The publication in Germany in September 2002 of a book
entitled 'Sklavin' ('Slave'), has provided a clear insight
into the continuing propaganda war that is being waged against
Sudan. The book, and the claims made within it, has also
shown the lies, duplicity and naivety at the heart of this
campaign, and those associated with it.
In September 2000, 'The Sunday Telegraph' published an
article written by Christian Lamb alleging that Mr Abdel
Mahmoud al-Koronky, a senior Sudanese diplomat who had served
as Sudan's Charge d'Affaires in London
between September 1998 and April 2000, had kept a "slave
girl" in his house. (1) The "slave girl",
Zeinab Nazer, alleged that she had been "enslaved"
following a raid on her village in the Nuba mountains. The
newspaper had received the "story" from Baroness
Cox's Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and Sudanese
opposition members. Mr al-Koronky initiated legal action
against 'The Sunday Telegraph'. It should also be noted
that 'The Sunday Telegraph' has long been hostile to Sudan,
and defended the case.
The 'Sunday Telegraph' Admits the Nazer Story is Untrue
After an extensive twenty-one month investigation of the
claims, the newspaper, part of a well-resourced international
media group, subsequently admitted the article was untrue
(See Appendix). Every one of Ms Nazer's claims have been
proven to be false. Far from being a "slave girl",
Ms Nazer had been employed as an au pair within the al-Koronky
household for three months. She arrived in Britain on 13
June 2000 with a British government-issued visa to work
for Sudanese embassy officials. She was with the al-Koronky
family from 13 June until 30 July 2000, when Mr al-Koronky
and his family left for a vacation in Sudan. Ms Nazer then
spent 41 days with another Sudanese family. During these
periods, she visited shopping centres, supermarkets and
restaurants and visited numerous other Sudanese families
and friends, including several members of the Nuba community
living within the United Kingdom. Amongst them were members
of the Sudanese political opposition. They then suggested
to her that she seek political asylum, claiming to have
been a "slave".
The story that was constructed for her meant that she had
to lie about her age. To have been abducted as a fourteen
year-old in 1994, as she claimed, she would have to have
been born in or around 1980. Inconveniently for her story,
she was born in late 1972. Her Sudanese passport (No. 248065,
issued at Omdurman on 7 September 1998) and visa application
(dated 7 May 2000) clearly state that she was born on 25
December 1972. Her father, in a statement made in August
2001, stated that she would then be "about 29 years
old". He also stated that she was not abducted from
the village in 1994 and that she was working in Khartoum
at that time. It was also documented that she sat the Intermediate
School Certificate examination at Dalanj School in 1986.
Her examination number was 10906. She passed the exam with
a total of 148 marks. Her school certificate was obtained.
It was an examination that is taken at 13/14 years of age.
Mr al-Koronky's lawyers were also
able to produce a certificate from the Shuhada and Suba
Town Municipality that she was a licensed tea seller at
the local market from 1996-1999.
Claims of Slavery in the Nuba Mountains Contradicted
Ms Nazer had claimed that dozens of children were enslaved
with her and that numerous other villages were attacked.
A stark contradiction of these claims about endemic slavery
in the Nuba mountains came from an
organisation hostile to the Khartoum government. The London-based
African Rights had established in the 1990s a "human
rights monitoring programme that covers each of the seven
districts of the region" - that is to say the Nuba
Mountains. It further stated that "[t]his programme
uses Nuba citizens as monitors; to date it is the only formal
human rights monitoring programme in Sudan". The preparations
for this monitoring and investigations programme began in
1994. The programme was set up by Alex de Waal. It is significant
to note that writing three
years later, in 1998, Mr de Waal noted that "'African
Rights' monitors in the Nuba Mountains have come across
two incidents of possible - but unconfirmed - enslavement
in two and half years". (2) He pointedly
referred to the sorts of claims made by Baroness Cox and
others of "mass enslavement in the Nuba Mountains".
Mr de Waal wrote that they have "alleged that there
is mass enslavement in the Nuba Mountains, which is
contested by Nuba human rights activists." (3) Mr de
Waal also cited an October 1995 article entitled "What
is Slavery", published in 'NAFIR: The Newsletter of
the Nuba Mountains', written by the Nuba human rights
activists to whom he had referred.
Ms Nazer had claimed mass enslavement in the Nuba mountains,
claiming that 30 children had been "enslaved"
with her alone. 'The Sunday Telegraph' article in question,
for example, echoed her claims that "government militiamen
often raid the Nuba Mountains for girls as young as seven
who are sold into slavery in the city".
In conceding that Ms Nazer's claims were false, 'The Sunday
Telegraph' acknowledged that they had "greatly wronged"
the diplomat in question, "unreservedly" withdrew
the allegations, and "sincerely and
unequivocally" apologised for the "distress and
gross hurt" the article had caused. The newspaper also
paid "very substantial" damages to Mr al-Koronky.
There is little doubt that Ms Nazer has been caught up
in the anti-Sudanese propaganda campaign, and that she has
been ruthlessly exploited by the anti-Sudan industry in
Britain and Europe. It comes at a pivotal time in the Sudanese
peace process and this sort of propaganda seeks to obstruct
reconciliation in that country, something which only serves
those hard-line factions that seek to perpetuate the conflict.
In October 2002, the Home Office rejected Ms Nazer's political
asylum claim. A senior British diplomat is reported as having
observed that Nazer had been shown to be liar. (5)
The Involvement of Baroness Cox and Christian Solidarity
In the course of the legal case, 'The Sunday Telegraph''s
Christina Lamb stated that Nazer's "slave girl"
story was brought to her by the British-based Christian
Solidarity Worldwide, a Christian fundamentalist
organisation headed by Baroness Cox. Interestingly, Cox
denied that CSW had anything to do with the story. (6) Cox's
claims with regard to Sudan have long been questioned. (7)
She has been described as "overeager or
misinformed" by reputable human rights activist and
past director of African Rights Alex de Waal, with regard
to her previous claims about slavery in Sudan. (8) Her claims
that Sudan was involved in chemical weapons have been denied
by the United Nations, the British government and UNSCOM.
(9) Cox's claims about genocide in Sudan were dismissed
by the British government. (10) As a general view on Baroness
Cox's reliability on Sudan, it is worth nothing that in
Andrew Boyd's sympathetic biography of her Dr Christopher
Besse, of Medical Emergency Relief International, a humanitarian
aid organisation with which Cox is closely associated (Dr
Besse and Baroness Cox are both trustees of Merlin), is
quoted as saying:
"She's not the most popular person in Sudan among
the humanitarian aid people. She has her enemies, and some
of them feel she is not well-enough informed. She recognizes
a bit of the picture, but not all that's going on."
For someone who is even said by her friends to only recognise
"a bit of the picture, but not all that's going on"
to be making the sort of claims she has made on Sudan is
regrettable. It has not stopped her making more blunders.
The claims made by Baroness Cox and Christian Solidarity
Worldwide to have "redeemed" tens of thousands
of Sudanese "slaves", for example, were sharply
called into question earlier this year. In February 2002,
in an unprecedented international focus, 'The Irish Times',
London's 'Independent on Sunday', 'The Washington Post'
and 'International Herald Tribune', chose to publish, or
republish, articles exposing the gullibility, fraud and
corruption at the heart of claims of "slave redemption"
in Sudan. (12) 'The Washington Post' reported that in
numerous documented instances "the slaves weren't slaves
at all, but people gathered locally and instructed to pretend
they were returning from bondage". (13) 'The Independent
on Sunday' reported that it was
able to "reveal that 'redemption' has often been a
carefully orchestrated fraud". (14) 'The Irish Times'
reported that: "According to aid workers, missionaries,
and even the rebel movement that facilitates it, slave redemption
in Sudan is often an elaborate scam." 'The Irish Times'
article also stated that in many cases "the process
is nothing more than a careful deceit, stage-managed by
corrupt officials". Baroness Cox's naivety was once
again there for all to see.
Amazingly enough, within weeks of Nazer's story having
been proved to have been false, it was recycled in the 'Sklavin'
('Slave'), a book published in German in Germany, beyond
the reach of the British legal system. And equally surprisingly,
perhaps, her name appears to have changed from Zeinab Nazer,
which appeared on all the legal documents which she signed.
She is now known as "Mende" Nazer, probably because
it sounded less Muslim than Zeinab. That would fit in more
easily with the imagery of Arab "raiders" "enslaving"
Christians in Sudan.
While she put her name to the book, it was actually written
by Damien Lewis. Along with his associate Baroness Cox,
Mr Lewis's track record on Sudan is deeply questionable.
His unreliability was exemplified by another one of his
projects, 'Death in the Air', a "documentary"
film he made in the course of 1999. (15) A 27-minute long
programme, it claimed to be an investigation of the alleged
use of chemical weapons within southern Sudan in July 1999
by Government of Sudan forces. It claimed to have produced
"compelling" evidence to substantiate this claim.
The word "chemical" was used 44 times in the programme.
"Gas" was also mentioned several times, as was
"poisoning" and "[c]ontaminated". "War
crime" was also mentioned. Damien Lewis claimed in
his programme that: "The results of the analysis by
the UK and Finnish chemical weapons agencies provides tantalising
evidence..." He further states: "Experts say the
evidence so far is compelling" and said that there
is "[a] convincing body of
evidence." Those interested in media accuracy, press
sensationalism and misinformation in general, and with regard
to Sudan in particular, can read the transcript of the programme
and compare it against the results of the tests conducted
which were central to the claims made in it. (16)
The dozens of samples he theatrically produced in the course
of his programme were subject to detailed, vigorous independent
testing by chemical weapons agencies of his choosing in
three countries: there was not the slightest trace of anything
remotely indicative of the use of chemical weapons. Even
a cursory examination of what the British and Finnish chemical
weapons agencies actually said unambiguously contradicted
the claims made in 'Death in the Air'. The Finnish laboratories
stated: "Analysis of the gloves, control soil sample
and one water sample, revealed no relevant chemicals. Analysis
of all soil samples and one water sample revealed the presence
2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT). In addition to TNT, one soil
sample contained the following degradation products of TNT:
1,8-dinitronaphtalene, 1-nitronaphtalene and 1,5-dinitronaphthalene."
(17) That is to say, no evidence of any chemical weapons.
There was, however, evidence that a conventional bomb had
The British government's chemical and biological defence
agency at Porton Down rigorously tested seventeen samples
of water, soil and shrapnel provided by Lewis for the spectrum
of known chemical agents. In the government's response,
the British Minister of State for Defence Procurement stated
that "very careful analysis of all the available evidence"
led the government to "conclude that there is no evidence
to substantiate the allegations that chemical weapons were
used in these incidents in the Sudan." More of Lewis's
samples were independently
tested in the United States. The minister also stated with
regard to these and other samples that "a separate
set of samples taken from the sites of the alleged CW attacks
in the Sudan was tested independently in the US. The results
of these tests also indicated no evidence of exposure to
CW agents. I understand that Mr Lewis also passed samples
to the Finnish institute responsible for chemical weapons
verification ("VERIFIN") and I am advised that
this analysis likewise found evidence of TNT but none for
CW agents." In fact, the British government remarked
on "the consistency of results from these three independent
sets of analysis".19 Yet despite all these tests on
his samples Mr Lewis somehow found the courage to claim
in his programme that the tests provided
"tantalising evidence...", that "[e]xperts
say the evidence so far is compelling" and that there
is "[a] convincing body of evidence." It is for
the readers of this study to draw their own conclusions
about Mr Lewis's credibility and ethics as a reporter.
Such is the reliability of the man who wrote 'Sklavin'
The Zeinab Nazer case is an important one. It provides
a telling, and carefully documented insight into the propaganda
campaign against Sudan.
Firstly, it provided the first instance where claims of
slavery in Sudan could be examined in an independent, legal
format where fact rather than propaganda would be established.
And in 'The Sunday Telegraph' the CSW
"slavery" faction had a wealthy entity willing
to bank-roll their claims. 'The Sunday Telegraph' gradually
realised that the "slavery" claims were unsustainable
and admitted that it had made a terrible mistake in publishing
them. Secondly, it showed that even when its claims of "slavery"
had been exposed as black and white falsehoods, the
anti-Sudan industry has nevertheless continued to propagate
these lies. And, tellingly, but not surprisingly, Baroness
Cox and Damien Lewis have not had sufficient courage to
repeat these lies in Britain - preferring instead to voice
them in Germany.
When confronted by the fact that Nazer's claims have been
proven to be false, Nazer campaigners are now saying that
having written the 'Sklavin' book, she would now be unpopular
in Sudan. If Ms Nazer is now in a predicament because of
her lying in an attempt to win asylum, it is one of her
own making. British or European taxpayers should not be
made to pay for her deceit.
1 "Sudan Diplomat 'Kept Slave Girl in London Home'",
'The Sunday Telegraph' (London), 17 September 2000. The
story was also carried internationally. See, for example,
"Sudan Diplomat Kept Servant Girl as Slave in London
Home: Report", News Article by Agence France Presse,
17 September 2000.
2 Alex de Waal, 'Exploiting Slavery: Human Rights and Political
Agendas in Sudan', 'New Left Review', Number 227, p.145.
3 Alex de Waal, 'Exploiting Slavery: Human Rights and Political
Agendas in Sudan', 'New Left Review', Number 227, p.145.
4 "Statement in Open Court", Case No. HQ006869,
In the High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, between
Abdel Mahmoud al-Koronky and Dominic Lawson, Christina Lamb
and The Sunday Telegraph Limited, 4 July 2002.
5 "Foreign Office Investigates Claim that Woman was
Kept as Slave by Diplomat", 'The Guardian' (London),
9 October 2002.
6 See Letters to the Editor, 'The Sunday Telegraph' (London),
1 October 2000.
7 See, for example, 'Baroness Cox and Sudan: How Reliable
a Witness?', The British-Sudanese Public Affairs Council,
London, 1999, available at www.espac.org.
8 De Waal is a director of the human rights group, Justice
Africa. He was formerly a co-director of African Rights,
and has worked for the Inter-Africa Group. He has written
several books on Africa. He is an acknowledged expert on
9 House of Lords 'Official Report', 19 March 1998, cols.
10 House of Lords 'Official Report', 10 December 1998, column
11 Andrew Boyd, 'Baroness Cox: A Voice for the Voiceless',
Lion Publishing, Oxford, 1998, p.324.
12 "The Great Slave Scam", 'The Irish Times',
23 February 2002; "Scam in Sudan - An Elaborate Hoax
Involving Fake African Slaves and Less-than-Honest Interpreters
is Duping Concerned Westerners", 'The Independent on
Sunday', 24 February 2002; "Ripping Off Slave 'Redeemers':
Rebels Exploit Westerners' Efforts to Buy Emancipation for
Sudanese", 'The Washington Post', 26 February 2002;
"Sudan Rip-Offs Over Phony Slaves", 'International
Herald Tribune', 27 February 2002. "Slave Redemption"
has also been extensively questioned. See, for example,
'The Reality of Slave Redemption', European-Sudanese Public
Affairs Council, London, March 2001; 'The Use of Intertribal
Raiding as "Slavery" Propaganda in Sudan: A Statement
of Concern to Mrs Mary Robinson, The United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights', European-Sudanese Public
Affairs Council, London, March 200, all available at http://www.espac.org.
Christian Solidarity International's Sudan activities have
long been seriously questioned. See, for example, 'Time
to Speak out on Christian Solidarity International and Sudan:
An Open Letter to Anti-Slavery International', European-Sudanese
Public Affairs Council, London, June 2001; 'Prejudiced and
Discredited: Christian Solidarity International and Sudan',
European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council, London, 2000,
available at http://www.espac.org; David Hoile, 'Sudan,
Propaganda and Distortion: Allegations of Slavery and Slavery-Related
Practices', The Sudan Foundation, London, March 1997.
13 "Ripping Off Slave 'Redeemers': Rebels Exploit Westerners'
Efforts to Buy Emancipation for Sudanese", 'The Washington
Post', 26 February 2002.
14 "Scam in Sudan - An Elaborate Hoax Involving Fake
African Slaves and Less-than-Honest Interpreters is Duping
Concerned Westerners", 'The Independent on Sunday',
24 February 2002
15 Lewis had made earlier, equally-questionable, propaganda
documentaries, including "Sudan: The Secret Story",
featuring SPLA commander John Garang and Baroness Cox alleging
16 'Sudan - Death in the Air', Phoenix Television, web-posted
at The entire transcript of the programme is available at
17 As published in 'The ASA Newsletter', Issue No. 79, 2000,
Applied Science and Analysis Inc., available at www.asanltr.com/newsletter/00-4/sudan_verifin.htm
18 For text of the British Government's Letter to Baroness
Cox Regarding the testing of Damien Lewis's samples at the
Chemical and Biological Defence Agency, Porton Down, (Reference
D/MIN(DP)/ECS/13/3/3), 5 June 2000, see 'Damien Lewis, Sudan
and 'Death in the Air': A Case Study in Irresponsible Television',
Sudanese Public Affairs Council, August 2001, available
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
Queen's Bench Division
Case No. HQ006869 BETWEEN ABDEL MAHMOUD AL-KORONKY, Claimant
and (1) DOMINIC LAWSON, (2) CHRISTINA LAMB (3) THE SUNDAY
TELEGRAPH LIMITED, Defendants
STATEMENT IN OPEN COURT
My Lord, I appear on behalf of the Claimant, Abdel Mahmoud
Al-Koronky, a Sudanese national living and working in London.
He is and was at all material times employed as a Press
Councillor by the government of the
Republic of the Sudan, working at the Sudanese Embassy,
and was the Charge d'Affaires in London between September
1998 and April 2000. My friend appears on behalf of the
Defendants, Dominic Lawson, the editor
of The Sunday Telegraph, Christina Lamb, the author of the
article that is the subject of these proceedings and The
Sunday Telegraph Limited, the publisher of The Sunday Telegraph.
On 17 September 2000 the Defendants published an article
under the heading "Sudan diplomat 'kept slave girl
in London home'". The article was also published on
the Defendant's web site. In the article, the Defendants
claimed that Zainab Nadir, said to be in the early 20's,
was in hiding in London receiving medical treatment as a
result of her treatment by the Claimant and his family,
having "escaped" from the Claimant's house to
seek political asylum. They also reported Ms Nadir's claim
to have been kept as a slave by the Claimant's family since
the age of 12.
All the defamatory claims in the article about which the
Claimant complained were totally and utterly untrue and
should never have been published. Ms Nadir was about 30
in 2000, not in her early 20's, and had worked in Sudan
between 1986 and about 1996 as a maid and then for about
4 years as a tea seller in a market in Khartoum. At no time
during this period, or any other period of her life, was
Ms Nadir a slave or kept as
a slave by any member of the Claimant's family.
Ms Nadir was then employed by the Claimant in London from
13 June to 8 September 2000, as domestic help to his wife.
At no time during this short period of employment was Ms
Nadir kept as a slave or in any way treated badly or improperly
by the Claimant or his wife. Ms Nadir also did not "escape"
from the Claimant's home. In fact, from 30 July to 8 September,
the Claimant and his family were in Sudan and Ms Nadir stayed
with another family. She then left the Claimant's home on
It was also false that, after Ms Nadir left the Claimant's
home, she received any medical treatment or was in hiding
as a result of anything done by the Claimant or his family.
The Claimant felt wounded to the heart by the Defendants
allegations. He has an established political and intellectual
record of fighting for freedom and justice. From his days
at Khartoum University in Sudan and, thereafter throughout
his career as a journalist and diplomat, he has written
extensively and spoken out at demonstrations, lectures and
in press interviews for political and civil liberties. Many
of his articles have been published in the national press
and elsewhere in Sudan. The Claimant has also appeared many
times on Sudanese national television, on Arab television
and BBC broadcasts to promote human rights.
The Defendants now acknowledge that they have greatly wronged
the Claimant. They unreservedly withdraw the allegations
complained of and sincerely apologise to the Claimant for
the distress and gross hurt he has suffered as a result
of the article. They also apologise to him for the additional
distress their attempts to defend these proceedings have
In addition to joining in this statement, as part of the
terms of settlement the Defendants have undertaken not again
to repeat the allegations complained of or any similar allegations
of the Claimant, agreed to pay the Claimant a very substantial
sum in compensation and his legal costs. With this, the
Claimant feels that his reputation is vindicated by these
proceedings in so far as possible, and he is prepared to
bring them to an end.
Solicitor for the Defendants
My Lord, I confirm what my friend has said. The Defendants
sincerely and unequivocally apologise to the Claimant for
the publication of the article and for the distress and
gross hurt it caused him. They also similarly apologise
for the subsequent distress they have caused him through
their attempts to defend this action.
Solicitor for the Claimant
My Lord, it only remains for me to ask for leave for the
record to be withdrawn.
4 July 2002.