Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Schillings law firm in the United Kingdom, has attempted to remove certain content from an upcoming book by former Ambassador to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, Craig Murray. Schillings, a company which, according to Wikileaks, contains “well known UK censorship lawyers,” sent a letter to Cambridge University Press threatening libel action if the content is not removed from Murray’s book, The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, before publication.

According to Schilling, they sent the letter on behalf of ” Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Spicer […], C.E.O. of Aegis Defence Services Limited.”

Craig Murray in 2006. Image: Vodex.

“We have reason to believe that the Book may contain serious, untrue and damaging defamatory allegations about our client,” stated the letter. “Any widespread publication of the Book containing defamatory allegations concerning our client would be deeply damaging to our client’s personal and professional reputations and would cause him profound distress and anxiety. We remind you that you would be responsible for that damage and any subsequent republication of the allegations. We also put you on notice that you will be liable for any special damage or loss suffered by our client as a result of the Book and we reserve all our client’s rights in this regard.”

Speaking to Wikileaks, Murray responded to these claims by saying that there is “yet more depressing correspondence with my publisher today — it really is getting me down.”

“The publisher has an understandable fear of facing malicious and extremely expensive litigation under British libel laws, which exist to protect the reputations of the wealthy and the powerful,” continued the former ambassador, explaining the issue. “As my entire purpose is to expose unsavory truths about the wealthy and the powerful, I really do not see how we are going to solve this.”

Wikinews also spoke exclusively to Craig Murray on this issue. He made the following comments:

Libel law in the UK is notoriously used as a tool for the wealthy to suppress the truth. There is no access to justice because ordinary people cannot, and publishers will not, afford the huge legal bills involved in defending a libel case.

I have received no libel threats at all. Rather Schillings, acting on behalf of mercenary commander Tim Spicer, have threatened my publisher directly. In consequence my publisher has insisted not only that I remove vital facts from the book, but is attempting to insist that I include views and opinions which are not my own, and facts which are untrue, in the interest of “balance”.

The extraordinary thing is that the book is a memoir, and the large majority of things the publisher wishes me to exclude under legal pressure are things I was an eye witness to or even did myself. There is no protection at all for freedom of speech in the UK — the concept does not de facto exist in law here.

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