Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray is being threatened by lawyers representing the globetrotting mercenary Tim Spicer.
The full text of the letter to Murray’s publishers Mainstream from Spicer’s solicitors Schillings (as taken from the PDF of the letter as hosted on Craig Murray’s blog) is as follows:
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
Mainstream Publishing Company (Edinburgh) Limited
7 Albany Street
BY POST AND FAX: 0131 556 8720
Our Ref: SMS/JXR/ww/A131/3
ON THE RECORD
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
08 July 2008
The Road to Samarkand – Craig Murray
We represent Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Spicer OBE, C.E.O. of Aegis Defence Services Limited (“Aegis”).
We are instructed to write to you with regard to ‘THE ROAD TO SAMARKAND- INTRIGUE, CORRUPTION AND DIRTY DIPLOMACY’ (“the Book”) written by Craig Murray and due to be published in September 2009 by you
(http://www.rbooks.co.uk/search results.aspx) to be sold in England and Wales by Random House Sales Department.
We have reason to believe that the Book may contain serious, untrue and damaging defamatory allegations about our client.
Please confirm by return whether the Book is due to be published in England and Wales in September 2008 and if so, the exact date. please also confirm whether the Book is due to be published in any other jurisdiction, setting out each jurisdiction, together with the publication date and publisher concerned in each case.
lmportantly, we require you to confirm by return whether or not the Book contains any reference to our client, and if so, we require you to set out in full each and every reference to our client in its entirety to give our client the opportunity to take legal advice and to respond to any allegations in good time prior to publication.
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.
We note from your website http://www.mainstreampublishing.com/news_current.html that Mr Murray is due to speak about the Book at a ‘Mainstream author event at the Edinburgh lnternational Book Festival’ entitled ‘Lived Lives’ on 12th August 2008 at 4.30pm in the RBS Main Theatre, Edinburgh. We hereby put both you and Mr Murray on notice that all our client’s rights are reserved in relation to any defamatory comments or publications made by you or Mr Murray in relation to that event.
Please immediately take into your possession all drafts of the Book pre-publication, all notes, emails, correspondence, memos, images and oiher documents relevant to the publication of this Book, and preserve them safely pending the outcome of this dispute. They will need to be disclosed in due course if litigation has to be commenced. Also, you will need to disclose the financial arrangements for the sale and licence of the Book to other publications.
In the circumstances, we require that you confirm immediately that you agree to undertake on behalf of Mainstream Publishing Company (Edinburgh) Limited not to publish any libels regarding our client in any editions of the Book or at all.
We require the above undertaking by 4pm on Friday 11th July 2008, failing which we will have no option but to advise our client with regard to making applications to the High court for an injunction to restrain publication and/or for pre-action disclosure. You are on notice that we will seek to recover the costs of any necessary applications from you.
We await your response by return. In the meantime all our client’s rights are reserved, including the right to issue proceedings against you without further notice.
cc. Craig Murray Esq.
Not bad, eh? Psychic libel lawyers who can predict what might be in an as-yet unpublished book!
Murray’s response to the threat is unequivocal:
Schillings are a firm of libel lawyers dedicated to prevent the truth from being known about some deeply unlovely people. They managed temporarily to close down this blog (and several others) to keep information quiet about the criminal record of Alisher Usmanov. Now they are attempting to block the publication of my new book in the interests of mercenary commander Tim Spicer, one of those who has made a fortune from the Iraq War. It is sad but perhaps predictable that private profits from the illegal Iraq war, in which hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died, are providing the funding to try to silence my book.
Libel law in the UK is a remarkable thing – Schillings can go for an injunction when I haven’t published anything about Spicer yet and they haven’t seen what I intend to publish. People might conclude that Spicer has something to hide. You will see that they also are attempting to censor not only the book, but what I say at the Edinburgh Book Festival on 12 August. I can assure you that they will find it impossible to affect what I say about Spicer at that event.
Nor will they prevent me from publishing the truth about Spicer, one way or another.
In a subsequent blog post, he adds:
Among the incidents I cover in my new book are the murder of Peter McBride, the Aegis Trophy Video, the Papua New Guinea coup, the Equatorial Guinea plot, Executive Outcomes’ muder of civilians in Angola and the Arms to Africa affair. I do hope that other bloggers will generate another Streisand effect through blogging on these subjects.
Lest we forget, Spicer – currently running extensive private military operations in Iraq and elsewhere with his company Aegis – has a history of working as a gun-for-hire in places like Papua New Guinea and Sierra Leone, and via connections at mercenary outfits like Executive Outcomes and Sandline has long been a colleague of fellow former Scots Guard the recently convicted coup plotter Simon Mann.
Definitely one to keep your eye on, this’un…