• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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    blogs.salon.com/0003494
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Craig Murray Gets Libel Threat from Quilliam Foundation

The Quilliam Foundation exists to counter Islamic extremism in the UK by promoting a moderate Muslim alternative. This is of course a worthy aim, although the Foundation has critics who complain that it is a establishment-backed venture that uses public money to manipulate Muslim opinion for politicized ends. One of those critics is blogger and author (and “renegade former ambassador”) Craig Murray, who is now facing the threat of a libel action from the Foundation and its directors.

Without going into too many details, Murray made an accusation about the filing of the Foundation’s accounts, and expressed his views concerning the psychological character of the Foundation’s director, Ed Husain. This led to a bizarre subterfuge from the Foundation:

Yesterday afternoon I received an unusual phone call. A man telephoned me and said that he had been following my blog for some time and was most impressed by it, and would like to know how to make a donation. I replied truly that I was extremely grateful, but the website really was just me, and therefore I did not request donations, unless for some specific expense like an election campaign.

You may be surprised to hear that people do not generally phone me up out of the blue and offer cash, so I was a bit suspicious. I did go on and suggest that if he wanted to be helpful he could buy my books, but he lost interest in the conversation very quickly in a manner that just seemed wrong compared to his initial eagerness.

So when I got a letter today from lawyers threatening libel action, I wondered if this was an attempt to get financial information on what funds they might target. So today I phoned him back. He gave his name as Ed, so I asked directly if he was Ed Husain or Ed Jagger of the Quilliam Foundation. At first he replied “I am not Ed Husain”. I had to ask again before he admitted he was indeed Ed Jagger of the Quilliam Foundation.

I put it to him that he had lied when he phoned and said he wanted to make a donation. He said that he just wanted to establish my contact details for the lawyer.

Murray has shown a willingness to give the Foundation a full right of reply, and to amend any details on his site that prove to be incorrect. His personal views about Husain’s character are not based on any pretended medical expertise or access to private information, and should be dismissed as fair comment and/or meaningless abuse. To push on with a libel case is disproportionate and wasteful: Murray has limited assets, and the Foundation is unlikely to recover its costs even if it wins. And English libel law is so inherently unfair that winning a claim proves nothing anyway.

Murray now tells us that the Foundation is targeting his webhost – a strategy which sometimes works in shutting down websites without going to court, but which never reflects well on the person who resorts to it. It was a strategy previously used against Murray by the Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov.