Opinion: The British Empire: A legacy of violence?
Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United Kingdom’s overseas empire has been exposed as a brutal and exploitative enterprise. The British government itself has been caught out in the “unspoken war” by the media and the public. The following article is a re-imagining of the British Empire from the perspective of the people and the people of Iraq.
A little-known story which is being quietly buried by British officials is about a British military officer who became a central figure in the Anglo-Saddam war in Iraq. On December 4, 2003, while serving in Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Kemp, a British Army officer was murdered in an apparently targeted assault. The killing has been under investigation ever since – but has gone almost completely unnoticed by the British media. The killing of a British officer in Iraq in 2003 was a crime of state in the full-blown sense.
The British military operation
I first heard about Lieutenant Colonel Kemp’s death from a retired British army officer whom I had met on a train from Baghdad to Kuwait City. This retired army officer told me that in the weeks before Lieutenant Colonel Kemp was killed, he had received an urgent request to report to the military base in Basra. This base had been used by British soldiers and was located at the southern end of the city. He arrived at the location on a Friday afternoon.
The night before, he had taken his family driving to a restaurant in Basra. The restaurant was crowded with military personnel. He watched, fascinated, as their conversations, and laughter, were punctuated by gunfire. After dinner the restaurant was deserted. He then decided to drive back to his hotel near the Baghdad airport.
At about the same time, the former military base was taken over by British army personnel. The commanding officer, Major Tim Roberts, was in charge of the base. On the very day of Kemp’s death, Tim Roberts received a phone call from his friend, Major James Fyfe. He told Tim that he was being held on suspicion for murder. He said “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I know someone who knows someone. If you don’t want any trouble with the police, it’s best if you talk to my friend. He’s a British Army officer. If you make a formal complaint, he’