Craig Murray looks set for another bout of legal fisticuffs with our old friends, Schillings:
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.
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.
To appreciate the full scope of what Schillings are trying to do here, you need to read the letter that was sent to Craig and his publishers, which was marked ‘Not For Publication’ – Craig has it on his blog in PDF format, but to make life easier for everyone, here’s the full text of the letter:
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
Mainstream Publishing Company (Edinburgh) Limited
7 Albany Street
BY POST AND FAX: XXXX XXX XXXX
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NOT FOR PUBLICATION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 2008 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.
Importantly, 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 International 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 other 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 11h 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.
The demand for the full text of Craig’s book in advance is quite blatantly a ‘fishing expedition’ and one that no court should entertain and as for putting Craig ‘on notice’ about his talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival, that is simply an outrageous and an unacceptable attempt at flagrant censorship.
Schillings have clearly learned nothing whatsoever from their earlier attempt to censor Craig’s comments about Alisher Usamanov and the reaction that prompted from bloggers and if they want to pick the same kind of fight, again, then I’m game… so is Tim… and it won’t be long before others join the party.
And if Schillings want to contact me about publishing their ‘Not for Publication’ letter to Craig then they an email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.