The former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, is now running for rector at Dundee University in the March elections. The outspoken critic of the Uzbek president Islam Karimov became famous for exposing the human rights abuses and torture by the US-funded regime which happened “on an industrial scale”, thereby violating orders from the British Diplomatic Service.
Craig Murray, who graduated in 1982 with a Masters in Modern History, says:
“Well, I think, that the rector’s position should not be just an honorary position for a celebrity. It is my old university and I have been president of the student union there and followed its progress. At the moment there are important issues going on in Education. I am very worried about student debts, fees and accommodation.”
Dundee University already made headlines this year because of the intelligence gathering of Tayside’s police special branch on ethnic minorities. Officers attended meetings of the Dundee University Islamic Society and call on schools, businesses, homes and community centres to gather intelligence on individuals, in particular, focusing overwhelmingly on the Muslim Community.
Richard Haley, from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) states:
“Tayside SBCCU [special branch] is at present the only unit of its kind in Scotland. We fear that Tayside is being used as a testing ground for a new kind of political policing.”
According to a document released to SACC under the Freedom of Information Act, Dundee is still the only Scottish and even British University in which special branch has shown a particular obvious interest in. Tayside Police justifies its approach to search for political extremism on Dundee campus mainly with the controversial and discredited 2005 Glees/Pope report.
Craig Murray states that he will try to abolish any presence of the Special Branch at Dundee University:
“I think it is appalling. Yeah, I am going to try to persuade the university administration to keep them away. It is complete nonsense.”
This Autumn, the former diplomat presented his book “Murder in Samarkand” to present his side of the controversy after he got “voluntarily” sacked, thereby finishing 20 years of duty at the Foreign Office. Since then he is running a human rights campaign for Uzbekistan and increasingly taking a position on the infringement of civil liberties.
As the independent opposition candidate to Jack Straw in Blackburn at the 2005 UK General Election, he also started to criticise the rendition torture flights, Guantanamo Bay, the Iraq War and British foreign policy in general.