The former British ambassador was found guilty of contempt of court by a Scottish tribunal on Thursday for articles he had published about the trial of former First Minister Alex Salmond.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
Craig Murray, an ex-British ambassador and blogger, was found in contempt of court (PDF) by a tribunal in Scotland on Thursday for articles he had written that the court says helped identify accusers of former First Minister Alex Salmond of sexual abuse.
Murray faces up to two years in jail as well as a fine. The sentencing is set for May 7.
Murray was charged with contempt of court for allegedly revealing the identity of four anonymous accusers indirectly; of writing about the exclusion of two jurors in violation of a court order and of allegedly prejudicing the case in Salmond’s favor. There was no pronouncement of guilt on the latter two charges. Salmond was acquitted at trial of 13 sex charges in March 2020.
The judgement against Murray was leaked to the Scottish newspaper, The National, on Monday. On the same day Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was cleared by a cross-party inquiry of lying to Parliament about the Salmond affair. The inquiry looked into whether SNP officials, including possibly Sturgeon, conspired to arrange anonymous civil servants to level the sexual assault and attempted rape charges against Sturgeon’s political rival Salmond.
Murray reacted on Twitter that day.
The World Darkens a Little More: I May Have to Spend Some Time as a Political Prisoner – I suspect I should say as little as possible in the next few days. With apologies to The National, I have copied their story out from behind their firewall. https://t.co/y98TotFlIJ
— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) March 22, 2021
Murray was charged with contravening an order by the Crown prosecutors to stop writing about the matter. Representatives of the Crown say Murray was warned of this in January 2020 and in August 2020.
Murray was charged in April 2020 with writing two articles on his website that led to the alleged prejudice in the Salmond case and to possible “jig-saw” identification, despite a court order of anonymity, of one of the women who alleged sexual assault against Salmond. The accusers’ identities were to remain anonymous by order of Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian, who presided over both Salmond’s and Murray’s trials.
The 1981 Contempt of Court Act applies to “a publication which creates a substantial risk that the course of justice in the proceedings in question will be seriously impeded or prejudiced.”
Lady Dorrian said at a seven-minute hearing on Thursday that a report with details of the judgement would be forthcoming and would be made public. Consortium News attended the hearing by remote video access. The defense is considering an appeal.
On Wednesday Murray suspended his website with the following message:
Murray testified in his case that he had evidence of a scheme against Salmond that involved Sturgeon’s chief of staff.
Murray’s sworn testimony outlined the alleged plot to silence himself and to apparently prevent Salmond from reentering politics.
Murray’s affidavits, if true, exposed deep corruption and collusion between the SNP, Crown prosecutors, Police Scotland and parts of the mainstream media.
Citing unnamed, insider sources that he says were in a position to know, Murray testified under oath that the sex crimes allegations against Salmond were an orchestrated attempt to destroy Salmond’s political career by rivals inside the Scottish National Party.
Murray testified that after reading of the allegations against Salmond in August 2018 he “made no attempt to discover the identity of the civil servant involved, but I did make strenuous efforts to discover who had leaked the story to the media.” After conferring with his contacts he “discovered with a high degree of certainty that the leaker was Liz Lloyd, Chief of Staff to Nicola Sturgeon.”
Murray testified that he called in an article for the sacking of two civil servants found in Salmond’s judicial review to have abused the process and that “if Nicola Sturgeon failed to act against them, it might indicate that she was herself involved in the campaign of false allegation against Alex Salmond.” Sturgeon’s spokeswoman accused Salmond of “spinning false conspiracy theories” to deflect attention from the accusations, even after he was acquitted.
After this article appeared Salmond asked to meet Murray at the George Hotel in Edinburgh. “Here, for the first time, he told me that Nicola Sturgeon had been behind the process designed to generate false accusations against him,” Murray testified. He said that Salmon won his judicial review case because, “It was on the day that witnesses from Nicola Sturgeon’s private office were due to give evidence as to her own knowledge and involvement, that the Scottish Government suddenly conceded the case rather than have this evidence heard.”
Murray went on:
“Mr Salmond further told me that there was a massive police operation underway to try to get accusers to come forward against him. This was going to ludicrous lengths. He showed me an email from one woman to him, in which she stated that she had been called in and interviewed by the police because many years ago Alex Salmond had been said by another person to have been seen kissing her on the cheeks in a theatre foyer. The woman stated she had told them it was a perfectly normal greeting. She wished to warn Alex of the police fishing expedition against him. He understood that over 400 people had been interviewed by the police.”
Murray testified that he asked Salmond what the motive against him could be. “Alex replied that he did not know; perhaps it lay in King Lear. He said that he had genuinely intended to quit politics and had lined up a position as Chairman of Johnstone Press, which had fallen because of these allegations. But he had retired from the party leadership before, and then come back, and perhaps Nicola had concluded he needed a stake through the heart,” Murray said.
Murray also testified that a source who had been present at a meeting with Sturgeon and some of her ministers told him that multiple charges had been brought against Salmond so that if just one conviction could be won Salmond would be destroyed as a sexual predator.
Armed with this information, Murray testified that he was faced with a dilemma. He wrote:
“To expose that it was Nicola Sturgeon who masterminded the conspiracy against him would be a real blow to the Independence movement. But to watch a plot to imprison an innocent man potentially for the rest of his life unfold before my eyes was also horrifying. Particularly as the most cynical part of the plot, to use the court anonymity granted to accusers of sexual abuse, to disguise who was actually behind the allegations, appeared to be working.”
“The Crown can release salacious detail about attempted rape while lying naked on top of somebody in bed, and the media can echo this to the heavens. But from that moment, nobody can publish anything to contradict the Crown without being in contempt of court. It seemed to me that, in these circumstances, the Crown ought to have been a great deal more restrained in the amount of salacious detail it was making available. Certainly, there was nothing in what was happening which would contradict the information I had been given of the Crown Office being party to a political plot to destroy Salmond.”
“In or around March 2019, and from time to time over several months thereafter, I became aware of information tending to show that senior members of the SNP had sought improperly to involve themselves in the Salmond case. This included meeting with women to urge them to make or persevere with complaints to the police, coordination of complainers and their stories, liaison with the police over charges and attempts to persuade individuals other than the complainers to come forward as witnesses to allegations, which attempts were unsuccessful.”
The Crown alleged in Murray’s one-day trial on Jan. 27, conducted entirely online and observed by Consortium News, that identifying characteristics Murray provided in his articles could be pieced together to reveal the identity of four of Salmond’s nine accusers, all of whom on March 10, 2020 were ordered to remain anonymous.
The prosecutor, Alex Prentice QC, advocate depute for the Crown, told the court Murray’s writings, as well as reader comments on his site, allegedly led to a “risk of prejudice” in the Salmond case, even though he admitted prosecutors never warned the court until after the Salmond trial was over. Murray’s articles in question were published in August 2019 (“The Alex Salmond Fit-Up”) and in January 2020 (“Yes Minister Fan Fiction.”)
Lady Dorrian, who is leading the tribunal in Murray’s case, asked Prentice why the court was not informed before Slamond’s trial of the possible prejudice by Murray’s writings. “If the Crown was of the view that these articles pose a substantial risk to the proceedings it seems strange that the Crown did not take any action at that time, or even bring it to court?” Dorrian asked.
“I accept that,” Prentice replied. “There were a number of considerations, but the Lady is right and I recognize that is a factor the court can take into account in assessing this.”
Dorrian replied: “I understand that material written after the order may attract a certain shading in conjunction with an earlier article. My difficulty is that those earlier arguments could breach an order that wasn’t issued until March 10.”
“At the time it didn’t apply, but [the articles] are still available so they can be taken into account,” Prentice argued.
Lady Dorrian also challenged that putting identifying characteristics of an unnamed accuser in a search engine would bring up different results over time. Prentice maintained that Murray’s writings must be seen together, not in isolation, acting as “magnet” to draw together “needles in a haystack” to identify the anonymous accusers.
Murray’s counsel, John Scott argued before the tribunal that Murray’s response to the Crown’s letter in March was to seek press accreditation to cover the Salmond case, which he was denied. Instead Murray relied on the reporting of other journalists to write analyses of the trial. Murray had redacted the names of the anonymous accusers, Scott argued.
On the jig-saw matter, Scott said “it is clear that he was aware of the names of the complainers and his sworn evidence is he was aware of them before the court order, but that it would not be responsible journalism to name them. …If he had wanted to do what the Crown says he did he could have done so.”
On the issue of prejudicing the trial, Scott said that if the Crown was “worried about the case they ought to have brought this to the attention of the court. … It is too late after trial. … They can’t wait to see how it developed and after acquittal then say there was prejudice.”
On the matter of the juror, Scott said Murray’s article only speculated on why the jurors were excluded and did not report the actual reasons. The Crown called Murray’s speculation “bizarre and unfounded,” while at the same time saying it violated the prohibition on mentioning the actual “issues raised by the Advocate Depute” in support of removing the the jurors.
So my verdict was delayed exactly eight weeks from the hearing until today, instantly after the Holyrood and Hamilton inquiries were completed and Scots Parliament adjourned.
My sentencing is set for 7 May the day after the Parliamentary elections.
Total coincidence of course.
— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) March 25, 2021
Murray’s attorney told the court that mainstream media had reported details of the accusers. The BBC reported, for instance, in April: “The women who made the allegations against Mr Salmond included an SNP politician, a party worker and several current and former Scottish government civil servants and officials.” In his affidavit, Murray testified:
“If they genuinely thought my article might influence a jury, given they were well aware of the article and wrote to me about it, the Crown Office had an obvious public duty to act before a trial to prevent that evil. I would have happily turned up in court and argued my case. To wait until long after the trial, after it is far too late to avert the evil they purport to be concerned about, and then make that allegation against me, is plainly pointless and vindictive and, again, sinister.”
Murray may have been a Crown target for the contempt conviction because he was among few writers defending Salmond and was vindicated by Salmond’s acquittal. Murray’s writings and his affidavits also revealed the troubling evidence of a conspiracy against Salmond, possibly including Scotland’s top political leader.
Murray has been a thorn in the Establishment’s side since he blew the whistle on Britain’s acquiescence of torture in Uzbekistan in 2002. He later testified about it to a parliamentary committee.
Since then, Murray has been a fierce advocate for his friend Julian Assange, the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher, whom the United States is trying to extradite from Britain. Murray’s accounts of Assange’s extradition hearing appeared on Consortium News. Murray is also a strong supporter of Scottish independence, which the British establishment vehemently opposes.
Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former UN correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe
Craig Murray is a very brave man. I really admire the fact that he is prepared to stand up and expose the truth – it is highly likely tho’ that he will be punished for it, along with other truth-sayers like Assange…
I searched a lot of media unsuccessfully to find anything worth reading about the subject. Only walls of silence pretending that Craig Murray, historian, does not exist. Thank you for this article and dispersing, at least for a moment, this common, growing anxiety we live beneath. It seems you are one of the last journalists standing.
Of course it’s a travesty and is exactly what Julian Assange is likely to face if he is extradited to the United States.
Cancel Culture perfected! Works like a charm. What a frightening system.
The smear campaign against Salmond failed because of the good journalism practiced by Craig Murray. And so he must be made an example of. It ain’t rocket science as the old saying goes. We know how this works. And it will keep on working until those who expect ethics in government figure out a clear strategy for how to push back effectively against this ages old tactic by powerful interests.
I was especially struck by the following sentence in this article:
“Prentice maintained that Murray’s writings must be seen together, not in isolation, acting as “magnet” to draw together “needles in a haystack” to identify the anonymous accusers.”
What a truly pathetic “argument”! “Needles in a haystack” indeed! It would be more appropriate, however, to use the related metaphor, “grasping at straws,” for that is precisely what the prosecutors in the Murray case have consistently done. Realizing that there are in fact no “needles” of incriminating evidence amidst all the “hay” they have been combing for many costly months, they have instead advanced the truly cockamamie idea that if they only be allowed to collect every piece of straw that looks vaguely like a possible needle, i.e. a assembling piece of evidence, the sum of all that dross will somehow miraculously create evidence where none exists.
Or, to put it a bit differently, but keeping to the agricultural metaphors, Prentice is arguing that if he is but allowed to “cherry pick” passages from Murray’s numerous writings over the course of many months it might be possible to collect a few passages which, while they in no way explicitly reveal anyone’s identity, can yet, when collected together, be used, and indeed have been used, in manner not merely rhetorical, but downright eristical, to insinuate who some, — in fact merely one — of Salmond’s accusers might conceivably have been, at least in the minds of the keenest of hermeneutical circle squarers, those who are certain that their own speculations on the meaning and implications of the prejudicially edited and maliciously motivated “text,” must be the only correct ones.
Stranger still these grand powers of being able to use some kind of preternatural mental “magnet” to divine what lies secretly dispersed amidst the seemingly mere “chaff” of statements none of which identifies anyone, are attributed to the public in general, as if somehow the average person reading a newspaper of website has nothing better to do than scrounge through the entirety of Mr. Murray’s blog and is capable of doing so with the keen discernment of Sherlock Holmes, only in this case taking for “clues” dozens of statements which, in fact, could have been taken as cryptic references to almost anyone at all, that is, had they, the whole silly “haystack” of them, only been posted prior to the date of the Salmond trial, which they in that case allegedly “could have or would have” prejudiced, albeit probably only to some largely undetectable degree!
Now I ask you, is this any way to run any criminal justice trial? Whatever happened to the crucial and sensible standard of “proof beyond any reasonable doubt”? Mr. Murray has not been proved to have committed any crime whatsoever, he has merely been accused, or more directly, slandered, in a dozen different ways all based upon a clearly mistaken and malevolent reading of what he has written. Nor has he even been allowed to see and respond to his secret accusers, nor allowed a jury trial, nor received in general the kind of human treatment and civil liberties afforded to the accused in juridical processes which have not been, perhaps irredeemably, perverted into state stich-ups as has happened here.
The prosecution was talking about a well-known intelligence technique known as “aggregation”. It is certainly true that many secrets can be painstakingly pieced together by sufficiently well-equipped, resourceful and determined analysts. Security experts are well aware of the problems posed by aggregation, and know that the only way of preventing it is to increase secrecy to a very high level. Not even the smallest apparently irrelevant scraps can be allowed to escape, in case they provide the missing piece of a “jigsaw”.
For a civil or criminal court to insist on such perfectionist security can be justified only if the stakes are very high indeed. And here we come to the crux of the matter.
Mr Murray’s persecution by the authorities concerns what they allege he did to allow identification of the witnesses against Mr Salmond, who were granted the privilege of anonymity in return for giving evidence against him. The theory behind such anonymity is that the supposed “victims” must be protected against harrassment by the supposed “perpetrator”.
But Mr Salmond’s trial ended with his aquittal on all charges! The jury found him “not guilty” on all but one, which it found “not proven”. The latter is a Scottish option, which nevertheless counts as an aquittal – no less definite than “not guilty”.
Those who are unversed in the complexities of Scottish law might be surprised that all nine accusers (who are at least known to be women) were given the privilege of anonymity, in violation of the age-old right of an accused to confront his accusers in court. The argument is that their feelings might be hurt if their names were generally known.
What is very hard to credit is that, even after Mr Salmond was acquitted on all charges – which inevitably implied that some, at least, of the prosecution evidence was not entirely in accordance with the facts – the accusers continue to enjoy the privilege of anonymity. Regardless of the jury’s verdict, and the evidence on which it was based, it seems that they are still “victims”. See, for example, hXXps://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-52078493. Apparently that will be the case for ever and ever, amen. No one (except for those already in the know) will ever be allowed to learn which people apparently planned to send Mr Salmond to prison for things he did not do.
At first I fondly imagined that, after the aquittal, the police and prosecuting authorities would arrest those accusers and charge them with perjury.
Not only has that not happened; apparently it is anyone who dares to speculate about their identities who is in serious danger of imprisonment.
The judgement in Murray’s case says: “In Scotland, complainers in sexual offences give evidence in ‘closed court’ conditions, whereby the public are excluded from the court during the giving of their evidence.” Therefor it appears that Salmond did face his accusers in closed court. Reporters whom the court considered “bona fide” were also present. “This exclusion does not apply to bona fide journalists who remain in court to report on the proceedings as an important aspect of the public nature of criminal proceedings.”
Yes. Unfortunately, the court’s interpretation of “bona fide” journalists amounted to those employed by the mainstream media corporations – all of which follow the government line with truly doglike fidelity.
Any such definition that excludes Mr Murray cannot command the slightest respect, as he is one of the world’s outstanding journalists.
Do you know if Craig Murray claims to have seen / heard all the prosecution witnesses give evidence? ( Apologies if you have already covered this point)
He was denied press accreditation for the trial but attended one day in the public gallery and barred from it afterward. He based his articles on the trial on media reports.
Why should they have been prosecuted for perjury? I do not believe that a ‘ not guilty’ verdict means that the accusers perjured themselves. Are you seriously saying that in Scotland every time a prosecution results in an acquittal it means that the witnesses were lying ? That would be absurd.
These were not mere witnesses but the complainants and the jury did not believe their stories.
Moreover, before and during the trial – and, indeed, for some time after – the mainstream media was full of stories prejudging the issue and condemning Mr Salmond, with never a word about the defence’s case.
The legal authorities have not shown the slightest interest in those stories – many of them sprawled across front pages with rabble-rousing headlines – even though some of them contain very clear contempt of court.
It is perfectly clear that the program was for Mr Salmond to be convicted and imprisoned, with a chorus of obloquy hurled at him and absolutely no one permitted to speak up on his behalf. (Incidentally, the jury which cleared him of all charges consisted of 8 women and 5 men).
There followed mainstream media coverage like this:
NO APOLOGY Alex Salmond ducks saying sorry for ‘appalling’ behaviour with women at Holyrood inquiry
It was for all the world as if Mr Salmond had not been acquitted at all. Being a gentleman, he seems to have gone out of his way to apologise to all concerned – even if he was not necessarily at fault.
It’s no wonder that the habit of apology has gone out of fashion, and that lawyers, insurance companies and other cold-hearted worshippers of money always advise their clients never to apologise on any account.
On the wider issue of the original accusations of sexual offences by Mr Salmond, it has long been a strange ranking of moral failings that such accusations are seen as probably the worst mud anyone can fling against a politician – yet mass murder is not. Tony Blair can happily go about his profitable business, secure in the knowledge that his responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people is far less damning than one accusation of a sexual assault. The US President recently ordered the murder of 22 Iraqis in Syria, yet he’s still in office, unscathed, not even accused of the crimes he committed, basking in the uncritical adoration of Guardian journalist for simply not being a crude misogynist. Isn’t that odd?
Presidents and Prime Ministers actually gain prestige from murdering foreigners – the more, the better.
Contempt for the financial rulers is not the same as contempt for the law.
It’s clearly a travesty of justice against Murray. He’s the one who violated the anonymity of accusers, when the BBC and other mainstream media published far more such information? And the accusers were, all but one, proven to be LYING in the criminal trial against Salmond! Why should their anonymity even be protected if they were lying? They should be prosecuted!
Scotland = Banana Republic
1) I did not find Craig Murray’s reports on his blog of the contempt proceedings against him to be very impressive. He kept saying that the women who had made allegations against Alex Salmond were liars. However so far as I am aware no court has found that the women making the allegations were liars. The fact that Salmond was acquitted does not mean that they were liars.It seems to me that Craig Murray’s opinion was that they were liars. He is perfectly entitled to believe that and he is certainly entitled to say that that is his belief. We are all entitled to make our own judgments. A differrently constituted jury might have come to a different verdict. So. either when Murray described the women as liars, he failed to state that it was HIS belief that they were liars..or if I am wrong, if there was actually a court finding that they were liars ( and I really don’t think there was) , he should have been asking why they the women not been prosecuted for perjury.
2) From what I have read of the judgment, I would have thought that he could succeed on an appeal. He certainly does not seem to have prejudiced the outcome of the trial and that seems to be what the test is for making a finding of contempt ( I haven’t read all of the judgment I must admit…so I may be talking rubbish. Based on what I read, the judges seem to have ‘stretched’ the test)
“However so far as I am aware no court has found that the women making the allegations were liars”.
What about the lady who alleged that Mr Salmond tried to rape her, when witnesses testified on oath that she had not even been in the city at the time?
Of course it would have suited the authorities if such details were not known to the public – as, indeed, they might have been without Mr Murray’s brave and determined hard work.
If the women making the allegations were not lying, presumably they must have been telling the truth. Why then did the jury – 8 women and 5 men – acquit Mr Salmond?
but an acquittal does not meant that the prosecution witnesses were lying. Maybe the jury thought that they were lying, maybe they did not know who was telling the truth. In both of thoses cases, MrSalmond would have been acquitted. If you look at the cases of Rodney King and OJ Simpson, criminal prosecutions failed but civil cases won. The standard of proof is higher in a criminal case. So what if there was a conflict of evidence between the prosecution witnesses and the defence witnesses ? Dunno why you seem to believe the defence witnesses. You can’t possibly know the truth. Neither can I . All we know is that the jury acquitted and Salmon is free, which is fine. It is possible that a different jury would have conivicted. We’re all entitled to say that we thought that the accusers were liars or the opposite ( telling the truth ) regardless of what the jury found.The jury’s finding is ofcourse the only one that matters in so far as the fate of Alex Salmond is concerned.
Totally outrageous. Weaponized concerns about “victim rights”, with hypocrisy worthy of major international projects, but deployed for petty local control freakery. Bow, bow to great Nicola (libretto of Mikado is indispensable to interpret human motivations and political behavior).
Something here strikes me as a bit odd …..
Does the accused not have the right to face his accuser/s in Scottish courts of law? Are Scottish courts of law then not open to the public? I can understand the need to keep the identities of minors secret in a case of sexual molestation/rape etc – – – but adults? Adults are individually responsible for everything they do, and everything they say – is that not so in Scotland?
Not only must justice be done, but justice must also be seen to be done. …. Not so?
Odd that these women get the protection due to children.
Odd that these women get their names and reputations protected but the accused does not.
I can understand protecting all – or none, but not half the equation……
Your law – your business, I suppose but just …. weird.
If he’d murdered someone would the court protect the identities of the witnesses?
So far as I am aware in the UK persons alleging that they are victims of rape enjoy anonymity. I believe that that has been the case for many years.
It also seems odd to keep the names of the accusers under wraps—supposedly so that they won’t come under some variety of pressure—whereas it looks as though there is evidence that they were put under pressure to become accusers.
If the latter is true, then keeping their names secret so that they cannot be questioned and their stories examined actually looks more like protecting those who inveigled them into becoming accusers in the first place.
It sure looks like a similar kind of vendetta is being run against Murray that he called out being run against Salmond.
Will Salmond now come to the aid of Murray?
One certainly hopes so.
Craig Murray is a beacon of light and clarity, and Scotland is lucky to have him advocating for Scottish independence—quite apart from whether that is a desirable outcome or not (since I am not a Scot I don’t have an informed opinion on this nor a dog in the fight).
This is simply another judicial frameup, similar to what has been and is being done to Julian Assange, whose case Murray has defended to admirably in coverage of Assange’s hearings at the Old Bailey. The corrupt officials in the SNP who work for Nicola Sturgeon are the ones who should be in the dock, along with their boss. The relentless pursuit of potential accusers against Salmond is in itself evidence of the effort to build up a case where none existed. A more devastating indictment of the “MeToo” effect does not exist.
As an Englishman living in Scotland for the last 41 years, I am disappointed by your analysis of this situation which goes comletely against a lot of what I know about the Scottish National Party and its internal intrigues. Consortium is usually right on so many things most of the time, but on this I cannot accept your argument. It does not present any counter arguments nor does it argue in a balanced way.
I also cannot see the logic of somebody who purported to be the architect of the move towards Independence now putting his own personal reputation above his chosen party and gravely endangering the success of that Independence by such actions.
Many of us have long wondered what his politics actually are: he has had a regular personal “slot” for his own opinions on UK RT (Russian television), yet used the limited powers of Scottish Law (which has power over him in his own country), to publish his accusation against Sturgeon not only in England but in the main Conservative Party publication The Spectator where Scottish Law would have no authority – essentially a leak of information similar to Murray’s if viewed in terms of Scottish Law. [I would encourage you also to look at another aspect of Scottish Law: the verdict of “not proven” and its meaning, use and effect regarding the burden of proof in specific areas – one of the verdicts in the Salmond case.]
So is Salmond left-wing or right-wing. My only conclusion is that his SNP is the old “land and blood”, centre-right, populist party that became totally transformed as a new all-welcoming, inclusive, gender-equal, social democratic party under the aegis of Nicola Sturgeon.
You finally make a strangely conflated argument between Murray’s and Salmond’s backing of Independence being seen as the main target of the Westminster UK government. You cannot equate Murray’s case with Salmond’s: Murray has been a victim of the UK FO and state security “powers that be”, and I agree he is no doubt correct about that and an obvious target; but Salmond is not a power any longer in the SNP, especially among women voters and most of all the young progressive voters who were the real force behind such a close but unsuccessful result at the last independence referendum in 2014 – my own daughters would back me on that.
Whereas, the only political target of any relevance in Scotland right now is Sturgeon (closely followed by her second-in-command Swinney): the Scottish opposition even tried to destroy Swinney before going for Sturgeon, so that there would be a total power-vacuum before the national elections next month.
So, as I say, I fail to see how dividing the party from itself would make any sense, nor dividing a Scottish voting public who under the all-pervasive false-truth we live under believe no politician is telling the truth whatsoever – and all this from a person who has always claimed himself as the architect of Independence.
The unavoidable fact is that, should there be no resounding majority for the SNP Party in May, there is no chance of any Independent Scotland for many generations to come … and Murray, Salmond and their reputations will be equally irrelevant.
Basically if you want to search for any conspiracy in all of this, it most likely comes from the the English “deep state” desperate to keep its colonial-style hold over the last remains of its Little-Englander “empire” in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland … using the simple classic strategy that seldom fails – Divide and Conquer. Pathetic … but far more likely, since it uses Murray and Salmond as its unpaid, fifth-column, stalking horses … assisted by already planted moles in the seat of Scottish Government. So if it is either this, or simply a total “cock-up” on the part of every single one of the many factions in Scotland … I know where I would put my own money.
I cannot agree with you at all Mike. Under Sturgeon independence has been only used as a pawn at election time. It is happening again. They have even campaigned against Martin Keatings peoples action on section 30 where our own Lord advocate (yes the one and only) is a defendant.
Whilst Sturgeon and Salmond’s economics are not that different, (centre right to us) the difference is that Salmond was anti establishment, a thorn in the British side. Sturgeon is not, and her identity politics are the darling of The guardian , bbc etc. For proof look at the way the main stream press present the news. I was an SNP member until last year because of this sorry episode. I had overlooked their undemocratic ways, tokenism indy support, lack of radical policies, support of Nato and bombings, the right wing growth commission and bending to lobbyists. The fear of Salmond coming back into politics brought an ‘ illegal and biased inquiry’ (from the judicial review) and Woman H’s own testimony tells of her rape complaints to be used as a “vetting issue”
Salmond has only defended himself.
The fact that only Salmond supporters Mark Hirst , Craig Murray , (and one other) have been charged while numerous other journalists who have been guilty of even more , say a lot about our Lord Advocate and the prosecution service. These journalists have a free pass while even The Spectator, David Davis and Kenny McKaskill get raked over the coals. As a member of the Scottish cabinet with his legal advice to the government being called into question, his dual position is such a conflict of interest.
No doubt the unionist machine have helped but really they did not need to do much.
Mike Harland, you are on the right track with the ‘colonial-style hold’ of Scotland, but rather wander off course with your adulation of the neoliberal SNP leadership.
Despite devolution, Scotland remains controlled by what George Osborne termed ‘the arms’ of the British state in Scotland – i.e. crown and civil service. The SNP leadership is essentially a UK puppet government, run by the British crown and civil service, none of which has any intention of delivering independence. This is basically what Frantz Fanon described as the pampered elite of the dominant national party making its own “accommodation with colonialism”.
The next stage of the (decolonisation) process, according to postcolonial theory, involves the persecution of so-called ‘radical’ independence campaigners. This is what we now see, with the crown prosecutions of Salmond, Murray, and several other less well known ‘independence’ people. We also now see the creation of new national parties, of which there are three – AFI, ISP, and Scotia-Future – and they will be campaigning in May’s national election in Scotland, which some are now calling an ‘independence’ election.
These new national parties are filled with ex SNP members who have decided that the SNP is no longer committed to independence and is no longer worth supporting. Over the past couple of years the SNP has lost most of its membership, also due to the Salmond stitch-up where, in which much of the evidence still remains withheld by British state actors. The SNP now appears to have financial difficulties, was well as major internal problems, and factional infighting over non-independence matters it prioritises, such as gender and hate crime laws, and which the wider movement are less interested in.
How it all comes off in the May election is anybody’s guess, but there is already polling evidence suggesting that SNP dominance may be coming to an end as the wider independence movement loses patience with what has become a feeble independence party dominated by career politicians focused on non-independence issues and now seemingly intent on helping to prosecute bona fide independence campaigners.
Who is “many of us”? Englishmen living in Scotland?
I think Murray made his priorities clear: What would be the point of advocating for Independent Scotland if you see that those spearheading the movement are corrupt? That would be a classic conflict a la El Cid.
It doens’t require a background in rocket science or advanced philosophy or any conspiracy theorizing to understand Murray’s “logic”—that is, his decision to prioritize basic ethics over loyalty to the cause of Scottish independence, if the two should turn out to be in conflict.
“…his decision to prioritize basic ethics over loyalty to the cause of Scottish independence, if the two should turn out to be in conflict”.
As any decent, honest person must.
You clearly haven’t read the evidence from Murray.
Huh? WHO hasn’t read it? Why do you assume that readers of these comments will be able to read your mind and know to which of many different possible comments you are referring?
Indeed so Dr Fusfield but why might it bother you enough to reply? It doesn’t bother me.
I greatly enjoyed your lexical tour de force at 06:34. More please!
A “nosy” Parker
Mike, I cannot see that your lengthy comment has any bearing on the article. The Salmond trial, and the consequent persecution of Mr Murray, are purely criminal matters and have nothing to do with politics.
For what it’s worth (and I am 100% Scottish) I have never liked the SNP, and that goes in spades for its leaders. I hold no brief for Mr Salmond, and I hope that Scotland remains part of the UK. It took a lot of blood, pain, and injustice to create the Union – and that is a good reason to preserve it, not to shatter it.
I don’t much care who plotted against Mr Salmond or why; what matters to me is that Scottish justice has been brought into disrepute. Not that we should be surprised by anything after the trial of Mr Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, which Robert Black described as one of the greatest scandals in Scottish legal history.
Craig has been a stalwart supporter of Juluan Assange, and reported at length about the jury-less show trial to which Assange has been subjected.
Alex Salmond had a jury trial and went free because his accusers had clearly perjured themselves.
Craig, like Julian, was denied a jury and found guilty by a politically appointed magistrate. Now he faces two years in jail.
I am deeply ashamed of my country.
Please could you tell me exactly which of the accusers perjured themselves? On what basis do you say that Salmond’s accusers perjured themselves? Craig Murray seems to have the same view as you as he called the witnesses for the prosecution liars. He never actually gave any proper explanation as to why he called them liars. ( He pointed to a conflict of evidence, he pointed to the acquittal. That does not mean that the accusers perjured themselves). Can you back up your assertions about perjury or are your agruments the same ‘ non arguments ‘ as Murray. I have no problem with you or Murray saying that in your opinion the witnesses perjured themselves but you say they CLEARLY perjured themselves -can you explain please?
Excellent synopsis. Thank you for this, especially considering the temporary (?) removal of Craig Murray’s blog. This whole affair is extremely sinister beginning with the attempt to tar/frame/convict Alex Salmond with the multiple “MeToo” accusations. — really unbelievable coming from a western “democracy”. But then to go on and pursue a journalist for contempt (who supported) the accused, as well as another gentlemen whose identity I can’t recall, in a trial with no jury just boggles the mind. The rot and corruption in the SNP, as well as in the highest reaches of the Scottish government and civil service, is mind-boggling. It still has me shaking my head in disbelief every time I read about it.
Not surprising in a state where freedom of expression, as evinced by the Julian Assange imprisonment, is an illusion.
Julian is being held by the British state and not the Scottish. That said Scotland is beginning to look more and more like Westminster
Many of us would say that Mr Assange is being held by the US state and not the British. Like Guantanamo Bay, Belmarsh Prison is convenient as it is “offshore” and thus escapes US law.
In fact I doubt whether the US government has ever sincerely wanted Mr Assange to be extradited. It works better for them that he be held isolated in a British cell until he finally dies.
Then the blame, if any, will be firmly attached to Westminster, not Washington.
Indeed. We are told that the UK is a nation “ruled by law”, but that is a carefully-cultivated masquerade.
When the rich and powerful fall foul of the law, it can easily be brushed aside. As when Jean-Charles de Menezes was deliberately murdered by numerous British police agents shooting a dozen bullets into him at point-blank range, simply because his light brown colouring made the police think he might be an Arab Muslim. No inquiry or trial was even permitted.
The safety cut-out that politicians have provided for themselves and their friends consists of the office of public prosecutor. In case of need, the prosecutor merely goes quiet for a week or two, and then announces that “a prosecution would not be in the public interest”.
Thanks Joe. Sad state of affairs. It’s looking like any annual reunion for real journalists will have to take place in prison this year.
Thank you Joe for such a well researched and presented article on Craig Murray’s plight.
Many thanks for reporting on this unfolding Scottish tragedy, a “Scottish play” for the new millenium. It suits the MSM to simply ignore it or only report the “shit that fits”. Murray is a good, even great, man, though no doubt he’d deny the latter. These are dark days in this country.
Mr Assange and Mr Murray are the latest in a long, long line of excellent and courageous martyrs for truth. Their earliest predecessor – of whom I know – was Socrates, executed by the Athenian people for educating the sons of the rich and teaching them to value truth and honesty. (Which would obviously ruin their chances of a successful career in the family business, whether politics or banking).