The former UK diplomat and blogger will begin an eight-month jail sentence imminently after the Supreme Court refused a petition to hear a further appeal against the judgement.
Murray was sentenced to eight months imprisonment after a judge ruled that he had unlawfully published details about the identities of female witnesses in Alex Salmond’s criminal trial on his blog last year. But he was released on bail in order to launch an appeal bid that has now failed.
It comes after the Supreme Court refused an application for permission to appeal to the highest court in the United Kingdom.
Craig Murray, a former ambassador to Uzbekistan, was sentenced to jail in May after he was found guilty of contempt of court by three senior judges.
The blogger had posted a series of articles online around the trial of Alex Salmond in March 2020 after attending two days of proceedings.
The former SNP leader was acquitted of all 13 sexual offence charges following the trial in Edinburgh last year.
Mr Murray was prosecuted after concerns were raised his writing would identify complainants in the case, something prohibited by a court order.
The material included several blogs and tweets and were written over a period of a month, remaining up and unredacted despite concerns being raised the information could lead to the identification of the women who had made complaints against Mr Salmond.
The judge, Lady Dorrian, said the blogger was “relishing” the possible disclosure of the complainers’ identities and that he had deliberately risked jigsaw identification and labelled his actions “abhorrent”.
Speaking when announcing the judgement in May, Lady Dorrian said: “It appears from the posts and articles that he was in fact relishing the task he set himself, which was essentially to allow the identities of complainers to be discerned – which he thought was in the public interest – in a way which did not attract sanction.”
“These actions create a real risk that complainers may be reluctant to come forward in future cases, particularly where the case may be high profile or likely to attract significant publicity.
“The actions strike at the heart of the fair administration of justice.
“Notwithstanding the previous character of the respondent and his health issues, we do not think we can dispose of this case other than by way of a sentence of imprisonment.”
In mitigation, Mr Murray’s lawyer Roddy Dunlop QC said the sentence was “harsh to the point of being disproportionate” and highlighted the blogger’s “impeccable character”.
Mr Dunlop said some had suggested the proceedings against Murray were “politically motivated”.
The QC said he did not make this submission himself, but “the fact remains these views are out there”.
In a press release, Mr Murray said he would surrender himself to police shortly, but would continue to fight the judgement by appealing to the European Court of Human Rights – a process that could take years.
He also continued to profess his innocence.
Mr Murray has two children aged 12 and five months and a protest against his imprisonment is planned.
Ellen Joelle Dalzell, co-ordinator of the Craig Murray Justice campaign group stated: “The sentence handed to Craig Murray not only sets legal precedent in terms of a custodial sentence for the charge of jigsaw identification, it represents an attack on free speech in general, and a tangible threat to the free reporting of legal trials in particular.”
A Very Political Prosecution
Murray continues to deny intent to breach the court order protecting their identities, and that such a breach took place. In his Blog, Murray stated this was: “A Very Political Prosecution”
Murray continues by saying: “You should also know that, as it was never my intention to identify anyone, I have pending the outcome of my trial temporarily censored those sentences in my articles complained of by the prosecution as causing jigsaw identification, even though I strongly deny that they do. Prior to receiving the indictment, I had no idea precisely what the complaint referred to. I have also censored the indictment of its references to the same material. I do not believe there was any problem with the originals; but it is a very few sentences and my lawyers rather insisted. I hope you will not feel I am too cowardly in this.
I have refused to censor those larger passages the Crown complain of where I state that the charges were a fit-up and a state sponsored conspiracy. I believe here there is a vital argument of freedom of speech, and I will not bend.” Link
For many it is clear that Murry was singled out. The state has chosen to prosecute the political dissident and whistleblower and not the mainstream media who were collectively responsible for far more identifications of complainants.
It seems justice is to prosecute Craig Murray and nobody else. Is there a single person who honestly believes that it is a coincidence that they have prosecuted the only journalist who fairly reported the defence case against this government led fit-up.
Murray’s last Tweet today:
Going Dark – This blog will be going dark for a few months. The Queen kindly paid for my dinners for over twenty years while I was a British diplomat and Ambassador, and now she is going to be paying for my dinners again. That is very kind, I thought sh https://t.co/GrXRSJK61Q— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) July 30, 2021
This blog will be going dark for a few months. The Queen kindly paid for my dinners for over twenty years while I was a British diplomat and Ambassador, and now she is going to be paying for my dinners again. That is very kind, I thought she had forgotten me. Link