Internet freedom in question
I have long admired Craig Murray and his stand for human rights in Uzbekhistan, where he was UK ambassador, and indeed elsewhere. Sadly today his site has been pulled down as a result of legal threats by Schillings, the lawyers of Alisher Usmanov, the billionaire businessman from Uzbekhistan who is seeking to buy Arsenal football club.
The background is serious accusations made by Murray. He has said that he would welcome being sued by Usmanov but rather than settle things this way, Usmanov's lawyers have gone after Murray's host, those who have repeated his accusations and their hosts.
I will not repeat Murray's accusations but I think the truth or otherwise of them needs to be settled. As Usmanov seems reluctant to sue Murray, I suggest that the Football Association should conduct strenuous enquiries as to Usmanov's fitness to run a football club if the takeover actually takes place. Already they have been hesitant in other cases that merited investigation.
The matter of Murray's website is given attention on this site maintained by supporters of his campaign to be elected as MP for Blackburn in the last General Election.
Today the site says;
As many of our readers will know, this site was first launched in support of Craig Murray and his election campaign in 2005.
We have just heard that the company hosting Craig Murray's own web site have decided to close it after receiving threats from lawyers acting for Alisher Usmanov.
Fasthosts appear to have caved in under the pressure that has been applied to them following the posting of a number of articles on Usmanov. Craig has consistently maintained his position regarding the truth and validity of his comments regarding the Uzbek-born oligarch
I believe that this matter has implications for freedom of expression on the internet. It is also vital that the truth whatever it is, is made public. I would add that amongs other sites downed over this mealy, are those of Tim Ireland, Boris Johnson and Councillor Bob Piper who commented on an unrelated matter on this site only a week or so ago.
So please write to the F.A asking them to investigate. It may also be advisable to encourage quality newspapers to investigate without fear or favour.
UPDATE: Tim Ireland has pointed out that only him and Craig attacked Usmanov. Bob, Boris and the others were held on the same server. This actually serves to emphasis just how Usmanov's slimey lawyers are using a sledge hammer to crack a nut.
The time has come for Usmanov and his team of lawyers who seem heelbent on bringing their profession into disrepeute, to either sue over the truth of the allegations or to shut their mouths and stop using wealth as a means of combatting free speech. I call on the FA to investigate the fitness of Mr Usmanov to own a major football team. Sadly, there are other examples where they have shown no spine e.g. Manchester City!
It is imperative that newspapers committed to journalism investigate this matter as a matter of urgency. After all it is truth that maters and not the power of the wallett.