A Very Political Prosecution
Craig Murray watched two days of Alex Salmond’s trial in March 2020 from the public gallery of Edinburgh’s High Court and wrote about it on his website.
Judges subsequently ruled that Murray, 62, was in contempt of court relating to material capable of identifying four of the women accusing the former SNP leader of sexual abuse.
He has since lodged an appeal against the conviction.
Sentencing the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Lady Dorrian said Murray knew there were court orders giving the women anonymity and he was “relishing” the potential disclosure of their identities.
At the virtual sentencing, Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian explained that Murray deliberately risked jigsaw identification and that revealing complainers’ identities was “abhorrent”.
She said it was “particularly so, given the enormous publicity which the case in question attracted and continues to attract”.
Murray’s offending blog posts and tweets were written over a period of a month and remained up, unredacted, despite the blogger being told they could potentially lead to the identification of women who had made complaints about Mr Salmond, who was eventually acquitted of all 13 charges.
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.”
She added: “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.”
Murray was initially given 48 hours to hand himself in to a police station, but after a challenge by his lawyer Roddy Dunlop QC, this was extended to three weeks so Murray can appeal the sentence, although he has to surrender his passport.
In his previous mitigation submission, Mr Dunlop said Murray was a man of “impeccable character” and previously “untarnished reputation”, and said it is no exaggeration to say the retired diplomat is already suffering “significant punishment” from the impact of the case.
Mr Dunlop said sending Murray to prison would be “harsh to the point of being disproportionate”, and he urged judges to deal with the matter by way of a fine.
He said: “Allowing that the finding of contempt has been ruled by this court to be justified, the question is whether, given all the circumstances, that justification extends yet further to countenancing imprisonment, to taking a retired diplomat with an exemplary background away from his wife, his 11-year-old son, and his baby.
Murry states in his blog “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.
If this was a sentence to discourage others, Job done!
“For what purpose? The response might well be “pour decourager les autres” (French for to discourage others). If that is the purpose, job done. Mr Murray’s blogging is inevitably hamstrung by the ruling itself, the decision is and has been widely publicised.
“If anyone out there thinks that playing with fire in the field of jigsaw identification is a zero sum game, their views have been disabused by the ruling this court has already made.”
Craig Murry has been an advocate of truth and honesty, his blog has helped many people understand the Greyzone of modern politics by shining a light in the dark. For many, this will be seen as an attack on freedom of expression and a warning to political Bloggers and alternative News media outlets that the state will bring down the full weight of the Law others will see comparisons with the sentencing of Tommy Robinson jailed for contempt of court after he was found guilty of interfering with the trial of a sexual grooming gang at Leeds Crown Court in May 2018.
If you would like to help Craig Murry in fighting his conviction and bringing about an appeal you can do by donating to his fighting fund here: Appeal For Defence Funds
PLEASE HELP US KEEP GOING AD-FREEHELP US GROW.
This is a "Pay as You Feel" website.
This blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.
You can have access to all of our online work for free. However if you want to support what we do, you could make a small donation to help us keep writing and staying ad-free. The choice is entirely yours.