[Niall Bradley: Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, has had many of his articles published by in the mainstream press over the past 15 years. Over the past few weeks however, all mainstream press outlets (including the supposedly ‘liberal’ ones) that were contacted with a view to publishing this particular piece refused to do so, for unspecified reasons.]
The picture shows Matthew Gould, second from right, British Ambassador to Israel, at a meeting of the Leeds Zionist Federation that was also the opening of the Leeds Hasbarah Centre. The Leeds Zionist Federation is part of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, motto “Speaking Up for Israel.” A collection was made at the meeting to send packages to members of the Israeli Defence Force.
Remember this background, it is unusual behaviour for a diplomat, and it is important.
The six meetings between British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould and Minister of Defence Liam Fox and Adam Werritty together – only two of which were revealed by Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell in his “investigation” into Werritty’s unauthorised role in the Ministry of Defence – raise vital concerns about a secret agenda for war at the core of government, comparable to Blair’s determination to drive through a war on Iraq.
This is a detective story. It begins a few weeks ago, when the Fox-Werritty scandal was first breaking in the media. I had a contact from an old friend from my Foreign Office days. This friend had access to the Gus O’Donnell investigation. He had given a message for me to a trusted third party.
Whistleblowing in the surveillance state is a difficult activity. I left through a neighbour’s garden, not carrying a mobile phone, puffed and panted by bicycle to an unmonitored but busy stretch of road, hitched a lift much of the way, then ordered a minicab on a payphone from a country pub to my final destination, a farm far from CCTV. There the intermediary gave me the message: what really was worrying senior civil servants in the Cabinet Office was that the Fox-Werritty link related to plans involving Mossad and the British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould.
Since I became a notorious whistleblower, several of my ex-friends and contacts have used me to get out information they wanted to leak, via my blog. A good recent example was a senior friend at the UN who tipped me off in advance on the deal by which the US agreed to the Saudi attack on pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain, in return for Arab League support for the NATO attack on Libya. But this was rather different, not least in the apparent implication that our Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, was engaged in something with Werritty which went beyond official FCO policy.
I was particularly concerned by this because I knew slightly and liked Matthew Gould, from the time he wrote speeches for Robin Cook. I hoped there was nothing much in it. But then Gould’s name started to come up as professional journalists dug into the story, and reported Werritty’s funding by pro-Israeli lobby groups.
I decided that the best approach was for me to write to Matthew Gould. I did so, asking him when he had first met Werritty, how many times he had met him, and how many communications of every kind there had been between them. I received the reply that these questions would be answered in Gus O’Donnell’s report.
But Gus O’Donnell’s report in fact answered none of these questions. It only mentioned two meetings at which Fox, Gould and Werritty were all three present. It did not mention Gould-Werritty bilateral meetings and contacts at all. To an ex-Ambassador like me, there was also something very fishy about the two trilateral meetings O’Donnell did mention and his characterisation of them.
This led me to dig further, and I was shocked to find that O’Donnell was, at the most charitable interpretation, economical with the truth. In fact there were at least six Fox-Werritty-Gould meetings, not the two given by O’Donnell. Why did GOD lie? I now had no doubt that my informant had pointed me towards something very real and very important indeed.
Matthew Gould was the only British Ambassador who Fox and Werrity met together. They met him six times. Why?
The first meeting to which O’Donnell admits, took place in September 2010. O’Donnell says this was”a general discussion of international defence and security matters to enable Mr Gould better to understand MOD’s perspective.”O’Donnell says Werritty should not have been present. An FCO spokesman told me on 21 October that”Mr Gould’s meeting with the Defence Secretary was arranged by his office as part of his pre-posting briefing calls.”All Ambassadors make pre-posting briefing calls around Whitehall before taking up their job, as you would expect. But even for our most senior Ambassadors, outside the Foreign Office those calls are not at Secretary of State level. Senior officials are quite capable of explaining policy to outgoing Ambassadors; Secretaries of State have many other things to do.
For this meeting to happen at all was not routine, and Werritty’s presence made it still more strange. Why was this meeting happening? I dug further, and learnt from a senior MOD source that there were two more very strange things about this meeting, neither noted by O’Donnell. There was no private secretary or MOD official present to take note of action points, and the meeting took place not in Fox’s office, but in the MOD dining room.
O’Donnell may have been able to fox the media, but to a former Ambassador this whole meeting stunk. I bombarded the FCO with more questions, and discovered an amazing fact left out by O’Donnell. The FCO spokesman replied to me on 21 October 2011 that:”Mr Werritty was also present at an earlier meeting Mr Gould had with Dr Fox in the latter’s capacity as shadow Defence Secretary.”So Gould, Fox and Werritty had got together before Gould was Ambassador, while Fox was still in opposition and while Werritty was – what, exactly? This opened far more questions than it answered. I put them to the FCO. When, where and why had this meeting happened? We only knew it was before May 2010, when Fox took office. What was discussed? There are very strict protocols for senior officials briefing opposition front bench spokesman. Had they been followed?
The FCO refused point blank to answer any further questions. I turned to an independent-minded MP, Jeremy Corbyn, who put down a parliamentary question to William Hague. The reply quite deliberately ignored almost all of Corbyn’s question, but it did throw up an extraordinary bit of information – yet another meeting between Fox, Werritty and Gould, which had not been previously admitted.
Hague replied to Corbyn that:”Our ambassador to Israel was also invited by the former Defence Secretary to a private social engagement in summer 2010 at which Adam Werritty was present.”Getting to the truth was like drawing teeth, but the picture was building. O’Donnell had completely mischaracterised the “Briefing meeting” between Fox, Werritty and O’Donnell by hiding the fact that the three had met up at least twice before – once for a meeting when Fox was in opposition, and once for “a social engagement.” The FCO did not answer Corbyn’s question as to who else was present at this “social engagement”.
This was also key because Gould’s other meetings with Fox and Werritty were being characterised – albeit falsely – as simply routine, something Gould had to do in the course of his ambassadorial duties. But this attendance at “a private social engagement” was a voluntary act by Gould, indubitable proof that, at the least, the three were happy in each other’s company, but given that all three were very active in zionist causes, it was a definite indication of something more than that.
That furtive meeting between Fox, Werritty and Gould in the MOD dining room, deliberately held away from Fox’s office where it should have taken place, and away from the MOD officials who should have been there, now looks less like briefing and more like plotting.
My existing doubts about the second and only other meeting to which O’Donnell does admit make plain why that question is very important.
O’Donnell had said that Gould, Fox and Werritty had met on 6 February 2011 “in Tel Aviv. This was a general discussion of international affairs over a private dinner with senior Israelis. The UK Ambassador was present.”
There was something very wrong here. Any ex-Ambassador knows that any dinner with senior figures from your host country, at which the British Ambassador to that country and a British Secretary of State are both present, and at which international affairs are discussed, can never be “private”. You are always representing the UK government in that circumstance. The only explanation I could think of for O’Donnell’s astonishing description of this as a “private” dinner was that the discussion was far from being official UK policy.
I therefore asked the FCO who was at this dinner, what was discussed, and who was paying for it? I viewed the last as my trump card – if either Gould or Fox was receiving hospitality, they are obliged to declare it. To my astonishment, the FCO refused to say who was present or who paid. Corbyn’s parliamentary question also covered the issue of who was at this dinner, to which he received no reply.
Plainly something was very wrong. I therefore again asked how often Gould had met or communicated with Werritty without Fox being present. Again the FCO refused to reply. But one piece of information that had beenfound by other journalists was that, prior to the Tel Aviv dinner, Fox, Gould and Werritty had together attended the Herzilya conference in Israel. The programme of this is freely available. It is an unabashedly staunch zionist annual conference on “Israel’s security”, which makes no pretence at a balanced approach to Palestinian questions and attracts a strong US neo-conservative following. Fox, Gould and Werritty sat together at this event.
Yet again, the liar O’Donnell does not mention it.
I then learnt of yet another, a sixth meeting between Fox, Gould and Werritty. This time my infomrant was another old friend, a jewish diplomat for another country, based at an Embassy in London. They had met Gould, Fox and Werritty together at the “We believe in Israel” conference in London in May 2011. Here is a photo of Gould and Fox together at that conference.
I had no doubt about the direction this information was leading, but I now needed to go back to my original source. Sometimes the best way to hide something is to put it right under the noses of those looking for it, and on Wednesday I picked up the information in a tent at the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s cathedral.
This is the story I was given.
Matthew Gould was Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Iran, a country which Werritty frequently visited, and where Werritty claimed to have British government support for plots against Ahmadinejad. Gould worked at the British Embassy in Washington; the Fox-Werritty Atlantic Bridge fake charity was active in building links between British and American neo-conservatives and particularly ultra-zionists. Gould’s responsibilities at the Embassy included co-ordination on US policy towards Iran. The first meeting of all three, which the FCO refuses to date, probably stems from this period.
According to my source, there is a long history of contact between Gould and Werritty. The FCO refuse to give any information on Gould-Werritty meetings or communications except those meetings where Fox was present – and those have only been admitted gradually, one by one. We may not have them all even yet.
My source says that co-ordinating with Israel and the US on diplomatic preparation for an attack on Iran was the subject of all these meetings. That absolutely fits with the jobs Gould held at the relevant times. The FCO refuses to say what was discussed. My source says that, most crucially, Iran was discussed at the Tel Aviv dinner, and the others present represented Mossad. The FCO again refuses to say who was present or what was discussed.
On Wednesday 2 November it was revealed in the press that under Fox the MOD had prepared secret and detailed contingency plans for British participation in an attack on Iran.
There are very important questions here. Was Gould really discussing neo-con plans for attacking Iran with Werritty and eventually with Fox before the Conservatives were even in government? Why did O’Donnell’s report so carefully mislead on the Fox-Gould-Werritty axis? How far was the FCO aware of MOD preparations for attacking Iran? Is there a neo-con cell of senior ministers and officials, co-ordinating with Israel and the United States, and keeping their designs hidden from the Conservatives’ coalition partners?
The government could clear up these matters if it answered some of the questions it refuses to answer, even when asked formally by a member of parliament. The media have largely moved on from the Fox-Werritty affair, but have barely skimmed the surface of the key questions it raises. They relate to secrecy, democratic accountabilty and preparations to launch a war, preparations which bypass the safeguards of good government. The refusal to give straight answers to simple questions by a member of perliament strikes at the very root of our democracy.
Is this not precisely the situation we were in with Blair and Iraq? Have no lessons been learnt?
There is a further question which arises. Ever since the creation of the state of Israel, the UK had a policy of not appointing a jewish Briton as Ambassador, for fear of conflict of interest. As a similar policy of not appointing a catholic Ambassador to the Vatican. New Labour overturned both longstanding policies as discriminatory. Matthew Gould is therefore the first jewish British Ambassador to Israel.
Matthew Gould does not see his race or religion as irrelevant. He has chosen to give numerous interviews to both British and Israeli media on the subject of being a jewish ambassador, and has been at pains to be photographed by the Israeli media participating in jewish religious festivals. Israeli newspaper Haaretz described him as “Not just an ambassador who is jewish, but a jewish ambassador”. That rather peculiar phrase appears directly to indicate that the potential conflict of interest for a British ambassador in Israel has indeed arisen.
It is thus most unfortunate that it is Gould who is the only British Ambassador to have met Fox and Werritty together, who met them six times, and who now stands suspected of long term participation with them in a scheme to forward war with Iran, in cooperation with Israel. This makes it even more imperative that the FCO answers now the numerous outstanding questions about the Gould/Werritty relationship and the purpose of all those meetings with Fox.
There is no doubt that the O’Donnell report’s deceitful non-reporting of so many Fox-Gould-Werritty meetings, the FCO’s blunt refusal to list Gould-Werritty, meetings and contacts without Fox, and the refusal to say who else was present at any of these occasions, amounts to irrefutable evidence that something very important is being hidden right at the heart of government. I have no doubt that my informant is telling the truth, and the secret is the plan to attack Iran. It fits all the above facts. What else does?
Please feel free to re-use and republish this article anywhere, commercially or otherwise. It has been blocked by the mainstream media. I write regularly for the mainstream media and this is the first article of mine I have ever been unable to publish. People have risked a huge amount by leaking me information in an effort to stop the government machinery from ramping up a war with Iran. There are many good people in government who do not want to see another Iraq. Please do all you can to publish and redistribute this information.
UPDATE: A commenter has already pointed me to this bit of invaluable evidence: “My government absolutely agrees with your conception of the Iranian threat and the importance of your determination to battle it. Dealing with the Iranian threat will be a large part of my work here,” Gould said. From Israel National News. It also says that he will be trying to promote a positive atmosphere between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, but the shallowest or the deepest search shows the same picture; an entirely biased indeed fanatical zionist who must give no confidence at all to the Palestinian Authority. He must be recalled.
Craig Murray was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004.