The Declaration of Arbroath, and the Way Forward Now 128

This is my first ever attempt at a podcast. The family think it is hilariously boring, like a TV lecture from the 1950’s. I try to persuade them that being hilariously inept is vital to my charm, but that makes them laugh even more.

It is a day late due to technical incompetence on my part. There are a couple of weird cuts where the kittens knocked the camera over. Consensus here is that next time I should just film the kittens. Nadira has offered to help with my next effort, so maybe things will look up.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Who Paid Dani Garavelli? 316

Tortoise was sponsored to produce the Dani Garavelli attempted assassination of Alex Salmond by Tulchan Communications, the same firm that employed Ruth Davidson on £50,000 a year for 24 days of corporate lobbying – until banned by the Scottish Parliament.

Tulchan Communications is an openly Tory body. Its Chief Executive is Lord Feldman, former Chairman of the Tory Party. Its directors include Lisa Kerr, former SPAD to George Osborne. It is a part of the UK’s suave system of corruption, whereby political hacks with the inside track get paid huge bungs by firms to influence ministers in their favour on tax, contracts, regulations etc.

It is genuinely not my normal style to judge an argument by who said it or by who paid for it. Nobody can possibly accuse me of not having judged and critiqued Garavelli’s article on its own merits.  But the reaction to my critique, both from the mainstream media and from a whole slew of paid SNP staff, was to attack me for receiving subscriptions for my blog.

That led me to the train of thought that the source of funding for this blog is open – it is you, the readers, voluntarily – but why were those same people not asking who funded Ms Garavelli and why?  I might not have done anything about it until I saw a tweet from Ms Garavelli stating that her piece had been “legaled” several times. Which is expensive.

By the fine art of provocation I got more details from Ms Garavelli of just how extensive her involvement had been.

Indeed, when you think about it, that makes it even more remarkable that she managed to speak to not a single person from the defence nor reflect any of the evidence of the defence witnesses. All that work yet meeting only one side? But it also makes this very expensive. Why would a magazine nobody reads pay so very much for a completely one-sided hit-job on Alex Salmond?

Tortoise claims to have an entirely new model for “slow” journalism, hence the name, putting in the research. That fits with what Garavelli has done here, although when you have made not the slightest effort to get more than one side of a story I am not sure why that is called “journalism” as opposed to “propaganda”.

Tortoise accepts subscriptions of £100 per year, but that is a minor part of their income. Most of their income comes from corporate sponsorship, and though they do admit this on their website, they are coy about which company is behind which article. BP are among the major actors. In the case of Dani Garavelli being employed to try and destroy Alex Salmond, the initiative to commission it from Tortoise came from Tulchan Communications. Garavelli was a very safe bet for this. Her normal employer is the independence hating “Scotland on Sunday”.

Garavelli had described the massive All Under One Banner marches as “the flag-fixated organisation beloved of the Trumpian tendency” and claimed they are disliked by the “mainstream” SNP. It seems to me highly improbable that Tulchan Communications would have expended so much money without giving Tortoise a pretty strong steer that they wanted an entirely one-sided account. The propaganda purpose is of course revealed immediately by the fact that Tortoise’s pretend subscription model operates from behind a paywall, but the Salmond attack article was pushed out for free everywhere. But I do not know what Garavelli’s brief was, and Tortoise could be pretty sure what they would get from Garavelli. I must add in fairness that I have no information whether Garavelli knew that Tulchan Communications were funding Tortoise for her article. It would be nost interesting to know whether she spoke to Ruth Davison at any stage.

Tortoise is what is politely known as an “Atlanticist” organisation, like a media equivalent of the Henry Jackson Society. It was co-founded by James Harding, Cameron appointed former Head of News at the BBC, by the ex United States Ambassador to the UK and by a Jack Daniels whisky heiress. Its corporate sponsors include the Bill Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Capita and BP. Radical it ain’t.

James Harding was of course the former Murdoch editor of the Times and Head of News at the BBC, who claimed that it had been his mission to make BBC News more pro-Israel, and later claimed that he had succeeded. I think we can say he was telling the truth.

All the people at Tortoise and all the forces they represent are firmly opposed to Scottish Independence. Tulchan Communications are extremely firmly opposed to Scottish Independence. Scotland on Sunday are fanatically opposed to Scottish Independence. Dani Garavelli makes a living from ridiculing Independence supporters.

So when Alex Salmond, who lifted the SNP into government and political dominance from small beginnings, was found innocent at trial, and these ultra anti-Independence forces combined to do a hatchet job on him effectively disputing the verdict of the court, the SNP needs to unite in congratulation and stop the self-interested sniping. Now.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

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Here’s Two I Did Earlier 24

In the light of recent events, I thought I might revisit my appearances a few months ago on the Alex Salmond Show. In current circumstances people might have more time to watch.  It also helps explain why the state hates Alex Salmond.

https://youtu.be/-3dx3x05gYg

https://youtu.be/Wa1KQHmLPs8

The establishment have tried to “get” Alex SaImond in three courts.

The first was Scotland’s highest civil court, the Court of Session. They failed.

The second was Scotland’s highest criminal court, the High Court. They failed.

The third is the court of public opinion, and they are failing.

I am working on the question of who paid for Dani Garavelli’s much boosted hit piece. The answer proves to be much more interesting than I expected – by the time you watch the videos and have a bite to eat I will be close to publishing.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

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“I Have a Plan So That We Can Remain Anonymous But Have Maximum Effect” 312

These were the words, shown in court, in a text of Ms H to a co-conspirator as they launched their infamous effort to destroy Alex Salmond. The plan was to make false sexual allegations against Salmond, which would ensure the conspirators lifelong anonymity as “victims” and thus protect them against any backlash should the plan fail. They were all very powerful women, so insuring themselves was paramount. The “plan” turns out to have the added advantage that the collapse of their efforts in court in no way diminished their ability to continue their anonymous campaign to destroy Salmond.

[UPDATE: James Doleman noted down a slightly different version of this quote in court. He has “I have a plan so that we can remain anonymous but see strong repercussions”. The meaning is effectively identical, but online trolls are trying to seize on the difference as evidence of subterfuge on my part.]

The Nameless 9 have been able to issue joint statement after joint statement seeking to cast doubt upon the verdict and even to deploy the jury’s verdict as merely another instrument of their own oppression, a further example of their own martyrdom. There have been no shortage of mainsteam media journalists and of Scottish Government funded institutions, most notably Rape Crisis Scotland, willing to amplify that “Salmond is guilty really” message. It reaches its apogee in an article from Dani Garavelli.

The establishment has united in relief behind Garavelli’s article, claiming it proves that Salmond is unfit for political office. The most fascinating thing is to see unionists and Sturgeon supporters join together in lockstep in their applause. Mhairi Hunter, Kirsty Strickland, Gerry Hassan and Bella Caledonia unite in retweeting with cries of admiration alongside Paul Hutcheon, Severin Carrell, Alex Massie and Kenny Farquharson of Scotland’s laughably biased corporate media, and everybody who is anybody at the BBC.

It is particularly telling that senior SNP figures are all retweeting rapturously an article that states explicitly that Sturgeon prioritises feminism over Independence, and has no intention of moving for Independence soon, and contrasts this with the views of Alex Salmond. It is also interesting that SNP figures are retweeting an article that casually labels Independence supporters “cybernats” and indulges in lazy anti-Scots caricatures of Salmond’s supporters and the way that they speak. I realise Garavelli is herself Scots; with a serious infection of cringe.

When I published my article on the trial setting out all the facts the mainstream media has withheld, I challenged any establishment hack to publish a critique of it and show where my facts were untrue. Of course they could not even attempt to do that. What they did instead was to publish a large photo of my home in the Daily Record with an article inciting against me, endangering the safety of my wife and children.

However once the Establishment decided to rally round Ms Garavelli’s article as the “intellectual” response to the Salmond verdict, I decided it would be hypocritical of me not to subject it to the detailed critique I had challenged them to make to my own article. It is not easy to challenge the facts in Garavelli’s article, because there are virtually none. It is an exercise in emoting. It does reproduce some prosecution accusations, and simply ignores the defence evidence as though it did not exist.

One result of the exercise is that I am absolutely convinced that nobody with an elementary education can claim in good faith that they find Ms Garavelli’s arguments convincing. If I believed that any significant number of people in public life genuinely believed that Ms Garavelli is right, I would quit for ever. I would never write again, on the grounds that logic and reason have been abandoned in favour of  tribal fetish that worships maxims like “the woman must always be believed”.

I am doing this because actual truth, actual fact matters. If we allow people like Garavelli and her influential backers to subordinate truth to slogan and emotion, we are back in the Middle Ages.

No.  Those who are lauding Ms Garavelli are doing so because they wish to destroy Alex Salmond and wish to destroy Scottish Independence, and to triumphantly proclaim the victory of their narrow  brand of intolerance disguised as feminism.

The most interesting feature of the current political scene in Scotland is this conjunction of fourth wave feminism in the SNP inner circle with the desire to put off indefinitely any real attempt at Independence. On that point at least, Garavelli’s article and I are in absolute agreement. To which it is worth adding, that you would have to be living with no internet not to have noticed the lockstep of unionists  with the Sturgeon fourth wave feminist inner circle in their efforts to destroy Alex Salmond.

So let us start to analyse Garavelli’s article. Please do at least go to the original on Tortoise for a minute. You can get the sense of her article better there before seeing my critique, and I want to be fair.  Plus I do not wish to deprive them of traffic. From my initial reading, if you are a Blairite you will feel right at home on Tortoise.

Garavelli’s article in blue.

It is 3.09pm, Monday, March 23, 2020. The year of the Coronavirus, Edinburgh. The Royal Mile – the stretch of road that runs between Holyrood Palace and the Castle – is eerily quiet. Gone are the workers with their carry-out coffees. Gone, the tour groups who gaze up at the cathedral, dedicated to St Giles, the patron saint of lepers.

St Giles is patron saint of Edinburgh. He is more generally referred to as patron saint of the disabled. His full official patronages are “cripples, beggars, lepers and Edinburgh”. Dani has of course selected “leper” and then “Alex Salmond” follows in the next sentence. Subtle, eh?

The trial of Alex Salmond was about power and sex, about the future of the political party he took from the margins to centre stage, and about Scotland’s status as a nation.

The small patch of pavement in front of the city’s High Court, however, is thronged with reporters and photographers, joined by a bunch of cybernats who shout out “on yerself, Alex,” as the former First Minister, former leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), former champion of the campaign for Scottish independence thanks a jury of eight women and five men for acquitting him of 13 charges of sexual assault from nine complainants.

The term “bunch of cybernats” is a pejorative with no justification. I know a few of the small number of people referred to and they are friends of Alex and not particularly active online. Why this use of the derogatory term “cybernats”? This is simply an attempt with no basis to dismiss the right to an opinion of those who supported Alex Salmond. Note also that in contrast to Ms Garavelli’s fine English prose, the “cybernats” are the rough uncouth other, who speak Scots: “on yerself”. Ms Garavelli could not possibly look further down her nose.

To those who have witnessed him in his pomp, Salmond cuts a diminished figure. The familiar dark overcoat, tartan scarf and saltire-dotted tie are still present and correct, but the triumphalist bluster and Tigger bounce have vanished.

“Triumphalist bluster”. Again, a highly derogatory description of Salmond with no attempt to establish it in fact. Indeed it is a quality that she says was not currently on display. So why make this insulting description?

And yet, he hints at their return. “There is certain evidence I would have liked to have seen led in this trial, but for a variety of reasons, this was not possible,” he says. “Those facts will see the light.” Everyone outside the court understands what this means. It’s a threat. It’s a promise. He is saying: “This is not over. Not by a long shot.”

Alex Salmond was prevented from leading in court evidence that the accusers with others conspired against him to bring false allegations. This debar was established both at two public pre-trial hearings and on two occasions during the trial when the judge intervened to prevent defence witnesses from giving evidence.

That evidence however will be central to the judicial review hearing of the Scottish Government’s handling of the case against him. It will also be available to the parliamentary inquiry at Holyrood into the same thing. It may also be used in any civil litigation Alex Salmond may bring.

To describe Alex Salmond’s plain statement that “those facts will see the light” as a threat is ludicrous. He could not prevent them from seeing the light in the judicial review and the parliamentary inquiry even if he wished to do so. To describe this as a threat is in no sense factual and is just a blatant display of the extraordinary bias with which Ms Garavelli views events.

In another part of the country, Woman K – former civil servant and one of the complainants – is working from home when Salmond’s voice suddenly cuts into her kitchen. Instinctively, she covers her ears. “I couldn’t move, I couldn’t hear him gloating. It was a visceral reaction,” she says.

Note the complete absence of the kind of pejorative framing of Salmond – cybernats, lepers, triumphalism – when it comes to Woman K, who is immediately established as a homely person in her kitchen. Unlike Salmond’s uncouth supporters, she speaks perfect English, not Scots.  Note that unlike Salmond, Garavelli does not try to judge or negatively categorise her words, but merely accepts her description of Salmond “gloating”.

Woman K is one of two women whose complaints about Salmond prompted the original Scottish government inquiry back in early 2018, just months after the Harvey Weinstein story broke. Ever since those allegations were leaked to the Daily Record newspaper, she has been unable to stop herself trawling Twitter and Facebook to read the insults written about her and the other women. “I can’t not look for stuff. I am always there, constantly refreshing. It’s an act of self-harm,” she says.

The effort to link Salmond to Weinstein is a constant tactic of those who wish us to judge the case without any consideration of the actual evidence. Woman K may be in emotional distress about the trial if she is telling the truth about events, or possibly even greater emotional distress if she is not telling the truth. Ms Garavelli is using the alleged emotional state to arouse sympathy; it is not evidence.

This tweet, on an anonymous account, is typical. “Whore A. #Liar. Whore B. #Liar. Whore C. #Liar,” it says. “Dettol and steel wool time at the SNP,” reads another. Some online warriors have come close to breaching the women’s anonymity.

The problem with claimed tweets from anonymous accounts is that there is, by definition, no means of telling who sent them, nor why. This is an attempt to link with the meme of Salmond’s friends branded as “cybernats” at the start of the article. In fact this is not evidence at all. The anonymous tweet could very well be sent by somebody as determined as Ms Garavelli to denigrate support for the jury’s verdict. Again, zero evidential value.

Since the verdict, I have spoken to five of the nine women, all of whom were offered extra security to keep them safe. They are devastated to find themselves cast as orchestrators of a grand plot to bring down the greatest Scottish politician of his generation.

Here is an attempt to dismiss the central claim of the defence, by ridicule. Dani does not mention any facts. One fact shown in court is that five of the nine were members of the WhatsApp group concerting the allegations. That fact makes the ridicule by Gavarelli entirely inappropriate.

We can note here for the first time that she spoke to five of the accusers, but spoke to zero of the defence witnesses who refuted them. This piece fails the very first rule on fairness of Journalism 101.

“It is so hard to see people take the jury’s finding and then say that means we were all conspiring or lying,” Woman K says. “Throughout this whole thing, we’ve not been able to have a voice and now there is no way any of us can counter the terrible things that are being said about us.”

Here we come to the key flaw in Ms Garavelli’s approach. She takes it as read the women were not lying – and she makes no effort at all to look at what they alleged, and why the jury did not believe them. There were two eye witnesses, in addition to Alex Salmond, who contradicted Woman K’s allegation.

The allegation from Woman K was that, after a dinner at Stirling castle, Alex Salmond grabbed her buttock while they were having their photo taken together. The circumstance was that everybody at the dinner had their photo taken with Alex Salmond one by one, by a professional photographer, on the rampart of Stirling Castle with the Lion Rampant flying behind them.

Two witnesses, Alexander Anderson and Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh, had both been in the same small group as Woman K on the ramparts with Alex Salmond. Both had also had their photos taken, and both testified they had watched Woman K have her photo taken with Alex Salmond from just a few feet away. Neither had seen anything happen as Woman K described. They did not see Alex Salmond grab her buttock, they did not see any strange reaction or sense of discomfort in Woman K nor any change in her attitude or behaviour.  In other words, Woman K’s account was not only denied by Alex Salmond, it was refuted by two close eye witnesses.

The extraordinary thing is, that Garavelli knows all of that. She sat through the evidence of Alexander Anderson and Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh. But she hides it. She blanks it out. She keeps it secret from her readers. She censors out all facts which do not fit her narrative. Because Ms Garavelli wrote this article with the sole purpose of presenting a sympathetic account of the discredited accusers while omitting all trace of the defence evidence. Garavelli’s only intent was to defame and destroy the reputation of Alex Salmond and try to insinuate by cold, deliberate and repeated omission and misrepresentation that the verdict of the jury was a mistake.

We should also address her claim that the “women do not have a voice”. That is yet another utterly unjustified claim to victimhood. All of the women are in powerful positions. They each had their voice heard loudly and clearly in court. The jury knew what that voice was worth.

Since then, the nine powerful women who concerted to make false allegations against Alex Salmond have continued to have the loudest voice in Scotland. They issued a joint statement through Rape Crisis Scotland, which appeared on the front page of every newspaper in Scotland and was all over the BBC.  How is that “having no voice”? This article is a further example of their continuing media campaign to destroy Alex Salmond, despite having lost in both the High Court and the Court of Session.  Unlike the innocent Mr Salmond, Woman K who lied about being groped during a photoshoot, can conduct her campaign from behind a screen of state protected anonymity.

Woman F – the other original complainant, who never actively sought criminal charges – says the social media backlash is compounding her distress.

“It’s difficult not to see the verdict as a reflection on yourself,” she says. “One of the reasons I didn’t want to go [to the police] was the idea of going through an adversarial court process with the First Minister, and then having a jury say they didn’t believe you. I found that prospect unbearable.

“Obviously they are taking a decision based on the evidence as they see it and interpret it, and that’s their role and their right, but it’s difficult to see that as anything other than a stamp of failure.”

Woman F is in a different category. An incident undoubtedly happened. She was working late on the ministerial box with Alex Salmond in Bute House and a few drinks led to a cuddle on the bed, which Alex Salmond acknowledged at the time and acknowledged at the trial, ought not to have happened and was inappropriate.

She did indeed raise the issue at the time, and received a formal apology from Alex Salmond and an offer to transfer to another job at the same level. She accepted his apology and chose to continue working with him and did so happily for a substantial period. Ms Garavelli is accurate that Woman F had never wanted to go to the police. She was badgered into it once the decision was taken to eliminate Salmond, as Woman F’s story was the little grain of fact around which they sought to create their pearl.

The interesting point is that Woman F’s original complaint said nothing about Salmond attempting to grope under her underwear. Those details were added later in a series of increasingly salacious statements once the police and the Leslie Evans process started sexing up (literally) the allegation. Under pressure, I believe Woman F became confused herself as to the truth of events.

Defence Counsel in summing up used the memorable phrase that Woman F’s account had “grown arms and legs” over the years. That is undoubtedly true from successive statements, and I think that is why the jury found it did not amount to sexual assault. I do not accuse Woman F of lying or scheming.

Their experience is, up to a point, inevitable. All trials are a battle of competing narratives, and this one was no different. Prosecuting, the Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice, QC – a low-key, but forensic operator – presented the complainers as committed professionals reduced to sexual playthings by a man drunk on his own untouchability.

Defending, Gordon Jackson, QC, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and his junior Shelagh McCall, presented them as schemers: women who had either made things up, or over-reacted. A majority of the jury believed Jackson’s version. Salmond is innocent; ergo – in some eyes – the women must be guilty.

But trials, particularly sexual offence trials, are complicated affairs, with high stakes and, often, muddy waters. There tend not to be eyewitnesses, and yet the jury must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt, and so convictions are difficult to secure.

This is false equivalence. Garavelli attempts to muddy the facts of this case firstly by portraying the difficulty as that of “he said, she said” decision by the jury. But that was not the case here. In most of the accusations, the accusers were shown to be lying by other independent witnesses – whose accounts Garavelli dishonestly and systematically omits.

In this trial the stakes were higher, and the waters muddier, than most. On the verdict hung not only the fate of the man who took the SNP from the fringes to the mainstream, and the country to the brink of independence, but that of his protege-turned-adversary, Nicola Sturgeon, along with the Scottish independence movement as a whole.

If that wasn’t enough weight to bear – unfolding alongside the Weinstein case in the US – it was seen as a referendum on the #MeToo movement; a litmus test for contemporary attitudes on sexual offending in the workplace. Had #MeToo challenged public misconceptions on sex and power? Was it being used to empower women; or to victimise men?

This is Garavelli’s second mention of the entirely irrelevant Weinstein – a blatant attempt to sully Salmond by association. The repeated references to #Metoo are only of any value in clarifying Garavelli’s own mindset and explaining the incredible levels of biased selection of fact in her article.

Because actually this was not about #metoo or about Weinstein, however much Garavelli and her political allies want it to be. It was about whether Alex Salmond committed certain criminal acts. Which he did not. He is innocent.

As for the muddy waters, where to start? Salmond is innocent; but he does not come out of this unsullied. “I wish on my life the First Minister had been a better man and I wasn’t here today,” said Woman H, who claimed whilst giving evidence that he’d attempted to rape her.

Of all the witnesses, Woman H was the one most comprehensively shown to be a nasty and ill-motivated liar. Her comments on the character of Alex Salmond are just that. The jury did not believe Woman H. We will come to her later.

The attempted rape charge was dismissed along with all the others, but the broader sentiment was endorsed. Both Prentice and Jackson, prosecution and defence, quoted Woman H in their closing submissions. “I wish on my life the First Minister had been a better man and I wasn’t here today,” Jackson said. “It’s a good line. Maybe it was rehearsed. But it is true. Because if, in some ways, the former First Minister had been a better man, I wouldn’t be here, you wouldn’t be here. None of us would be here.”

Jackson was using the understood rhetorical device whereby you start off by appearing to concur with your opponents’ point and then you go on to demolish it. This is yet again an example of Garavelli’s extraordinary and quite deliberate distortion by omission in presenting the defence case, and in particular omitting in virtually its entirety the evidence of all the defence witnesses, seven of them female.

This was, in fact, the core of the defence case: that Salmond was a flawed, demanding, irascible leader, whose behaviour could be inappropriate, though never quite so inappropriate as to be criminal. Never that.

This is simply an untruth. The core of the defence case was, plain as a pikestaff, that the allegations were lies concocted in collusion as part of a conspiracy to destroy Alex Salmond politically. The defence was not “he felt her up but that is not illegal”. By failing to present the actual facts of the defence, – in which Garavelli is in lockstep with the entire rest of the state and corporate media – Garavelli is quite deliberately seeking to encompass the goal of Salmond’s political destruction through repeating the allegations, seeing the innocent verdict as merely a bump in that road.

It was an impression reinforced last weekend when footage emerged of the garrulous Jackson discussing his client loudly on the Edinburgh to Glasgow train at a time when the trial was still in progress. He referred to Salmond and the allegations, as “inappropriate, arsehole, stupid, but sexual?” He also risked being in contempt of court by mentioning two of the complainers by name, and said his strategy included trying to “put a smell” on the women.

Many had wondered at the wisdom of choosing Jackson as a defence lawyer for a high profile sexual assault case. He did secure the acquittals, but at what cost? His indiscretion has effectively “put a smell” on Salmond, and he has referred himself to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

Garavelli at least here correctly admits Jackson was saying Salmond’s behaviour was not sexual, unlike the Murdoch media’s false claim he called Alex a sex pest. The taping of Jackson is highly suspicious. That Jackson, a former Labour MP, is not Salmond’s greatest fan is unsurprising. And we do not know his motive in modulating his views to his particular interlocutor on the train. There is no “smoking gun” here, no indication of any wrong act by Salmond, despite the media excitement.

Much of the prosecution case centred on what happened in Bute House – the First Minister’s official residence in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. To those of us who sat through the two-week trial, the lay-out of the Georgian townhouse is now as familiar as our own homes. The basement where the civil servants had their offices. The first floor with its chandelier-lit drawing room, the site of many an IndyRef dinner. The second floor (part official/part private), with its adjoining sitting room and study. And the third floor with its private bedrooms – one of which was the scene of whatever happened with Woman F, on the night of 4 December, 2013. That something inappropriate took place has never been denied. Woman F received an apology from Salmond at the time and an assurance it would never happen again. Now she too – along with the other complainants – is being branded a liar on the internet.

I cannot find a great deal of evidence of Woman F being branded a liar on the internet. I would not call her such. There is no doubt that under pressure she embellished successive accounts of the incident. We have no idea what a jury thinks, but it seems highly probable they thought her first and less extreme account was the true one.

The image created of the former First Minister – an image undisputed by the defence – was of a man who could not bear to be alone. A man who worked all hours in both his public and private quarters and expected civil servants and government officials to work alongside him. A man who drank while he worked, and wanted others to drink too. A man for whom the boundaries between work and leisure, business and pleasure were hazy. Blurred lines, as they say.

This again is simply untrue. There was no evidence led he could not bear to be alone. The defence led a great deal of evidence that it was perfectly normal for the First Minister to be accompanied by Private Office staff at official functions in the evenings and to be working on the paperwork in the ministerial box with him at his home until after midnight. As a former senior civil servant myself, I can tell you for certain this is absolutely true; it is how every UK minister operates too.

There were other hints of murkiness too: allusions to machinations which, as Salmond said, could not be spelled out in court. “There is something going on here,” Jackson told the jury. “I can’t prove it, but I can smell it.”

Those of us who covered the preliminary hearings know what he was talking about: texts and emails the defence see as proof of a plot. One of them read: “We have lost the battle, but we will win the war.”

The lost battle referred to the judicial review – pursued by Salmond – which found the Scottish government’s investigation of the first two complaints had been unlawful; the war, to the criminal trial. Between the start of the judicial review and police charges being laid, eight more complainers had come forward.

The reason there were “hints of murkiness” is that the defence were barred by the court from entering the evidence of conspiracy. All they could get away with was the odd hint.

The text “We have lost the battle, but we will win the war” was from Leslie Evans, Head of the Scottish Civil Service. She sent it minutes after Scotland’s highest civil court, the Court of Session, had handed victory to Alex Salmond in a stunning ruling that the Scottish Government process of investigation into Alex Salmond was “illegitimate, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”. Something else Garavelli does not tell you.

The Scottish Government then put Police Scotland and the Crown Office up to bringing in the criminal prosecution. They have now lost that too. Salmond has been vindicated in the highest civil court in the land and in the highest criminal court in the land. But Garavelli is still out to destroy his reputation despite the verdict of both courts.

The next act in this drama – Salmond’s reckoning – will be played out in a post-coronavirus world. But the seeds are already sown. They have been scattered by those supporters who turned up at the court day after day to shout “Captain, my Captain” or to play ‘Freedom Come All Ye’ on the bagpipes.

Oh look. It is those plainly retarded, very ethnic and uncouth Salmond supporters again.

They have been scattered by the former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, MP Joanna Cherry and MSP Alex Neil, who called for resignations and fresh inquiries; and by the online warriors tweeting bile-laden tweets about women they will never know.

Actually I know some of them. Can’t speak for others. Scotland is a small country.

It is clear Salmond is on the warpath. The question is how far will he go? Is he willing to set fire to the house he built, just to watch his enemies burn?

All great dramas have a central theme. The theme for The Rise and Fall and Putative Rise of Alex Salmond is power. It runs through the unfolding events like an electric current. The lust for it, what you do with it when you acquire it, and what happens when you refuse let it go.

It was a shift in political power dynamics – from Salmond to Sturgeon post-IndyRef – that provided the local catalyst; a shift in gender power dynamics post-Weinstein, the global catalyst. It is no exaggeration to suggest that without the confluence of these two “moments”, the allegations at the centre of the court case might never have come to light.

Oh look. That’s three mentions of Weinstein now.

For the last 20 years, Salmond and Sturgeon have been the SNP’s towering figures, each to some degree responsible for the ascendancy of the other. Sturgeon – 16 years Salmond’s junior – was on the executive of the Young Scottish Nationalists and helped secure Salmond’s victory in the leadership election of 1990.

Of all the daft things Garavelli has written, this is perhaps the most risible. Anyone over the age of fifty is convulsed with laughter. The idea that 30 years ago Alex Salmond needed the support of the young Nicola Sturgeon to become SNP leader is just silly.

In return, Salmond acted as Sturgeon’s mentor as she became an SNP candidate, a list MSP and finally, MSP for Govan – a seat she took from Gordon Jackson in 2007. Back then, Jackson was combining his legal work with his job as a Labour politician. The Scottish establishment is a very small world.

The Salmond/Sturgeon relationship suffered a blip in 2004. Salmond had resigned as leader four years earlier to be replaced by John Swinney (now Deputy First Minister) and when Swinney resigned, Sturgeon threw her hat in the ring. Salmond had insisted he had no interest in being leader again. But when he realised his protege wasn’t going to win, he changed his mind.

Sturgeon was not best pleased. But they hammered out a pact at the Champany Inn in Linlithgow – the birthplace of both Salmond and Mary Queen of Scots. They would stand on a joint ticket, it was agreed, with Sturgeon as Salmond’s deputy. Then, when the time came for him to go, she would be the anointed one.

Unlike Tony Blair, Salmond kept his part of the bargain. As the IndyRef campaign gathered momentum, Sturgeon’s public profile grew and grew so that when – on 19 September, 2014 – the result was declared and Salmond resigned, there was no question over who would succeed him.

This is all broadly true, which comes as something of a shock.

Sturgeon surfed into the role of First Minister on a tide of goodwill. She owned the SNP conference in Glasgow the following spring, striding onto the stage like a coral-suited Boudicca.

It wasn’t long, however, until two facts became glaringly apparent: 1) Sturgeon had a very different style and set of priorities from Salmond and 2) Salmond had no intention of letting her get on with the job unhindered.

Sturgeon was more cautious than Salmond, less clubbable and much more interested in women’s issues. Right from the start, she put gender equality near the top of her agenda. She was particularly vocal on all-women shortlists, quotas for public boards and the eradication of sexual harassment in the workplace.

This is true. She also thought gender balanced cabinets were very important indeed, until she decided that female majority cabinets were OK, it was only male majority cabinets that were bad.

After the Weinstein story broke in October 2017, and the ripples spread out to Westminster, Holyrood and beyond, she encouraged women to come forward with complaints and sought to improve the process by which that could be done.

Oh look. That is now four mentions of Weinstein.

What Nicola Sturgeon did was to initiate with Lesley Evans a process of retroactive complaint and actively to solicit complaints specifically against Alex Salmond. A process which the Court of Session was to declare “illegal, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”. Interestingly, the Scottish Government conceded the case and threw in the towel just as Liz Lloyd, Nicola Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff, and Mr Sommers, her Principal Private Secretary, would have had to come and give evidence under oath about Nicola’s involvement in all this. Another interesting fact Garavelli somehow does not tell you.

In the meantime, Salmond was becoming a problem. Early on she had to put him in his place after he appeared to suggest he would decide the strategy for the 2015 General Election. He fought and won the seat of Gordon in that election; then fought and lost it in the snap election of 2017.

He had already made it clear he believed Sturgeon’s softly, softly strategy was misguided and he blamed her “underwhelming” campaign for the loss of seat. Now, bereft of an official role, he turned into an embarrassment. In the summer of 2017, he staged a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, opening with the words: “I promised you we’d either have Theresa May or Nicola Sturgeon, but I couldn’t make these wonderful women come….”; an off-colour comment Sturgeon generously described as a throwback to “the Benny Hill era”.

Worse still, he launched a chat show on Kremlin-backed channel RT (formerly Russia Today), a move that caused consternation amongst even his closest friends. “I think there was a moment where his own hype overtook him and he wasn’t as alert to reality as he might have been,” one told me. “He began to believe the referendum was lost because the BBC was conspiring against him, rather than because his case was weak and he didn’t have anything to say about the hardest issues.”

Garavelli claims to have found one of Alex Salmond’s “closest friends”, who believes that the arguments for Independence are weak, who does not believe that the BBC were significantly biased in the 2014 referendum campaign, and who believes it is axiomatic that it is illegitimate to appear on Russia Today. In fact, what Garavelli is telling us is that she found one of Alex Salmond’s friends who shares none of Alex Salmond’s beliefs and happens to share all of Dani Garavelli’s beliefs. As somebody once said, I think we might put a “smell” on Garivelli here.

It is here that the narrative begins to diverge. For those in the Sturgeon camp, it goes something like this. In November 2017, Mark McDonald was forced to resign as Minister for Childcare for sending “inappropriate” texts. This reinforced the Scottish government’s view that Holyrood was unlikely to be immune to allegations of historic offences. So it drew up a code of practice that allowed complaints to be brought not only against current ministers, but former ministers going back to the Scottish Parliament’s inception in 1999. It had no idea the first person to fall foul of this process would be the former First Minister.

Those in Salmond’s camp agree McDonald’s resignation was a turning point, but for different reasons. If McDonald had resigned his Holyrood seat, as well as his ministerial role, there would have been a by-election and an opportunity for Salmond to return to frontline politics. They contend the new process was designed precisely to prevent that happening.

Whatever the truth, Woman K, the civil servant who claimed he grabbed her bottom while they were having their photo taken at Stirling Castle, and Woman F, the civil servant he apologised to back in 2013, came forward.

Except the truth is not in dispute. The Court of Session found that the Scottish Government version was a lie and that Leslie Evans’ new system was “Unfair, illegitimate and tainted by apparent bias”.

A Scottish government inquiry was launched, the story leaked to the Daily Record tabloid newspaper and the allegations passed to the police. The weekend the Record story broke, Salmond held a press conference at the Champany Inn at which he described the investigation as “flawed and bereft of natural justice”.

The sexed-up allegations were passed to David Clegg of the Daily Record by Woman A, with whom Clegg had a personal history.

Woman K remembers that weekend well. “My partner happened to be away and, no word of a lie, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep or drink anything,” she says. “I just sat on Twitter and refreshed it and refreshed it, and every time I did there was something new and horrifying being said about me.”

In an apparent display of power, Salmond launched a crowd-funder to raise money to fund the judicial review. In January last year, the government finally conceded its process was flawed on the basis that the investigating officer had previously been in contact with one of the complainants.

That is an utterly tendentious statement of the multiple grounds on which the process was found to be flawed. Judith Mackinnon had actively encouraged, on behalf of Leslie Evans, both the complainants to lodge allegations against Alex Salmond, and then herself been appointed the investigating officer. The government caved to avoid Liz Lloyd and Leslie Evans having to give evidence of their role in the affair.

A jubilant Salmond called for the resignation of the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, who led the inquiry. But then, a fortnight later, another dramatic twist. The former First Minister was charged with a total of 14 offences against 10 women (one charge was later dropped). And so the stage was set for Scotland’s trial of the decade.

And what a coincidence that timing was, folks.

No-one arriving at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday, 9 March, could have doubted the importance of what was about to unfold inside.

It was a few days BSD – Before Social Distancing – and the Royal Mile was very busy. A low winter sun was bouncing off the bronze toes of philosopher David Hume who sits outside. Tourists generally rub his right foot for luck, but today they were focused on the press pack jostling for the best position from which to catch Salmond and his entourage. He didn’t disappoint, smiling as he walked in, with his sister, Gail, and former constituency office worker, Isobel Zambonini.

Inside, the reporters were jittery. They knew the trial would be a legal minefield and that the demand for seats was likely to outstrip capacity.

At around 11am, the dramatis personae began to assemble. In the dock, flanked by security officers, was Salmond, his face now rictus as the 15 members of the jury filed in. Presiding over the case was Lady Dorrian, Scotland’s second most senior judge.

Dramatis personae

The others you have met already: Prentice – a quietly-spoken schoolmaster, who derives his power from the belt you suspect he has hidden beneath his advocate’s gown; Jackson – a Toby jug of a man, who has perfected the role of bumbling old fogey; and McCall, who is too senior to be a junior, and was presumably there to provide a female foil to Jackson’s performative blokey-ness.

The prosecution case was straight-forward. The women could be divided into roughly two categories: Woman A, Woman C, Woman D and Woman K, who claimed to have been sexually assaulted in public, and Woman B, Woman F, Woman H and Woman J, who claimed to have been assaulted while working late at Bute House. Woman G fell into both categories. Woman E did not appear in court and the charge relating to her was dropped.

Four of the women – Woman B, Woman D, Woman F and Woman K – were civil servants. All the civil servants told the court they reported their experiences to colleagues or line managers at the time of the alleged incidents, which took place between 2010 and 2014.

This is true. But yet again Ms Garavelli ignores totally the evidence of the defence witnesses. You won’t find it below either. Karen Watt, line manager to Ms B and Ms D, categorically refuted the claims that they had complained to her at the time. It is simply appalling of Garavelli to state the accusations of the Nameless 9, but not mention the refutations.

What does Ms Garavelli have against Karen Watt? It is Karen Watt, not the Nameless 9, who is voiceless. You won’t find Karen Watt’s voice on the BBC or in the newspapers. Because a slogan-programmed moral vacuum like Dani Garavelli may have been in the courtroom when Karen Watt gave her evidence, but Garavelli did not hear her. Because Karen Watt does not fit the programme. Karen Watt is the Wrong Kind of Woman.

Ms Garavelli did not speak to Karen Watt. She is proud she spoke to five of the Nameless 9, but she found no time to speak to any of the seven women who were defence witnesses. Who unlike the Nameless 9 do not cower behind state-enforced anonymity, but stood brave and strong and gave their evidence in the open, risking the ridicule and contempt of liars like Garavelli for being the Wrong Kind of Women – or perhaps worse, risking that their voices really would not be heard, because people like Garavelli would decide that women who do not pile in behind the great #Weinstein #MeToo crusade do not deserve to exist. And that women who do pile in behind the great #Weinstein #MeToo crusade, even if that be by telling evil lies against some patriarchy figure, have greater moral worth and right to a hearing.

That must be what Garavelli believes. Or she could never have written this article.

Prentice set about establishing a course of conduct. As he questioned them one by one, he drew out the patterns: the alleged public assaults – from the repeated stroking of Woman D’s face to the running of hands down the curves of Woman A’s body – had a proprietorial quality. “I think the First Minister did it because he could,” Woman K told the court.

With the women who claimed to have been assaulted in Bute House, the links were even clearer. In each case, they had been working in the evening. Several were offered alcohol – Maotai, Limoncello or whisky – and there was often some pretext for the initial touching: the re-enactment of a scene from a Jack Vettriano Christmas card (Woman B), for example, or an impression of a zombie from a film (Woman J).

All of the women spoke of feeling demeaned. They explained, too, the conflict they felt over making a formal complaint or going to the police. Salmond was the most powerful man in the country. They loved their jobs, had worked hard to gain them, and believed they would lose them if they made a fuss.

“If I had complained it would have been swept under the carpet and I would have suffered in my career,” said Woman B. “I never saw anyone in a senior position in the Scottish government tackle the First Minister on his behaviour.”

The problem here is yet again Garavelli ignores all of the evidence that the incidents as described did not happen. Woman B had claimed that Salmond was grasping her wrists and seeking to kiss her (the Jack Vettriano reenactment) when Alex Bell walked in and witnessed it. Alex Bell – who it must be said detests Salmond, who very sensibly sacked him – gave evidence that they were apart when he walked in and he saw nothing wrong. Her line manager also contradicted her statement that she reported it at the time. Again Garavelli simply ignores the contrary evidence as though it did not exist. The jury did not ignore it.

The fact that the alleged incidents took place in the run-up to the Independence Referendum in 2014 added extra pressure, the women said. Not only was it their job to protect the First Minister’s reputation, but the whole democratic process was at stake. “Everything we did which was outward facing had potential ramifications which went beyond personal experience,” said Woman F, who talked of a “real loyalty” to Salmond.

Some online commentators have suggested there was no corroboration of the women’s testimony. This is untrue. One civil servant colleague told the court he had witnessed the First Minister reaching out to touch the hair and face of Woman D in a lift. He had instinctively brushed Salmond’s hand away, saying something like: “Behave yourself.”

Some online commentators may indeed have suggested that. I myself did report the incident of the attempted touch of the hair in a lift, in almost exactly the terms that Ms Garavelli reported it, because it is indeed what was said in court. You see, unlike Ms Garavelli, I took the novel approach of reporting both the prosecution and the defence evidence. Because I also reported, which Ms Garavelli does not, the evidence of Lorraine Kaye.

Lorraine Kaye is another of those Wrong Type of Women who Garavelli  finds beneath her notice. Kaye gave evidence that she herself had pulled at Woman D’s hair because it was a standing joke in the office to straighten out Ms D’s remarkable ringlets, a joke Ms D enjoyed. Here again, we honest people have to take into account the evidence of Karen Watt.

Karen Watt said that the “civil servant colleague” Garavelli coyly refers to, Donald Cameron, told her about the incident of nearly touching the hair in the lift. She accordingly asked Woman D if she wished to make a complaint. Woman D had responded definitely not, she thought nothing of it. Which given it was the hair on her head in question and not her pubic hair, many of us might find a rational response. How we all came to be listening to this utter nonsense in the High Court of Edinburgh many years later is something you will have to ask our corrupt police and law officers.

The one clue is that Donald Cameron, the man who had tried to make a mountain out of this molehill, was the head of Leslie Evans private office. But even Cameron was forced to admit under cross-examination that there was no policy that Salmond should not work alone with women in Bute House. Which brings us to Garavelli’s next paragraph…

Three other civil servants testified that – after woman F and woman G’s experiences – staff rotas were changed so no woman would be alone in Bute House with the First Minister after 9pm (although others denied this was the case). Colleagues and relatives also testified to Women F and Women G’s state of mind immediately afterwards, describing them variously as “traumatised”, “pale” and “upset.”

I am slightly confused by this claim. The court saw evidence that Woman F went and did some more work down in the office at Bute House after the alleged attempted rape, and then filed her overtime claim before going home. Woman G had indeed been upset. She had joined the civil service from the SNP,  using what seemed to me throughout the trial a rather dubious revolving door behind the two. She had then been upset to be seen at a function she viewed as blurring that line, possibly to the detriment of her career. Salmond testified it was because she was upset he had put his arm round her to comfort her (he had known her for years).

The staff rotas claim was demolished by Donald Cameron, Lorraine Kaye, Karen Watt and others who stated there never was any such policy. Kaye and Watt were the principal civil servants who were very frequently with Salmond at Bute house working late at night throughout this period. Neither had ever heard of any such policy and the fact of their actual working there belied its existence.

Salmond’s defence was pick and mix. Some of the encounters he admitted, but insisted they were consensual; others, he insisted, were complete fabrications.

Like many trials, much of the evidence was He said, She said. Or rather He said, She said, She said, She said.

A rehearsed bit of writing to reinforce the meme that this trial was Salmond’s word against a succession of women. “He said, She said, She said, She said.”  Garavelli does this precisely to preserve this entirely false idea of the trial. This is why the mainstream media have universally ignored or massively under-reported the factual defence evidence. In fact, in the large majority of instances, it was evidence from a variety of defence witnesses, mainly female, against the uncorroborated word of the accuser.

Woman F – the civil servant to whom Salmond apologised – said she had to fight him off as he forced his hands under her clothing. He described the encounter as a “sleepy cuddle”.

Again and again the article returns to this one incident as it is the only one of any substance, the one on which the whole creaky structure was based. As stated, the bit about forcing his hands under her clothing was an addition years later. There was a cuddle, for which he apologised. The jury believed his account backed by the actual treatment of the incident at the time.

Woman B said he seized her wrists and tried to kiss her while attempting to re-enact the Vettriano Christmas card. He said it was just high-jinks. “At the time it wasn’t regarded as it is being presented now,” he said.

Woman B also said Alex Bell entered during the incident, which Alex Bell said did not happen. And said she reported it to her line manager, which her line manager said did not happen. Alex did state he had indeed grabbed her wrists and suggested they re-enact the Vettriano painting, that she said “Don’t be daft” and he immediately let go. Context is everything here. It was Christmas. The Vettriano painting, which was in the room, showed a kiss under the mistletoe.

Woman G said he had put his arm around her and tried to kiss her. He said he was comforting her because she had been upset.

Fair description.

Woman A said he had touched her buttocks and her breasts. He said to have done so in a public space would have been “insane.” He said she was at the centre of the plot to bring him down.

Woman A is indeed at the centre of the plot, and right at the centre of Scottish government. She is going to feature a lot as documents kept from the court become public in new processes.

Her claims of assault in very public situations were outlandish. Including on the dance floor of a Christmas Party, when everyone was sat around the dance floor at tables eating; and in the Glasgow East by-election, where Salmond was constantly accompanied by minders. The jury dismissed them.

Woman H said Salmond assaulted her twice in Bute House. The first time, she said, he kissed her and put his hands under her clothes; the second, he restrained her, removed both their clothes and climbed on top of her naked and aroused.

Woman H said the first incident had taken place in May 2014. He said there was no date in May 2014 for which he didn’t have an alibi, and used a combination of a diary and a calendar in an attempt to prove it. She said the attempted rape took place on June 13 after an IndyRef dinner; he said she hadn’t been at that dinner.

Jackson also suggested she was seeking revenge for the former First Minister’s refusal to back her in a political project. Weirdly, Salmond admitted a consensual encounter with Woman H – a “footer”, a bit of “how’s your father,” as Jackson put it – on an occasion which did not appear on the indictment.

It is interesting that only now does Garavelli introduce Woman H, the weakest link in her  chain. Yet Ms H was longer on the witness stand at the trial than anybody, including Alex Salmond. Woman H was the woman who texted that she had a plan to bring down Salmond and remain anonymous. And of all the accusers, Woman H was the one most categorically shown to be an absolute, inescapable liar. Garavelli gives you no detail of that at all.

Here is what Garavelli dishonestly hides from you.

Woman H claimed that Salmond attempted to rape her after a small dinner with Alex Salmond, an actor (the publication of whose name the court banned), and Ms Samantha Barber, a company director. Salmond gave evidence that the entire story was completely untrue and the woman had not even been there that evening. Samantha Barber gave evidence that she knows woman H well, had been a guest at her wedding reception, and that woman H had phoned and asked her to attend the dinner with the specific explanation she could not be there herself. Indeed, affirmed Ms Barber, woman H definitely was not there. She had given that firm evidence to the police.

Against that, there was a vague statement by the actor that he believed a fourth person had been present, but he described her hair colour as different to woman H, described her as wearing jeans when woman H said she was wearing a dress, and did not say the woman had her arm in a sling – which it was established woman H’s arm was at that time. One arm in a sling would be pretty debilitating in eating and the sort of detail about a fellow diner at a very small dinner party you would likely remember.

There was more. Woman H had claimed to have had communications on that night with Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh on the subject of attending an international football match with Alex Salmond the next day. Never has a claim been so utterly demolished in court. Tasmina testified thhat her father had died that very day and she was dashing down to London organising the funeral. Tasmina was in tears in the witness box. Garavelli is big on emotion. But she does not report this. Because it was the Wrong kind of Emotion from the Wrong Kind of Woman.

Given the very firm statement from Samantha Barber, her friend, that woman H was definitely not there, a number of lawyers and police officers with whom I have discussed this have all been perplexed that the charge was brought at all, with such a strong witness to rebut it, given that the police were relying on an extremely tentative identification from the actor (who did not appear in court to be cross-examined). The truth is, as the jury found, that woman H was not physically there when she said the incident took place. Woman H had lied. More importantly, the evidence available to the police and prosecutor fiscal showed that there was never any realistic prospect of conviction.

So why was the charge brought?

This ribald tone was the one Jackson used a lot. To watch him, to listen to him, you would think he had wandered into the courtroom from the 1950s. His defence veered in all directions. One minute Salmond was a touchy feely guy whose hugs and kisses were being misunderstood, the next the victim of some grand, yet intangible, plot.

Do you see what Garavelli has done here? She has written that Salmond’s defence to the allegations of Woman H was nothing but “Cor Blimey Squire, OK he copped a feel but ‘aven’t we all, know what I mean, nudge nudge, wink wink?”

Whereas Woman H was in real life comprehensively demolished by a whole succession of witnesses, mostly female, and shown not even to have been present on the occasion when she claimed attempted rape. If Jackson’s defence was as hopeless as Garavelli portrays, how on earth would it have succeeded? And never forget, the jury are two thirds female.

But it was Jackson’s trivialisation of some of the alleged offences that raised most eyebrows. It is one thing to insist the former First Minister is innocent of the offences with which he has been charged. It is another to treat some of those offences as inconsequential.

In defiance of what we know about power dynamics, Jackson equated the tactile way Salmond dealt with members of the public with the way he interacted with much younger female workers. And he peddled all the old tropes. If woman F had believed Salmond had intended to rape her she would surely have considered it important enough to report to the police. If woman H had been distressed after her ordeal, then what was she doing on Twitter?

There is a certain amount of justice in Garavelli’s claim here. There are of course plenty of examples of women continuing to appear to interact normally with their abuser after the most shocking abuse. More often in domestic than work situations. But she is playing on the Weinstein theme here. Not all men are the same. There may be a general way that powerful men act with junior female staff. But that does not mean that Salmond did, nor that he is Weinstein.

Garavelli wants to convict Salmond because in general men do that kind of thing. This is why she ignores witness after witness who said that in Salmond’s case, he did not.

Ms F did indeed complain, and received an apology.

The other eight did not complain at the time, as witnesses showed. Garavelli tries to have it both ways. You cannot both argue that there is “no smoke without fire” and claim that the fact that nine women now complain about Salmond means he must be bad, and at the same time claim that the fact that eight women all continued to work perfectly happily around Salmond, often for years after an alleged incident, and showed no sign of anything having happened in their tweets and emails at the time, is an irrelevance.

At times he seemed to regard the process as high jinks. He engaged in casual banter with a Glasgow councillor, as if they were old chums sharing a pint, not witness and QC facing each other across a courtroom.

At breaks and lunchtimes, he could be found laughing and gossiping with the (mostly male) reporters. In the afternoon the jury retired to consider its verdict, he grabbed hold of a well-known TV journalist and posed for a selfie.

Where are we going here? Jackson is blokey therefore evil? In what way does this relate to the evidence?

Jackson’s closing submission appeared to play to male fears about past behaviour. How did things that people thought nothing of later find themselves on a charge sheet, he wondered. “It’s scary, scary stuff.” A couple of jurors nodded along.

I had been thrown out. I have asked people in court, including employed jury watchers (they do exist, not just in The Good Wife). Nobody saw this “nodding”. The jury was 9-6 majority female. Garavelli’s attempt to portray Salmond’s acquittal as the result of evil male potential sexual predators on the jury is despicable. Personally, I looked hard at the jury for two days and found the jury impressively stone-faced and very careful to appear impartial and do their duty properly.

The fact the trial was unfolding alongside the sentencing of Weinstein was significant. At almost precisely the moment the film producer was being jailed for 23 years, Jackson was asking Woman A: “Do you call that groping?” Scotland’s #MeToo moment this was not.

The repeated Weinstein references reach their climax. I have lost count of the deluge of Weinsteins in this article.  Weinstein was convicted. Salmond was not. Scotland failed, says Garavelli. The fact that Weinstein is a monster and Salmond is not never seems to cross her mind. Powerful men are all the same, aren’t they?

In comparison with Jackson, Salmond came across as dignified. The consensus amongst the journalists beforehand was that it would be disastrous for him to testify; but we were wrong.

I found the smirking of journalists, forty of whom I was sitting behind while in the public gallery, appalling. The conversations I overheard between them in the queue and in the toilets revealed extreme bias. Most tellingly, when the defence witnesses were giving evidence, I am an eye witness to forty MSM journalists all folding their notebooks and stopping taking notes. As plainly Garavelli did.

Some of his charisma revived in front of an audience. He spoke and moved his hands like the accomplished politician he is, and had dates and facts at his fingertips.

When Prentice opened his cross-examination with the words: “Did you consider [woman B]’s feelings for one moment when you took hold of her hands and said let’s reenact the Christmas card?” repeating it four times, he seemed briefly rattled. But overall, he came over as meticulous and polished.

Asked if he regretted his behaviour, he said he wished he’d been more careful with people’s personal space, but “I’m of the opinion events are being reinterpreted and exaggerated out of any possible proportion.”

The jury took six hours to deliver its verdict which meant its deliberations spanned a weekend. By Monday, it had lost two of its 15 members. In Scottish courts, verdicts can be decided on a straight eight/seven majority. But when two jurors drop out like this the required ratio changes to eight out of 13.

When the time came, the foreman stood up and said Not Guilty to 12 of the 13 charges. The verdict on the charge involving Woman F – sexual assault with intent to rape – was found Not Proven, which is also an acquittal. None of the verdicts were unanimous. The foreman seemed content with the decisions he was conveying, but others were not. One young-ish juror with glasses sat with his head bowed.

Garavelli has no idea how that youngish juror voted. Here again is a blatant attempt to convey that this was a perverse verdict. Only old people and male sexual predators could have failed to see Salmond’s guilt, Garavelli insinuates. The young are with #Metoo, are with #Weinstein. The young could seen the guilt, she implies. Actually, when I first saw the jury I was very surprised by how young they were overall. Much younger that a representative sample of 15 of the population. Garavelli is incidentally in very grave contempt of court in clearly identifying an individual juror and how she thinks he voted. Garavelli of course will be protected by the Establishment from any consequences of this.

As Garavelli says, Not Proven is also an acquittal. But I do believe there is something very specific in the jury finding all of the other verdicts Not Guilty but the Miss F case Not Proven. I have said above, and I was convinced during the trial, Ms F is in a different category.  I do not believe she was knowingly lying. All the others I believe to be brazen, barefaced and conspiring liars who tried to orchestrate a terrible miscarriage of justice.  I believe that is why their cases resulted in Not Guilty, but Miss F in Not Proven.

The jury were distinguishing who was, and who was not, a perjurer.

Of course I cannot prove that. It is an interpretation. But if Ms Garavelli can speculate so wildly on what the jury thought – without in her case labeling it as speculation – then so might I, more honestly.

Woman F was gutted. “I suppose I had hoped and expected that my case would be one that would help give weight and establish that pattern for others because there was quite a lot of evidence around it and I ended up feeling crushed,” she told me later.

Again go for Woman F, Dani; whatever you do avoid the more brazen liars when trying to milk sympathy.

Outside, Salmond made his statement while Jackson looked on, wigless and swigging from a Coke bottle. “God help us all,” the former First Minister said in reference to Covid-19. Then he elbow-bumped with Jackson in celebration.

Dani is a skilled journalist. She gave an interview on Bella Caledonia where she explained at length that mere bloggers have not had the real training to learn the tricks of the trade. Every time she turns to Salmond and his supporters, the level of her language drops to reflect those common people’s gross and uncouth qualities: Jackson does not “drink”. He “swigs”

Throughout the trial, there were two women notable for their absence. The first was Moira, Salmond’s wife of 39 years. Sixteen years his senior, she has always shunned the limelight. She accompanied him to court on the second last day, prompting speculation she might testify, but the rumours came to nothing; and she wasn’t by his side as he walked free.

Why should she? There was no need for her to testify. The prosecution case had been comprehensively destroyed. Alex and Moira are happily together back at home ever since the trial. Garavelli’s petty insinuation of – what, exactly – about a lady who is around eighty years old is uncalled for.

The second woman was Nicola Sturgeon. She too was said to be on the witness list though never called. And yet, she was omni-present. Every time her name was mentioned, political journalists pricked up their ears. When Salmond’s former Chief of Staff Geoff Aberdein told the court he and one of the complainers had first met with her on 29 March, 2018 – four days earlier than the date she previously gave the Scottish Parliament – several of them almost spontaneously combusted.

This paragraph wins the all time prize for easy identification of one of the busted accusers: again, contempt of court by Garavelli. Again there is no chance anything will happen as the Establishment will protect her.

Sturgeon had been cited by the defence as an unwilling witness. She then asked to be excused as a result of the covid-19 crisis. The defence had agreed to this – they did not have to.

Sturgeon’s role in the botched internal process will be explored in a forthcoming parliamentary inquiry, while a standards panel will look into the meetings and phone calls she had with Salmond while the investigation was ongoing. If she is found to have breached the ministerial code then her position will be challenged.

Lied to parliament is also something of a problem.

For now, the coronavirus crisis is all that matters, but Salmond is not going anywhere, and there will come a time when these issues must be addressed.

What happens to Sturgeon has implications both for the nationalist project. While Salmond was a guerilla fighter – the perfect leader for an insurgency – Sturgeon is a stateswoman respected on the international stage. To those who dream of an independent Scotland within Europe, her resignation would be a disaster.

Really? I think Joanna Cherry might pick up that mantle and do rather better. So do a great many folk.

The SNP which once saw itself as a united force – an us-again-the-world kind of party – is divided as never before. The faultlines began to appear shortly after the IndyRef as its tight ranks were swelled by thousands of new members. Left vs right; veterans vs newbies.

For a while Sturgeon pacified her squabbling brood, supporting, mollifying, giving an occasional ticking off, but mostly just telling everyone what they needed to hear. When the Salmond allegations exploded into the public domain, however, there was little she could do to keep tempers in check.

By the time he launched his crowd-funder, two distinct camps had formed and #IstandwithSalmond and #IstandwithSturgeon hashtags were circulating on Twitter. These camps have become more entrenched with time, compounded by acrimonious debate around the Scottish government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which is part real, part proxy for the wider power struggle.

This SNP civil war stuff is a nonsense. The group that tried to bring down Salmond controls many levers of party power, but ultimately 99.9% of the membership are focused on Independence not on fourth wave feminism, and that cannot be held back.

The claim this is anything to do with the Gender Reform Act is a nonsense. There are different views on the GRA. I am a strong supporter of Alex Salmond and a sceptic about Sturgeon’s commitment to Independence, but I support the GRA. There is no such clear fault line. The vast majority of members just want Independence.

This power struggle is about to be played out in miniature as Angus Robertson (Team Nicola) and Joanna Cherry (Team Alex) battle it out to be selected as the party’s candidate for Edinburgh Central in next year’s Holyrood elections. This is destined to be a dirty fight. At the same time, the SNP is struggling with its domestic agenda. Thirteen years is a long time for any party to be in power and there is a growing frustration with its lack of fresh ideas.

There is no sense in which Joanna Cherry is a cypher for Alex Salmond, nor for anybody else. Her very strong feminism, of the sensible, grounded kind (which I 100% support) is also a factor here. Garavelli cannot pitch this as a split between Salmond and feminism, and then say Cherry is Team Alex. (I am not sure Angus Robertson is still going to be a candidate. Somebody told me the other day he might be held back by some family issues.)

All this is being played out against a backdrop of national turmoil: Brexit, for example, and now the coronavirus, which may have raised Sturgeon’s credibility, but also impacted on the prospects of a second referendum.

One recent poll put support for Scottish independence at 52%, but Johnson has consistently said he will refuse Sturgeon a Section 30 order granting powers to hold a fresh vote, so things are at an impasse. Few in Scottish politics now believe there will be a second referendum before next year’s Holyrood elections and possibly not for quite some time after that.

And now this. Salmond’s acquittal is a grenade. When he lost his Westminster seat, he quoted from a Jacobite song, ‘Bonnie Dundee’. “You have not seen the last of my bonnets and me,” he said. But will he really stage a comeback?

Though his supporters would relish it, it is hard to see how he could shrug off the reputational damage the trial has done. More likely he will wield his power from the shadows, manipulating, undermining, bringing his influence to bear. And trying to destroy his former ally. There seems no doubt if he can bring Sturgeon down he will, and to hell with what that does to the cause.

I doubt he has to do anything. Knowingly lying to parliament is hard to survive. I am however picking up one interesting undercurrent. Sturgeon supporters and the Unionist establishment have united against Alex Salmond, because they both want to stop any move towards early Independence,  as Garavelli quite rightly notes. The buzz at Holyrood is that the unionist parties may drop or hobble the parliamentary inquiry into the Salmond affair, in order to help Sturgeon survive and prevent any prospect of a renewed push for Independence. An interesting possibility worth watching closely.

What cultural message would it send out, though, if the chief casualty of this sorry affair turned out to be a progressive female leader?

I think it would send the message that she was elected by people who expected her to use the mandate for a new Independence Referendum, and she bowed her head to Westminster rather than do that. SNP members are focused on Independence, which Dan seems unable to grasp.

For all the political questions that are being asked in the aftermath of the trial, there are many gender-related ones which are not.

For example: why did special advisers, such as Geoff Aberdein – who knew of the concerns over Salmond’s behaviour – fail to act? Ditto those at the top of the Civil Service?

Actually Mr Aberdein testified that he did not know, other than of Woman F, where action was taken under civil service procedure (before her account became exaggerated).

What can be done to stop online bloggers and tweeters, with no understanding of the law, peddling inaccuracies about the trial, the verdict and the women who made the allegations?

I don’t know the answer to your question,  but this sounds like a worrying call for censorship to me.

But then, what can be done to stop a  “journalist” like Dani Garavelli writing lie after lie after lie about the case and ignoring totally all the evidence of defence witnesses,  with the entire establishment, both unionist and Sturgeon supporting, lining up behind her to amplify her lies?

What lessons can be learned about the handling of sexual offences from a case in which the unwanted touching of women in the course of carrying out their professional duties has been down-played?

I can offer one suggestion. When you have clear evidence of a conspiracy to fit somebody up, instead of a corrupt Crown Office and Police, you have honest ones who prosecute the conspirators and not the person being fitted up?

What impact will hearing a Defence QC ask: “Do you call that groping?” have on other women uncertain about whether or not to come forward? And whither #MeToo – a movement built on female solidarity – in a world where communicating with other women can be presented as collusion?

There were very genuine questions here in a case which, whether Garavelli likes it or not, pushed at the boundaries of what has hitherto been accepted as “sexual assault”. Putting your hands on someones arms over their sleeves is not generally construed as sexual assault, but it was so charged here. The account by Witness J of having a hand put on her leg immediately above her knee during a very brief car ride is also genuinely interesting.

This trial does not give an answer, because the defence was that it did not happen, and that a fixed armrest containing an installed phone in the particular car would have prevented it, as testified by the driver and Alex Salmond. But is a hand on a clothed leg just above the knee actually sexual assault, when the recipient says, as in this case, they did not indicate disapproval? I am not asking that as a rhetorical question. I genuinely do not know where the law now stands. “Do you call that groping?” is not an illegitimate question.

When does collusion count as conspiracy? The difficulty here is that when people concert their actions, they cannot at the same time claim to be independent and corroborative.  But I think if Ms Garavelli may show a little patience, it is going to become very plain indeed this was conspiracy as the debarred evidence comes out.

These are the issues preoccupying the complainants as they try to pick up the pieces of their lives amid a torrent of abuse.

“I worry that some of the commentary in the aftermath of the trial has been damaging, not only for the public discourse, but for our own safety and welfare,” says one.

Woman K wants her experience to be a catalyst for change. “I don’t want it to end like this – something good has to come of it,” she says. “We are privileged women in so many ways. We are all highly educated, we all know the ins and outs of government, the language of bureaucracy, and even we feel helpless and voiceless.

“If we can help make the system work better for women in the future then that, at least, would be something.”

Do you remember that two direct eyewitnesses who were watching said that Ms K’s allegation simply did not happen? Ms Garavelli seems not to have noticed. Again, the article relies on emotional solidarity for the nameless 9 and simply accepts their claim of victimhood, even though the jury did not.

The experience has been traumatic, but most of the women I have spoken to say they would do it again.

“Though it has been awful, at least I know I did what I could,” says one. Another agrees she felt a responsibility to her fellow complainers.

“I have been a feminist all my life,” she says. “I have talked about how women should speak out – so then, when it’s my turn, I couldn’t say: ‘Someone else needs to do that, not me.’ If things are going to change, I have to help change them.”

I have no doubt they would do it again. They have got away with it very well. They have damaged both Salmond and Independence – though they will come to see just how superficially – and are all able to keep churning out interviews and statements under the cloak of anonymity. I am quite sure some of the Nameless 9 actually believe that there actions were justified in a wider cause #metoo #Weinstein.

I can tell you what happens next. Dani Garavelli will tell us how dreadfully upset she was by my article. She will claim to have received anonymous threats from “cybernats”, using of course Scots phrases, and to have needed to ask the police for protection. The Integrity Initiative might even burn some “cybernat” identities to send her threats. She will hide or delete the twitter and other social media accounts because f “harassment”, if which there will be no useful proof.

Because Garavelli is part of a one trick pony club. Their one weapon is the claim of victimhood. Even though they are, by any standards, powerful and influential people and much more wealthy than most of us.

These establishment figures conspired to put an innocent man in jail for the rest of his life. To ruin a great reputation. To tear him and his loving wife apart. To damage the chances of Scottish Independence.

The establishment have lost in the highest civil court in the land and in the highest criminal court in the land. Their take is amazing. Now, as Kenny Farquharson of the Times has been tweeting out, anybody who accepts the decision of the High Court and of the Court of Session is a “zoomer”.

The establishment thing to do is now to deride those courts, to portray the jury as stupid, the judges as fossilised, the law as wrong. We are to decry thinking. Logic, reason, evidence, inconvenient defence witnesses are to be discarded.

Instead we are to feel pain. Not Alex Salmond’s pain, he is a man so his does not count. Nor his wife’s, nor the seven female witnesses for the defence. They are the “Wrong Kind of Women” so their pain does not count either. No, please cover your ears like Woman K in her kitchen. Cover your ears to logic and reason. Feel the pain of this woman, shown to have lied in court to try to destroy a man and his family. Feel the pain of Dani Garavelli, attacked for publishing her farrago of lies to the same end. Feel the pain of all women who have been mistreated through the centuries – as indeed I do not for one moment deny in general they have.

Because the truth of this individual case does not matter, you see. OK, in this individual case the evidence showed he was innocent and the jury went with that. But that does not have to stop you. You do not have to hear or see that evidence. You just have to feel the pain. Then you can crush and destroy this human being completely without remorse or concern for truth. Because he was only human anyway. He was a powerful man. That made him by definition evil, and the women in the right. Even if they lied.

In the final analysis, the question Garavelli’s article raises is whether the wider sweep of the feminist movement against historic injustice, justifies ignoring the actual facts and evidence, in a particular case of one powerful but innocent man.

I believe I know the answer.

Do you?

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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How It Starts 960

The brevity of this post is out of proportion to the enormous importance of the subject. But I want to let you know I am thinking and working on it.

It is a recognised pattern for dictatorship to commence with emergency measures designed to combat a threat. Those emergency measures then become normalised and people exercising arbitrary power find it addictive. A new threat is then found to justify the continuation

It is by no means clear to me that it is a rational response to covid-19 to tear up all of the civil liberties which were won by the people against authority through centuries of struggle, and for which people died. To say that is not to minimise the threat of covid-19. It is also worth pointing out that a coronavirus pandemic was a widely foreseen eventuality. People keep sending me links to various TV shows or movies based on a coronavirus pandemic, generally claiming this proves it is a man-made event. No, that just proves it is a widely foreseen event. Which it is.

The lack of contingency preparedness is completely indefensible. It is partly a result of the stupidity of Tory austerity that has the NHS permanently operating at 100% capacity with no contingency, and partly the result of the crazed just-in time thinking that permeates management in all spheres and eliminates the holding of stock.

It is incredible to me that the UK is willing to throw away some £220 billion and rising on Trident against a war scenario nobody can sensibly define, but was not willing to spend a few million on holding stock of protective clothing for the NHS against the much more likely contingency of a pandemic. What does that say about our society?

Anyway, we are where we are. Nobody knows how deadly this virus is. There have not been, anywhere, sufficient reliable large general population samples to know what percentage of people who get the virus will die. We just do not know how many people in the UK have had it and not got seriously ill. My suspicion is that in a couple of years time it will be discovered the mortality rate was under 1%. But I do not know, and I do not blame the government for making worst assumptions in the absence of reliable scientific evidence. Personally, I am obeying lockdown and would advise others to do so too until the situation is clearer. But I do not want to see the police harassing people for going on a long walk or posting a letter. It really is a problem to have police empowered to stop and question a citizen for just walking in the street. It is also a problem that Peter Hitchens is being reviled for saying, in essence, little more than that. When you can’t criticise restrictions on liberty, you know society has entered a very dark phase indeed.

I would feel much more comfortable if they were open about what they do not know. All the excuses for not testing people rather than admit they did not have the tests rather rattles trust. The ability of the rich and well-connected to access tests also rattles trust.

But none of this justifies rule by fiat – if Parliament cannot sit, I personally believe it would benefit the nations of the UK to have no new laws for a while. There are too many laws already. It does not justify banning political gathering. I don’t recommend anyone to gather, and I don’t imagine they would gather, but the evil of banning political activity is much more serious than the danger of four lonely people in Solihull getting together to talk about coronavirus restrictions.

It certainly does not justify banning jury trials, which the Scottish government has just dropped from today’s Bill after a revolt led by Joanna Cherry. The bill still weakens the defence in trials by allowing pre-taped video evidence and dispensing with the right to cross-examine. If the accusers had been allowed to get away with their lies in the Alex Salmond trial without cross-examination, the result might have been very different. For God’s sake, if you cannot do justice, suspend it. Do not dispense rough justice.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Daily Record Investigates My Home and Finances 280

The day after I publish my article accusing the corporate media of being an active part of the conspiracy against Alex Salmond, and of giving disgracefully selective, slanted and biased coverage of the evidence of his trial, the Daily Record has decided to investigate my home and personal finances. Is not life full of little coincidences?

I received this email from the Daily Record’s political editor.

I replied to him politely. This was probably a mistake – I should have just told him where to go.

But I cannot get over the idea that this is absolutely illegitimate. It is a plain attempt to bully and harass me for having published the truth about what really lay behind the Alex Salmond case. Who put up the Daily Record up to launching an investigation into my personal circumstances? It is of course the paper to which was leaked the very detailed and most salacious of the false accusations against Salmond. Who trawled the land register to find my home purchase?

The key point is not one mainstream media journalist has even attempted to refute the facts of my article J’accuse. It is packed with facts. Might not the political editor of the Daily Record better spend his time researching the conspiracy against Alex Salmond, rather than threatening an independent journalist for the crime of doing journalism?

I greatly dislike bullies. I do hope you feel the same. Mr Hutcheon’s contact details are there. If any of you feel like phoning, texting or emailing Mr Hutcheon to suggest he might be better employed investigating the facts of my article about the Salmond fit-up, rather than pursuing a journalist, you would earn my eternal gratitude.

It goes without saying that this blog is free to read. I have always stated that I do not wish anybody to support my work if it costs them the slightest personal hardship. If anybody wishes to cancel their subscription because I am doing up a house to run as a b & b, I shall not be in the slightest upset.

UPDATE the Daily Record have now published their stunning investigative article, together with a large picture of my house. My wife and family are very upset by this.

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/alex-salmond-blogger-trial-high-21789285

What I am now waiting for is all these people to step in and condemn the publishing of my home and the subsequent risk to the security of my wife and family, with as much vigour as they today defended the privacy of the Edinburgh third house of the Head of MI6.

Tumbleweed rolls by.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

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J’Accuse 290

A 22 person team from Police Scotland worked for over a year identifying and interviewing almost 400 hoped-for complainants and witnesses against Alex Salmond. This resulted in nil charges and nil witnesses. Nil. The accusations in court were all fabricated and presented on a government platter to the police by a two prong process. The first prong was the civil service witch hunt presided over by Leslie Evans and already condemned by Scotland’s highest civil court as “unlawful, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”. The second prong was the internal SNP process orchestrated by a group at the very top in SNP HQ and the First Minister’s Private Office. A key figure in the latter was directly accused in court by Alex Salmond himself of having encouraged a significant number of the accusers to fabricate incidents.

The only accusations Police Scotland could take forward were given to them by this process. Their long and expensive trawl outside the tiny closed group of accusers revealed nothing. Let me say that again. Police Scotland’s long and expensive trawl outside the tiny closed group of accusers revealed nothing at all.

Let me give you an example. I have personally read an account by a woman who was contacted by the police and asked to give evidence. She was called in for formal interview by the police. The massive police fishing expedition had turned up the fact that, years ago, Alex Salmond had been seen to kiss this woman in the foyer of a theatre. She was asked if she wished to make a complaint of sexual assault against Alex Salmond. The woman was astonished. She told them she remembered the occasion and Alex, who was a friend, had simply kissed her on the cheeks in greeting. No, of course she did not wish to complain. She felt they were trying to push her to do so.

That is typical of hundreds of interviews in the most extensive and expensive fishing expedition in Scottish police history. That turned up nothing. Zilch. Nada.

What the police did get was eye witness evidence that several of the allegations they had been handed by the closed group were fabricated. Two eye witnesses, for example, appeared in court who had been within six feet of the alleged buttock grab during a Stirling Castle photocall. Both had been watching the photo being taken. Both testified nothing had happened. The police had that evidence. But they ignored it. A more startling example is below.

You may be interested to know the police also spent a great deal of time attempting to substantiate the “incident” at Edinburgh airport that has been so frequently recycled by the mainstream media over years. MI5 also hired a London security consultancy to work on this story. The reason so many resouces were expended is that they were desperate to stand up this claim as the only incident from outside the tiny cabal of Scottish government insiders.

They discovered the actual Edinburgh airport “incident” was that Alex Salmond had made a rather excruciating pun about “killer heels” when the footwear of a female member of staff had set off the security scanner gate. This had been reported as a sexist comment in the context of a much wider dispute about staff conditions. That is it. “Killer heels”. A joke. No charge arose from this particular substantial waste of police time, in which the involvement of MI5 is highly noteworthy.

You will probably know that I too faced politically motivated accusations of sexual misconduct from the state, in my case the FCO, when I blew the whistle on British government collusion in torture and extraordinary rendition. I too was eventually cleared of all charges. When you are facing such charges, there comes a moment when you reveal the evidence to those defending you. They, of course, will not necessarily have presumed your innocence. I recount in Murder in Samarkand this moment in my own case, when after going through all the evidence my representative turned to me and said in some astonishment “You really didn’t do any of this, did you?”. He had been disinclined to believe the British government really was trying to fit me up, until he saw the evidence.

In Alex Salmond’s case, after going through all the evidence, his legal team were utterly bemused as to why it was Alex Salmond who was being prosecuted; rather than the members of the WhatsApp group and senders of the other messages, texts and emails being prosecuted for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. There could not be a plainer conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Not only were members of this very small political grouping orchestrating complaints in the documented communications, they were encouraging their creation.

It is much worse than that. There is plain reference to active and incorrect communication from the SNP hierarchy to Police Scotland and the Crown Office.The reason that Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal’s office prosecuted the victim of the conspiracy rather than the conspirators, is that they had themselves been politically hijacked to be part of the fit-up. I fully realise the implications of that statement and I make it with the greatest care. Let me say it again. The reason that Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal’s office prosecuted the victim of the conspiracy rather than the conspirators, is that they had themselves been politically hijacked to be part of the fit-up. Just how profound are the ramifications of this case for the Scottish establishment has so far been appreciated by very few people.

Alex Salmond’s counsel, in his summing up for the defence, said that the evidence of collusion and conspiracy in the case “stinks”. It certainly does; and the stench goes an awful long way. A new unionist online meme today is to ask why the accusers would put themselves at risk of prosecution for perjury. The answer is that there is no such risk; the police and prosecutors, the Scottish government including, but not only, as represented by the accusers, have all been part of the same joint enterprise to stitch up Alex Salmond. That is why there is still no investigation into perjury or conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, despite the evidence not just of the trial but of the documents and texts which the judge prevented from being led as “collateral”.

I cannot begin to imagine how evil you have to be to attempt falsely to convict someone of that most vicious, most unforgivable of crimes – rape. But it is impossible to have followed the trial, still more impossible to know the evidence that the judge ruled inadmissible as collateral, without forming the view that this was a deliberate, a most wicked, conspiracy to fit him up on these charges. Furthermore it was a conspiracy that incorporated almost the entire Establishment – a conspiracy that included a corrupt Scottish Government, a corrupt Crown Office, a corrupt Scottish Police and an uniformly corrupt media.

Coverage of the trial was a disgrace. The most salacious accusations of the odious prosecutor were selected and magnified into massive headlines. The defence witnesses were almost totally ignored and unreported. The entire stream of evidence from credible witnesses that disproved the prosecution case in its entirety was simply never presented in the papers, still less on radio and TV. A great deal of that evidence proved that prosecution witnesses were not merely mistaken, but had been deliberately and coldly lying.

Let us consider the lead accusation, that of attempted rape. I want you honestly to consider whether or not this should have been brought before the court.

Woman H claimed that Salmond attempted to rape her after a small dinner with Alex Salmond, an actor (the publication of whose name the court banned), and Ms Samantha Barber, a company director. Salmond gave evidence that the entire story was completely untrue and the woman had not even been there that evening. Samantha Barber gave evidence that she knows woman H well, had been a guest at her wedding reception, and that woman H had phoned and asked her to attend the dinner with the specific explanation she could not be there herself. Indeed, affirmed Ms Barber, woman H definitely was not there. She had given that firm evidence to the police.

Against that, there was a vague statement by the actor that he believed a fourth person had been present, but he described her hair colour as different to woman H, described her as wearing jeans when woman H said she was wearing a dress, and did not say the woman had her arm in a sling – which it was established woman H’s arm was at that time. One arm in a sling would be pretty debilitating in eating and the sort of detail about a fellow diner at a very small dinner party you would likely remember.

Given the very firm statement from Samantha Barber, her friend, that woman H was definitely not there, a number of lawyers and police officers with whom I have discussed this have all been perplexed that the charge was brought at all, with such a strong witness to rebut it, given that the police were relying on an extremely tentative identification from the actor (who did not appear in court to be cross-examined). The truth is, as the jury found, that woman H was not physically there when she said the incident took place. Woman H had lied. More importantly, the evidence available to the police and prosecutor fiscal showed that there was never any realistic prospect of conviction.

So why was the charge brought?

You might also wish to consider this. While the jury was considering its verdict, two members of the jury were removed. Here I know more than I can legally say at present. That might be put together with the chance that somebody was tailing Alex Salmond’s defence counsel and video recording his conversation on a train. If you look at the recording, it is obvious that if it were being taken with a mobile phone, that act of recording would have been very plainly visible to Mr Jackson. It appears far more likely this was done with a concealed device, possibly routed through a mobile phone for purposes of metadata.

I only have definite good source information on MI5 involvement in the attempt to dredge up charges at Edinburgh airport. While I have no direct evidence the juror expulsion or the Jackson tape were underlain by security service surveillance, I am very suspicious given the knowledge that MI5 were engaged in the witch-hunt. Which of course also begs the question that if any of the alleged incidents inside Bute House were true, the state would by now have produced the MI5 or GCHQ/NSA recordings to prove it (claiming they were sourced from elsewhere). Salmond has been considered by them a threat to the UK state for decades, and not only over Scottish Independence.

I also ask you to consider who has been, and who has not been, persecuted. Alex Salmond stood in the dock facing total ruin. The conspirators have faced not even questioning about their collusion.

I have published the only detailed account of the defence case. In consequence not only was I slung out of court by the judge on a motion of the prosecution, and threatened with jail by the Crown Office for contempt of court, the judge also made an order making it illegal to publish the fact that I had been barred from the court, in effect a super injunction. Yet the mainstream media, who published ludicrously selective and salacious extracts from the proceedings designed deliberately to make Salmond appear guilty, have received no threats from the Crown Office. They continue to churn out article after article effectively claiming Salmond is guilty and massively distorting the facts of the case.

One consequence of the extreme media bias is that lies which were told by the prosecution are still being repeated as fact. The lie that a policy and/or practice was put into place to prevent women working alone in the evenings with Alex Salmond, was comprehensively demolished by four separate senior civil service witnesses, one of them a prosecution witness. That was never media reported and the lie is still continually repeated.

It is only the person who published the truth, as agreed by the jury, who faces hostile action from the state.

Because the only thing that was not fixed about this entire affair was the jury. And they may well have contrived to nobble even that with jury expulsion.

We should be very grateful to that jury of solid Edinburgh citizens, two thirds of them female. They were diligent, they did their duty, and they thwarted a great injustice in the midst of a media hanging frenzy that has to have impacted upon them, and probably still does.

I would however state that, up until she inexplicably expelled me from the court, I had found Lady Dorrian’s handling of the trial entirely fair and reasonable. Equally it was a judicial decision in the Court of Session that had found the Scottish Government process against Salmond to be “unlawful, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”.

Which brings me on to the role of the Head of the Scottish Civil Service, Leslie Evans. “We may have lost a battle, but we will win the war”. That is how, in January 2019, Leslie Evans had messaged a colleague the day they lost in the Court of Session. It is an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle of these people that the colleague she messaged was in the Maldives at the time.

It is incredible that after a process Evans claimed in court to have “established” was described as unlawful and unfair by a very senior judge, her first thought was on “winning the war”. That message alone is sufficient to sack Leslie Evans. Is shows that rather than being a civil servant engaged in an effort to administer justly, she was engaged as parti pris in a bitter battle to take down Alex Salmond. She would not even accept the verdict of the Court of Session. It astonishes me, as a former member for six years of the senior civil service myself, that any civil servant could commit themselves in that way to try ruthlessly to take down a former First Minister, with no heed whatsoever either to fair process or to the decision of the courts.

It is quite simply astonishing that Ms Evans has not been sacked.

Well, Leslie Evans did carry on her war. At the cost of many millions to the Scottish taxpayer, she has now lost the battle in both Scotland’s highest civil court and in Scotland’s highest criminal court. The campaign to destroy Salmond has been trounced in both the Court of Session and the High Court. That Leslie Evans is still in post is a national scandal. That Nicola Sturgeon a few weeks ago extended Evans’ tenure by a further two years is an appalling misjudgment.

Evans has a particularly unionist outlook and regards her role as head of the Scottish civil service as equivalent to a departmental permanent secretary of the United Kingdom. Evans spends a great deal of time in London. Unlike her predecessor, who regarded Scotland as separate, Evans regularly attends the weekly “Wednesday Morning Colleagues” (WMC) meeting of Whitehall permanent secretaries, chaired by the Westminster Cabinet Secretary. She much values her position in the UK establishment. What kind of Head of the Scottish Civil Service spends the middle of the week in London?

Rather than any action being taken against the perpetrators of this disgraceful attempt to pervert the course of justice, even after their plot has been roundly rejected in the High Court, the Scottish Government appears to be doubling down in its accusations against Alex Salmond through the medium of the state and corporate media, which is acting in complete unison. It has now been widely briefed against Salmond that Police Scotland has passed a dossier to the Metropolitan Police on four other accusations, set at Westminster.

What the media has not told you is that these accusations are from exactly the same group of conspirators; indeed from some of the actual same accusers. They also do not tell you that these accusations are even weaker than those pursued in Scotland.

In the massive effort to prove “pattern of behaviour” in Alex Salmond’s recent trial, incidents which happened outwith Scottish jurisdiction could be presented as evidence in a separate “docket”. Thus the defence heard evidence from the “Chinese docket” of Salmond “attempting to touch” a colleague’s hair in a hotel lift in China. Well, the London “docket” was considered even weaker than that, so it was not led in the Edinburgh trial. The idea that Leslie Evans’ “war” against Salmond will be won in an English court, having failed in both the civil and criminal Scottish courts, is just black propaganda.

As is the continued campaign to claim that Salmond is really guilty, carried on by Rape Crisis Scotland. They yesterday published a statement by the nine anonymous accusers attacking Salmond further, and rather amusingly the nine wrote together to deny they were associated with each other. It seems to me entirely illegitimate for this group to be able to conduct a continued campaign of political harassment of Alex Salmond from behind the cloak of state-enforced anonymity, after he has been acquitted of all charges. I understand the reasoning behind anonymity for accusers in sex allegations. But surely state backed anonymity should not be used to enable the continued repetition of false accusations without fear of defamation law, after the jury has acquitted? That is perverse.

It is also a fact that Rape Crisis Scotland is just another instrument of the Scottish government, being almost entirely funded by the Scottish government. There is a very serious infringement of public conduct here. One of the nine conspirators, whose statement is being amplified by Rape Crisis Scotland, is personally very directly involved in the channeling of government money to Rape Crisis Scotland. That is a gross abuse of office and conflict of interest and should be a resignation matter. Here again, direct wrongdoing is being carried out from behind the screen of state-backed anonymity.

Let me give you this thought. Alex Salmond having been acquitted, you would think that the unionist media would seek to capitalise by training its guns on those at the head of the SNP who sought to frame him, who after all are still in power. But instead, the unionist media is entirely committed to attacking Salmond, in defiance of all the facts of the case. That shows you who it is the British establishment are really afraid of. It also confirms what I have been saying for years, that the SNP careerist establishment have no genuine interest in Scottish Independence and are not perceived by Whitehall as a threat to the union. And in that judgement at least, Whitehall is right.

I should state that in this article I have, absolutely against my own instincts, deferred to Alex Salmond’s noble but in my view over-generous wish to wait until the Covid-19 virus has passed before giving all the names of those involved and presenting the supporting documents. I have therefore removed several names from this article. Alex Salmond believes that it is wrong to move on this at a time when many people are suffering and grieving, and he has stated that it would indeed be narcissistic to think of his own troubles at this time of wider calamity. I find this extremely upsetting when his enemies are showing absolutely no respect nor restraint whatsoever and are engaged in full-on attack on his reputation. I can assure you this is even more frustrating for me than for you. But while the mills of God grind slowly, they grind exceedingly small.

Those who do not know Scotland are astonished that the Alex Salmond trial and its fallout have not damaged support in the polls for Independence nor even for the SNP. I am not in the least surprised – the reawakening of the national consciousness of the Scottish people is an unstoppable process. If you want to see it, look not at any single politician but at the mass enthusiasm of one of the great, self-organised AUOB marches. The spirit of Independence rides the SNP as the available vehicle to achieve its ends. It is no longer primarily inspired nor controlled by the SNP – indeed the SNP leadership is blatantly trying to dampen it down, with only marginal success. This great movement of a nation is not to be disturbed by fleeting events.

That is not to underplay the importance of events for those caught up in them. As Alex Salmond stood in the dock, he was very probably staring at the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison, of never being with his wife Moira again, and of having his reputation as Scotland’s greatest national leader for centuries erased. The party hierarchy had already overseen the Stalinesque scrubbing of his image and name from all online content under the SNP’s control. The future now looks very different, and I am cheered by the brighter horizon.

Let me finish this article by observing that the British state continues to keep the unconvicted Julian Assange in conditions of appalling detention and receiving brutal personal treatment reserved normally for the most dangerous terrorists. The British state has refused to let Assange out of jail to avert the danger of Covid-19. By contrast the government of Iran has allowed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe out of prison to reduce her danger from the epidemic. Which of these governments is portrayed as evil by the state and corporate media?

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Covid-19: UK Withdrawal from the EU Single Market Must Be Postponed to 2023 584

The enormous economic impact of the reaction to Covid-19 is plain for all to see. The effect on economies – which had barely recovered to 2008 levels after the great Banker Theft crisis – is enormous. You cannot just close down businesses and expect them all to restart three months later. Plus the hit to personal finances is going to result in a huge and lasting reduction in consumer demand, exaggerated by what I predict will be a much higher propensity to save against future disaster. Even optimistic economists are expecting a 15% drop in GDP and slow recovery. At recent levels it is going to take some seven years of compound economic growth to recover that.

I always argued that England and Wales should leave the EU as had been democratically decided by the electorate, and an Independent Scotland should not as similarly decided. My personal enthusiasm for the EU’s political institutions disappeared after their enthusiastic backing for the repression in Catalonia. But I also always believed, and still believed, that a hard Brexit was madness and that a Norway or Switzerland style relationship made sense – which approximates fairly well to the position the UK currently is in until the transition period ends at the turn of the year.

To leave the EU customs union and single market will be a massive short term economic dislocation. Even to consider doing this on top of the economic crisis caused by the reaction to Covid-19 ought to be unthinkable and I suspect that it is. There is no way that the UK can crash out of the single market in January 2021 in these circumstances, and I suspect that even this Westminster government may be forced to admit that soon.

I might add that the government measures to alleviate the economic impact of covid-19 in the UK are going to run aground in a fog of inertia, largely as the result of the UK having crippled its own bureaucratic machine though a decade of extreme cuts to staffing and capabilities. I myself tried to organise a COVID business interruption loan for the music festivals, and after many hours of effort was finally told by Natwest Bank that the regulations state that:

1) If the bank would normally grant the loan on commercial terms, it must do so without the government COVID guarantee
2) The bank may not grant the loan unless it would normally do so on commercial terms

Which means it is impossible to get the government’s purported loan guarantee. I assumed this was just Natwest being obstructive, but then I discovered this is precisely what the government scheme says.

Not so much Covid 19 as Covid 22. The actual effect in practice will be that the only people able to access the billions in government guaranteed funds for business interruption will be very wealthy Tory businessmen who don’t actually need the money. The sad thing is, that is not in the least surprising.

One thing of which we can be certain is that the depression will be used by the Tories to bring in another decade of austerity, of further abandonment of the economic potential of the state actor, and of attacks on the living standards of the poorest in society. It is important now to start working on a counter-plan of economic planning and investment to build a fairer and greener economy, with much more localism and resilience, once the current crisis has passed. Here in Scotland, that can show the alternative path which Independence can bring; in the rest of the UK it can bring a new focus for societal resistance to the Tories. Empathy, solidarity, localism and resilience are all virtues that are not valued by neo-liberalism. That society is rediscovering them could yet open the way to a brighter future.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Assange Bail Application Today 565

Unfortunately I am in lockdown at home in Edinburgh and cannot get down to Westminster Magistrates Court for Julian Assange’s urgent bail application today. Several hearings ago, Magistrate Baraitser stated pre-emptively that she would not grant bail, before any application had been made. Today’s application will argue that Assange’s ill health puts him at extreme danger from COVID-19, and that prison conditions make it impossible to avoid infection.

The government has stated that it is actively considering releasing some prisoners to reduce prison populations because of COVID-19. That a non-violent remand prisoner, whose current position is an innocent man facing charges in a foreign state, is in the fortress Belmarsh prison is already self-evidently ludicrous.

Both the British Government and Vanessa Baraitser personally came in for extreme criticism from the highly authoritative International Bar Association over both the conditions in which he is being held and over the conduct of his extradition hearing to date. This is from the International Bar Association’s own website:

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) condemns the reported mistreatment of Julian Assange during his United States extradition trial in February 2020, and urges the government of the United Kingdom to take action to protect him. According to his lawyers, Mr Assange was handcuffed 11 times; stripped naked twice and searched; his case files confiscated after the first day of the hearing; and had his request to sit with his lawyers during the trial, rather than in a dock surrounded by bulletproof glass, denied.

The UK hearing, which began on Monday 24 February 2020 at Woolwich Crown Court in London, UK, will decide whether the WikiLeaks founder, Mr Assange, will be extradited to the US, where he is wanted on 18 charges of attempted hacking and breaches of the 1917 Espionage Act. He faces allegations of collaborating with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak classified documents, including exposing alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. The hearing was adjourned after four days, with proceedings set to resume on 18 May 2020.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, commented: ‘The IBAHRI is concerned that the mistreatment of Julian Assange constitutes breaches of his right to a fair trial and protections enshrined in the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which the UK is party. It is deeply shocking that as a mature democracy in which the rule of law and the rights of individuals are preserved, the UK Government has been silent and has taken no action to terminate such gross and disproportionate conduct by Crown officials. As well, we are surprised that the presiding judge has reportedly said and done nothing to rebuke the officials and their superiors for such conduct in the case of an accused whose offence is not one of personal violence. Many countries in the world look to Britain as an example in such matters. On this occasion, the example is shocking and excessive. It is reminiscent of the Abu Grahib Prison Scandal which can happen when prison officials are not trained in the basic human rights of detainees and the Nelson Mandela Rules.’

In accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998, which came into force in the UK in October 2000, every person tried in the UK is entitled to a fair trial (Article 6) and freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 3). Similarly, Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights upholds an individual’s right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc, commented: ‘The IBAHRI concurs with the widespread concern over the ill-treatment of Mr Assange. He must be afforded equality in access to effective legal representation. With this extradition trial we are witnessing the serious undermining of due process and the rule of law. It is troubling that Mr Assange has complained that he is unable to hear properly what is being said at his trial, and that because he is locked in a glass cage is prevented from communicating freely with his lawyers during the proceedings commensurate with the prosecution.’

A recent report from Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Inhumane Treatment, presented during the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council (24 February – 20 March 2020), argues that the cumulative effects of Mr Assange’s mistreatment over the past decade amount to psychological torture. If Mr Assange was viewed as a victim of psychological torture, his extradition would be illegal under international human rights law.

117 medical doctors, including several world prominent experts in the field, had published a letter in the Lancet warning that Assange’s treatment amounts to torture and that he could die in jail.

Should Assange die in a UK prison, as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has warned, he will effectively have been tortured to death. Much of that torture will have taken place in a prison medical ward, on doctors’ watch. The medical profession cannot afford to stand silently by, on the wrong side of torture and the wrong side of history, while such a travesty unfolds.

You may recall that I myself concluded that the extraordinary and oppressive treatment of Assange, and the refusal of Baraitser to act to ameliorate it, could only be part of a deliberate policy to cause his death. I could, and can, think of no other possible explanation.

If the authorities now refuse to allow him out on bail during the Covid-19 outbreak, I do not see how anybody can possibly argue there is any intention other than to cause his death.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Tomorrow is Another Day

I have received very many messages waiting for my take on the Alex Salmond acquittal. There is much to say and a need to take serious decisions about exactly when to reveal various crucial elements of information, because while the truth is vital, there can be a legitimate question at which moment it does most good. The most stunning information is in danger of being swamped by COVID-19 at the moment.

Secondly, you will not perhaps be surprised to hear that there has been some serious happiness in the Murray household today. This subject is best tackled stone cold sober.

It is tonight worth reflecting that people seeking to still cast aspersions are attacking the jury, who were diligent and contained nine women whom they are disparaging. Nine women on a jury drawn from No voting Edinburgh. A jury who for the last few years have been, like everybody else, indoctrinated with the rubric that it is a terrible moral wrong to doubt the word of an accuser making any sexual allegation #Ibelieveher.

I was worried that this was James Stewart of the Glen before a jury of Campbells all over again, but this jury looked carefully at the actual evidence before them, evidence that was – and still is now post verdict – in no way reflected fairly in the highly selective coverage of the mainstream media. That jury came to the only decision available to honest and sensible people.

But I want to make one thing quite clear. This is not a case where the major accusations failed because of the difficulty of proving what happened with two people alone in a room. In such cases it is often right to feel real and profound sorrow for the accuser with no means of proof. This was a case where there was very real evidence, from third party after third party, of certain accusers telling definite and deliberate lies. A case where eye witnesses stated categorically that claimed events did not happen. A case where eye witnesses testified people were not physically present when claimed. A case where witnesses testified that reports had not been made, and policies not instituted, as claimed by the prosecution.

A limited amount of evidence was also heard of some of the accusers conspiring together with others, including through a Whatsapp group created for the specific purpose, to fabricate and forward those lies. The vast bulk of evidence on this specific issue of conspiracy was excluded by the court both in pre-trial hearings and by dismissal of witnesses or evidence in the trial itself but, as Alex Salmond indicated from the court steps, will be out in due time.

It is also important to note that two thirds of the accusers – and indeed precisely those two thirds who were involved in lies, fabrications and conspiracy – were and are senior members of the SNP, very much part of the party machine, very much close to the leadership and especially involved in the non-independence related agenda that has taken over the party. With one exception, they are in highly paid party nominated jobs now with the tab picked up by the taxpayer. What we learned in the trial about careerism and self-promotion among those earning a very fat living out of the party’s current domination of Scottish politics was really very unedifying indeed.

That a party which has such a wonderful and committed membership – a membership who make me proud to be a member alongside them – should play host to a parasitic and highly paid professional elite with no discernible interest in Independence is a truly remarkable phenomenon. What we saw revealed in court was a procession of members of the political class who would just have happily have made their careers in the old corrupt Scottish Labour Party if it was still in charge. A major, major clearout is needed.

Now where did I leave my Lagavulin? For once, I feel I have deserved it.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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It’s Not Socialism. It’s Another Mega Wealth Transfer. 383

Amid the COVID-19 panic, it has hardly been noticed that Carphone Warehouse went bust, with 2,900 people losing their jobs. Its co-founder, David Ross, is of course the billionaire that Boris Johnson claimed paid for his luxury holiday to Mustique, whereas Ross claimed he only organised it. Who actually paid is one of those Johnson peccadilloes, like the promotion of Jennifer Arcuri, the Garden Bridge fiasco, the Guppy conversation over beating up Stuart Collier, the Russian Influence report, the question of how many children he really has – I could go on rather a long while here – which will be discreetly downplayed by the state and media nexus.

Ross, like Branson and so many others of the “entrepreneurs” that we are taught to worship, came from a very wealthy background and had the great advantages of capital and connections to boost him up the ladder. To be fair to Ross, unlike for example Philip Green, there is no suggestion that he made his fortune from Carphone Warehouse by systematic asset-stripping. What he did do, which is typical of capitalism today, is with the other directors systematically and legally remove capital as it accumulated from the company into their own personal bank accounts. In the long term this left Carphone Warehouse unable to restructure and adapt to changed market conditions, which it needed to do, as its High Street model failed for reasons unrelated to the current health crisis. Ross also had illegally used his shares as collateral for £162 million of personal loans, for which this major Tory party donor has inexplicably never been prosecuted.

Ross had inherited a very large chunk of shares in, and the chairmanship of, Cosalt Ltd, a maritime supplies company. It went bust with £70 million debt and a £50 million pensions deficit, which ruined the lives of many employees and ex-employees. Inexplicably, after it went bankrupt its best assets were sold by the administrators Price Waterhouse at a knockdown price to… major Tory Party donor David Ross. Who thus made money from his own family company going bust and its pensioners being shafted.

Inexplicably, major Tory Party donor David Ross was not disqualified as a director of other companies by the Insolvency Service when Cosalt, of which he was a chairman, went bankrupt.

About 7% of Ross’s wealth would pay the entire Carphone Warehouse staff being made redundant for a year. That of course will never happen because it is absolutely contrary to the model of capitalism currently operating, in which the ultra wealthy view companies as sources of short term wealth extraction and feel zero connection to the workforce.

There is room to be congratulatory of Rishi Sunak’s active interventionism in the face of the economic crisis caused by the reaction to coronavirus. Many of his interventionist measures are very good, in particular in subsidising wages. It has been rightly and widely noted that to date there is not enough to support those self-employed in the gig economy, while to rely on universal credit to support anybody in crisis is plainly insufficient. But I am here more concerned with the larger macroeconomic measures. Quantitative easing as ever will merely push more money into the financial institutions for them to looad into financial instruments of zero real economic benefit.

The vast bulk of the £330 billion business bailout will find its way in huge tranches into mega-companies. The airline industry has already requested £7.5 billion, to give just one example. That is a series of simple large cheques for an overstretched civil service to write. I strongly suspect that the loans to small businesses, started today, will be slow and bureaucratic and difficult to access. They will be subject to bank interest – the bankers always win – which for a period will be paid by the taxpayer. Many of these measures when you analyse them are in the long term more transfers of money from the taxpayers to the banks.

It has been widely noted that money is suddenly magically available which was denied to industrial strategy and to the NHS for decades. But do not be fooled; this is not a conversion to Keynes by the Tories. In bailing out the airlines, Branson is not going to be asked to put back one penny of his personal wealth, and nor is David Ross nor any of the other billionaires. Those who have made vast fortunes in our ever-expanding wealth gap are not going to be asked to put anything back into the companies or system which they exploited. Massive state subsidies will predominantly go to the biggest companies and benefit the paid agency of the bankers. You and I will pay. The taxpayer will ultimately pick up the tab through what may prove to be another decade of austerity imposed as a result of another transfer of wealth from us to banks, financial institutions and big companies. The small and medium companies which will go to the wall – and a great many will – are going to provide rich pickings in a few months time for the vultures of the hedge funds and other disaster capitalists.

It is fashionable to write articles at the moment stating the Government has discovered the value of socialist intervention. I suspect history will show that nothing could be further from the truth.
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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Long Dark Night of the Soul

As many of you will already know, I was excluded from the public gallery of the Alex Salmond trial yesterday. Inside the High Court, in the queue to enter the courtroom, I was suddenly taken aside by the police and told I was barred. The prosecution had made an application to the judge for an order for my removal which the judge had agreed, over a “possible contempt of court.”

I asked the police – who were very pleasant – if they could tell me where the possible contempt lay, but they had no information. Later I phoned the court and was eventually phoned back by the clerk of the court, who was also very pleasant, but he could not tell me where the possible contempt lay either. He could however tell me I was excluded for the duration of the case, not just for the day.

I have to say that I find this process very unsatisfactory. To be excluded from a public trial on the basis of something I have “possibly” done, when nobody will even specify what it is I have “possibly” done, seems to me a very strange proceeding. I can only assume that it is something I have written on this blog as there has been no incident or disturbance of any kind inside the courtroom. But if the judge is genuinely concerned that something I have written is so wrong as to necessitate my exclusion, you would expect there would be a real desire for the court to ask me to amend or remove that wrong thing. But as nobody will even tell me what that wrong thing might “possibly” be, it seems only reasonable to conclude that they are not genuinely concerned, in a legal sense, about something I have written.

I will state openly that if the court asked me to remove or change anything I have written, I would certainly do that. But they have not asked me. They have just chucked me out without explanation. I do not find that satisfactory. It also seems to me very strange indeed, and quite contrary to natural justice, that the prosecution and the judge were formally discussing in secret a motion for my exclusion, while I was standing right outside their door. I was not given a hearing, allowed to be present, or even told it was happening. They knew I was there because the police then came straight to me. That seems to me contrary to all principles of natural justice. I am not a terrorist who needed to be secretly surveilled and dealt with in camera while excluded.

I do not doubt the judge may have the legal powers to do this. But the law is then wrong. Not to mention that this behaviour is extremely discourteous – she should at least have called me in and told me why. That would have taken a minute. And I then could also have removed any material she wished.

All of which – and the threat of prosecution for contempt which carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail – is very unpleasant. But what is far worse is the terrible feeling of helplessness that has resulted. I have scarcely slept at all this night, and it really was a dark night of the soul. Having seen the crushing power of the state operate against both Julian Assange and Alex Salmond in the last month has been dreadful. It is of course, at a philosophical level, the state’s use and abuse of its monopoly of violence, including the violent enforcement of deprivation of liberty. I am excluded from the court by the state’s monopoly of violence, as I would discover very soon if I attempted to re-enter. I find the violence of the state, and its enforcement by officialdom, a more brutal and horrible thing than personal violence, which I abhor. It has kept me awake, in a sea of desolation, to think that how Julian and Alex feel tonight must be a million times worse than I am feeling, which is bad enough.

But it is also the helplessness. In both the Assange and Salmond cases, I felt strongly that by bringing the full and detailed facts of the court proceedings into the light, I was at least doing something for truth and honesty. The detailed accounts I could write in each instance presented a picture that was entirely different to the selective and horribly skewed view of the proceedings being fed to the populace by the state and corporate media. Even if my accounts reached only a few thousand people, a world where a few thousand people know the truth is better than a world of absolute darkness, by a factor of infinity.

Being deprived of that ability at least to hold a little candle in the darkness, at least to bear quiet witness to the truth, has just left me also in darkness. That is where I have been all night, unsleeping, fevered and restless. And today I shall not be in court.

Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 7

Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 8

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 8

After Day 8, there is a change in the balance of evidence. Previously a popular meme has been that either Alex Salmond must be lying, or 9 separate women must be lying. After today’s evidence we can say that either several of those women must be lying, or a variety of other direct witnesses, female and male, must be lying. There is of course an element of false dichotomy even in this statement of the case, as in a number of instances there is a fair degree of commonality from both prosecution and defence as to actions, but differences as to interpretation or to intent. I can also say without any fear of contradiction that many of the allegations would not meet the definition of a sexual assault as commonly understood by the person in the street. That is not to say they cannot meet a legal definition. There I will bow to the judge – who I continue to find very fair.

The first witness today was Ms Samantha Barber, a company director. She had known Alex Salmond since 1994 when she was working for the SNP as a research assistant for the Euro elections. She had thereafter been employed by the European Parliament, and in 2007 become the Chief Executive of Scottish Business in the Community, a post she still held in 2014. She is now a director of several companies.

In the seven years Alex Salmond was First Minister she had several times been a guest at Bute House for dinner. She had a positive and respectful relationship with Alex Salmond but they were not personal friends outside of business.

She had been a personal friend of Ms H, the accuser who alleged attempted rape, for some years by 2014. They remain friends. She had been invited to the evening reception of Ms H’s wedding. She testified she is also a friend of Ms H’s current husband.

Ms H had telephoned her to invite her to the dinner at Bute house with the (not to be named) actor on 13 June 2014. Ms H in inviting her had stated she (Ms H) was not able to be there. In fact Ms H had indeed not been at the dinner. Ms Barber had arrived that evening at around 7pm. She had been shown up to the drawing room. The actor was already there and they had chatted together, just the two of them, until about 7.15pm when Alex Salmond had joined them. The three of them had dinner together. It was friendly and conivivial. At first the actor’s career had been discussed and then Scottish independence. Nobody else was there. Asked if any private secretaries had been in and out during dinner, Ms Barber replied not to her recollection. Nobody interrupted them

One bottle of wine was served during dinner. She had left after dinner around 9 and the actor had stayed on as Alex Salmond offered to show him around the Cabinet Room.

Defence Counsel Shelagh McCall QC asked her if Ms H had been there? No. Did you see her at any point during the evening? No.

[Ms H had claimed she was at this dinner and the attempted rape occurred afterwards. Alex Salmond had testified Ms H was not there at all. A video police interview with the actor had tended to support the idea Ms H, or another similar woman, was there and they were four at dinner.]

Prosecution counsel Alex Prentice then cross-examined Ms Barber. He asked whether she had received a message from the police on 29 January. She replied yes she had, and called them back on 3 February. Prentice asked whether they had then told her they wanted a statement, and whether she had replied she needed to take advice first. Ms Barber agreed.

Prentice asked why she would need legal advice to give a statement to police. Ms Barber replied she had never been involved in any judicial matter and wanted to understand the process she was getting into before she did anything. She had not said she wanted legal advice first, just advice.

Prentice asked again “why would you need legal advice before talking to the police”? Ms Barber again replied she wanted to understand the process she was getting into.

Prentice asked again, twice more, “why would you need legal advice before talking to the police?”. He got the same answer each time. You will recognise from yesterday’s report of his cross-examination of Alex Salmond, that it is a rhetorical trick of Prentice, to constantly repeat the same question in order to throw an unreasoned suspicion on the veracity of the answer. On this occasion he was stopped by the judge, who had enough.

Lady Dorrian pointedly asked him “Is a citizen not entitled to take advice, Mr Prentice?”, in a Maggie Smith tone of contempt.

Prentice then asked whether Ms Barber had already been at another Bute House dinner in May. Ms Barber replied not that she could recall. Prentice then asserted that the dinner on 13 June was with the actor, Ms H, and Alex Salmond. Ms Barber replied no, she genuinely had no recollection at all of Ms H being there.

The defence counsel Shelagh McCall QC then resumed questions. She asked if the police had put to Ms Barber that Ms H was there. Ms Barber replied that they had, and she had told them exactly what she had told the defence and now told the court, that Ms H had not been there.

The next witness was Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who swore on the Koran. She had joined the SNP in 2000 and been appointed national Women and Equalities Convenor in 2011. From 2015 to 2017 she was MP for the Ochil Hills.

Shelagh McCall QC asked if she knew Ms H. She replied for some years, and more frequently from 2012. Ms H had been involved in the Yes campaign. They had a good relationship, and in 2014 Ms H had asked her advice on standing for the SNP national executive committee.

McCall asked her if she remembered the date of the 13 June 2014 dinner. Tasmina responded yes, that was the day her father had died. She had received a message he was taken very ill that morning and had set off for London. At Carlisle they learnt he had died. (At this point the witness broke into tears.)

Before leaving Scotland with her husband she had messaged the First Minister’s office to say she would not be able to attend the Scottish women’s international football match the next day. (The point of this evidence is it contradicts Ms H’s evidence of her interaction with Ms Ahmed-Sheikh over the football.)

McCall led the witness on to June 2015 when Ms H had contacted her about becoming the SNP candidate for an Aberdeenshire constituency. Ms Ahmed-Sheikh confirmed that in June 2015 she had received a text from Ms H about the chances of Alex Salmond endorsing her, including the phrase “it would be great to be working with Alex again”.

Later Ms H discovered Salmond would not support her. Later texts read “Alex doesn’t think there is any chance for me against (name withheld)”, and then that she was withdrawing from the race and “Alex has it all to explain for”, alleging that Salmond had found another candidate to stand against her.

McCall then led Ms Ahmed-Sheikh to the occasion of the Stirling Castle dinner for the Council of Economic Advisers and the accusation of Ms E that Salmond had grabbed her buttock during a photoshoot. Ms Ahmed-Sheikh said the dinner had been very convivial, with a good atmosphere and speeches. Afterwards the guests had all gone onto the parapet in groups to have their photo taken with the First Minister with the Lion Rampant flag. Space was limited on the parapet so it was done in small groups. Ms Ahmed-Sheikh had been in the same small group as Ms E. She had her photo taken with the First Minister immediately before Ms E. Afterwards she had watched Ms E have her photo taken as the group all waited for each other and left together. This was just politeness.
Shelagh McCall asked a series of questions:
Did you see Alex Salmond insist Ms E have her photo taken? No.
Did you witness any discomfort from Ms E? No.
Did you see anything untoward? No.
[Ms E has accused Alex Salmond of grabbing her buttocks during the photoshoot.]

The prosecution asked no questions of Ms Ahmed-Sheikh.

The next defence witness was Fergus Mutch. He had worked from 2012 as a parliamentary constituency support worker for Alex Salmond, becoming office manager there in 2013 and in November 2015 head of communications and research for the SNP. He had first met Ms H in 2013 during the Yes campaign. In May and June 2015 he had dealt with her during the constituency selection process. In June 2015 she had sent him an email about wanting to become the candidate and asked him to set up a meeting with Alex Salmond. He had forwarded it on to Salmond.

Asked by Shelagh McCall if Alex Salmond had a preferred candidate, Mutch replied that Salmond had thought there were better, more local, candidates than Ms H. In June and July of 2015 Ms H had become well aware that was Mr Salmond’s view.

Shelagh McCall then turned to the accusation of Ms F, that she had been indecently assaulted by Alex Salmond in the early hours of 10/11 September 2014. Mr Mutch testified that during the 2014 referendum campaign both he and Ms F had accompanied Alex Salmond on tours, sometimes separately and sometimes together. On 12 September they had all three travelled by helicopter. He was shown a twitter post by Ms F made on 12 September at 6.45pm stating “extraordinary day in Indyref to Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth”. Mr Mutch said they had all been together from about 9am until about 9pm on the helicopter tour finishing at Gleneagles where they stayed the night.

Shelagh McCall QC asked how Ms F seemed that 12 September: “on good form, professional, buoyant”. How had she interacted with Alex Salmond “relaxed, normal, sitting next to him in the helicopter”.

Shelagh McCall then led Mr Mutch to February 2015, when he was working on a book about the referendum campaign. Ms F had sent him her campaign diary as source material. Ms F’s diary entry for 11 September (immediately following the alleged assault) read:
“Up at 7am. Heard Alex Salmond on Good Morning Scotland. Began making my way to International Conference Centre. Having to stand in the hot hall handing the microphone to journalists taking its toll, particularly after the whisky the night before. By contrast Alex Salmond is sharp in response to the questions, particularly from Nick Robinson.”

The prosecution had no questions for Mr Mutch.

The next defence witness was Mr Kirk Torrance. He had been a new media specialist for the SNP from 2009 to 2011 and had been brought in by them again for the referendum campaign. He testified that he had been in Bute House on several occasions, and the first time he had been there Alex Salmond had given a tour of the building and explained the history, paintings and so on. He had seen Alex Salmond do the same with other visitors.

He testified he had known Ms F since 2010. He well remembered the events of 10 September 2014 and the huge effect on the referendum campaign of the Royal Bank of Scotland announcement about moving its head office to England. The following day he had been inside SNP party headquarters watching the event from the International Conference Centre on live TV. After this Ms F had come in to SNP HQ and he had seen her in the kitchen at lunchtime. She had been regaling the HQ staff, especially the female staff, with the funny story that Alex Salmond had told her the previous evening about the well known political journalist who had passed out at Bute House after a sexual encounter.

Ms McCall asked whether she had appeared upset by the story [as Ms F and prosecution had claimed – see yesterday’s report]. Mr Torrance replied no, quite the opposite. She was enjoying retelling it, particularly to the female staff. Ms McCall asked whether the occasion could be interpreted as Ms F trying to process and make sense of an unfortunate event? No, replied Mr Torrance.

The next defence witness was Karen Watt, currently Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council for Further and Higher Education. From 2009 to 2012 she had been Principal Private Secretary to the First Minister.

Defence QC Gordon Jackson asked what Alex Salmond had been like as a boss. She replied working for him had been both a privilege and a penance. It has been exciting, fast paced, stressful and very demanding. Salmond could personally be demanding, fierce, fun and good company.

Jackson asked about Ms D. Ms Watt replied Ms D was very smart and got things done. Alex Salmond had rated her highly. Had Ms D enjoyed her time in the Private Office? Yes. Led by Jackson, Ms Watt explained that she would normally go on overseas visits with the First Minister but had not done so on the China trip as she was leaving the office shortly thereafter. The civil service contingent had thus been led by Donald Cameron, principal private secretary to Leslie Evans, head of the Scottish Civil Service. There had been a formal debrief meeting after the visit, at which nothing exceptional happened.

A few days later Donald Cameron had told her that he had witnessed an event in a lift in China where Alex Salmond had attempted to touch Ms D’s hair. He had seemed concerned but Ms Watt had not known what to make of it. The two of them had therefore held a meeting with Ms D. At the meeting Ms D had stated that the event was nothing that had concerned her. Ms Watt had viewed this as the end of the matter.

Ms Watt was then asked about Ms B. She said that Ms B was good at her job, smart and professional. She managed other staff on the policy side. Gordon Jackson asked her if she remembered the matter of the Jack Vettriano Christmas card.
Had she shared the view that the card was inappropriate? Yes she had.
Did she remember it being discussed in the office? Yes she did.
Had Ms B said anything to her about a sexual encounter with Alex Salmond in relation to the painting? Ms Watt replied she could not recall such a thing.
Did she tell you Alex Salmond had repeatedly grabbed her wrists? I do not remember any such conversation.
Did she tell you about anything of a sexual nature with Alex Salmond? No.
[Ms Watt was Ms B’s manager. Ms B had testified she had reported the alleged incident to Ms Watt.]

There were no questions to Ms Watt from the prosecution.

The next defence witness was Geoff Aberdein. He had been Chief of Staff to Alex Salmond from 2011 to 2014. He had first started working for him in 2004. He testified that Alex Salmond was a firm but fair boss. Work had been very demanding. Salmond had high standards, did not mince his words but welcomed people giving the same back to him. Their relationship was purely professional – they were not friends outside working hours.

In 2013 Salmond’s Principal Private Secretary had told him about the incident with Ms F. He had never been aware of any other sexual allegation regarding Alex Salmond. Salmond had taken responsibility and apologised. Ms F had been offered the chance to leave Private Office for another civil service job, but had declined. In spring of 2014 Griffin had been on a trip with Salmond and Miss F together, which had been normal.

On 8 to 9 March 2018 Ms A had contacted him to say she was involved in a process of looking at complaints about Alex Salmond. He had spoken to Kevin Pringle and Duncan Hamilton by conference call to discuss this. On 29 March 2018 he had held a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament to discuss this. On 2 April he had attended a further meeting in Sturgeon’s home. In none of these contacts did Ms A reveal she was personally making allegations of abuse. Gordon Jackson asked whether there was even the slightest hint that Ms A was personally making a complaint? No, never.

There were no questions for Mr Aberdein from the prosecution.

The next defence witness was Ms Lorraine Kaye. A civil servant for 21 years, she had been deputy private secretary to Alex Salmond under three successive principal private secretaries. She stated that working in the Private Office was very demanding, the hours were incredibly long. You might start at 7am and then not leave Bute House until after midnight after dealing with the ministerial box and correspondence. You could be working on speeches and papers there until the early hours. She had personally done this.

Gordon Jackson asked if there had ever been a policy of female civil servants not being alone in the evening at Bute House with Alex Salmond. Ms Kaye replied no, she had frequently been there alone herself throughout. She had loved the job – it was the highlight of her career.

Asked about Alex Salmond as a boss, Ms Kaye said he was driven, committed and set high standards for himself and for everybody else. He was old-fashioned. He had always opened the door for her and other women and ushered them in, he would insist even junior civil servants be seated properly at table when working over meals. Gordon Jackson asked if Salmond was tactile? Yes, he was always hugging and kissing and posing for selfies with people.

Jackson said there was a difference between being tactile and over the top. Was he ever out of order? Not that I saw, replied Ms Kaye.
You were there sometimes very late? Yes, we could come back to Bute House after a dinner or function after 11pm and still have to finish papers and correspondence.
Was there ever any policy not to be alone there with Mr Salmond?
No. I was, frequently.

Gordon Jackson asked about Ms D. Had she ever tugged her hair? Ms Kaye said yes she had. Ms D had remarkable tight ringlets of which Ms Kaye laughed she was very jealous. People tugged them. This may sound surprising but the atmosphere in the Private Office was that they were all very close. They spent much more time with each other than with their own family and friends.
You were never uncomfortable around Mr Salmond? No.
Would you attend dinners at Bute House sometimes? Yes, that was part of the job.

There were no questions from the prosecution for Ms Kaye.

The next defence witness was Alexander Anderson. He had worked for Alex Salmond in various capacities from 1998 to 2016. From 2012 he had been a SPAD to the First Minister covering external policy, and had responsibility for speeches, correspondence and diary. He said that Salmond could be a demanding boss, but also encouraging and inspiring.

In 2008 Anderson had been working on press in the Glasgow East by-election campaign office. Alex Salmond arrived several times, always with an entourage, and would always be straight out campaigning with his entourage and the candidate. He had seen no interactions between Salmond and Ms A in the campaign offices.

The atmosphere in Salmond’s Private Office had been intense. It would be fair to call it a family atmosphere. It was very hard working but also light-hearted and they had socialised. Salmond was a tactile person. He would always take people’s hand on the street and hug people at bus stops or in businesses as he campaigned. Gordon Jackson asked if he saw a clear line between that and inappropriate sexuality? Absolutely.

Had Anderson seen Salmond together with Ms D? Yes. They appeared to have a great relationship. Ms D was very smart, a good colleague and a bubbly personality. Gordon Jackson asked if Anderson knew Ms F. Yes, he replied. Had he seen her in stockinged feet? Yes, Anderson replied, this appeared to be her habit at work. [This confirms Salmond’s account and contradicts Ms D’s account of how she came to have her shoes off.]

Gordon Jackson then led on to Ms E. Had Mr Anderson been at the Stirling Castle dinner, and had he been one of those photographed with Alex Salmond on the ramparts? Yes, replied Anderson, they had all had photos taken because it was the first time in 300 years the lion rampant had flown at Stirling castle. There had been a professional photographer there to take the photos.
Were you there when Ms E was photographed? Yes, I was on the ramparts with her.
Did you see anything inappropriate? No.
Did you witness any reluctance on her part? Did you hear her say anything? No.

The prosecution had no questions for Mr Anderson.

The final witness of the day was Ms Ann Harvey, who worked in the SNP whips’ office at Westminster from 2006-9 and 2011 to present. She had been present at the Glasgow East by-election. In response to a question from Gordon Jackson, she replied that she had witnessed nothing inappropriate there when Alex Salmond visited.

Gordon Jackson asked whether she had more recently been asked anything relevant? Ms Harvey replied that on 31 October 2017 she had received a series of 16 text messages to her private number asking for information and whether she could disclose anything about the past. Gordon Jackson asked what the messages said specifically and who they were from.

At this point, Alex Prentice rose for the prosecution and objected to this line of questioning. The jury was dismissed and a legal argument was held on the admissibility of this information. I am not allowed to report the legal discussion. In the end the judge ruled the evidence inadmissible and Ms Harvey was dismissed.

That concluded the day’s proceedings. It was a day on which defence witnesses directly contradicted evidence from the accusers on a number of key points, most importantly but by no means solely on the question of whether Ms H was present at all at the event where she claimed to have been the victim of attempted rape. It was also given in evidence that people had not reported incidents they said they had reported, and there was no civil service policy against women working alone in the evening with Alex Salmond – which claim had been one of the MSM’s most lurid headlines.

MSM reporting I have seen to date has not reported today’s proceedings fairly. For example in reporting that Ms Barber had testified Ms H was not at the dinner, the media has not generally reported the key facts that Ms Barber knew Ms H very well and the dinner was just for three people.

It is interesting that the prosecution chose not to cross examine the defence witnesses, except in the case of Ms Barber who was subjected more to innuendo than to cross-examination and who gained the protection of the judge. I am very constrained by what I can legally comment at present, so let us leave it there for the day.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 7

With the defence opening its case, the Alex Salmond trial finally had a public gallery open all day, and accordingly I was in court with my trusty notebook. I should start by saying that the contrast with the soul-crushing experience of Woolwich Crown Court and the Julian Assange hearing was extreme. Edinburgh High Court is built for public access, not for public exclusion like Woolwich. You walk in straight off the High Street and the entire design of the building is intended to let the public flow through freely. There are literally no fences, no locked doors, no armoured glass, no enclosed glass cage for the accused. The court itself was impressive; Lady Dorrian presided with exemplary fairness, dealing quickly and sensibly with points that arose on admissibility of evidence. The jury of 15 citizens looked engaged and earnest throughout. The impression of my first day is that it is a process that deserves respect and trust, something I never felt at an Assange hearing.

The day was dramatic enough, mostly consisting of Alex Salmond in the witness stand giving evidence. That evidence was startling. He stated that some of the accusations were deliberate fabrications with a political purpose. He specifically accused Ms A of fabrication, and of recruiting and encouraging five of the other accusers also to make fabrications against him. Crucially he described Ms A, whom he accused of orchestrating the fabrications, as extremely close to Nicola Sturgeon, and did so in terms so graphic and detailed that I cannot repeat them as it would identify Ms A.

On Ms A’s own accusations, he stated that it was “ludicrous” for her to suggest that he sexually assaulted her in the middle of a dance floor when she handed him the microphone to make a speech at the office Christmas party, when all eyes would be upon him. The guests were seated all around the dance floor at tables, and there was a meal. He also stated that Ms A’s claims of his assaulting her during the by-election campaign in July 2008 were fabricated. He had always had minders with him during his presence at the by-election. The events described were public. He did recall seeing Ms A there, but the claims that he touched her buttocks or kissed her lips were fabrication.

On 2 April 2018 Salmond had attended a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon and discussed two complaints against him, which were then subject to civil service procedures. No mention had been made that Ms A was bringing sexual allegations against him, although Ms A had input into that meeting which I must not specify.. This was the meeting at Sturgeon’s home where Sturgeon had told the Scottish parliament she first heard of allegations against Alex Salmond. Salmond stated under oath that Sturgeon had earlier held a meeting on 29 March 2018 to discuss the allegations with Geoff Aberdein, Salmond’s former chief of staff. That is five days before the date that Sturgeon told parliament she first knew of the allegations. That may have wider political ramifications.

Salmond had only found that out from the police almost a year later that Ms A had made allegations personally against him, despite dealings with her over the Scottish government inquiry into the two complaints.

The other accuser whom Alex Salmond was directly accusing of fabrication was Ms H. Salmond stated categorically that Ms H had not been at the dinner with the actor (whose name for reasons I do not understand the court also does not allow me to mention) in June 2014, after which the woman had claimed that Salmond had attempted to have sex with her in the bedroom in Bute House. Salmond also stated that Ms F had not been in Bute House in May 2014 when she claimed that an earlier incident had occurred. The court spent a great deal of time as the defence team took Salmond though the official calendar, the official diary, and the Bute House kitchen records to establish that there was no Bute House event in May 2014 at which Ms H might have been present.

Salmond stated that Ms H’s description of her communication with Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh about possible attendance at a football match the next day could not be true because Ms Ahmed-Sheikh’s father had died the previous day and she had left for London for the funeral, which had Ms H been present where and when she claimed, Ms H must have known.

Alex Salmond did however say that he had an entirely consensual sexual encounter with Ms H in Bute House approximately one year previously. The encounter had not involved penetration or full undress but had been of a sexual nature. It had been initiated by Ms H. He remembered that the evening was the first time he had heard the word “shots” in relation to alcohol, as Ms H had said “who would have thought I would be drinking shots with the First Minister”. He stated that he had then known Ms H for some years working for the SNP in various capacities, and that this consensual encounter had been a case of old friends going too far, which they had both acknowledged and realised it was a mistake, and parted on good terms.

Alex Salmond testified that subsequently in 2015 Ms H had sought his endorsement for nomination as an SNP candidate in an Aberdeenshire constituency. He had not given his endorsement. (You will recall that the court had during Ms H’s evidence seen texts from Ms H appearing to confirm she had sought his endorsement).

At this point I am going to insert out of turn the evidence of the second defence witness, Mrs Isobel Zambonini. Mrs Zambonini testified that she had been working as an employee in Alex Salmond’s constituency office when Ms H had arrived one day to do some paperwork and photocopying, and she had been told that Ms H was there to seek the parliamentary nomination. She had however been aware that Alex Salmond preferred another candidate.

Some days later Mrs Zambonini had encountered Ms H again by her car. Ms H had asked Izzie how she found it working for Alex Salmond. After an initially pleasant conversation, suddenly Ms H had stated “He needs to remember who he is and how he got there, I was instrumental in making that happen”. Mrs Zambonini stated she had been shocked by how quickly Ms H had changed and got angry.

Returning to the testimony of Alex Salmond, this had started with Alex being led by his counsel through a description of the functioning of the Private Office of the First Minister. It was a very high pressure 24/7 operation and officials from the Private Office accompanied the First Minister on all official occasions, including dinners, conferences etc both at home and abroad. The Private Office had about twenty staff, selected by the Civil Service. These were highly sought after positions that often led on to career promotion. Because of the unusual hours and working conditions the Private Office was like a “big family” and working relationships were more informal than may be normal in the Civil Service.

The First Minister had three sets of offices from all of which the Private Office operated. At St Andrews House, in the Holyrood Parliament and at Bute House, which contained both substantial offices and living accommodation.

Salmond was asked about the complaint by Ms B that he had grabbed her arms and attempted to kiss her, suggesting that they re-enact the scene in Ae Fond Kiss by Jack Vettriano, which picture had been delivered to Bute House.

Alex Salmond stated that he rated Ms B highly, as a civil servant who helped him prepare for First Minister’s Questions. The context was that the painting had been donated by Jack Vettriano for the First Minister’s christmas card, and had been the subject of discussion in the private office all day, mostly focussed on how they would tell Vettriano that the card was inappropriate for the purpose and something more sedate required. In the event Vettriano had been very gracious about it and donated another painting named “Let’s twist again”, which had eventually been auctioned raising £100,000 for charity. “Ae Fond Kiss” had ended up as a charity Christmas card for Shelter.

Salmond acknowledged that he had grabbed Ms B’s arms and suggested to her that they re-enact “Ae Fond Kiss”, but he characterised this as part of the running joke and “horseplay”. He said that Ms B had replied as she had testified “Don’t be daft”, and he had desisted. There was no intention on his part to assault or to be indecent.

Turning to the evidence of Ms C, Salmond acknowledged that he had given her and her husband a lift from Pizza Express on Holyrood Road to Waverley Station, but categorically denied that he had put his hand on her knee during the journey, though he acknowledged it was possible he inadvertently brushed her leg. He stated that the woman’s husband was an old friend who had worked for him in two different offices, and he had been chatting with him throughout the journey. Salmond stated the car had been the First Minister’s silver Lexus, in which the rear armrest between the two back seats was permanently fixed down as it incorporated a specially fitted telephone. It would be impossible surreptitiously to put your hand on somebody’s leg without being seen reaching over the armrest.

On the accusations of Ms D, Salmond said that she was a civil servant whose work he valued very highly. She had very curly hair which sprang back if you pulled it. This was a joke in the office and Salmond said that other members of the office also sometimes tugged at Miss D’s hair in jest. Asked about an incident on an official visit to China, Salmond explained that the visit to China had been extremely important and hard working and had included a meeting with Premier Li and a Memorandum of Understanding on Chinese investment in Grangemouth petrochemical complex and on Scottish salmon exports to China. Salmond acknowledged that he had stroked Ms D’s face while she was sleeping, but said it was as the car in which they were travelling arrived at the internal border with Hong Kong where there would be a document inspection, and he had stroked her face in order gently to wake her up. It had no sexual motive. He also acknowledged that on that visit he had reached out to tug her hair in a lift as witnessed by Donald Cameron, but said this too had no sexual motive.

Salmond acknowledged that he had, as Ms D testified, interlinked arms with her while they were buying ice creams for the team at the Ryder Cup in Chicago. He stated there was no sexual motive and it was an example of the informal nature of the Private Office when on mission. They had been attending the Ryder Cup for meetings as Scotland was hosting the next one at Gleneagles. He acknowledged further that Ms D had shown him a bikini shot of her holiday in Jamaica. He agreed that he had told her that she looked like Ursula Andress in Dr No.

Asked by Defence counsel whether he now regretted his behaviour, Alex Salmond said that obviously from his position in the court he did, and he should have been more aware of intruding into people’s personal space. But incidents which nobody deemed serious at the time were now being exaggerated. His counsel, Gordon Jackson QC, asked him why that might be. Salmond replied that some of the allegations were fabrications for a political purpose, whereas others were little incidents which were now being reinterpreted in an entirely different way in the light of the police investigation of the last eighteen months.

Salmond was next asked about the accusation by woman G that he touched her bottom at the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in Glasgow. Alex Salmond replied that he recalled the incident well. They were late for a dinner where they were meeting with an important figure from the oil and gas industry. He had arrived with Ms G, who was a SNP functionary figure, his wife Moira and one other. The contact had occurred when he gave Ms G a “friendly shove” in the back to hasten her up the spiral staircase, where she was “dithering and talking”. His wife Moira had been between Alex and Ms G when he reached up to give the shove.

Ms G had later moved into the career civil service. She had been present as duty Private Office official at a dinner in George St which had happened rather spontaneously to toast the arrival of Kevin Pringle’s new baby. She had been concerned that, now a civil servant, she ought not be present at what might be seen as largely a political party event, and had been particularly concerned when a picture of her there had been tweeted out.

After the dinner, she had returned with Salmond to Bute House with the ministerial box to go through the papers and correspondence ready for the morning, as ministers do with their private secretary on duty every evening. She had been very upset when there. She had not told Salmond why and he now knew it was because of the tweet. He had known her for over six years, from before she became a civil servant, and had put his arm around her to comfort her and ask what was wrong. There was no sexual motive.

Salmond was then asked about the testimony of Ms F, who was at the time an SNP press officer. He described the evening in question. It was in the final few days before the 2014 Independence referendum. The BBC had just announced that if Scotland became Independent, the Royal Bank of Scotland would move its HQ to England. Salmond had an 8am television interview on Good Morning Scotland the next morning and a major speech at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre at 10am. An opinion poll had just shown a Yes lead, and the RBS announcement had the capacity to derail Independence.

Returning from an event in Glasgow to Bute House with press officer Ms F, arriving after midnight, he had been for a very long time on the phone trying to raise the Chief Executive of RBS for clarification. They also had to amend his speech for the morning to take account of the new development. Ms F had testified that she had found Salmond lying on the floor, and he had invited her to lie down beside him. Salmond stated that it had always been his working method, his whole professional life, to lay out his speeches on the floor to look over them and make changes. He was asked whether there was any physical contact with Ms F, he replied none whatsoever, except that when they finished preparation for the morning, which was about 3am, he had tapped her on the nose when saying goodnight.

At one point when they were waiting in the early hours for feedback from Ross McEwan of RBS to incorporate in the speech, he had taken Ms F on a tour of the state rooms of Bute House as she had not been there before. It was then he had told her the amusing story about the journalist passing out in front of a portrait which they stood before, at a party.

On the accusation of Ms E that he had touched her buttocks during a photograph at Stirling Castle, Salmond denied this, he had been hosting a dinner at Stirling Castle and afterwards all of the participants had taken a photo of him and the lion rampant flag, because it had been the first occasion that Scottish flag had flown at Stirling castle since 1707. Salmond said there was whole series of photos of him on the occasion with his arms around people, and it was standard for a politician. He regretted not having been sensitive to the fact that Ms E had not wished to join in with the picture taking. His wife Moira had been present, and the next day they had travelled with Ms E to Gleneagles.

Alex Salmond was then asked about the allegation of Ms F. He said that Ms F was another excellent civil servant. He said that the alleged incident in September 2013 was true. He had said goodnight to her and gone to kiss her cheek, but as they moved he had made fleeting contact with her lips by accident.

On 4 December 2013 they had returned from Holyrood to Bute House about 8pm with a great deal of work to do in the ministerial box. There was First Minister’s Questions to prepare and the Clutha helicopter disaster had just happened. The White Paper on Independence had just been published and there was a great deal of correspondence and paperwork arising from the China visit.

They did all of this except the Chinese papers and then had dinner at Bute House. As Ms F had testified, the heating in the office floors of Bute House had broken down. It was December and very cold so they went up to the bedroom which had heating and a table and chairs to work at. Ms F had taken her boots off which, Salmond said, she always did when indoors, unless in a very formal situation.

Salmond said that as they were working on the Chinese papers it seemed appropriate to take up a bottle of Mai Tai with which they had been presented on the China trip, and they had drunk some of this while they were working. They became tipsy. Salmond said they were both drinking about equally. After finishing, Ms F had gone and sat on the bed in order to put on her boots. Gordon Jackson QC asked Salmond if he had instructed Ms F to get on the bed, as she alleged, and Salmond replied firmly “no”. Salmond had gone across to hand her the folder, and they had embraced goodnight and then fallen in to what he described as a “sleepy cuddle”. Ms F’s feet were on the floor, they were lying on the bed and Salmond had one arm under her and one arm over her. Both were fully clothed.

Asked if the thought this was appropriate, Salmond said no, it was not appropriate, he was First Minister and he ought not to have done this.

After a short time, Ms F said “I’ll have to be going. This isn’t a good idea” and Salmond replied “no, this is a very bad idea” and they got up. She said “Goodnight First Minister”, he replied “Goodnight [christian name]”, and she left. He now knew she finished some work in the office downstairs before leaving Bute House.

Salmond was asked if he grabbed her buttocks, he replied no. He was asked if she struggled, he replied no. “It was a cuddle”.

A few days later, Salmond was approached by his Principal Private Secretary Joe Griffin, who said that Ms F had told him there had been a cuddle and a kiss, and she wanted a meeting and an apology. This meeting had happened very quickly. He had apologised. It should not have happened and was entirely his fault. She had asked if it would affect her career and he had said no, he took full responsibility. He had asked whether she wished to continue to work in the Private Office and she had replied that yes, she did. She had asked for an assurance there would be no recurrence and he had given that.

Gordon Jackson put to Alex Salmond that the charge was an intent to rape. Salmond said never, this was not true, he had never attempted a non-consensual sexual act in his life and never would.

Salmond stated that the accusation had changed over time. Joe Griffin had given a fair account as prosecution witness of what Ms F had alleged at the time. This had now developed into an accusation that he groped her and touched her underwear. This was a new and recent ramping up of the accusation.

After Alex Salmond’s cross examination by the defence counsel had finished, the prosecuting counsel, Alex Prentice QC, stood to cross examine him. The questioning of the accused by the prosecutor is normally the most dramatic moment in any criminal trial, and Prentice plainly intended this should be no exception. He had the Jack Vettriano painting displayed on screens and asked:

“Did you for one moment consider Ms B’s feelings when you grabbed her hands and asked her to re-enact the kiss?”

Alex Salmond replied that it was a joke, part of a running joke that had been going through the day, and he had expected Ms B would understand the suggestion was not serious.

To which Prentice responded:

“Did you for one moment consider Ms B’s feelings when you grabbed her hands and asked her to re-enact the kiss?”

And Prentice continued to ask the same question six times, irrespective of what Alex Salmond said in response. What Salmond said in response included that Ms B was a personality who was particularly partial to jokes and horseplay, and gave no indication of taking any offence at the time.

Prentice then went on to ask why Salmond had done this when nobody else was in the room. He replied that it was towards the end of the working day and people were popping in and out of the Private Office continuously. Obviously he now regretted not having had more respect for Ms B’s private space, but completely denied any struggle or force.

Prentice asked whether Salmond had instilled fear into his Private Office staff. Salmond replied that was neither his belief, intention nor perception. Prentice said they had heard evidence that some people were intimidated by Salmond. Alex replied that he accepted that was true for those people, but it was not the general case. Prentice replied that they had heard from one witness that the stress of working in Private Office had caused mental health difficulties. Salmond replied that he accepted that was true for that person.

Prentice went through the various accusers, asking Salmond in each instance to state the age gap between them, and supplying the answer in each case. He was anxious to impress that in general Salmond was about 30 years older than his accusers. He asked Salmond if he had respect for women. Salmond replied yes, he had equal respect for the women and men he had worked with.

Prentice asked whether Salmond thought tugging hair was acceptable and whether he had not seen women flinch. Salmond said it was lighthearted in context and that had not been the reaction at the time. His behaviour had not been sexual.

Prentice asked whether Salmond’s behaviour with Miss F had been acceptable. He was 58 and she was 29. Did he advance drinking alcohol as an excuse? Salmond said no he did not, and he had acknowledged responsibility for unacceptable behaviour. But there was no struggle, they were both fully clothed, and feet on the floor.

Prentice stated that “you had however, on an earlier occasion, kissed her”. Salmond replied that he had, but he had inadvertently brushed her lips when he had gone to kiss her cheek. Prentice expressed scepticism that this could happen. Salmond replied that in his experience it on occasion did.

Prentice then asked if Salmond realised how demeaning it would be for a woman to be smacked on the bottom. Salmond replied yes, he did, but he had not done that. He had given Ms G a push up the staircase. Prentice asked whether he denied saying to her “what I would do to you if I was 26” when “comforting” her at Bute House. Salmond said he did deny this. He had been telling her she was a talented young woman with a big future in front of her, in order to comfort her when she was distressed. Prentice asked whether Salmond alleged Ms G had misread the situation. Salmond replied yes.

Prentice stated that Salmond had claimed the attempted rape charge by Ms H had been based on an earlier consensual encounter initiated by Ms H on 16 August 2013. He again stressed the age difference. He said that the truth was that Ms H was indeed at the dinner with the actor on 12 June 2014 and that afterwards Alex Salmond had tried to rape her. Salmond said no, it was not the truth.

Prentice said “you did behave as described”. Salmond replied “no, I did not.”
“The truth is, she was there” : “No, it is not”.
“You tried to rape her” : “No, I did not”.

Prentice asked why Alex Salmond had told Ms F a story involving a penis. Did he think that was appropriate, alone in Bute House in the early hours? He was 31 years older than Ms F. Salmond replied that he had explained the context of why he had told the entertaining story about the passed out journalist under the portrait, while they were waiting for more information to come to finish off the speech and interview briefing. Prentice said that Salmond had proceeded to attempt to kiss her on the face and lips. Salmond replied that he had not. It was an extremely crucial night just before the referendum, and he was focused on the RBS leaving story, on his 8am TV interview and on his big speech.

Prentice said that he had grabbed Ms E’s backside because he could. Salmond replied that he had not touched her backside. But he should have been more aware of her personal space and that she was not keen to join in the photograph taking.

That finished the notably brief prosecution cross examination of Alex Salmond, which it is fair to say was very much aimed at arousing the emotions rather than attempting to query Salmond’s version of the facts.

Court reporting restrictions prevent me from passing much comment on the above. I would have covered the prosecution case in equal detail had the public not been barred from the court during it. I shall contribute another report after the defence continues today.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

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13 Events, No Witnesses: The Prosecution Concludes the Case Against Alex Salmond

Today the prosecution concluded its case against Alex Salmond. The most important point was that, now the final prosecution witness has been called, we can conclusively say that the Crown did not produce a single eye witness to any of the 13 alleged incidents. This is even though many of them occurred in public; at a photo opportunity in Stirling Castle, in restaurants, in a vehicle with other occupants. It is strange that a behaviour allegedly so continuous and so compulsive was simultaneously so invisible – that is invisible to anybody who was not either a member of Nicola Sturgeon’s very closed inner circle – which describes six of the nine accusers – or a senior Scottish government civil servant, which describes the other three. It is the very narrow and connected milieu of the accusers which distinguishes this case from the comparisons the media had everywhere drawn with the monstrous Weinstein.

The nearest thing the crown had to an eye witness was Mr Donald Cameron, head of the private office of Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government. Mr Cameron testified on Friday that he had witnessed Alex Salmond attempt to brush the hair from the cheek of a civil servant in a lift (which is not one of the charges). Mr Cameron also agreed under questioning that there was not, to his knowledge, any policy against female civil servants working alongside Mr Salmond in Bute House, which claim had been the major trial media headline on Friday morning.

The other main point of interest since my last report has been the acknowledgement by accuser Ms J that she had been in messaging contact with Ms H – before making her allegations. The Crown did not after all call one of its listed witnesses, Ian McCann, the SNP official who had been in the WhatsApp group discussing (ahem) the accusations and who had been involved in the strategy to “sit on them” until they were “needed”. The cross-examination of McCann would have been very interesting; I am rather unsurprised the Crown have pulled him.

I had a conversation on the last AUOB march with a lady who used to be a senior British Airways air hostess. British Airways used to host promotional events such as conferences and dinners at venues such as Turnberry or Gleneagles. Air hostesses would be present for hospitality duties, in their uniforms in the day and then changing into evening wear for the evening function. Social mores change, and this would be viewed as pretty tacky now, but it was perfectly normal twenty or thirty years ago.

The lady told me that she very frequently had problems with guests becoming over familiar and trying it on with the hostesses, particularly after drinking at dinner. The guests were generally very senior executives and politicians. The hostesses would frequently discuss among themselves who was and who was not “handsy”, who to avoid and who was nice company. She told me that Alex Salmond had been very frequently, over many years, a guest of BA at these functions, in a variety of capacities. She had never once heard a single word of complaint about him. In the starkest contrast to many other public figures.

The media have had over a week of lurid headlines. Tomorrow will see the start of the defence case – and the good news is that means the court will be open to the public. If I can wake up and queue up early enough, I hope that I shall be able to bring you detailed reporting.

Shortly after Alex Salmond left the Scottish parliament, Robin Mcalpine told me that he had been entering the parliament with Alex Salmond for a meeting. The security guard had been rather embarrassed to tell the former First Minister that he would require to be signed in as he was no longer a member. Salmond replied “of course, call the First Minister’s office”. The guard did so, and the First Minister’s office refused to sign him in. That was when I first knew something was badly wrong.

Under Alex Salmond, Scottish nationalism was radical and challenged the imperialist English nationalist narrative that so dominates UK politics and media. Since his departure, there has been a radical change of emphasis. On Syria, on Ukraine, on Huawei, the SNP has decided to join in with Britnat union jack patriotism and indeed be still more militaristic than the Tory government. Rather than explain, let me present some contrasts which you should easily understand.

Last week the SNP at Westminster sided with the most right wing Tory rebels in voting against Huawei’s involvement in constructing the UK’s 5G network. On Syria the SNP is actively calling for regime change and criticising the UK government for not adopting a policy of regime change.

On Ukraine also the SNP is actively more hawkish and anti-Russian than the Tory government and criticises from the extreme NATO hawk position. The SNP defence spokesman, Stewart MacDonald, posted a twitter stream of the books he read in 2019 which was an astonishing collection of Russophobia, both Russophobic “research” and Russophobic spy fantasy fiction. MacDonald was actually awarded a medal by the President of Ukraine for his services to Russophobia – sorry, services to Ukraine’s image abroad. (This is true, not a joke).

With Salmond out of the picture, the SNP has been captured to become a political party with an absolutely safe, dependable neo-con worldview. The SNP leadership unquestioningly now accepts and actively promotes the Britnat framing of China and Russia as the enemy. Salmond never did. The SNP has been successfully neutered by the British Establishment both from challenging the Britnat worldview and from any genuine intention to break free of the UK state. This has been a major success for the security services in neutralising what the UK state saw as its biggest single danger. It explains absolutely why Alex Salmond needs, from a UK security service point of view, to be permanently put out of the picture.

Neither China nor Russia is the enemy of Scotland. Quite the opposite. I am going to say that again so it sinks in. Neither China nor Russia is the enemy of Scotland. The acceptance by the SNP hierarchy of this Britnat imperialist framing is a betrayal of the Independence movement.

On Huawei, it seems to me extremely improbable that the Chinese state – which has enjoyed phenomenal success through peaceful economic expansion – has any intention of spying aimed at harming the interests of Scotland. What I do know for certain is that the UK government will use 5G, exactly as it has used every other communications technology, for mass spying on its own citizens. What I know for certain is that the UK government’s mass spying on its own citizens includes those it views as being a danger to the UK state through their support for Scottish Independence.

I should have been a great deal more impressed by the SNP’s vast coterie of Westminster MP’s, all of whose arses are becoming increasingly well padded from their long and comfortable sojourn on the green benches in Westminster, if they had taken the opportunity of the Huawei debate to speak, not in Churchillian terms about the Chinese Red threat to the United Kingdom, but to speak about GCHQ and MI5 spying on Scottish people. That is what the SNP should be about, not British patriotism.

Consider the above change in the SNP’s geopolitical stance. Consider that the majority of accusers are senior SNP figures close to the current leadership. Consider the role of SNP Party HQ in (ahem) discussing the accusations. I hope you now understand that is why I shall be in court every day from tomorrow.

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The Boy I Love is [Not] in the Gallery – The Alex Salmond Trial Day 4

I am reporting today on the Salmond trial over 24 hours delayed. As I am not permitted media access and the public is excluded from the gallery during accusers’ evidence, I need to gather information in order to be able to give a different perspective from the mainstream media. It is very hard to do that in real time.

But when done, it is very interesting indeed. Yesterday, all of the mainstream media portrayed Salmond’s defence, and his defence counsel Gordon Jackson QC, as an appeal to the social attitudes of the 1960’s. This from the BBC is how the episode of an alleged slap on the buttocks of Ms G in a restaurant is universally described in the media:

When it was suggested by Mr Jackson that the smack had been “playful”, the witness said she had considered it to be “extremely inappropriate”.

But this is a quite deliberate misrepresentation – which is peculiarly universal in the BBC, Guardian, the Scotsman, the Times, the Sun and anywhere you care to look. Gordon Jackson was not suggesting an alleged unwanted slap on the buttocks was “playful” in mitigation. Doubtless as intended, the reporting has brought down a social media storm from feminists of all genders accusing Gordon Jackson of ancient chauvinist attitudes and Alex Salmond of appalling abuse.

Those criticisms of Salmond and Jackson would be quite justified if the mainstream media reports of what was said were true.

But in fact it is a completely false distortion of what was said. This is the truth.

It was the woman – Woman G herself – who had described the alleged slap on the buttocks as “playful” in her initial statement to police. Playful was Ms G’s own choice of word. Gordon Jackson was putting her own word to her, and querying how an alleged event which she had initially described as “playful” had now morphed into a serious criminal offence.

It makes rather a difference when you realise that “Playful” was Ms G’s word, not Gordon Jackson’s word, nor Alex Salmond’s word, does it not? Yet you would never know that from all of yesterday’s media reports. That is because the media is very deliberately attempting to frame this story, and frame Alex Salmond’s guilt, in the public mind. That is the real danger when the public are excluded and only state approved “media” are allowed to witness. Thank God for moles.

I also ask you to bear in mind that these are all the prosecution witnesses. The defence witnesses have not yet been called. All of the media are reporting that women were banned from being alone with Alex Salmond in Bute House after 7pm. It is reported as fact. That was however an assertion by one prosecution witness. It is not necessarily true, despite all the media headlining it as fact. Wait until you hear the defence witnesses. It may be true. It may not be true. Wait.

A final thought for today. It is notable that quite a few of these incidents have taken place in public places. Restaurants. Office parties. A car containing also both a driver and the accuser’s husband. In the case of Ms A, numerous unspecified locations. Yet to date, not one single incident has been attested by an independent witness who saw it. Nobody seems to have seen these things that allegedly happened in public. That may change as the prosecution case progresses. But it is an interesting fact at present.

As the prosecution case mounts, it is intended that you should start to lose your critical faculties and conclude there is no smoke without fire. That is how the prosecution are framing this. Hold on, draw no conclusions, and above all do not believe the media. There is a reason independent media witnesses including myself are not allowed into court.

Irrespective of whether the individual accusations are true or false – and the jury are in much the best place to decide that, guided by the judge – one thing is very clear to me. A number of very ambitious people took advantage of Alex Salmond to propel political careers, and then turned upon him after he no longer had power. This happened once it became clear it was the will of the new SNP hierarchy that Alex Salmond be taken out of the political scene for good.

Which makes me feel quite ill.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Your Man Kept Oot the Gallery: The Alex Salmond Trial Day 3

I have long deplored the ever burgeoning number of party political hacks – of every political party – which the poor long suffering taxpayer has to stump up for. I recommend the excellent book The Triumph of the Political Class by Peter Oborne, on this and other subjects. There is an ever increasing rise in the number of SPADS. In addition, the offices of members of various parliaments are comfortably staffed both at parliament and in the constituency. Various individuals and groupings have taxpayer-funded but party appointed “Chiefs of Staff”. I have always viewed “Short money” as a constitutional abomination – the state, the poor taxpayer, should not be paying for political party machines. If the members of a party, any party, wish to try to impress their views on voters and to establish themselves in lucrative office, then the party members should fund their activity themselves. The Short money system pays for party HQ staff and machinery according to electoral success, and thus helps cement the establishment. Furthermore, there can be friction between taxpayer funded party appointees and the civil servants they work with – when I worked within the FCO, we career civil servants found SPADs an ill-informed nuisance. Plus the political patronage system can be open to abuse – remarkably, two SNP political appointees on the books of the Scottish civil service, paid for by the Scottish taxpayer, have recently without changing jobs been bumped up two whole pay grades on their taxpayer funded salary, a happening unavailable to ordinary civil servants.

Yesterday saw the continuation of the prosecution case in the Alex Salmond trial. As always, I have to write with extreme care for fear of being found in contempt of court.

The BBC is permitted to be highly selective on the aspects of the evidence it reports. Sarah Smith has been telling the camera with great emotion that an accuser referenced the Harvey Weinstein case, and has been stating with a voice full of angst that the “victim” said she did not want any of this, and swore that it is all true. Sarah Smith has done this without offering any substantial account at all of the defence’s cross examination of said witness. Sarah Smith is in no danger whatsoever of being found in contempt of court for a broadcast that reaches millions of people and is deliberately, professionally and competently designed to sway the viewers emotionally into a view of the case hostile to Alex Salmond. By contrast I, to a smaller audience, am writing with extreme circumspection, knowing the state will prosecute and probably jail me in a flash if I get one nuance wrong. So I am dependent on you reading this whole article with intelligence, and thinking “I wonder why he just told me that bit? Where was that relevant?”

It is essential to an understanding of this case, and not so far in any dispute, being fully brought out by the direct evidence of Ms A, Ms C and Ms H, that six of the accusers conferred (and I carefully used a neutral verb there) together over their accusations. Ms A yesterday denied a suggestion from the defence that she was thus involved in encouraging the accusations. We also know from Ms H’s evidence that at least two of the accusers were actively involved with SNP HQ in a plan to “sit on” the accusations until it was time to “deploy them” “if needed”, and that meant to stop Alex Salmond coming back into politics by refusing him vetting as an SNP candidate.

So it is extremely important for you to be aware that none of these accusers to date (up to end day 3) has been a career civil servant. All are SNP party figures, right at the heart of the operations of the current SNP administration. There is, in my belief, a deliberate attempt at false portrayal in the media to pass some accusers off as career civil servants in order to give an undeserved aura of impartiality and trustworthiness. Which is not in the least to allege the accusers are not trustworthy persons, just to say their trustworthiness is not avouched by career civil service status. Some future accusers to be called may well be genuine civil servants. It is an important distinction; not for the purposes of the trial – it makes no difference to the jury or the facts of the case – but to the wider political ramifications.

Anyway, for a report on yesterday’s evidence from important SNP politicians and apparatchiks, I refer again to Grouse Beater. Today I am going to lift a section of his report wholesale, for which I trust he will forgive me:

d. Next witness is a complainer, Woman A, so court being cleared again. Alex Salmond is accused of indecently assaulting her and sexually assaulting her. Woman A tells the court she was working for the SNP in 2008 when Alex Salmond’s behaviour caused her concern. He says he would go in as if to kiss her cheek but then give her a “sloppy and kind of unpleasant” kiss on the lips. Woman A also says “at times he would put his hand on my back and move his hands so they were on the side of my chest or on my bum”. “I took the view it was deliberately…there was no need for his hand to be there, it wasn’t something you would have done by accident.” Did Woman A encourage Alex Salmond to kiss or touch her? “Not at all.” Did she want it to happen? “Absolutely not.” Did she voice disapproval? “I didn’t know how to say ‘don’t do this’ to the first minister, but I would move, I actually began to carry a bag so it was between us”. Why didn’t Woman A tell Alex Salmond to stop? “I liked my job,” she says. “He was the most powerful man in the country….I had experienced volatile mood swings and behaviour from him and it was always easier to move away then risk infuriating or antagonising him.” Did Woman A tell anyone? “I was embarrassed, I was doing this job which meant a lot to me and him humiliating me on a regular basis was embarrassing. I didn’t want to tell people he was doing this….it would make me look weak.”

Lunch adjournment

e. Woman A tells court that Alex Salmond touched her at a party; running his hands down over “the curve of my body” while saying “you look good, you’ve lost weight”. She says she was “kind of internally shocked” and kept her distance from him for the rest of the night. Alex Prentice asks Woman A if she consented to anything Alex Salmond is said to have done to her? “Never”. Did she give a signal of consent? “No”. Prosecution finished with witness, now Gordon Jackson will cross examine.

f. Gordon Jackson says Alex Salmond kissed other people on the lips; “what he did to you was the same he did to members of the public – that’s the sort of man he was”. Woman A says she doesn’t remember seeing Alex Salmond holding other women by the shoulders. Jackson says “these events such as they were are absolutely nothing, and were not distressing in any way or form”. He says they have “turned into criminality” due to “revisionism because other things happened since”. Woman A says that’s “categorically wrong”. Jackson asking why she didn’t later disclose the alleged incidents; Woman A says she had “put them behind me” and “moved on”. Woman A says “I didn’t want to be drawn into a world where I was dealing with my complaint against Alex Salmond….until the police came to see me I was content not to be part of this.” On the incident where Woman A says Alex Salmond ran his hands over her and said she had lost weight, Jackson says “you call that groping?” “Yes,” she replies. He had contended that “nothing happened”; Woman A says “Mr Salmond assaulted me – that’s not nothing”. Asking about Woman A’s contact with other complainers. She says she contacted others off the back of the Daily Record story, saying she thought it “would be difficult for people to handle”, she wanted to “check they were okay”. She says she also reached out to men. Jackson says Woman A was “very much a part of encouraging people to make a complaint, and make things that were trivial, nothing, turned into criminal charges”. Woman A says “I was not encouraging people to make a complaint.”

g. Next witness is Woman C – an SNP politician. Alex Salmond is accused of sexually assaulting her. Woman C says she was celebrating after a Holyrood budget vote, at a restaurant. Alex Salmond offered her a lift to Waverley Station in his ministerial car afterwards to catch a train, she says. Woman C says Alex Salmond put his hand on her leg, above the knee, and kept it there for “a large proportion of the journey”. Did she invite him to do this? “Absolutely not”. She was “embarrassed” and “just hoped it would stop”. Asked why she didn’t say something or call for help, Woman C says “it was so surreally [sic] awful that I didn’t want to say anything, I was just really embarrassed by it and presumed he would stop quite soon because it was so not the right thing to do.”

h. Shelagh McCall cross examining now. She puts it to Woman C that Alex Salmond “says he never touched your leg”. Woman C replies that “I wish it wasn’t the case, so I wouldn’t be here today.” Asking Woman C about whether she felt under pressure from Woman A to speak to the police. She says she didn’t feel pressure to give a statement; she only wanted to speak about things when she wanted to, but “people were talking about this”. Asking if this was a trivial incident? Woman C says “it was something done by my first minister and leader – it was something you put to one side, because who on earth are you going to tell about something like that?” Asked if she thought alleged incident a sexual assault, Woman C says “it was entirely inappropriate and wrong”. “I suppose when you look back you realise how much you excuse a person because of who they are.”

The Ms A incident, if for the moment we take her account as true, raises some very serious questions. Sexual assault is rightly an extremely serious matter, carrying heavy penalties. When does contact over clothing, not with an erogenous zone, become sexual assault?
It is important to emphasise that the defence do not accept Ms A’s account, but the judge’s direction to the jury on this point is going to be extremely interesting. The jury determine fact, but on the point of law they should be guided by the judge.

Pizza Express are getting a lot of very peculiar publicity. The dinner from which Alex Salmond gave Ms C a lift to Waverley Station was at Pizza Express Holyrood. No evidence so far that Prince Andrew was at the next table. As the defence pointed out to Ms C, it’s about a quarter of a mile to drive. (This is true, I used to live next door, and I could dash it on foot in six minutes to catch a train).

Woman C says Alex Salmond put his hand on her leg, above the knee, and kept it there for “a large proportion of the journey”. Did she invite him to do this? “Absolutely not”. She was “embarrassed” and “just hoped it would stop”. Asked why she didn’t say something or call for help, Woman C says “it was so surreally awful that I didn’t want to say anything, I was just really embarrassed by it and presumed he would stop quite soon because it was so not the right thing to do.”

The defence also pointed out that the limousine in question had a large fixed armrest between the two back passengers which would make the surreptitious or casual placing of a hand difficult. None of these defence points appear to have found their way into mainstream media.

But the two most important facts of the day seem – as you would expect – to be missed entirely by the mainstream media.

They are brought out by the excellent report by James Doleman in Byline Times. The first is that Ms C admitted to being a member of a WhatsApp group that had been “discussing” the allegations against Salmond. I use the verb “discussing” used by James Doleman and presumably used in court. Other verbs are available.

Secondly, Ms C said she had come forward in response to an “unsolicited email” by a police officer. I have previously reported on the massive fishing expedition conducted by Police Scotland against Alex Salmond in the context of the civil case he won against the Scottish government for the unfair and biased process conducted against him.

The court remains closed to the public when the accusers give evidence, which is over 90% of the trial so far. I have reapplied for accreditation as media, now as the newly appointed Political Editor of an established media organisation, Black Isle Journalism Ltd, which meets the required criteria. I await a response.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Alex Salmond Trial: Your Man Excluded From the Gallery

A jury member is only allowed to consider certain facts in a case. The judge has ruled rigorously on what both prosecution and defence counsel may present as relevant fact. The judge will have excluded certain facts from being presented for various reasons. One of these reasons is Scotland’s idiosyncratic and very strict law on collateral evidence.

The essence of the collateral evidence rule is that what must be judged is the alleged criminal action itself and evidence pertaining directly to it. So if I were alleged to have stolen a tricycle, and an eye-witness says they saw me do it, that must be judged on the evidence of the event itself. If I had evidence, for example, that a social media group had been discussing how to fit Craig Murray up as a thief, that evidence would very likely not be admissible in court because it would be collateral evidence. It does not relate to the direct eye witness evidence on the alleged criminal act itself.

The classic statement of this Scottish common law rule is from Justice Clerk Ross in Brady vs HM Advocate 1986

The general rule is that it is not admissible to lead evidence on collateral matters in a criminal trial. Various justifications have been put forward for this rule. The existence of a collateral fact does not render more probable the existence of the fact in issue; at best a collateral matter can only have an indirect bearing on the matter in issue; a jury may become confused by having to consider collateral matters and may have their attention diverted from the true matter in issue.

Some may find this strict law on collateral evidence counter-intuitive. But it is the law, and the social media group “evidence” would very likely be kept from the jury while my guilt or otherwise of tricycle theft was being considered. The jury would have properly, as is the law of the land, to consider only what the judge directs them to consider in reaching their verdict.

But a journalist is not a jury member. The journalist has a very different role. The journalist’s job is to dig out information of the kind the judge may consider collateral and immaterial to innocence or guilt of the act. The journalist could not, of course, publish any such information during the trial itself or the judge might send them to jail for a considerable period. But the job of the journalist is to dig, and to keep digging.

I am rather a hard working journalist. Therefore coming specifically to the Salmond case I know some things which the jury know but you, dear reader, are not permitted to know, like the identities of the accusers. I know other things around the alleged events which the jury will not know, because it does not fit in to the judge’s, or the lawyers’, view of what is needful to be presented at trial. Some of that I cannot tell you nor even hint at because it may influence the jury in the improbable event that they read my blog. Such event being made even less probable by the judge’s stern and correct admonition to the jury not to read about the trial online. But some of that I can tell you because certain facts are plainly not relevant to the question of guilt or innocence of the charges involved.

[As an aside, I was challenged online as to whether I agreed with the law of contempt of court. My own belief is it is much too strict in limiting publication. Throughout most of the world, freedom of speech allows people to comment on trials as they wish and it is for the jury or the judge not to be influenced by the media. The judge’s direction to the jury not to read or be influenced by media ought to be sufficient. There is something strange about the notion that trial should theoretically be public, but the public not permitted to write about it. What is the point of trials being public if the public are not permitted to comment? It is even stranger that I can say to you down the pub that I thought a witness came across as a liar, but that legally expressed opinion becomes illegal if I tweet it. Where is the line? Can I tell a small meeting I thought the witness was a liar? And finally, the extremely arbitrary powers of the judge to decide who is guilty of contempt of – the judge themself – is an extraordinarily abusive power if you think about it. Being able just to jail anyone who says you are personally doing a bad job is self evidently an abuse of human rights.]

Another category of things which I know, relates to the political circumstances and machinations around this most political of trials. At a crucial moment where the Independence movement is, frankly pathetically and unnecessarily, stalled by the Boris Johnson veto, it is no exaggeration to say that the fate of an entire nation can be affected by the outcome of this trial. The Independence movement is of course infinitely bigger than any individual or collection of individuals, just as the cosmos is much bigger than my teacup. But this trial directly relates to the stalling of the momentum of the Independence movement, and in a manner most people do not realise.

There are vital questions here which in no way depend on whether or not Ms H told the truth in her testimony about events in Bute House. It is very important to say that nothing I write here is affected in any way by whether the alleged attempted rape and alleged attempted assault with intent to rape actually happened or did not happen. Everything I am going to write will remain true whether the alleged assaults happened or not, and what I write makes that neither more nor less likely. The accusers’ claims and the accused’s denials must be fairly judged. I leave that in the very capable hands of Lady Dorrian and the jury (and I may add that all my research has cast no shadow at all on the reputation of the trial judge Lady Dorrian).

The trial was kicked off with by far the most serious allegations first, from Ms H. The court is cleared of the public for the evidence of the anonymous accusers. Media only are permitted to attend and watch in a CCTV room. I have been refused media accreditation on the grounds I do not write for “a media organisation regulated by Ofcom and owned by a limited company.” The ever excellent Grouse Beater blog has a very good compendium of Ms H’s evidence the first two days as reported by journalists, including by James Doleman and by Philip Sim.

I believe however I may comment on one aspect of Ms H’s evidence without fear of contempt of court, because my commentary in no way relates to the allegation made, or comments one way or the other on the plausibility of what Ms H said. I here take an aspect of Ms H’s evidence entirely at face value.

Ms H on Monday in court described herself as a “soft supporter of Independence”, “not very party political.”

Yet this is a person who could stay in a bedroom inside Bute House (not Salmond’s bedroom), who was employed then in a central, vital political capacity, who remains today very much an intimate part of the small trusted inner circle of SNP leadership, a person approved as an SNP candidate by central vetting, who attempted as the court heard today to get the nomination for an Aberdeenshire Holyrood consituency which overlapped with Alex Salmond’s then Westminster Gordon seat.

A “soft independence supporter”. Her own words. Approved as a candidate.

This is three years after the alleged attempted rape. My point is purely a political one.

Those of us who are deeply unhappy with the apparent willingness of the SNP to accept a permanent Westminster veto on Independence, and to squander the mandate for Indyref2 won at the last Holyrood election, have long suspected that far too many people at the “professional”, careerist, highly paid core of the SNP are at best “soft independence supporters” and more interested in other political agendas: particularly agendas related to gender and identity politics. The revelations of this trial, entirely unrelated to the truth or otherwise of the allegations against Alex Salmond, are of massive public interest from a political standpoint.

According to her evidence today, when Ms H did finally years later report the alleged assault in Bute House, as she said inspired by the Harvey Weinstein case, she reported it not to the police, not to the civil service, but to the SNP’s conduct and discipline officer, Ian McCann. That is in itself sufficient indication that Ms H, who said in evidence she could go in and out of Bute House without signing in, is not the career civil servant she was rather disingenuously made out to be in the media.

Her evidence was perfectly clear. She made the sexual assault complaint to party HQ with the specific purpose of preventing any possible political comeback by Alex Salmond and to ensure he could not pass vetting in order to become an SNP candidate again. Ms H said this directly in her evidence.

Not only that, but she discussed this plan not just with Ian McCann – who reports directly to Peter Murrell – but with other accusers.

So here we have four women, Women H, G, J, and A, all of their identities kept secret because they are all accusers of Alex Salmond, all of them in very close circle within the current SNP leadership. They are in touch with each other and with Ian McCann. Woman H has given the SNP details of a serious criminal allegation against Alex Salmond with the stated intention that it should be used in vetting to prevent him being an SNP candidate again. She is discussing with some or all of the others how they can make allegations and stay anonymous. The official response from SNP HQ is that they will hold on to the allegations hoping they will “not need to deploy them.”

Witness H is specifically asked against what eventuality the party was sitting on the allegation, and she replied explicitly for vetting – ie to prevent Alex Salmond standing for parliament again. Sitting on allegations of an extremely serious criminal offence, in case you have to deploy them – why? for the political purpose of preventing an Alex Salmond comeback – is a very strange way indeed to deal with a criminal matter. Attempted rape is far more serious than that. If it is true, this is a gross insult to victims of sexual violence everywhere.

I repeat again, in the interests of my not going to jail. None of this in any way reflects on the truth or otherwise of the alleged assault itself. The above is all perfectly possible if based on a real, or based on a fabricated assault. I am not commenting on Ms H’s credibility. That would be illegal. I am commenting on the interesting fact of the SNP staff and the accusers sitting on allegations with the intention of deploying them, specifically only if necessary, to end Alex Salmond’s political career. The idea that attempted rape could be an insurance against an Alex Salmond comeback – an idea into which SNP HQ were fully bought in. Indeed it was SNP HQ who expressed it that way.

If you look through the twitter lines, you will see that journalists between them have missed at least three quarters of what is said in court. Because I am not there I am dependent on their selection of material. But allied to my background knowledge, I do hope that I have managed to elucidate some of what is happening, and fulfilled my purpose of supplying information you will not get from corporate and state media. It is plain enough that what I have stated is what has been given as evidence. It is extraordinary that mainstream media reports that I have seen mention none of this, but again only concentrate on the lurid details of the happenings in Bute House as alleged by Miss H.

Iain Macwhirter reckoned this trial could split the SNP from top to bottom. I respect Iain greatly and I know why he said it. But I believe Iain is wrong about the effect on the party. As more revelations come out, despite the anonymity of the accusers, what I do believe this trial might do is enable the broader SNP membership to cast off a fairly small and unrepresentative group of careerists who have gained control of the party machinery, who never had Independence at heart and have been making a very fat living on the back of the efforts of a devoted membership.

Irrespective of which, I wish the judge and jury well in their efforts to reach a fair and considered verdict on the allegations.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

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In a Strange Limbo

My efforts to accredit to cover the Alex Salmond trial continue to be stonewalled. I therefore cannot gain access to the court which is closed to the public while the anonymous accusers give their evidence. Media only are able to watch via CCTV from a media room, which is where I am trying to get. The established media are of course overwhelmingly hostile to Alex Salmond.

You will recall the media behaviour at the coverage of the Julian Assange hearing. They turned up in force on day one and gave major coverage to the prosecution opening statement. The headlines screamed that Julian Assange had “put lives at risk”, and was just an “ordinary criminal”. They then almost entirely left, and gave virtually zero coverage to the defence’s comprehensive refutation of these arguments.

I suspect we are going to see a similar dynamic at play here. The prosecution led yesterday with its key witness and the most serious accusations. The media have used screaming headlines – today’s Times has five separate articles on the trial – and Ms H’s accusations are given in enormous, salacious detail. I am willing to wager very large sums of money that the defence are not given nearly the same level of coverage. Which is why I need to be in there to record what really happens.

I have established firmly that I am not being kept out for reasons of space. I have been passed around various officials, but the lady from “judicial communications” in charge of the court is willing to admit me provided the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) is willing to accredit me with their media card. I filled in the forms for that and sent in the photo last week. So far no response from SCTS, except that they yesterday referred me to “judicial communications”, who referred me straight back to SCTS again. The old runaround.

I am extremely frustrated by this as this is the key witness (I know who Ms H is, incidentally) and key evidence I am missing. There are a number of other subjects on which I might be blogging, but the annoyance is knocking my concentration at present, for which I apologise.

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Reporting the Alex Salmond Trial

Imagine you had not seen the reporting of the Julian Assange hearing by myself or by any other citizen journalist. Imagine you had only seen the reports of the mainstream media. What impression would you have of that hearing solely from the MSM and how would it differ from the impression you have now?

Every fact I reported from the Assange hearing was just that, a fact. Nobody, anywhere, has made a single claim that anything I reported to have happened, did not happen. Yet the mainstream media simply did not report 99% of the facts of the case which I reported.

Then realise this. For all the key evidential parts of Alex Salmond’s trial, the public and citizen journalists will be excluded and only the MSM will be permitted to be there. How thorough, how accurate and how fair do you think MSM reporting of the case will be? The MSM hate Alex Salmond as a danger to the status quo, just as they hate Julian Assange.

At least for the Assange trial I could queue from 6am and get in with the public. The public will themselves be excluded from the Salmond evidence sessions. I went to the court on Thursday and was told not to queue on Monday as there will be no parts of the trial open to the public that day. I was told to queue from early Tuesday morning with the possibility of a brief admission to the courtroom for the public at some point on that day, by no means guaranteed.

I have therefore applied to be admitted to the trial as a journalist. This is the email I sent to the courts service. I apologise that circumstances compelled me to blow my own trumpet, but the application is quite true if embarrassingly immodest. I am indeed the most widely read journalist resident in Scotland. The fact my journalism does not reach its audience by the medium of dead trees, or by TV news broadcast to an ever-shrinking audience of gullible old people, does not change that.

CRAIG MURRAY
To: [email protected]

Thu, 5 Mar at 16:53

Sirs,

I am arguably the most read journalist resident in Scotland. We have undoubtedly the most popular and most read new media website in Scotland, http://www.craigmurray.org.uk.
Our regular readership is higher than the regular readership of the Scotsman or Herald, and on a good day higher than any Scottish newspaper. I have 75,000 followers on Twitter.

Last week our daily coverage of the Julian Assange hearing reached many millions of readers all around the world.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1

Many hundreds of thousands followed the hearing on my own website, and in the English language the article was republished on hundreds of websites worldwide, as proven by a google search of an unique exact phrase from the article, which gives 869 returns
.
My Assange hearing articles last week were in addition translated and republished in languages including French, German, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese (Iberian and Brazilian), Norwegian, Japanese and probably several others of which I do not know.

It is not just a question of quantity. This is reporting of the highest quality. My Assange case reporting was commended in the strongest terms by some of the UK’s most famous journalists, including Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger

former Daily Mail chief columnist Peter Oborne

And the legendary investigative journalist John Pilger

I would therefore be grateful if you would organise media accreditation for me to cover the Salmond case. In the modern world, the best journalists and those with the biggest audiences no longer work for the corporate or state media. Plainly, I am a journalist.

Craig Murray

The response to my email was of course to send me a form to fill, and that form made absolutely plain that it expected “journalists” to be from the established corporate and state media. Amusingly it also said the media organisation must have “balanced journalism”. That is of course another lie by the authorities. They have accredited the BBC, Sky and the Daily Telegraph, for example. They have not the slightest interest in balance, merely in excluding non right wing thinkers.

I have not heard back yet on my application. There is an irony that this blog might be regarded as a significant medium of publication for purposes of being threatened with jail for (ridiculous) alleged contempt of court, but not be regarded as a publication for the purposes of attending in court.

I still await a decision. If my accreditation is not accepted, my ability to report proceedings will be severely constrained. My strong suspicion is that being a good and accurate reporter with a wide international readership will appear to the authorities precisely the grounds on which they should try to exclude me. If excluded, I will provide what reporting I can, in any event, and gain entry at least to that part where the public are admitted, while finding ways to report what I cannot directly witness: I already know a great deal more than I am permitted to tell you about the facts of the case.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, 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 the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
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BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

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