Uzbek billionaire Usmanov censors critic and many UK MPs' blogs

Dafyd sez, "Several British MPs' personal websites and blogs (including that of the popular London mayoral candidate Boris Johnson) were forced offline earlier today when Alisher Usmanov, an Uzbek billionaire (he's the guy who bought an entire auction for £20m on Monday) complained about a blog posting by Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan. Fasthosts, Murray's ISP, pulled the plug on his blog, apparently also killing the sites of several other customers.

"Murray is the author of the fascinating "Murder in Samarkand - A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror", which - to say the least - does not portray Usmanov in a good light. Schillings, the lawyers acting on behalf of Usmanov, have already succeeded in getting Murray's host to alter some of his posts to present Usmanov in a different light. They also appear to have sent threatening emails to owners of Arsenal Football Club fan sites (Usmanov is an Arsenal shareholder), threatening libel action if any of Murray's statements appear on their sites.

"The Google cache of Murray's blog makes for some interesting reading.

Yet More Schillings Bollocks

On my article about Alisher Usmanov which so incensed his lawyers Schillings, let me ask this question. Has anybody seen an argument posted or published from any credible source to argue that what I say about Usmanov is untrue?

I ask the question because one of the edits to this log my webhost made at Schillings' behest was to say that my claim was "regarded as false by many people". I have altered that edit, because there is no justification for such a claim. I have yet to see evidence of anybody, not one solitary person, arguing that I am wrong about Usmanov, other than his lawyers. Who are these "Many people", and why are they peculiarly silent?

I am very sympathetic to my webhost having to change things for Schillings, but not to the extent of altering things to become defamatory of me!!!

(Thanks, Dafyd!)


  1. Just a slight correction. As far as I know, only one MP’s site (Boris Johnson’s) was taken down — although one of the other sites was that of a local councillor, Bob Piper.

  2. One of the sites I’ve created is an RSS aggregator of UK Political blogs. I had the phone call from somebody who claimed to be from Schillings demanding that a potentially libelous article shown on my site about Alisher Usmanov was removed. It took quite a while to work out what she was talking about and it turned out to be a copy of Craig’s article that had been picked up by my RSS robot. She also claimed to have sent me a fax and email though neither have ever turned up.

    She made the comment that it was proving very difficult to find all the copies, references and links. Particularly when Arsenal are involved so this was all over the football discussion forums. I’d been found via Google and then my Whois entry.

    The whole story.

  3. You can find the censored article reposted at Rebellion Sucks and Sabretache.

    It is quite interesting reading. I am sorry Murray’s blog is down & hope it pops up again somewhere else. He’s a character and he had jaw-dropping things to say about Uzbekistan.

  4. I don’t understand how Murray’s host can legally do this. Is there something like the DMCA in the UK that allows for potentially libelous content to be edited or censored?

    He says that he’s sympathetic to his hots *having* to change his posts. Why do they *have* to?

    That’s some scary shit, when someone with enough money or clout can silence their critics so easily.

  5. Bloggerheads got taken down as well. The offending article is at Lenin’s Tomb as well. BB should post it.

  6. It might be very interesting to ask Usmanov’s lawyers whether they have done their due diligence on him. Lawyers, amongst others are subject to the stricture of anti-money laundering legislation. Let me just say that having visited Uzbekistan and knowing of the many ‘multiple-exchange-rates’, I would be exceptionally surprised if his money was clean.

  7. Vertigo25, the British system is entirely different than the American system. There’s no First Amendment in Britain, for instance.

    Under British law, something can be held to be libelous if it causes damage, even if it’s true. In the US, truth is an absolute defense against libel action but that’s not the case in the UK.

    In the US the DMCA holds common carriers blameless for material that passes through their networks. I believe that’s not the case for the UK. So since the hosting company could be sued for true-but-damaging material posted by one of their customers, it’s hardly surprising they’d be hustling to change or delete it.

  8. I’m in the US; rich political manipulators here cannot block blogs. They can sue and seek damages, but they cannot get postings taken down. How is UK law different on this? It seems so futile — counterproductive — anyway. Such postings are instantly cached on hundreds (thousands) of servers, aren’t they. And the flap just calls attention? tyk, Ann Arbor MI US.

  9. I know UK libel law is very different from US law. I don’t know whether there are other laws involved.

  10. I can understand a web host taking down a blog in response to a legal notification of some kind, but I find it astonishing that they would actually go in and edit his text and still leave it up. If there’s a chance the post is libelous, then just take it down and archive it on your servers. Putting up an “officially-altered” version is downright scary, and smacks of a blatant attempt to re-write history. Does this sort of thing (hosts editing the posts/pages of their clients) happen often in the UK?

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