The Craig Murray Documents


This page contains a mirror of Craig Murray's Uzbekistan documents, preceded by some commentary by me.


This is not so much a rant, as a vehicle for some minor civil disobedience.

Craig Murray used to be the UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan. He became disgusted by the ongoing, absymal human rights conditions there, and moreover by the UK government's support for Islam Karimov's regime. This seemed rather incongruous with the very same UK government's near-daily declarations of horror at Iraq, where conditions at the time were perhaps very slightly less disgraceful.

Being unable to keep his mouth shut like a good chap seems to have somehow cost him that job. He has written a book about it (which you can buy on the Internet, and which might very well one day become a film).

Together with the book, he released fifteen documents, mostly detailing Foreign Office communications relating to the matter, as primary evidence. Since they'd been released under the Freedom of Information Act, the Government can't claim they're secret.

Instead, they wrote Mr. Murray a nastygram claiming the documents were copyrighted, and imperiously demanding that he stop offering them for download. While Mr. Murray himself seems upbeat about this threat, many people have joined forces to mirror these documents.

Please mirror it yourself! Perhaps drop me an email when you've done so (I seem to have a more complete list than others I can find on the net). I can be reached with an email address consisting of cranch then an at sign then cantab then a dot then net.

Copyright points

I am not a lawyer, and in the absence of any serious legal advice, I can make a few simple remarks.

Notice that, by claiming ownership of these documents, the Foreign Office seems to be asserting that they are genuine. Nice of them to do so.

This all seems rather out of keeping with what copyright is supposed to do. Certainly, our side has been rather creative about helping Islam Karimov, and may indeed have elevated it to an art form. But is that creativity and art the kind of creativity and art that you should be able to copyright?

It is plausible, though it would be ridiculous, that a judge might obtain an injunction against me doing this. However, there will be no damages. Anyone in the world can obtain these documents under the Freedom of Information Act, for trivial cost. Therefore the Foreign Office cannot make a profit from these documents.

Perhaps the best point was made by Craig himself:

Was it the intention of the Freedom of Information Act that information divulged should be solely for the specific individual who requests it, and not for the public at large? No, plainly it was not the intention.

Other remarks

Frankly, the unbelievable and pitiable stupidity of the Foreign Office on this matter leaves me somewhat taken aback.

If you attempt political censorship of books, you might enjoy some success. Making and distributing books is difficult.

But if you attempt to politically censor things on the Internet, concerned people can just exercise their copy-and-paste skills. As a result, thanks to Foreign Office incompetence, these documents have probably found a whole new audience that they would otherwise not have had.

It's amusing to note that this comes straight after John Prescott finding yet another way to make a fool out of himself by commenting about modern technology, "I think it's called the internet, isn't it, or blogs or something?".

The importance of high-tech services to the UK economy is huge and still growing, and yet very few people in government seem to understand the first thing about any of it.

There have been many examples of this in the Government's advocacy of a national ID database. Drawing, again, only from examples of the last few days, we had John Denham talking nonsense on Radio 5. Near-complete ignorance of modern technology seems extremely widespread among our government. We should find this very worrying.

Later developments

Craig has now removed the documents from his site. Obviously, nobody will blame him for that. My mirror, and most other mirrors seem to be up.

The documents

Craig Murray's Introduction

In publishing "Murder in Samarkand" I had wanted to publish the supporting documentation in the book to cooroborate my story, especially as the FCO is claiming that the story is essentially untrue. In that sense, perhaps the most interesting link in the documents below is the very first document, which is a table of detailed amendments the FCO insisted be made to the text. This is fascinating if you consider just how much it confirms was true, particularly in the conversations it refers to between officials.

Many of the other documents I managed to have released under the Freedom of Information Act or Data Protection Act. I was astonished when the FCO announced that they would still take legal action against me if I published them. They argue that - and this astonished me - even if a document is released under the DPA or FoIA, it is still copyright of the Crown and so cannot be published. I was even more amazed when the lawyers of the publisher said that this was probably true, and certainly could not be fought without potentially a milliom pound legal case.

It appears that, among so many attacks on civil liberties in recent years, the Blair government has managed to administratively negate its own Freedom of Information Act. Robin Cook must be spinning in his grave.

So we have made Murder in Samarkand an interactive book - the documents are published here, and referenced by URL in the text. Net posting is not breaching copyright because there is no charge to access the documents. This site may, of course, be subject to technical attack, so I would be grateful if those who can mirror these documents on their own sites, do so.

These are contemporary documents from my time as Ambassador in Uzbekistan. They do I believe include the real smoking gun on Britain's, and the CIA's, use of intelligence obtained by torture abroad. They also show the FCO getting increasingly angry with me over my being "over-focussed on human rights", rahter than building good relationships with Karimov, our ally in the War on Terror.

They do not give a smoking gun that proves that the allegations brought against me, of which I was eventually cleared, were trumped-up and motivated by a desire to get rid of me for policy reasons. Being internal FCO documents, they are written to maintain the facade of a proper disciplinary investigation. You need to be prepared to read between the lines - and read the book!


The 15 PDF downloads

Here is my mirror of the fifteen documents in question. All documents are presented with Craig Murray's summary.

  1. FCO Comment

    This document details feedback from the FCO requesting changes to the book in its draft form.

  2. IMF Telegram

    This is the original draft of the telegram which I sent on the IMF and economic policy. The computer in my office could not link to our communications equipment, so after I drafted it on my word processor, Jackie or Karen had to type it again into comms. While they were doing this, inspiration struck and I went down and added to the end of the telegram by hand.

  3. Declaration

    I had been in Uzbekistan exactly four weeks when I became convinced that Western policy in Central Asia was completely ill-conceived. This telegram was my first major declaration of my view to London, where it came as a nasty shock.

  4. Speech

    The Head of Eastern Department, Simon Butt, and the Head of the Diplomatic Service, Sir Michael Jay KCMG, were horrified by my questioning of US foreign policy and by my proposal to make a strong speech on human rights in Uzbekistan. This was not Sir Michael Jay's view of diplomacy at all. In fact it is worth noting that, if you replace the word "Diplomacy" with "Duplicity" in Michael Jay's email, it still makes perfect sense.

  5. Hill Negotiation

    My proposal to make a strong speech on Uzbek Human Rights at Freedom House was strongly opposed by Sir Michael Jay and Simon Butt. Charles Hill of Eastern Department had the job of negotiating the text with me and, after this pretty sharp correspondence, I largely got the speech I wanted.

  6. Michael Wood memo of 13 March

    After my protests at our obtaining intelligence under torture, I was astonished to be called back to London for a meeting on 8 March 2003 at which I was told that torture intelligence was legal, and that Jack Straw and Sir Richard Dearlove, Head of MI6, had decided that in the "War on Terror" we should, as a matter of policy, obtain intelligence got by torture by foreign intelligence services.

    At the meeting it was agreed that Sir Michael Wood, the Foreign Office's chief legal adviser, would put in writing his view that we were committing no offence by obtaining torture intelligence. This minute is that legal assurance.

  7. Telegram of 18 March 2003 headed US Foreign Policy

    I was horrified when the massive assault on Iraq started. I knew both that Iraq did not really possess WMDs, and that our weapons were much less precise than the news propaganda claimed; tens of thousands of civilians were dying.

    Given that we were supporting the dictator Karimov, I thought it was pretty rich to be claiming to attack Hussein because he was a dictator. I was then outraged to see on BBC World TV a speech by George Bush saying we were going to war in Iraq to dimantle Hussein's torture apparatus. I had just been informed that torture material was legitimate in the War on Terror.

    I therefore sent the following telegram. This was the only protest from any British Ambassador at our entering on an illegal war, abandoning the UN Security Council, and following blindly George Bush's violent and acquisitive foreign policy.

  8. Letter from Simon Butt dated 16 April 2003

    Following my telegram on the start of the Iraq war, Simon Butt, Head of Eastern Department, was sent out from London to tell me I was now considered "Unpatriotic". On return he met with Sir Michael Jay (PUS), to discuss how to deal with me. His letter records this conversation.

    Apart from the underlying political context, there are two astonishing things about this letter. The first is the libel by a government department of the anti-war Labout MP Andrew Mackinlay, who to the best of my knowledge had never been in a strip club, in Poland or anywhere else.

    The second is that he notes that after dinner I went out with a young lady to a jazz club (which I did - it was my secretary Kristina, and we just went for a quick drink). But while he blows that up with much innuendo, he fails to note something much more significant.

    While we were having dinner, the grandson of our host, Professor Mirsaidov, a distinguished dissident, had been abducted from outside the house by Uzbek security services. He had been tortured to death and his body dumped back on the family doorstep at 4am. It had been intended as a warning to dissidents and the British Embassy not to meet each other.

    Simon Butt was fully aware of these facts when he wrote this letter, but plainly the murder of our host's grandson - which was inconvenient for our important relationship in the War on Terror with Karimov - was much less worth mentioning than my going for a drink to a jazz bar.

  9. Exchange of emails with Linda Duffield

    With the Iraq war in full swing, I found myself marked down as not sound on the War and Terror and simply "sent to Coventry" by my London management, as I complained in this exchange of emails with Linda Duffield. This proved to be the calm before the storm.

  10. Colin Reynolds' report of 26 June 2003

    We lost our political officer when he cracked up under the pressure and started attacking people in the street. His partner, my deputy, also left. That was all of my British political and economic resource gone.

    Personnel Department sent out an officer, Colin Reynolds, ostensibly on a pastoral visit following these events. In fact he had been primed by the Foregin Office to look for excuses to remove me, and briefed on rumours originated by the US Embassy that I was an alcoholic and jkept a "Love-nest" in Tashkent - both completely untrue.

    In fact Reynolds' report was very fair. His comments that some procedures were not followed correctly were accurate - he does not note my response, that the tiny staff of our Embassy in Tashkent was not equipped to carry out the full FCO bureaucratic requirements.

  11. Minute of my meeting with Howard Drake

    I was delighted to get away on holiday to Canada with my family after an exhausting and difficult year. The personnel officer, Colin Reynolds having failed to bring back the answer they wanted, while I was on leave the FCO sent a political officer, Dominic Schroeder, to Tashkent. The excuse was a "Crisis" they had themselves produced by suspending my five most senior members of office staff.

    Schroeder came back and dutifully reported he had found allegations of mismanagement, alcoholism, financial corruption and offering sex in exchange from visas.

    I was summoned back immediately from holiday and arrived back to meet Howard Drake of Personnel Department. I went straight from the airport to his office after a 16 hour overnight flight from Vancouver via Chicago, having not slept for 60 hours. As I walked in the door I had no idea I was about to face a huge raft of false allegations and be asked to resign.

    In the circumstances I am amazed by how well I managed to defend myself at this meeting! You should bear in mind that this is Howard Drake's record of this meeting; it therefore puts the best possible gloss on what the FCO was doing.

  12. Letter from British Businessmen in Tashkent

    The British community in Tashkent were astonished to find their Ambassador was under attack.

  13. Email to Kate Smith

    It became plain to me that I had no hope of a fair investigation of the allegations against me. In particular I would not be allowed to call defence witnesses; indeed I was not allowed to tell anyone of the existence of the allegations. I was also banned from entering my own Embassy, and confined to my house in Tashkent.

    It became too much for me, and I sent this email back from Tashkent to my union representative, Kate Smith, just before leaving to go into psychiatric care for depression. I am surprised by how articulate and clear-minded my email was.

  14. Minute of 26 September 2003

    I received many documents through an application under the Data Protection Act. These have been edited by the Foreign Office, with areas blacked out in the "interests of national security".

    This is an interesting example. This minute of 26 September 2003 is addressed to Sir Michael Jay (PS/PUS) and Jack Straw (PS). By convention minutes are addressed to the Private Secretary (PS) not the Secretary of State direct.

    Among the things deleted for reasons of national security is who the minute was copied to. The copy addressees would be at the top right hand corner under the date. A friend of mine in Jack Straw's office (remember I worked in the FCO for 21 years) tells me that the copy addressees on this and scores of other documents about me going through Jack Straw's offce, included 10 Downing Street, MI6 and the MOD. That is why they have been deleted. As detailed in the book, the instruction to get rid of me had come to the FCO from No 10 on the instigation of the Americans.

    It is fascinating to consider what else the FCO felt it necessary to blank out in this minute.

  15. Telegram

    I continued to refuse to resign and in the end was found not guilty of all the allegations against me, but given a formal warning for not having kept the allegations secret. Following a parliamentary and media campaign in my favour, I returned as Ambassador to Tashkent.

    In July 2004, following the Abu Ghraib revelations, I yet again went back to argue with London that we should not be receiving intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers. We were, I said, "Selling our souls for dross". This telegram was leaked to the Financial Times, leading the FCO to tell the Uzbek government (before they told me) that I had been withdrawn as British Ambassador to Tashkent.

Correspondence between Craig Murray and the Treasury Lawyers

This is the first letter that arrived.

Dear Mr Murray

The Treasury Solicitor acts for the Foreign Secretary in respect of the above matter which relates to the placing by you of a number of Crown documents on your website on 4 July 2006.

I attach a letter before claim, which is being delivered to you personally by courier this afternoon. A response from you is required by 4pm on Monday 10 July 2006.

Yours sincerely

Gareth Buttrill
Treasury Solicitor
Floor 10.03, One Kemble Street
London WC2B 4TS
Tel: 020 7210 3393
Fax: 020 7210 3410

Here is the aforementioned attached letter, which is also available in PDF.

Dear Mr Murray


The Treasury Solicitor acts for the Foreign Secretary in this matter. This letter should be treated as a letter before claim in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules 1998. It has come to our attention that, on 4 July 2006, you placed 15 documents on your website ( which you describe as "supporting documents" relating to your book 'Murder in Samarkand'. We have reviewed the documents and it is clear that in each case (save for document 12 and the majority of document 13) the copyright in the documents subsists with the Crown. I refer you to section 163(1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which states:

"163(1) Where a work is made by Her Majesty or by an officer or servant of the Crown in the course of his duties - (a) the work qualifies for copyright protection notwithstanding section 153(1) (ordinary requirement as to qualification for copyright protection), and (b) Her Majesty is the first owner of any copyright in the work".

We take the position that all of the documents (save for 12 and the majority of 13) were produced by an officer or servant of the Crown in the course of their duties. As you do not have permission or a licence to reproduce the documents we consider that Crown copyright has been infringed. In particular, you should note that the statement on your website that "Net posting is not breaching copyright because there is no charge to access the documents" is wrong as a matter of law. Whether or not a charge is made is wholly irrelevant to the issue of copyright infringement. Further, even if a document is released under the Data Protection Act or Freedom of Information Act that does not entitle you to make further reproductions of that document by, for example, putting them on your website or making further copies to be provided to third parties. The copyright remains enforceable.

As you are infringing Crown copyright, you are required to remove the documents from your website immediately and to provide an undertaking that you will not further infringe Crown copyright by reproducing these documents, or any other document or documents in which Crown copyright subsists and which relate to Foreign and Commonwealth Office matters, without permission or licence. If you do not do this by 4pm on Monday 10 July 2006 my client will issue a claim in the High Court for an injunction requiring you to remove the documents. The claim will be issued without further notice to you. An application for an interim injunction will also be made.

If my client is forced by your actions to issue proceedings, she will seek to recover from you the legal costs incurred as a result. Such costs are likely to be substantial. You are strongly advised to seek legal advice.

We are copying this letter to your publishers Mainstream Publishing. We consider this to be necessary as you state on your website that 'Murder in Samarkand' will be an "interactive book' containing URL links to the Crown documents. In the circumstances we consider that your publishers should be aware of my client's proposed course of action in view of your infringement of the Crown's rights.

I look forward to receiving your response.

Yours sincerely

Gareth Buttrill

For the Treasury Solicitor

Cc. Mainstream Publishing

This is the reply.

Many thanks for your letter of 7 July.

I am of course in agreement with your advice that I must take legal advice. Your letter has arrived on a Friday afternoon when I am just off to collect my daughter from boarding school in Ramsgate. It is in practice impossible for me to get advice and reply before 4pm on Monday 10 July. I would ask you to give a more practical deadline - if you will not, I am sure that is somethig a talk would take into consideration in considering where costs lie. I am not sure what precedents there are for government action for copyright over documents posted on the website, so it might tke a day or two to know if you are right. If I am advised you are right, of course I will remove the documents as requested. On that basis, perhaps you could be kind enough to give me a few more days.


The solicitor's reply:

Mr Murray

I have asked my clients for instructions. However, you must proceed on the basis that the deadline set out in my letter stands.

Gareth Buttrill
Treasury Solicitor
Floor 10.03, One Kemble Street
London WC2B 4TS
Tel: 020 7210 3393
Fax: 020 7210 3410

Craig Murray's reply:

Mr Buttrill,

As no court has ruled on anything, I would like to know by what power you, acting for the government, can tell me what I "must" do in this respect. I am putting that question formally to you as a government servant and it is not rhetorical; I require an answer.

I find the increasing authoritatianism of government in this country deeply disturbing. I will consider carefully your points once I can get proper legal advice, and not before. It should not take too long.

I am now late for collecting my daughter.


So far as I'm aware, the most significant thing that Gareth Buttrill has ever achieved is to publicise these documents around the world.

Indeed, the following fine people are among those I've found hosting these documents. Take your pick:

If you discover any others, let me know. My email address is at the very top of the page.

Here are some other pages which don't provide a mirror, but discuss the matter:

Local copies of news

Here's a local copy of that Observer article I linked to above. Just in case.

And another local copy for the BBC piece.