Date of Publication: 7 November 2002






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. (4)

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 Worldwide

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." (11)

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.

Recycled Lies

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 of
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 gone off.

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' for Nazer.


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
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 Sudan.
9 House of Lords 'Official Report', 19 March 1998, cols. 818-820.
10 House of Lords 'Official Report', 10 December 1998, column 103.
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 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; 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 oil-related "genocide".
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
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', European
Sudanese Public Affairs Council, August 2001, available at




Queen's Bench Division



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 11 September.

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 caused.

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.


Espac Published by The European - Sudanese Public Affairs Council Copyright © David Hoile 2005
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