back to article Police detain Tariq Aziz's cigar case

London mayor Boris Johnson has been forcibly relieved of a cigar case formerly belonging to Tariq Aziz under the Iraq (UN Sanctions) Order 2003 which demands that "anyone possessing Iraqi cultural property must give it to the police", as the BBC puts it. Johnson apparently found the case in the rubble of Aziz's bombed-out …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "I am informed by my friends in the Metropolitan Police that I am shortly to become the one and only Western politician to be brought to justice for crimes committed in Iraq."

    I'm no fan of Boris, but that statement had a lot of impact.

  2. Andraž Levstik

    This reads like a dream...

    sheesh takl about an odd day...

    Maybe he should resign first... does he have any ties with y! could do well with this:

  3. Euan


    Can't be much left of the Iraqi cultural heritage if the bottom half of a cigar case is to be treated as an historical artefact...

  4. Eric Worrall

    Looting is looting

    Pretty unacceptable of Boris to try to overturn the rule of law to avoid the inconvenience of facing prosecution for looting.

    If a Labour politician had been busted "souveniring" a memento from Iraq, Boris would have been first in line to lambaste their villainy.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whose the boss?

    MET: "Whose the boss of London?"

    Mad Boris: "Boris is the boss of London!"

    MET: "Embargo ON"

    MET: "Whose the boss of London?"

    Mad Boris: "MET is boss of London, MET is boss of London"

  6. Tim

    What a clown!

    He claimed that taking it wasn't theft in the same breath as commenting that the looters had taken if everyone else wants to do it then it must be fine for me.

    By his rationale, it means i would be within my rights to punch him in the many others seem to want to!

    Good riddance to Red Ken and welcome to, erm, darn....not sure where i am going with this.....

  7. Andrew Bolton

    We heart Boris

    "I am informed by my friends in the Metropolitan Police that I am shortly to become the one and only Western politician to be brought to justice for crimes committed in Iraq."


    Anybody who claims Boris is slow is a fool.

  8. Elmer Phud Silver badge


    "If this was the cigar case of Tariq Aziz, think of the scenes it had witnessed."

    I know that potatoes have eyes -- but cigar cases? And to think that people voted for him. Not long now before he starts talking to the big bunny rabbit that lives in his desk drawer.

    Time for an old joke?

    What time does Saddam Hussein have his dinner?

    About the same time Tariq Aziz!

    Mine's the one with old Mesopotamia relics in the pocket.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Right that's it.

    .. this country is now so riddled with ridiculous laws, officialdom and all the rest - I'm getting my coat and heading off on the 17.49 flight to Moscow. I wish to live in a free and tolerant society not the UK!

  10. Anonymous Coward

    "... that will do nothing for the security of the public..." and moral ambiguity.

    True. But then again, most investigations into petty thievery don't directly relate to the security of the public.

    That doesn't mean we let a thieving bastard off, though. Mr. Johnson may have a hard time thinking of his actions as theft, but anyone but a thieving bastard who is trying to wriggle off the hook would have no problem: it isn't his, he took it, that's stealing, QED. Perhaps he should look into the statutes regarding "stealing by finding"; it's an open-and-shut case. "Morally ambiguous", my arse.

    Of course, he isn't actually stupid (we are led to believe), so I'm sure he really understands perfectly well that what he did was stealing, and his pretence of bewilderment is merely an intellectually and morally dishonest sham. If he really is as stupid as he's pretending to be, London is doomed.

  11. Mike Crawshaw


    "If this was the cigar case of Tariq Aziz, think of the scenes it had witnessed."

    It's a fucking cigar case. It witnessed nothing, by virtue of being an inanimate object, unless it's a new breed of sentient cigar cases, which have senses and comprehension, and can helpfully open and pop a cigar out when they know you're reaching for the brandy. In which case I want one.

  12. Les Matthew
    Thumb Up

    It's nice to see our shiny new London Mayor

    is into a bit of theft by finding.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Wonderful story

    So many baddies, so few goodies. Spin it out and you'd have a great comic novel in the picaresque tradition.

    Talking of handing over "Iraqi cultural property", perhaps this is part of the pressure that is currently being brought to bear on the Iraqi government to sign an agreement to give occupation rights to over 100 bases, as well as several other sovereign rights, to the USA before Junior leaves for Paraguy - the usual two-for-the-price-of-one political stitch-up which screws up the options for the next incumbent of the White House, and has the Iraqi administration autographing its own death warrants.

  14. Lupus


    CLEARLY it's a WMD.

  15. George Capehart


    It's /*great*/ to see that politics in the UK is just as petty as it is here in the US! I don't feel so badly now . . .

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    El Loco

    Why is there nothing about the necklace of human ears that Boris Johnson often wears when he is giving press conferences? Where did they come from? Whose ears are they?

  17. Darkside
    Thumb Down

    "so morally ambiguous that I cannot quite think of it as theft"

    Could this be the "economical with the truth" of the new decade?

  18. Euan

    And a gift is a gift

    Given that Boris says he's since had a letter from Aziz's lawyers informing him that he may consider the cigar case a gift, surely that should be it - an open and shut (well if it had a lid!) case?

  19. Gordon Pryra

    The police do spout some shit

    "The Met works very closely with a number of countries, including Iraq, to recover items that are considered culturally significant."

    I notice they seem to have ignored 90% of the contents of the "British Museum"

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Can I really be....

    the only person who is utterly bewildered that nice but dime is a politician let alone the Mayor of London or a hack.

    I am still waiting for his demise,

    I am betting on death by a plague of rabid lamas introduced to London as a part of a hair brained scheme to prevent people from farting on public transport. Although I am open to other possibilities.

    The absolute worst thing about it has to be that we can no longer take the piss out of California for electing the terminator.

    Coat now, but "I'll BE BACK."

  21. Nick L

    War crimes

    So Bozza reckons theft and looting are "morally ambiguous" ... hmmm.

    Wasn't the country under martial law at the time ? And the penalty for looting under martial law is .... what ?

  22. Mike Fortey


    "Pretty unacceptable of Boris to try to overturn the rule of law"

    How exactly has he done that? He's done no such thing at all, and has handed the item over.

    Obviously, the thousands of members of the armed forces who have bought an equally minor keepsake home will all be contacted and prosecuted for looting as well, now. Or not.

    It's a box. A keepsake. A bit of anandoned junk. Yes, it's technically illegal to own it (it seems), but does it actually matter?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Re: Eric Worrall - "Looting is looting"

    Given that half a cigar case cannot really be classed as being of great cultural importance to Iraq, I hardly think that snaffling it can be counted as looting. I'm also guessing that as the offending item was found in amongst a large pile of rubble, and as it is referred to as "half a cigar case" it's state of dilapidation would probably render it uselss anyhow. In fact, one might refer to it as rubbish. By removing it, Boris has in some small way provided the Iraqi people with a free waste disposal service. Keep Iraq Tidy.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Hang on a minute

    Boris talks about the looters not leaving anything of value then half inches the ciggie case. Kettle,pot,black.

    A piece of leather of unknown ownership and blags (blogs?) about it belonging to someone famous, this should teach him to keep his gob shut.

    Paris - knows about using her gob.

  25. Rob Holmes

    A way out?

    "The 2003 UN order is enforced unless the owner of an item "can prove they were not aware that the property was illegally removed from Iraq""

    So basically if Mr. Johnson can prove he didnt know what he was doing, then he's safe?

    There isn't a jury in the land that wont buy a plea like that from him :-)

  26. Tony


    "think of the scenes it had witnessed."

    I think Boris is confusing Tariq Aziz with Bill Clinton...

  27. James Pickett
    Black Helicopters


    "In order to establish the origin and potential significance of the item"

    I wonder what they expect to add to the Mayor's explanation? Presumably, they simply don't believe anything anyone says now until they've banged them up for 42 days...

  28. James Summerson
    Thumb Up

    Thanks Boris!

    "so morally ambiguous that I cannot quite think of it as theft"

    That's the line I'm using should the RIAA etc., knock on my door...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And they wonder why we can't be bothered to vote...

    Honestly. Not so much BJ (am I allowed to call him that?) but the tossers who reported him. I don't care how much easier they make it to vote, it's hard to summon any enthusiasm for the 'democratic process' when our 'representatives' (of all parties) continue to behave like this.

  30. Ted Treen


    So, the politically-correct liberals are sooo upset that the public - for once - voted for a paid-up member of the human race (with the imperfections that implies) that they insist on bringing the full force of UN resolutions & Ian/Tony Bliar's best plods to deal with it.

    If that ain't a prime indication of what a lot of pathetic mealy-mouthed, tiny-minded tossers they are, then I'll join the esteemed Mr Hislop and declare myself to be a banana.

    Mine's the one with the assorted bootmarks/truncheon marks/cs gas stains/taser scorchmarks and bullet holes in it - but it's been there for 42 days...

  31. Ash

    Easy there, Boris...

    That there case could have the evidence UK Gov needs for ID Cards, WMD's in Iraq, genetic material from Osama Bin Laden, and the last known copy of photographic evidence of Bush Jr. engaged in kinky skat sex with a homosexual walrus.

    I don't think we'll see anything of that last one, though.

  32. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Lateral Progress in a Vertical Virtual Environment?

    "A police spokesman explained: "The Met works very closely with a number of countries, including Iraq, to recover items that are considered culturally significant. In order to establish the origin and potential significance of the item, such items must be submitted to police custody for further examination."" ..... in a Place with Dodgy Documents?

    "a defence which evidently didn't impress the "Labour stooges"" ... that is as may be but was it checked for veracity or was stooging the Met their plan too? And will it Matter tomorrow after Today's News. More Stories 4Tomorrow2

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Time to listen to the Clash

    the year was 2008, the disenfranchised children of the baby boomer's are on the streets, rioting over the difference between the cost of living and their wages, and the Mayor of London is on trial for LOOTING.

  34. peter

    and do what with it?

    Are they going to put it in the post or what? Probably keep it as evidence 'just in case'.

    Don't be surprised in 10 years time to see some Super sporting the fancy item he recovered when they were reviewing the contents of the evidence locker.

  35. Chris Taylor

    @ Eric Worrall

    That is a spectacularly dumb thing to say.

    Where is the evidence that Boris would be calling for prosecutions? During his campaign for LM did Boris hire a bunch of goons to go back through Kens history and dredge it for scandal ? (No, but Ken did that to Boris)

    Has Boris launched any prosecutions for Malfeasance in Public office against Ken or his cronies ? (No but the Allegations made in the Evening Standard could warrant investigation)

    So there is no evidence, you are just using school boy level debating tactics, "yeah but no but yeah, Boris would almost definetly, certainly, have done the same right so that makes this extraordinarily ridicolous prosection ok by me."

  36. Ferry Boat

    It's old but it's good

    When does Saddam have his lunch?

    When Tariq Aziz.

  37. pctechxp

    Oh dear oh dear major cock up

    <Boris> I err err didn't think I was stealing it your honour as it was just lying there </Boris>

  38. Dunstan Vavasour

    Iraqi Cultural Property

    The sad thing is that Iraq *was* a repository for many ancient artefacts of huge historical significance, and Saddam had largely safeguarded this heritage (while brutalising/murdering/raping, to be sure). And as he fell, the museums were broken into and catalogued artefacts were looted for little personal gain by the looters.

    Reassembling the remains of this ancient civilisation will probably never happen, a loss which, while of a lesser order, will be seen as comparable to the destruction of the Library at Alexandria. These are the cultural items we should be interested in, not some cigar case of unsavoury provenance.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Douglas Adams had a handle on this

    From 'The meaning of Liff':

    "FREMANTLE (v) To steal things not worth the bother of stealing. One steals cars, money and silver. Book matches, airline eye patches and individual pots of apricot jam are merely fremantled."

    If anyone can use this as a defense, it's BoJo.

  40. Lukin Brewer

    Police resources.

    "Just when the police are trying to focus on beating knife crime and making the streets safe, they are told they must lavish money and manpower on a preposterous investigation that will do nothing for the security of the public."

    And don't forget all those photographers who need harassing and intimidating, Boris. That can't be left to the plasticops and rentacops.

  41. H2Nick
    Black Helicopters

    Clearly, there is a duty to return the case to Iraq...

    ...& blow it to smithereens, like everything else there

    I'm glad to see our "Officer Dibbles" spending their time & our tax pounds in this productive manner.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boris was elected Brown was not

    So lets see, Brown used tax payers money to buy the Irish 42 day vote. Now they lost the mayor election and trying to get Boris on half a cigar case that the owner does not object to him having.

    So what next?

    Sir Ian Blair should resign, Brown should follow. Boris was elected, they were not.

  43. Anonymous Coward


    > So, the politically-correct liberals are sooo upset ...

    Um, no. We're the right-wing, law'n'order, bring-back-hanging and birching's-too-good-for-'em crowd. Remember "zero tolerance", the "broken windows" theory, don't let even the petty crimes go unpunished?

    We're just being consistent. From the hoodiest hoodie to the mayoriest mayor, we all have to respect the same law. Hell, it's the lefties who always want to let everyone off for everything... if we were politically-correct, we'd be trying to excuse him because of his childhood or his circumstances or blame it on society somehow!

  44. Steen Hive


    Doesn't seem like the Met has much of a case, really....

  45. Big Pete

    Elgin Marbles

    "The Met works very closely with a number of countries, including Iraq, to recover items that are considered culturally significant."

    No doubt the Elgin Marbles will be seized and returned to Greece any day now.

  46. Mr Larrington

    @Mike Crawshaw

    You haven't read Tibor Fischer's "The Collector Collector", then.

    Actually, I haven't either, since it was so deadly dull I only got to about page thirty before filing it next to "The Trial" in the Irredeemably Tedious Toss pile.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    @Mr Larrington

    I hear they are making a film based on "The Trial" it's called "The Haig".

  48. Aaron Harris

    Theft by finding

    I am just getting on the phone to the rozzers, to report those theiving b@stards that come round every 2 weeks and steal all the black bags I happened to forget were out side my house. Just think what those bags have seen!

  49. Eric Worrall

    Can I play?

    If I steal the cigar case of Boris, does that make me a thief, or does the "moral ambiguity" defense allow me to claim it was never his in the first place? Do I get off the hook if Tariq Aziz writes me a letter saying its OK?

  50. Anonymous Coward

    But is it really Tariq's

    I mean if you have been lugging this cigar case all over Iraq so that it becomes (in)famous in it's own right, are you going to leave it behind?

    Now the other thing is supposing when Boris pick this thing up and says to himself " Bugger me. That is an interesting object, I shall quietly put it in my pocket." or does he say " How interesting. here Mr policeman you better take care of this". Because in either event the object would disappear forever. What he actually does is say "Hey everybody, look what I have found". This is not the action of a guilty man.

    So I think that all these stupid bastards can sod-off.

    No I do not want a coat. I am cross.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    @But is it really Tariq's

    >"says to himself " Bugger me. That is an interesting object, I shall quietly put it in my pocket." or does he say " How interesting. here Mr policeman you better take care of this". Because in either event the object would disappear forever."

    What a fascinating line of argument. "Stealing is OK, because other people do it too".

    Oh. My mistake. It's not fascinating at all, it's just the same old same old two-wrongs-make-a-right bollocks again.

    >"No I do not want a coat."

    Anyway, you can't have your coat. I took it, because you said it's ok to steal stuff if a corrupt policeman exists anywhere in the world.

    >"I am cross."

    Hypocritical, too.

  52. Hairy

    "so morally ambiguous that I cannot quite think of it as theft"

    Yeah, and Carlsberg is so weak i cannot quite think of it as alcohol, but they'd still arrest me for drinking it on the tube...

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