Dundee’s rector to give evidence to human rights investigation


By Cara Sulieman

A TOP Scots university boss will be giving evidence at a Parliamentary Committee on torture after years of campaigning to get his story heard.

Craig Murray, the rector at Dundee University, has been speaking out about the use of torture to extract information for British intelligence since he left the Foreign Office in 2004.

But now he will finally get to report what he has seen and heard at Westminster next month.

Binyam Mohamed

The parliamentary joint committee comes after the media storm caused by the accusations of Binyam Mohamed, who was held at Guantanamo Bay.

Mohamed claimed that the UK Government knew about his torture in Morocco and even supplied questions to the interrogators.

Craig Murray was the British ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and was told before he went that the country was a “key ally in the war on terror.”

“Definite policy”

Talking about being chosen to give evidence to the committee, Murray said he was “delighted.”

He said: “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.”

Long admired

The news comes after a long campaign to get his evidence heard at the committee, including a motion at the Scottish Parliament, lodged by Dr Bill Wilson, MSP for West of Scotland.

He said: “I have long admired Mr Murray’s principled stand against UK complicity in human rights abuses, a stand that lost him his job as British ambassador to Uzbekistan.

“He has clear evidence of the fact that the UK government is prepared on a regular basis to receive intelligence from torture.”

Murray has posted the written evidence he has already submitted to the committee on his blog.

Tortured suspects

He tells how once he arrived in Uzbekistan, he was appalled to learn that most of the intelligence came from suspects who were tortured.

Although it was the CIA that was alleged to have carried out the torture, Britain gained and acted upon the information, something that Murray was concerned about.

But the biggest shock for the ambassador came when he discovered that the UK Government knew about the torture all the time.

“Acting illegally”

He writes in his evidence: “I was immediately concerned that British ministers and officials were being unknowingly exposed to material derived from torture, and therefore were acting illegally.

“Sir Michael Wood told me that it was not illegal for us to obtain intelligence from torture, provided someone else did the torture.”

His manager later told him that the foreign office in London viewed him as “unpatriotic”.

He said: “This hurt me enormously as I had served my country with great enthusiasm for 19 years.

“I felt it was my country which had abandoned the principles I had believed I was working for.”