the brink of independence.

2023–present edit

  • I have obtained access to all of Stewart McDonald's emails, after approaching a number of people to find out who might have them.
    I had no hand in obtaining the emails nor prior knowledge. I am grateful they have been so generously shared.
  • I want to reassure Mr McDonald that his hysterical ranting about being hacked by a state intelligence service, when he appears by his own account to have fallen for a phishing scam the average 12-year-old would see through, is hilariously wide of the mark.
  • [The emails indicate] the toxic relationships within the SNP group at Westminster, where McDonald regards himself as in a very small minority of Sturgeon loyalists.
  • I am now happily in the Outer Hebrides. This makes it much harder to send the police to intimidate me because a) they will have to find me b) I shall be too drunk to notice.
  • This morning, lawyers are acting on my request to prepare a counsel's opinion on the legality of publishing those of Stewart MacDonald's emails which are in the public interest to be revealed.
    This may take a day or two.
  • I came back from Reykjavik on Monday morning [16 October] and I was detained at Glasgow Airport by the police after I came through passport control.
    They took me into a wee room and they said that I was detained under the Terrorism Act, which was an extraordinary thing.
  • In reply, I said to them, "When you’re speaking at a big demonstration, like a Stop the War demonstration, it's impossible to know who the others are and often these things go on for hours and personally I don't ever tend to stay around much, I just tend to make my speech and leave."
    But if they're people I know, like the Palestine Solidarity Campaign or Stop the War, then I trust them as a sensible organisation in terms of who they invite.
  • The whole thing's extraordinary, I don't think anybody can seriously believe I have any connection to terrorism of any kind.
    • "Craig Murray: I was detained under terror laws after Palestine protest", The National (18 October 2023).
    • Murray had posted on X (formerly Twitter) giving his explicit support for the actions of Hamas on 15 October 2023 while in Iceland. "If that is a crime, send me back to jail," he wrote. It is a criminal offence to offer support to proscribed organisations under the British Terrorism Act.
  • This is an enormous abuse of human rights. The abuse of process in refusing both a lawyer and the right to remain silent, the inquiry into perfectly legal campaigning which is in no way terrorism-associated, the political questioning, the financial snooping and the seizure of material related to my private life, were all based on an utterly fake claim that I am associated with terrorism.
  • I didn't really volunteer to fight the British police state, it came after me.
    But here we are, and here I am, in Switzerland seeking the protection of the United Nations.
  • My experience of British airports being discouraging recently, I went by public transport from Edinburgh to Belfast.
    Arriving very late in Belfast due to the storm, I missed the last train to Dublin. Not wanting to stay in Belfast, I flagged down a taxi in the street and asked the driver to take me to Dublin. He did not wish to, so late at night.
    Then we realised we had worked in the same bar in Aviemore 45 years ago. I have always believed life is governed by forces we do not know.

About Murray edit

In alphabetical order by author or source.
  • Mr Murray is a serial "just saying" conspiracy theorist. When the Russians poisoned the Skripals in 2018, for example, Murray pointed a finger at the Israelis and suggested a British government cover-up. At the moment his big issue is the conspiracy he alleges to "fit up" the former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond on sexual assault charges (Mr Salmond was acquitted). In the past he has accused me and other Jewish writers of being "Zionist propagandists" for the sake of "available riches".
  • [Murray seems] to find it difficult to distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact.
    • From " Amid talk of coups and mutinies, beware the 'hot takes' on Russia, The Herald (Scotland, 1 July 2023) citing from Lord Carloway judgement, paragraph 78
    • Misquote in the third-party source, the original states: "seems to find it extremely difficult to distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact" (italics not in the original). Murray failed in his appeal attempt against his conviction and sentence.
  • [The then Nadira Alieva] The next day she was walking past a nightclub and saw an advert saying "dancers needed". "It was basically a brothel," she said. But she was earning £150 a month.
    Then, one April night in 2003, Murray walked in. "It was my turn to dance and I could see this man, very English-looking, with a half-smile, looking at me," she said. "He wasn't sporty-looking or handsome and I wasn't interested. I just wanted my tip. But the manager said you mustn't refuse him, he's the richest man in the place."
    After chatting for a while, Murray suggested that she quit the club and become his mistress. "I told him, 'You're not the first to offer', and I left." The next time Murray returned to the club, it was Alieva's day off so he gave another girl £50 for her phone number. Flattered, she agreed to a date. Although she knew Murray was married, they were soon an item. "I'd gone out with diplomats before but Craig was different," she said. "He'd take me to official dinners and parties and introduce me to people. People were shocked as they knew I was a dancer but he didn't care."
  • In the Salisbury case, as Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan has shown, the government initially relied on a phrase that they thought could be defended as true but which was intended to cultivate a deception. This is that the nerve agent involved in the case is of "a type developed by Russia" ...
    The deception was spectacularly successful. The entire mainstream media went along with it. Embarrassingly, many mainstream journalists deluged Craig Murray with abuse and ridicule for raising modest questions about the government narrative.
  • The Foreign Office cleared the speech, but not without an acrimonious struggle over its content. During the dispute he panned one of his superiors in the FCO's eastern department, for questioning whether the number of political prisoners in Uzbekistan had increased. According to a British official familiar with the correspondence, he wrote: "I understand that you might find this fact politically inconvenient. If you wish me to omit it, then say so. But don't pretend it isn't true." He attacked his superior for his "sadly cautious and above all completely unimaginative" censures, and attacked the "classic public school and Oxbridge influenced FCO house style", as "ponderous, self-important and ineffective".
    The speech began to take on a life of its own. Kofi Annan raised its contents during a meeting with Uzbekistani president Islam Karimov. It became a serious thorn in Tashkent's - and Washington's - side. Murray's confrontational style pressed it further into the flesh. In the build-up to the Iraq war, he could not contain his fury at the "double standards" being practised by Washington. He wrote to his superiors in London on the day in which he watched [George W.] Bush talk of "dismantling the apparatus of terror" and "removing the torture and rape rooms" in Iraq, pointing out that "when it comes to the Karimov regime, systematic torture and rape appear to be treated as peccadilloes, not to effect 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 US, at senior level, our serious concern over their policy in Uzbekistan."
  • [I]n 2002, some months after MI6 sent its advice, the recently arrived British ambassador to Uzbekistan inquired urgently of the Foreign Office what its legal justification was for receiving information from Islamic dissidents who had been boiled alive to produce it. Craig Murray records his astonishment on being recalled to London to be told that the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6, had decided that in the 'War on Terror' we should, as a matter of policy, use intelligence obtained through torture by foreign intelligence services. A follow-up memo from a Foreign Office legal adviser in March 2003 explained that it was not an offence to do so. How sound was this advice legally? Morally, there is no question. But what of the encouragement to torture resulting from our enthusiastic receipt of information?

External links edit

Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: