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Alex Salmond – After Massive Suppression Attempts, Testimony Finally Published

The importance of this is in direct proportion to the massive state attempts to block it.

Alex Salmond’s submission to the Holyrood Inquiry has finally, after bad faith attempts to suppress it by Linda Fabiani and the SNP MSP’s on her committee abetted by Andy Wightman, been published. I strongly urge you to read it in its entirety. You will, for certain, not see a fair or comprehensive summary of it anywhere in the mainstream media.

I make the following very brief comments:

It is perfectly clear when you read it that the submission in no way risks identifying any complainants – not even those who were perjurers plotting against Salmond. That was simply a false ruse used to try to suppress this testimony.

Nicola Sturgeon’s panicked rush round the TV studios this evening claiming that there is “no evidence” to support Alex Salmond’s testimony is an astonishing deployment of the big lie technique. Alex has confined his evidence strictly to what can be proven by documentary evidence.

The evidence of conspiracy which he notes as still being concealed by the Crown Office is precisely the same evidence the Crown Office concealed – and the judges refused to order disclosed – in my own contempt of court case. That is going to be a major focus of my anticipated appeal to the Supreme Court.

Alex’s evidence vindicates two years of my reporting on this case, in detail. I feel very proud this evening. It also proves the truth of my affidavits. The other documents to which Alex’s submission refers are most readily accessed here. I suggest however you first simply read through this submission reproduced below here as published.

Remember how hard they tried to stop its publication. Let that be a spur to you to read it.

I have highlighted a few key phrases.

Submission of Alex Salmond

Introduction

This is my fourth submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry. It should be read in addition to, and in conjunction with, the three other previous submissions. Those prior submissions relate to the application of the procedure (phase 2), the Judicial Review (phase 3) and the Ministerial Code (phase 4).

This final document accordingly includes an introduction and overview of matters linking each of the four individual submissions

It thereafter includes submissions on

1. phase 1 of the Inquiry.
2. the question of ‘conspiracy’
3. Crown Office

Documentary evidence exists to support all of the factual statements made in this submission. I have sought to provide that to the Committee where it is within my power to do so. Despite repeated requests, however, Crown Office has not provided the Committee with the critical evidence which was unable to be led in the High Court. Perhaps even more concerning is the direction from Crown Office that I face the prospect of criminal prosecution for even referring to the existence of such evidence or specifying (even in broad terms) what that evidence is. One of their letters even suggested that the Committee’s use of such documentation might also constitute a criminal offence

My hope and belief, expressed outside the High Court in Edinburgh after my acquittal, was that documents which were not put before the jury and the public would be published in the course of this Inquiry. To date, and despite the centrality of those documents to the remit of this Committee and the overwhelming public interest in their publication, Crown Office continue to veto any such publication under threat of prosecution.

Despite that deplorable prohibition, I can confirm that all of the material factual statements made in this submission are supported by documentary evidence. Where I am legally allowed to direct the Committee to such documents, I will be happy to do so.

Overview

The Committee has achieved progress in the volume of documentation supplied.
However it has been fundamentally obstructed in three key areas.

First on the legal advice which the Government received from external counsel in the Judicial Review. In normal circumstances the extraordinary discovery by this Committee that both Senior and Junior Counsel to the Government threatened resignation because the case they were being asked to argue was unstateable would
have been headline news. However, despite two parliamentary votes, the full advice from Counsel hasn’t been provided to the Committee. It is extraordinary that the Lord Advocate, who could sanction such advice being published, has refused to do so. The legal provision for him to publish in the public interest is clear. Inexplicably, the Lord Advocate has been able to simply refuse that request and to get away with doing so in the face of the will of the Committee and of Parliament. Despite that, it appears from what has emerged that by October 2018 external counsel advised the Government that, on the balance of probability, they were heading for likely defeat. And yet, despite that advice and the cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds of avoidable legal fees, the Scottish Government pressed on with a case they expected to lose. This submission explains why.

Second the restriction arises as a result of the failure of the Government to provide documents from when the Judicial Review started in August 2018 until the Scottish Government finally conceded in January 2019. There were 17 meetings with external Counsel, daily meetings on progress of defending the Judicial Review (according to Paul Cackette, acting Solicitor to the Scottish Government during the case) and thrice weekly meetings according to Ms Judith Mackinnon, the Investigating Officer. However, the Committee has yet to publish (or to my knowledge see) a single relevant minute, email, text message or ‘One Note’ from that entire period relating to those meetings despite being assured that such documents would be provided. Of particular interest to the Committee would be the extent to which various parties were informed of the progress of the case and in particular whether the Lord Advocate’s expressed views on “sisting” (pausing) the Judicial Review pending the criminal case were discussed, how widely and with whom.

Thirdly, the crown response to the section 23 request has hindered rather than assisted the Committee. The information provided was neither sought nor publishable by the Committee. Those in Crown Office providing that information must have been well aware of that. However, text messages which could be properly considered and published and which have been part of the Committee’s questioning and would bear directly on the veracity of evidence given under oath to this Committee have been withheld. The blocking of the Committee in this matter and others is nothing whatsoever to do with protecting the anonymity of complainants, which I support and have upheld at every stage in this process. Rather, it is a matter of the shielding of some of the most powerful people in the country who are acutely aware of how exposed they would become.

The Parliamentary Committee has already heard evidence of activities by civil servants, special advisers, Ministers and SNP officials which taken individually could be put down to incompetence, albeit on an epic scale. However taken together, and over such a prolonged period, it becomes impossible to explain such conduct as inadvertent co-incidence. The inescapable conclusion is of a malicious and concerted attempt to damage my reputation and remove me from public life in Scotland. It is an attempt which would, in fact, have succeeded but for the protection of the court and jury system and in particular the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary.

However, underlying all of this and perhaps the most serious issue of all is the complete breakdown of the necessary barriers which should exist between Government, political party and indeed the prosecution authorities in any country which abides by the rule of law.

In each of the written submissions under Phases 1-4 of the Inquiry remit I have sought to explore those themes, and identify evidence to assist the Committee in doing its job holding the Executive to account.

The success, or failure, of this Committee in doing so will have a very significant bearing on public confidence in the ability of Parliament more generally to expose failures across Government. The ramifications of a Committee unable to complete its work due to delay, obstruction and refusal on the part of those under investigation are both profound and chilling.

Phase 1

In relation to Phase 1, I am asked for evidence regarding the development of the policy.

I would make the following general comments, on which I will be very happy to expand in oral evidence.

1) Fairness at Work

The Committee has heard evidence on the origins of the Fairness at Work Policy 2010 (‘FaW’). As First Minister I approved the policy and, in contrast to any other witnesses before this Inquiry, I was actually involved in its development. Implementation of the policy was achieved with the co-operation of the trade unions and I was pleased to be the First Minister who sanctioned its adoption.

As Appendix 1 from a Management Board meeting of 23 November 2009 makes clear, it was not evolved as a result of specific complaints about Ministers at the time but reflected long standing trade union grievances about Ministerial Offices stretching back to the days of the Scottish Office. FaW was the first workplace policy to include Ministers and I approved it on the basis that it was made compatible with the statute based Ministerial Code in which the First Minister is the final decision maker on the fate of a Minister facing a complaint. This was done by placing the Deputy First Minister in the deliberative part of the policy. The result was that only after a recommendation had been made would the First Minister finally decide. This was aimed at avoiding him or her judging twice on the same case. The policy was negotiated over a period of 18 months, was carefully constructed, balanced and lawful. It was well received by all concerned.

In the event there were no formal complaints made against any Minister under the policy and thus it was never invoked. Specifically and to my knowledge the present First Minister was never informed about any complaints against me because there were none. Similarly I was never informed about any complaints against her or any other Minister under the terms of this policy because there were none.

In the evidence of Ms Richards (25th August 2020) she revealed that there have been two complaints under FaW against current Ministers since 2017. Presumably these will have been dealt with under the FaW provisions including the involvement of John Swinney as Deputy First Minister.

This Committee is charged with finding out what went wrong. It should also look at what can be done now to put matters right.

Fairness at Work, of which the Permanent Secretary admitted in her evidence (in response to Ms Mitchell on 18th August 2020) to “not being an expert”, is in reality a carefully considered policy which is still in operation for the civil service and for serving Ministers with regard to bullying complaints. The Permanent Secretary’s extraordinary claim in the same evidence session that it does not cover harassment can only be a result of her admitted lack of familiarity with the policy. In reality it covers this explicitly in paragraph 3.2.1. As recently as December 2017 FaW was hailed by the unions in a letter to the Permanent Secretary as an achievement “of which we all should rightly be proud and something that sets up as being more assiduous than our counterparts down south” ([Redacted] FDA Convener)

FaW is legal, not illegal. It is procedurally fair, not unfair. It was carefully considered, not rushed. It achieved the central longstanding workforce ambition of having Ministers on the same footing as civil service managers. No doubt it can be updated and improved but the current position of limbo is ridiculous.

The concept of a civil service investigation into people over which they have no legitimate jurisdiction is nonsensical and the idea of passing the results to the relevant political party for action is self- evidently ludicrous. If legal action wasn’t taken against the government it would inevitably follow against any political party which attempted to proceed with any form of disciplinary action on such an unlawful basis.

Fairness At Work should be reinstated at the earliest opportunity pending the Dunlop review.

2) The Development of the 2017 Procedure

The Committee has already clearly established that there was no discussion or information presented to either Parliament or Cabinet on the 31st October 2017 of extending work place policies to former Ministers. Nor was there any suggestion that this should be done in the Head of the Civil Service’s letter of 3rd November 2017. And of course it was not carried forward in any other administration in the U.K. and was opposed by [Redacted] of the UK Cabinet Office when they were briefly consulted on the proposal later in November 2017. As she wryly asked the Scottish Government at that time, was there also to be such a retrospective policy for former civil servants? Nor was the new policy signalled in any of the internal communications with staff until February 2018.

The claim of the Government is that it came about independently from James Hynd who was tasked with drafting the policy and delivered the first draft applying ONLY to Former Ministers on November 8th 2017. However the previous day Ms McKinnon had circulated a “routemap” of a policy which also suggested applying to former Ministers. Mr Hynd reacted to that on 8th November saying that “neither of the pathways involving Ministers look right”.

It is stretching credibility to believe that this radical departure from all previous policy in the Scottish (or any other) administration was simultaneously and independently dreamed up by two separate civil servants. This is despite Mr Hynd telling the Committee on August 25th 2020 that he started with “a blank sheet of paper”. In one of the many letters to the Committee from civil servants correcting their evidence, Ms Mackinnon conceded on October 31 2020 that these things were “happening in parallel”. Indeed they were and there was a common factor. That common factor is the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans whose office was deeply involved in directing the work of both James Hynd on his policy and Ms Mackinnon on her route map.

In addition we know now that Ms Evans went to see the First Minister on November 6th about her information that Sky News were about to run a story concerning Edinburgh airport. I am now in the position to know exactly what this issue was about and the Permanent Secretary’s fears that it was about to break as a major story were groundless. However in the febrile atmosphere of November 2017 a sense of proportion and due process was in short supply.

In reality I had spent 30 years in public life in Scotland and for most of that time was certainly the most investigated person in the country by the press. It is inherently unlikely that misconduct had remained unreported and undiscovered over such a period. Mr Murrell confirmed in his evidence to this Committee that he had never heard of any such complaint against me in my entire time in politics and the First Minister confirmed this on BBC television to Andrew Marr on 7th October 2018.

Regardless, the chronology revealed by the evidence tells us that the Permanent Secretary briefed the First Minister on 6th November 2017 on the proposed story involving Edinburgh Airport. Further, the Permanent Secretary was contacted by Barbara Allison about a separate concern from a former civil servant on November 8th 2017. Having briefed the First Minister on the first of these it might be considered unlikely that she did not brief her on the second. In that context, the notion that a policy instructed immediately afterwards which specifically, and uniquely, extended to cover allegations against former ministers is co-incidental and unrelated is hardly sustainable.

If further confirmation of the basis for the policy were needed, the Committee has evidence of two directly political interventions at this stage.

First, the Chief of Staff to the First Minister drafted a specific amendment on 17 November 2017 which amended the commissioning letter instructing the policy proposing the wording “but also former Ministers, including from previous administrations regardless of Party”. This was in an email to Leslie Evans’ Private Secretary. It is impossible to accept that such a radical expansion of the jurisdiction of the Scottish Government to cover not just former ministers of the current administration but also those of previous administrations (many of whom are no longer even in elected office never mind in Government) was not specifically inserted to allow the complaint against me to be prosecuted.

The second political intervention was when the First Minister and the Permanent Secretary reached agreement, perhaps at their meeting on November 29th but certainly before December 5th 2017, that the policy should be recast in order that FM should be taken out of the policy proper and only consulted or even informed after the process was complete. This was a fundamental change in the policy.

The timing of this is significant. When the Permanent Secretary agreed with the First Minister that she should take over as key decision maker in terms of this new policy she was already aware of the developing complaints against me. Therefore she put herself at the centre of a policy in the full knowledge that I would likely be the first (and perhaps only given the subsequent declaration of illegality) subject of its implementation. Doing so from a position of already being tainted by bias is an extraordinary decision.

Despite her protestations to the contrary the Permanent Secretary was chiefly responsible for the pursuit of an unlawful policy which has cost the Scottish people millions of pounds.

In her letter of 21st June 2018 to Levy and McRae she describes the policy as “established by me”. She claimed ownership of it then, but not now. When asked at the Committee she said “there seems to have come into being a tradition of calling it my procedure. It is not; it is a Scottish Government procedure and one that has been agreed by Cabinet..” In fact, this procedure was never even seen by Cabinet or Parliament.

It was established by Ms Evans.

In her presentations before the Committee, the Permanent Secretary still seems oblivious to the scale of the disaster she has inflicted on all concerned or the enormity of the misjudgements she has made.

The view that she should have resigned on 8th January 2019, the day that Lord Pentland’s interlocutor judged the policy Ms Evans established and the actions taken as “unlawful”, “unfair” and “tainted by apparent bias” is widely shared not least by Cabinet Ministers. The damage she has done to the reputation of the civil service is very significant. In my view, any person conscious of the responsibility of holding high office would have resigned long ago. Instead Ms Evans’ contract was extended.

3) The role of the Investigating Officer

As the Committee has already discovered the “prior contact” of the Investigating Officer with the complainants was not “welfare”, as was indicated to Parliament, but was specifically contact about emerging complaints, weeks before the policy under which they were to be pursued was even approved.

The Committee has already established that complainants were informed that Ms McKinnon would be appointed the Investigating Officer in early December 2017, long before complaints were actually made. The Committee has further established that the draft policy was even shared with one complainant for her comment and that Ms Mackinnon was in contact with both complainants to discuss the basis on which future complaints might be submitted under the policy.

Documentation which finally emerged at the Commission and Diligence ordered by the Court of Session at the end of December 2018 demonstrated that the Government pleadings were false in terms of the nature of this contact. This has been admitted by the Lord Advocate in his evidence to the Inquiry on 8th September 2020. Again, such conduct appears to carry no sanction. These are serious matters, especially so for a Government making statements to a public court.

For example the “OneNote” from Judith McKinnon dated January 9th 2018, and revealed as a result of the Commission process, speaks to “changing” the position of a reluctant complainant, the sharing of complaints, and of it “being better to get the policy finalised and approved before formal complaint comes in” and of not telling the FFM until we are “ready”. It is this information that was completely at odds with the government pleadings in the Judicial Review and indeed stands in stark contrast with the oral evidence presented to the Committee.

These practices are not just wrong, they are an affront to the principles which underpin workplace and human resources policy across the country. The Committee has made reference to ACAS guidance at various stages of the Inquiry. How such conduct could even be contemplated by an individual employed at significant public expense and with a string of HR qualifications remains to be explained.

Watching the evidence before the Committee, it is apparent to me that even after having conduct declared illegal in the Court of Session, those at fault in the civil service still cannot accept the fact that they did something seriously wrong. In reality behaving unlawfully is as serious as it gets for any public servant.

The repeated claim that the terminology somehow changed for the first to the final drafts of the procedure thus causing confusion for those implementing the policy is not just irrelevant (since it is only the final version that matters) it is also untrue.

In fact one of the very few unchanged provisions in the policy as it went through numerous drafts and redrafts between November 8th to the final iteration on December 20 2017 was that the Senior Officer/ Investigating Officer should have “no prior involvement”.

Nor is it credible that the claim that the need for impartiality of an investigating officer or equivalent was misunderstood. On the contrary, both James Hynd (10th November 2017) offering 3 names at “arms length” and Judith McKinnon (7th November 2017) seeking to engage an “independent party to investigate” recognised this at an early stage.

Whether that person came from the broader civil service or outside it is secondary. Perceived freedom from bias is an easily understood concept which is well established in common law and in workplace policy. The appointment of Judith McKinnon in this light was always wrong and is incomprehensible particularly in the
face of the fact that she has confirmed before this Committee that the nature of her prior contact with the complainants was well known and indeed sanctioned among her colleagues and line managers.

When the fact of it was discovered by the Government’s external Counsel (and even after the duty of candour was explained to government lawyers by them on November 2nd and then by the court on November 6th, both 2018) the attempt was still made in pleadings to present it as “welfare” contact.

The documents which demonstrated this to be false had to be extracted from the Government by a Commission and Diligence procedure under the authority of the court as granted by Lord Pentland. The documents then produced under that procedure emerged despite the Government being willing to certify to the Court that these documents simply did not exist. That conduct is outrageous for a Government. At the Commission itself, Senior Counsel for the Government (himself blameless for the debacle) felt compelled to apologise to the court repeatedly as new batches of documents emerged.

It is highly probable that had this documentation not been concealed from the court (and from the Governments own counsel) the falsity of the Government’s pleadings would have been avoided. The fact that even after the Government case collapsed, misinformation then appeared in both a press release from the Permanent Secretary and the First Minister’s statement to Parliament of 8th January 2019 speaks to an organisation unable and unwilling to admit the truth even after a catastrophic defeat, the terms of which they had conceded to the Court of Session.

The interests of the complainants

I also want to make a submission about the claims by the Scottish Government to have promoted the interests of the women who raised complaints. That is, on the evidence before the Committee, clearly false.

The Permanent Secretary claimed to the Committee that the interests of the complainants were paramount in the Government thinking. This is very far from the case.

The complainants were brought into the process by conduct “bordering on encouragement” as it was submitted by my Senior Counsel to Lord Pentland in the Judicial Review

The complainants were assured that they would be in control of the process and that any police involvement would be their choice.

This assurance has been stipulated from the earliest origins of the policy (eg Nicola Richards’ email to Permanent Secretary of 23 November 2017) and remained in place until the Permanent Secretary countermanded it in her instruction to Ms Richards to send her decision report to the Crown Agent in August 2018, a move taken against the direct wishes of the complainants.

They were offered the option of making “anonymous complaints” for which there is no provision in the policy. However, when it came to actually protecting the anonymity of the complainants through a court order in the Judicial Review in October 2018 the Government was not even represented by Counsel in court. It was, in fact, me who instructed Counsel to seek that anonymity on the part of the women concerned.

The investigation was carried out against the advice of the police who pointed out that the Scottish Government were not competent to conduct the investigation. This has been made available to the Committee in the police evidence from the Chief Constable.

The reports to the Crown Office (instead of the police) were made against the express wishes of both complainants and in direct conflict with the terms of the policy at paragraph 19.

The leak of the story to the Daily Record on August 23 2018 was made with no consideration of the impact on the complainants, impact which the Permanent Secretary described in her evidence as causing considerable distress to all concerned. That, of course, was in itself in direct contravention of the confidentiality of the process promised to the complainants, and also to me.

However, it had been the Permanent Secretary’s own intention, despite police advice to the contrary, to issue a press statement confirming the fact of the complaints on Thursday 23 August 2018.

This Committee’s remit is to examine the actions of those in authority. Accordingly the conduct of the Permanent Secretary and the civil servants and special advisers involved is important. To claim, as the Scottish Government has done, that the wishes and welfare of those who had made complaints were central to the decision making is demonstrably untrue.

The leak to the Daily Record

In my view, the circumstances of the leak of the details of the complaints to the Daily Record on 23rd/24th August 2018 should be thoroughly examined. It is highly likely that the leak came from within the Scottish Government and, in all likelihood, from one of the Special Advisers to the First Minister. The background facts may assist

The Permanent Secretary instructed her staff to send her Decision Report to the Crown Agent on or about August 21st 2018

The Crown Agent, according to the police informed them of the Government’s intention to release a story of the fact of the complaints to the press and the Chief Constable and another senior officer advised against it and refused to accept a copy of the report. We know, therefore, that the desire of the Scottish Government to get these matters into the public domain is fully supported by evidence.

Despite this police advice, two days later the Government informed my legal team they intended to release a statement at 5pm on Thursday 23 August 2018. We advised that we would interdict the statement pending our Judicial Review petition and the statement was withdrawn. On the strength of that undertaking, we didn’t require to seek interdict.

We were then informed at around 4pm that the Daily Record newspaper had phoned the Scottish Government press office with knowledge of the story but had no confirmation. At 8pm, the Record phoned and then emailed at 8.16pm claiming confirmation had now been given and broke the story at 10pm. The second story they printed on Saturday 23rd August 2018 contained specific details from the complaints and demonstrates that they also had access to the Permanent Secretary’s decision report or an extract from it.

This leak was (according to the ICO) prima facie criminal, deeply damaging to my interests and those of the complainants and a direct contravention of the assurances of confidentiality given to all. After I formally complained to the ICO, the conclusion of the ICO reviewer assessing these facts was that she was “sympathetic to the thesis that the leak came from a Government employee”. The only reason no further action could be taken was because the specific individual could not be identified without police investigation. I intend to return to that police complaint when this Committee has concluded its review. I should say that I am confident that I know the identity of those involved in the leak.

John Somers, The Principal Private Secretary to the First Minister confirmed that her office had received a copy of the Permanent Secretary’s report in evidence on 1st December 2020. However, that evidence was then corrected to say that it had not been received. However, that is difficult to reconcile with the ICO review report (paragraph 4.8) which list the PPS, and therefore The Private Office as one of the stakeholders “who has access to the internal misconduct investigation report”.

It is unlikely that a leak to the Daily Record came from mainstream civil service. The overwhelming likelihood is that it came from a Special Adviser to the First Minister who had access to the report or an extract from it which was the basis of the Daily Record story of August 25th 2018.

The question of ‘conspiracy’

It has been a matter of considerable public interest whether there was ‘a conspiracy’. I have never adopted the term but note that the Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as ‘the activity of secretly planning with other people to do something bad or illegal.’ I leave to others the question of what is, or is not, a conspiracy but am very clear in my position that the evidence supports a deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort amongst a range of individuals within the Scottish Government and the SNP to damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned.

That includes, for the avoidance of doubt, Peter Murrell (Chief Executive), Ian McCann (Compliance officer) and Sue Ruddick (Chief Operating Officer) of the SNP together with Liz Lloyd, the First Minister’s Chief of Staff. There are others who, for legal reasons, I am not allowed to name.

The most obvious and compelling evidence of such conduct is contained within the material crown office refuses to release. That decision is frankly disgraceful. Refusing to allow the Committee to see that material both denies me the opportunity to put the full truth before the Committee and the public, and makes it impossible for the Committee to complete its task on a full sight of the relevant material. The only beneficiaries of that decision to withhold evidence are those involved in conduct designed to damage (and indeed imprison) me.

From a very early stage in the Judicial Review the Government realised that they were at risk of losing. By October they were told by external counsel that on the balance of probability they would likely lose. This is the legal advice they have hidden from the Committee in defiance of two parliamentary votes.

As the Committee has heard in evidence there were 17 meetings of the Committee formed to monitor and plan the Scottish Government defence of the Judicial Review between August 2018 and January 2019. Paul Cackette in his evidence said that there were daily meetings while Ms Mackinnon suggested three times a week. Despite this information being offered at the evidence session of 1st December no information has been received by the Committee of any of these meetings. I believe there have to be such emails which show the Lord Advocate’s advice on the possibilities of sisting (pausing) the Judicial Review behind the criminal case. The advantage of doing so in a context where the Judicial Review was likely to be lost was clear. Any adverse comment or publicity about the illegality of the Scottish Government actions would be swept away in the publicity of my arrest and subsequent criminal proceedings.

It became common knowledge in government, special advisers and the SNP that the Judicial Review was in trouble for the Government and the hope was that police action would mean that it never came to court, that the JR would be overtaken by the criminal investigation.

In evidence Ms Allison on 15th September 2020 specifically denied that the Scottish Government had any role in contacting potential witnesses or former civil servants after the police investigation had started on August 23rd 2018. This is not true.

I enclose at appendix 2 a copy of an unsolicited email sent by Ms Allison herself to an ex Scottish Government employee on August 27th who then received a further unsolicited email from Ms Ruddick of the SNP the following day (appendix 3) The individual concerned, who provided a defence statement, had never even been a member of the SNP. I believe her contact details were given to Ms Allison by a Government Special Adviser.

Another Special Adviser was in contact with the majority of people who thereafter became complainants in the criminal trial, shortly after the story being leaked to the Daily Record on August 23rd 2018.

In his evidence session of 8 February 2021 Mr Murrell spoke of the letter sent by the FM round all SNP members on 27th August 2018. I pause briefly to note that despite the email reaching 100,000 members, not one complaint about me was received in response. However, what he did not disclose was the email round SNP staff and ex staff members sent by his Chief Operating Officer from late August 2018 (enclosed as appendix 3). This email was sent selectively. Some staff members were targeted and sent it. Others were not.

The recruitment of names to receive this email provoked opposition. Appendix 4 shows the refusal of a senior member of the SNP administrative team at Westminster to supply names to HQ. The staff member expressed the view that she was not prepared to take part in an obvious “witch-hunt” which would be incompatible with her professional responsibilities as a lawyer. At Appendix 5 I enclose the terms of an affidavit of the staff member who has agreed to have it shared with the Committee. What is clear is that even at the time of the initial trawl for potentially supportive individuals, there was profound disquiet about the ethics and legality of the approach.

In addition to advocating the “pressurising” of the police (those text messages are public and before the Committee), Mr Murrell deployed his senior staff to recruit and persuade staff and ex staff members to submit police complaints. This activity was being co-ordinated with special advisers and was occurring after the police investigation had started and after I ceased to be a member of the SNP. From the description of the material released to the Committee under section 23 it is clear that any supporting evidence establishing this point was not shared with the Committee by the crown office. Why?

It was clear that defeat in the Judicial Review would have severe consequences. Cabinet Ministers thought it should lead to the resignation of the Permanent Secretary. The Special Adviser most associated with the policy believed that her job was in jeopardy and accordingly sought to change press releases in light of that. The First Minister’s team felt threatened by the process as did the civil service. The documentary evidence shows that special advisers were using civil servants and working with SNP officials in a fishing expedition to recruit potential complainants. This activity was taking place from late August 2018 to January 2019, after the police investigation had started.

The Judicial Review cannot be viewed in isolation. The effect of it, and its likely result of a defeat for the Scottish Government led to the need to escalate these matters to the police, even if that meant doing so entirely against the wishes of the two women who had raised concerns. The Permanent Secretary’s “we’ve lost the battle but not the war” message of January 8th 2019 to Ms Allison whilst on holiday in the Maldives is not (as she tried to claim) a general appeal for equality but rather shows her knowledge that there were further proceedings to come and her confidence that the criminal procedure would render such a loss in the Court of Session irrelevant. I note in passing, that such language is, in any event, totally incompatible with the role of a professional civil servant.

The Role of the Crown Office

The Crown Office has intervened three times to deny this Committee information for which it has asked.

This has been done by reliance on legislation which was never designed to obstruct the work of a Parliamentary Committee acting in the public interest and investigating the actions of the Scottish Government. I know this to be true because I was First Minister when the legislation was passed in 2010. The true purpose of s. 162 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 was to prevent witness statements falling into the hands of the accused and being used to intimidate or exert retribution on witnesses and further because of instances of evidence ending up held or disposed of in an insecure fashion. The basis of the legislation was Lord Coulsfield’s Report (2007) and the intent was to clarify the legal requirements of disclosure and to establish practical arrangements to prevent the misuse of disclosure. Thus section 162 (and 163) had nothing whatsoever to do with preventing relevant evidence being presented to a parliamentary Committee and its misinterpretation as such by the Crown Office is a profoundly disquieting development which strikes at the heart of the parliamentary system of accountability.

On 17th September 2020 the Crown Office said that our proposal to the Committee to identify the existence of documents which had not been provided by the Government but which had been disclosed to me in the criminal case would be covered by Section 163 of the 2010 Act that “any person who knowingly uses or discloses information in contravention of section 162 commits an offence”

Just in case we did not get the message he repeated the same point on 3 November 2020. On 17th December 2020 the Crown’s representative went further to block information specifically requested by the Committee “For you or your client to accede to the request of the clerk to the Committee would require both the use and disclosure of said information. As such what is proposed would amount to a clear breach of section 162 which, by reference to section 163 would amount to a criminal offence”.

He then appears to suggest that the Committee itself would be in danger of prosecution if we had acceded to the clerk’s request.

“Further, any person who received such information from you or your client would also be in breach of section 162, and consequently section 163, if they use or disclose that information. In these circumstances I do not consider what is proposed is acceptable”

This is a letter from an unelected official citing legislation passed by this Parliament for quite different reasons and using it to deny information to a Committee of elected parliamentarians. Some of the information we intended to provide included Government documents which should have been provided to the Committee in the first place. This position is extraordinary and totally unacceptable.

Given this attitude to disclosure by the Scottish Government and Crown Office, it becomes highly surprising that when this Committee exerted section 23 powers to require documents it was given irrelevant information for which it had not asked and could never be published while relevant information remained undisclosed. It is also clear that Government SPADS were briefing the media on this information before members had even seen it. This is not the behaviour of a prosecution department independent of government influence.

The Lord Advocate said in his evidence on 17th November 2020 that he thought the Committee has seen this correspondence. As far as I am aware this is not the case Nevertheless, I am happy now to provide that correspondence if the Committee so wishes. In his latest letter of 8th February the Lord Advocate pointedly fails to answer the specific question from the Committee Convener of 3rd February seeking confirmation that all Government records had been provided.

As was glaringly clear from his evidence and his inability to address the most basic of questions, his denial of provision of the legal advice of external counsel, his costly delay in settling the case, his refusal to confirm what the Committee eventually found out that both Counsel threatened to resign from the case, the Lord Advocate is deeply compromised between his twin roles as head of prosecutions and chief government legal adviser.

However the matter goes further yet. The Permanent Secretary has confirmed in evidence to the Committee that the referral to the crown office was contrary to the express wishes of the complainants. In spite of his protestations that he recused himself from anything to do with the criminal investigation. I believe that the Committee should ask the Lord Advocate directly whether he instructed two unwilling complainants to make police statements.

Secondly the Committee has heard of the highly unusual route via the Crown Agent that the Permanent Secretary ordered her staff, against the wishes of the complainants, to present her report to the Chief Constable. Crown Agent David Harvie’s line manager at that time was Leslie Evans, the Permanent Secretary.

The Crown Office under current leadership is a department simply not fit for purpose.

Summary

The procedure was devised when the Permanent Secretary, as decision maker, had knowledge of emerging complaints against me. From the outset the Permanent Secretary was compromised and should not have taken on that role.

The procedure was unsound not just in its implementation but in its genesis. It was devised “at pace”, probably with the purpose of progressing complaints against me and certainly without proper care or regard to its legality or effective consultation with the unions.

The documents disclosed to the Committee demonstrate further serious abuses of process by both the Investigating Officer and the Permanent Secretary.

In a further breach of the duty of candour the Government owed to the Court, those documents were not made available at Judicial Review.

The Investigating Officer had not just “prior involvement”, but subsequently regular contact with the complainants of a nature and level which was self-evidently inconsistent with that of an impartial official.

The Permanent Secretary who in her own words “established” the procedure met or spoke to both complainants on multiple occasions (including in mid process) and failed to disclose this in either the civil or criminal case.

The procedure was conceptually flawed and would have collapsed on principle even if it had been properly implemented. It is a retrospective, hybrid policy, which claims jurisdiction over private citizens who might have no connection whatsoever with the Scottish Government and shows complete confusion between the legitimate roles of Government and political parties.

It is demonstrably unfair. It transgresses the most basic principles of natural justice in not even allowing the person complained about the right to prepare their own defence. In addition, the Permanent Secretary denied access to civil servants, witness statements or even my diaries until they were pursued in a subject access request.

The Government was aware at a very early stage that they were at significant risk of defeat in the Judicial Review, and by October 2018 were advised that, on the balance of probabilities, they were likely to lose. Nevertheless they kept the clock running and the public ended up paying over £600,000 as a result.

This information on likely defeat in the JR was communicated to key decision makers

– the Permanent Secretary, First Minster, the Lord Advocate, the Chief of Staff- in meetings with external Counsel through October and November 2018.

The interests of complainants were disregarded by the Government in refusing mediation initially without consultation, being given no consultation whatsoever on the possibility of arbitration, being given false assurances on the Government accepting their clear view against reporting matters to the police and then sending the report to the Crown Office against their express wishes. The Government didn’t even instruct counsel to attend court for the procedural hearing to address my application to guarantee the anonymity of complainants.

The Crown Office has blocked key information coming to this Inquiry by wilfully misinterpreting legislation designed for other purposes.

The Lord Advocate is manifestly conflicted in his roles as both Government legal adviser and prosecutor.

The advice of the Lord Advocate at one stage included, for example, the option of sisting (pausing) the Judicial Review to allow a criminal case to overtake the JR proceedings. A consequence of this happening would have been to protect the government from the catastrophic damage arising from losing the judicial review and a finding of unlawful conduct.

This prospect provided an incentive and imperative for the recruiting and encouragement of police complaints from others.

This was done by the closest advisers to the First Minister and senior SNP officials actively involving civil servants AFTER the police investigation had started.

The Permanent Secretary ordered her decision report to be sent to the Crown Agent, David Harvie, against the terms of the policy and the wishes of the complainants. At that time I understand that she was his line manager.

Against police advice the Permanent Secretary decided to press release the fact of complaints on Thursday 21st August 2018. That publication was only prevented by threat of legal action by my solicitors.

A matter of hours later, there was what the ICO assessed as a prima facie criminal leak of information including details of complaints to the Daily Record, in breach of my rights of confidentiality, and those of the complainants. Such action was also contrary to the express assurances of confidentiality offered to all parties and central to such workplace issues.

The Judicial Review was only conceded when both Counsel threatened to resign from the case

The policy and actions of the Permanent Secretary and the Government were accepted as and then judged as “unlawful”, “procedurally unfair” and “tainted by apparent bias”.

The real cost to the Scottish people runs into many millions of pounds and yet no-one in this entire process has uttered the simple words which are necessary on occasions to renew and refresh democratic institutions – “I Resign”.

The Committee now has the opportunity to address that position.

Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond
17th February 2021

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Let Nobody Ever State Again There Is No Evidence of the Conspiracy Against Alex Salmond

I am strongly advised to shut up and say nothing just before my trial. I will however point out three things:

1) These documents are all in the possession of the Lord Advocate. They are held in the Crown Office. That is why we are asking the Crown to disclose them. The Lord Advocate at no stage, in opposing their release, denied their existence. This is the Lord Advocate’s reply to the application. 20210114 Answers to Disclosure Request (3)
2) These are some of the same documents the Lord Advocate has refused to give the Holyrood Inquiry and which Alex Salmond has said prevent him appearing before the Inquiry until the Lord Advocate agrees he can reference them in his evidence.
3) The High Court has agreed with the Lord Advocate that these messages are irrelevant to my trial and do not go to my Article 10 rights of free speech. The High Court notably refrained from endorsing the Lord Advocate’s argument that they are “private messages” and that Murrell and Ruddick are protected from their disclosure under Article 8.
This is extremely important as it means the High Court has not endorsed the Lord Advocate’s arguments for keeping these messages from the Holyrood Inquiry. The grounds on which the High Court did find against me – relevance and Article 10 – relate to my trial but do not relate to the Holyrood Inquiry.

The High Court ruling notably does not endorse the argument here on Murrell and Ruddick’s privacy. The Lord Advocate’s refusal to provide these documents to the Holyrood Inquiry on the grounds of the privacy and data protection rights of Murrell and Ruddick is therefore unlikely to survive a court application by the Fabiani Committee. That would require a great deal more courage than the Committee have shown to date.

I am as advised not going to comment on the merits of the High Court ruling, or on what the messages show.

But, as a matter of simple fact, these messages have now been barred from:
1) The Salmond Trial
2) The Holyrood Inquiry
3) The Murray Trial

Move along please. Absolutely nothing to see here. Nothing at all. Everything in Scotland is perfectly normal and above board. Ignore Craig Murray, he is a conspiracy theorist.
And if you don’t ignore all this, if you publish anything, we may send you to prison.

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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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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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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.

——————————————

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The Alex Salmond Trial and Censorship

I am just off to the High Court to check out physical arrangements for access on Monday, and was inspired to send the above email, which I add as an update.

On Monday morning at 6am I shall again be queuing up outside a courtroom. I never had any intention this blog would become so concentrated on court reporting, but then I never expected the state to be trying to put so many of my friends in prison.

Nor had I expected at this stage in my life to be threatened with prison myself. The Procurator Fiscal’s office in Scotland wrote to me to say that they are considering prosecuting me for contempt of court – which when it is related to a major criminal trial, carries a maximum sentence in Scotland of up to two years in prison.

20200121 LRM letter to C Murray[353039]

I have still not heard where their consideration of whether to prosecute me has led them. But the job of the Crown Office is to prosecute criminals, not to write them letters. My interpretation of the letter, which I believe would be the interpretation of any reasonable person, is that it is an attempt at censorship by terrifying me into removing the article of which they complain.

The Crown should not be doing that. If the Crown is ordering the suppression of satire without the decision of a judge, then we have set Scottish society and Scottish liberties back several hundred years. The Crown is not in the position of somebody who feels themselves libeled and might send a “cease and desist”. For the Crown to attempt direct censorship without judicial authority is a very serious breach of human rights.

The article complained of, clearly labeled as fiction, does not mention Alex Salmond nor any of his accusers and is largely a satire on the Moorov Doctrine. If the Crown is saying that it is illegal to satirise the Moorov Doctrine lest you reduce its efficacy, that again appears to me to have serious human rights implications. A senior QC told me shortly before Christmas that, entirely unrelated to the Salmond Case, they had been briefed by the Procurator Fiscal Service that it was their policy to push and extend the use of Moorov Doctrine. There is a very wide public interest in discussing that.

All of which naturally constrains my reporting next week. It is of course important both to give the fairest hearing to the accusers and not to prejudice jury members on the facts with which they are faced. But I cannot even tell you what happened in court at the last case management hearing, although it is very important. When combined with the anonymity of the accusers, it does make it very difficult indeed to report the background to the case, which given its profound political implications that engage a legitimate wider public interest, is deeply disturbing to me. I shall however do my best, in full compliance with both the law of contempt and the rulings of the court, but operating hard up against that boundary in the interests of free speech and public knowledge, to the extent that is permissible and legitimate, to report as much of the truth as I can.

Hopefully without going to prison. Wish me luck.

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The Alex Salmond Fit-Up

This new report is from a friend of impeccable credentials with whom I am collaborating; it reveals stunning new facts on the Alex Salmond affair:

Begins

I am an investigative journalist who has been researching the Alex Salmond case. I am not alone as there are to my knowledge at least three television programmes doing the same thing. I make no claim to be impartial, partially because of my sympathy towards the independence movement and partially because my previous work has dealt substantially with failings in the criminal justice system. As far as the criminal case against Alex Salmond is concerned I will not be able to publish or comment until it is over. However the expenses settlement last week of Alex Salmond’s successful civil action allows me , without any prejudice, to relate just a few the dramatic and deeply troubling things I have already discovered about the civil case.

This same opportunity for comment was taken up with gusto last week by the mainstream media in Scotland. Their coverage centred on the scale of the legal expenses agreed to be paid by the Scottish Government to Alex Salmond. This was followed up by the Sunday Mail and the Sunday Post last weekend with stories suggesting that Salmond’s lawyers might have been overcharging and blaming the Scottish Government for not having them independently audited.

True to form the unionist press have gloriously and entirely missed the point. The reason that the expenses were an eye watering £512,000 and change is that they were awarded by the Court largely on an “agent and client” basis. “Agent and client” is a punitive award used by the courts when the losing party to litigation has been causing the other unnecessary expense. It means that the victorious party (ie Salmond) is entitled to full expenses as opposed to the normal 60 per cent or so which accompanies victory. Having the expenses audited (or “taxed” in the legal parlance) is a complete red herring. No such process could set aside the decision of the court for that element of expenses which were awarded on an “agent and client” basis.

And so to the real story which is why the expenses were awarded by Lord Pentland in the Court of Session in this punitive manner. The likely reason lies in three equally devastating parts.

First Salmond won the action. The court found on the admission of the Government that the process against him was “unlawful” and “unfair” in that it had been “tainted by apparent bias”. Despite the attempted spin of Scottish Government Permanent Secretary, Leslie Evans, that all the mistakes had been an innocent and inadvertent error of process (a “muddle not a fiddle” as someone else famously said in another context) the statements in open court do not point to that nor does the complete collapse of the Government case. We should look rather to Salmond’s senior counsel Ronnie Clancy QC and his comments in open court that the behaviour of the Government’s Investigating Officer, was “bordering on encouragement”. In lay person’s terms it looks like Salmond was being fitted up by officials in the Government he once led with such distinction.

Second, we know that Lord Pentland in mid December 2018 granted a “Commission and Diligence”. This is a relatively unusual legal process for forcing the recovery of key documents in a case. Pentland did this having previously warned the Government from the bench that as a public authority it would be expected that they would freely produce all relevant documents. That such a Commission was necessary to secure key documents should be a clear warning to the upcoming Scottish parliamentary investigative committee, already concerned with suggestions that e mails may have been deleted. We have no way of knowing what came out of these hearings except that top civil servants were compelled to appear under oath and be questioned. I do know that Evans appeared before the Commission as did Investigating Officer Judith Mackinnon. I also know that Nicola Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff, a Ms Elizabeth Lloyd, was due to appear when the Scottish Government suddenly decided to collapse the case on January 3rd 2019. Finally we know that when Ronnie Clancy QC appeared in the Court of Session he had a large folder of killer documents to underline his case. Incidentally all of the expenses for this Commission and all other court hearings are part of the Salmond expenses award.

Thirdly and finally my researches point to a group within the Scottish Government who had been been established to defend the Judicial Review. I know that it either met with, or conferenced called, external legal counsel a minimum of seventeen times between August 2017 and January 2018. It featured key civil servants familiar with the case. It was this group who likely decided to prolong the legal action when they , by definition, must have known that they would lose spectacularly once the compromising information and revealing documents were forced into disclosure through the Commission process. I believe that the aforesaid Elizabeth Lloyd was a member of this group, an absolutely key issue which , when confirmed, will open a range of pointed questions, the most fundamental of which is what on earth a political appointee was doing on a civil service group charged with the defence of a legal action? The further interesting and devastating question will be what exactly did this group, or others taking the key decisions, possibly hope to gain by prolonging a legal action and running up the clock at such gigantic public expense?

Perhaps the full answer to these questions will have to await developments but answers there will have to be. For the moment let us content ourselves with this observation. Regardless of anything else, how on earth can a Permanent Secretary who, by her own admission and a Court of Session judgement , presided over an “unlawful” process still be in her position and who exactly is to be held accountable for the unnecessary loss to the public purse thus far of a minimum of £600,000?

All of my journalistic life I have campaigned for justice and equality including across race class and gender. However, without proper process there can be no justice. And from what I already know, some of which can print, and a lot more I can’t reveal as yet, this entire process against Salmond, already judged unlawful in the highest court in the land, stinks to high heaven.

Ends

The Salmond Affair indeed stinks to high heaven and no aspect of it stinks more than the role in steering the affair, throughout, of Liz Lloyd, Nicola Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff. Lloyd is also known to be personally friendly with David Clegg of the Daily Record who published what were claimed to be leaked details of one of the “allegations” against Salmond.

I am not amongst those who has faith in the fairness of the police and prosecutorial system in Scotland. In my view, the centralisation of Police Scotland made it highly susceptible to political influence. I recall the case of my friend the estimable Michelle Thomson, who was announced by the Police as under investigation for mortgage fraud, which “under investigation” status lasted for over two years, until Thomson was obliged to stand down at the 2017 general election. Yet the facts of the case were extremely simple, and would have taken two days, maximum, to clear up if the investigation had been genuine. After two years of being “under investigation”, in which entire time she was never even interviewed, Police Scotland announced there was no case to answer. By then the job was done and she was out of parliament.

Police Scotland put 22 officers full time into trying to dig up historic dirt on Salmond. I have personally seen a statement from a woman who was astonished to be interviewed by Police Scotland after having been seen, years ago, to have a greeting peck on the cheek from her friend Alex at a public function. This has been the biggest, and most maliciously motivated, fishing expedition in Scottish police history.

The Salmond case aside (phrase inserted on legal advice!), it ought to be a public scandal that the procurator fiscal can arraign and parade a person in public and charge them with grievous offences, then delay matters for months and years while attempting to somehow cobble together the pile of mince they have as “evidence” into some sort of case. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Meantime the parties behind the Salmond case can hide indefinitely from investigation on the pretext that it would prejudice a so-called independent criminal process.

There is one question to the Scottish government which from my own certain knowledge (which I cannot publish pending the never-never trial) would bust the entire Salmond affair wide open:
Could you please detail every contact between Liz Lloyd and Police Scotland anent Alex Salmond?
They will refuse to answer the question so long as the so-called “criminal case” is pending. Expect it to be pending for a very long time.

Meantime, as the above account makes crystal clear, we have a judicial ruling that the Scottish Government engaged in a process that was unlawful and had every appearance of bias. They persisted recklessly in that unlawful course of action and eventually cost the Scottish taxpayer over £600,000. Yet none of those responsible for these unlawful actions – Leslie Evans, Judith Mackinnon and Liz Lloyd – has been sacked. That fact is indicative of monumental arrogance right at the heart of Holyrood.

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A Short Article Not Mentioning Alex Salmond

An Ambassador is evidently not as important as a Scottish First Minister, but there is one interesting similarity. You get to live in a palatial Residence at public expense, and you host numerous social events there, from intimate lunches to grand dinners to receptions for many hundred people. Indeed as a diplomat you do this throughout your career – as an Ambassador, Deputy High Commissioner, First Secretary and even Second Secretary I hosted many scores of such events in my home, and in every case was supported by office and domestic staff who worked under me, both British and local.

The strange thing is that, despite the fact I generally had extremely friendly relationships with those I managed, out of the dozens of women, many young, who assisted me over the years on such occasions, I am absolutely certain that every single one of them would have point blank refused had I asked them upstairs to my bedroom after the event. Some would have refused humorously, some would have told me to F*** Off, some might have suggested I was drunk. But not one would have conceivably said yes. Not office staff, not domestic staff. Not from any of the very different cultures concerned – British, Nigerian, Polish, Ghanaian, Uzbek. And if I had “instructed” any of them to lie down on the bed, the reaction of all of them would certainly have switched from humour to “F… Off”.

Which is as it should be.

The position of a senior British diplomat to a Ghanaian member of their domestic staff is possibly one of even greater power and authority compared to that of a Scottish First Minister to any Scottish government sector employee. Simple authority cannot compel compliance with such obviously unorthodox instruction.

I do however recall an occasion when I invited a young woman, not working for me in any sense, to my hotel bedroom after an event in Lodz, Poland. We both understood what an invitation to a bedroom that late at night meant, and as soon as we closed the door behind us I kissed her, passionately, which she welcomed. I did not ask her permission beforehand, indeed there was no prior verbal exchange at all about the possibility of a physical relationship developing. That is not in the least unusual in human relationships, and I despise the drive to make such matters coldly transactional. In that particular instance, for example, we remain friends 25 years on.

Not one of us would be able effectively to clear our names against allegations made years after the event, of an incident which allegedly occurred with no independent witnesses. As outsiders, we can only refer to our own experience to judge the likelihood of the tale which is told. For reasons explained in the first paragraph, I happen to have experience of the peculiar circumstance of hosting large public events in my own home with the assistance of public sector staff who worked for me. Few of you reading this will have analogous experience, as it is an unusual position to be in.

And I smell horseshit.

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Jack Straw Responds to Alex Salmond with Blatant Lie

Jack Straw continues to lie about his involvement with torture. On Sunday, Alex Salmond told Alex Marr on the BBC that an inquiry must discover what Straw and Blair knew. On Monday Straw responded in the Guardian:

Straw said Salmond’s comments were completely untrue. “The British government was never complicit nor condoned torture or other ill-treatment of detainees wherever they were held,” he said.

I can offer absolute and definitive proof that Straw is lying (redactions made by FCO):

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The Foreign Secretary was Jack Straw. Simon MacDonald was his Private Secretary in the FCO.

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It has been a source of astonishment to me that journalists are prepared to continue to publish Straw’s denials of involvement in torture, when there is indisputable documentary proof that he is lying. I offered these documents to the Guardian years ago, but was not surprised when that Blairite rag refused to publish.

I was however surprised by this. When Straw criticised Salmond on Monday, I immediately offered these documents to the National as proof that Straw was lying. The National too refused to publish. Firstly they said that they had to consult their lawyers about whether the government would sue them. Then they said they could not work out how to condense the information into a short article (which begs the question why it had to be short). They then said they were too busy.

The reason I did not post for a week was that I was extremely dejected to receive an instant rejection, without interview, for the post of Chairman of the Scottish Human Rights Commission. This is an appointment of the Scottish Parliament and the decision is made by a committee of Scottish MSPs. It is a job for which I undoubtedly meet all the published requirements. I lecture regularly on human rights all round the world, and have been called to give evidence in person to the UK Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. I have a great deal of senior level public sector management experience, also a requirement.

When I published a few weeks ago that I had been considering my future while in Ghana, it was because I was considering applying for the job on the Scottish human rights commission. That would have entailed going back to being a public servant and ceasing political activity, including giving up this blog. I certainly can do this – for the 21 years I was in the FCO, nobody except those close to me knew my political views. I decided eventually that the chance to work on human rights in a positive way might enable me to do more good in the world than I am achieving as a campaigner. I definitely did not expect to get the job, but could not apply honestly without interrogating myself as to whether I really was prepared to meet the conditions.

I did not however expect an out of hand rejection for a position for which I was not only qualified but which was also junior and less well paid than previous public appointments I had held.

I did not necessarily expect to get the job, but to be refused without being interviewed is not something I expected, and it hit me hard. As a whistleblower you become a non-person. That is why the media publishes Straw’s denials of all knowledge of torture despite the existence of these documents. It is unpleasant to be a non-person, who cannot even be interviewed for a job for which they are abundantly qualified.

The SNP plainly have a major problem with me as a member. Before the SNP Conference in Aberdeen, I was approached by the Embassy of Ecuador. They wished to have a meeting with the SNP on behalf of the alliance of seven South American states including Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia who have a broadly anti-imperialist stance and were interested in learning about the Scottish independence movement with a view to possible cooperation in international fora. It so happened the Spanish acronym of this group is ALBA! The Embassy know me through Julian Assange and I was their only contact in the SNP, so they asked me to arrange the meeting. I emailed every suitable SNP contact I could think of, and made a number of phone calls, over a four week period. I eventually received a one line rejection, and had to host the Ambassador myself (apart from a short reception the SNP hosted for the diplomatic corps, to which I was refused entry).

Taking all these things together – my repeated rejection as a candidate, the refusal to meet ALBA, my out of hand rejection (by a SNP led committee) for the human rights job, the National’s refusal to run my evidence of Jack Straw lying, I feel not just rejected but despised by the hierarchy of the Independence movement. As I have moved back to Scotland with the sole motive of carrying on the campaign for Scottish independence, I really have this last week been looking hard at myself and considering what the future may hold. I suppose I was naïve to imagine that the hospitality and exclusion shown to whistleblowers in Whitehall would not be mirrored in Holyrood.

Which leads me back to the minutes above. When I objected to, and tried to stop, the policy of getting intelligence from torture, I knew I was probably blighting my future in the FCO. But I did not fully appreciate that it would lead on to me being backlisted by the establishment – including the Holyrood establishment – for my entire life. It is rather a hard cross to bear. Fortunately I have much else in life to be thankful for.

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Emily Benn and Alex Salmond

Emily Benn inherited her grandfather’s physiognomy.

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She has come to fleeting attention by criticising Alex Salmond for saying that Tony would be “birling in his grave” at Hilary Benn’s warmongering.

During the Westminster elections, I received a text from the SNP asking members living in the centre of Edinburgh to nip down to the Mound for a photocall with Nicola Sturgeon. I looked out of the window at a cold Edinburgh morning, rain driving horizontally, and decided against it. Nadira remarked “If it was Alex Salmond you would have gone.” This is true. If it were Alex Salmond, I would have gone if it had entailed attempting to cross a river of molten lava.

It is therefore with consideration that I say that on this occasion I think that while Salmond was absolutely right that Tony Benn would fundamentally have disagreed with Hilary’s speech, the expression was perhaps over-colourful. I did not really get to know Tony until 2005 on, when the great chasm of Hilary’s support for the Iraq War already loomed between them, but Tony’s parental affection and pride were undimmed. There would be something really wrong with you for your opinion of your children to be conditional on their sharing your political opinions. So probably not birling.

But equally, I am quite sure Tony would not have felt Alex had anything to apologise for, and would have much admired Salmond’s own contribution on Syria.

UPDATE Several commenters have formed the impression that I object to the phrase “birling in the grave” as offensive. I do not, it is a perfectly ordinary phrase. My point is rather that there was no family split in the Benn family despite some radically different political opinions, and that seemed to me in fairness worth noting. I describe “birling in the grave” as over-colourful purely as a description of the Tony-Hilary relationship, not as an offensive phrase. Tony certainly is birling in his grave over the Syria vote.

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Alex Salmond v Poll Tax

Alex Salmond is right to move to block attempts by Labour councils to use the new voter registrations for the referendum to catch people for twenty five year old Poll Tax default. The truth is the Labour Party is motivated not by a desire to collect the tax, but by an intention to chase the newly enfranchised back off the voters register. The Poll Tax is universally acknowledged as unjustifiably inequitable and punitive on the poor – that is why it was abolished. The very idea of digging out these ancient debts is disgusting.

The Guardian report by Labour Party hack Severin Carrell states that

David O’Neill, president of the Scottish councils’ umbrella organisation, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), was furious, branding it “the oddest decision ever to come out of the Scottish government”.

Carrell fais to mention that O’Neill is a senior Labour Party politician. The referendum showed Labour and Tory to be united in Scotland. Seeing the Labour Party now determined to pursue poor people for Thatcher’s tax should drive home the lesson.

The Scottish National Party at Westminster voted unanimously against the current bombing of Iraq – which will cost the money to be saved by freezing desperately needed benefits for a year. Alex Salmond is not perfect, but again and again he shows himself the most senior politician in Britain who has some genuine beliefs founded in humanity, and acts upon them.

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The Salmond Stitch-Up – the Incredible Facts, and why Mackinnon and Evans Must Be Sacked

Judith Mackinnon joined the Scottish government in 2017. She was slotted into the highly remunerated non-job of Head of People Advice. That really is her title. I saw it in the Record and did not believe it, but just phoned the Scottish Government and they confirmed it. Judith Mackinnon is Head of People Advice at the Scottish Government. She was previously Head of Human Resource Governance at Police Scotland. A senior policeman tells me that appeared in practice to mean professional feminist.

As might be expected from somebody with such pointless job titles, Mackinnon writes gobbledegook rather than English. Here is an extract from her Police Scotland submission to the consultation on the Scottish Government bill on gender equality on boards.

I confess I got no further than answer 1), my bullshit meter having exploded. I felt very sorry for Jackie McKelvie.

It is vital to note that, in her peculiar non-job at the Scottish Government, Mackinnon had no normal professional contact with the alleged “complainants” against Alex Salmond. It is still more vital to note that the “complainants” did not approach Mackinnon. In January 2018, shortly after starting at the Scottish Government, Mackinnon sought them out and – as it was carefully put in court today (tremendous twitter stream report here), spoke to them in a manner “bordering on encouragement to proceed with formal complaints” against Alex Salmond. It appears this was a process, not just one meeting. Again in the language used in court today, there was a “significant amount of direct personal contact” between Mackinnon and the complainants.

At this stage the complaints were brought to the attention of Leslie Evans, the Permanent Secretary – assuming she was not the one who instigated Mackinnon to act originally. Incredibly, Evans then appoints Mackinnon as the formal investigating officer for the case.

Even more incredibly, Mackinnon and Evans then together work on a new Civil Service Code which specifically makes the retrospective actioning of these complaints possible.

So Mackinnon instigated the complaints, investigated the complaints and drafted the code changes which made the complaints actionable.

Judith Mackinnon has been a human resources professional operating for over 25 years. It is impossible that Mackinnon did not realise that this method of pursuing a stitch up is absolutely illegitimate, as was today conceded in court. It is equally impossible that the Head of the Civil Service, Leslie Evans, did not realise these measures were completely illegitimate.

The actions of these civil servants are not just reckless, they are a deliberate stitch-up of an individual amounting to the crime of misconduct in public office. It is most certainly a sacking offence and it is Evans and Mackinnon who should be the subject of police investigation. Apart from their deliberate and cold malice towards Salmond, they have cost the taxpayer £350,000 wasted on this case.

Leslie Evans issued a statement today which is breathtaking in these circumstances in its impudence and its tendentiousness. She appears to try to say that she did not know until last month of Mackinnon’s role in instigating the complaints.

After reassessing all the materials available, I have concluded that an impression of partiality could have been created based on one specific point – contact between the Investigating Officer and the two complainants around the time of their complaints being made in January 2018.

The full picture only became evident in December 2018 as a result of the work being undertaken to produce relevant documents in advance of the hearing.

This amounts to an incredible accusation against Mackinnon by Evans. To save her own skin, Evans appears to be alleging that at the time of Mackinnon’s appointment as investigating officer, Mackinnon did not reveal to Evans her role in initiating the “complaints”; and presumably also left that out of the investigative reports, if Evans did not find out until December.

However as a former member of the senior civil service myself, I can tell you that the truly disgusting Leslie Evans is here attempting to give that impression by weasel drafting. She is saying that “the full picture” only became clear in December. In fact, Evans already knew a great deal more than she is here attempting to portray. Perhaps she didn’t know whether Mackinnon and the complainants drank tea or coffee together, hence not the “full picture”.

There is a still more important and extraordinary misrepresentation in Evans’ statement, She claims:

All the other grounds of Mr Salmond’s challenge have been dismissed

I cannot understand this at all. There has been no judgement issued in the case. The Scottish Government caved in once it was ordered to reveal the incriminating emails and minutes that told the above story. The Scottish Government caved in and settled out of court; therefore the case was dismissed by the judge. It is totally false of Evans to claim that this amounts to Salmond’s other claims being “dismissed” in the sense she intends to convey, and indeed is the opposite of what the Scottish Government’s own QC specifically stated in court. He said that the Government disagreed with Salmond on the other points but that this was “now academic”.

The misrepresentations in Leslie Evans’ statement are simply appalling in a civil servant. She has to go.

All documents in this case should now be released. It is a matter of essential public interest, relating to a politically motivated attempt to impact on the bid for Independence of the entire Scottish nation. One thing that those documents will make clear is whether or not the First Minister’s office was as entirely insulated from events as is claimed.

Nicola Sturgeon must now move to demand the resignation of both Evans and Mackinnon. Both fully deserve to lose their jobs. If Sturgeon moves to protect them, she will attract suspicion that she is motivated by keeping them silent about the extent of her own involvement in the sorry process. To avoid this rumour she has to act swiftly and decisively and invite them to resign tomorrow morning.

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Ludicrous Feminism Against Salmond

That the Tories and Unionist establishment would attempt to land a sexist smear on Alex Salmond for calling a woman a, err, woman, is unsurprising. That they are joined by a number of ludicrous feminists is unsurprising too.

It is probably the case that it is a more frequent use in Scotland and Northern England than in Southern England to add “man” or “woman” after an injunction, but anywhere from Grantham northwards “Behave yourself, man!” or “Behave yourself, woman!” is a perfectly unexceptional expression. That the use of “woman” in this sense is sexist is absolute nonsense. “Behave yourself, human” would not be a normal expression. The idea that Salmond calling Soubry “demented” was in some way anti-woman is even more ludicrous. Women have no monopoly on demented behaviour. In fact it is a rather anti-feminist idea that women should be protected from robust verbal exchanges when men should not.

None of which will stop the feminist nutters from having a go at Salmond. Feminism appears unique in breeding acolytes who have no notion whatsoever of wider social questions. They are therefore perfect tools for the establishment to turn against anybody who threatens authority. The feminist stampede to condemn Julian Assange on the basis of quite ludicrous charges orchestrated by CIA asset Anna Ardin is one example where feminists delight the hearts of the powerful. Their turning on Tommy Sheridan was another. Now they fly at Alex Salmond. They are, men or women, stupid, and the most useful of idiots to the forces of wealth, power and privilege.

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Ice Cold on Alex

The debate format seemed modelled on the Jeremy Kyle show, and pitched to the same intellectual level.

Stripping out pollsters’ unionist weighting, Yes just went from ahead to further ahead.

Poll before debate 58 – 42. Who won poll after debate 56-44. Yet media claim Yes went backwards!

The 2010 debates were much better than this in terms at least of allowing for sustained passages of thought. Whether the thoughts were any good is a different question.

I was imagining myself as a participant in tonight’s debate and the impossibility of developing any coherent arguments within the fractured format. Which of course helps those simply stating a negative rather than building a positive.

Well, that really was pretty awful. At no stage did either Salmond or Darling get given the space or opportunity to string a decent series of thoughts together. The selected questioners from the audience were overwhelmingly unionist to a degree that was absolutely ludicrous. The presenter constantly displayed aggressive body language towards Alex Salmond.

STV’s political correspondent said that the questions showed that pensions and currency were the dominant issues – given that STV chose the questioners and questions, it only shows that STV want those to be the issues.

Alex Salmond did get across the need to get rid of nuclear weapons, despite the questioning being organised to keep away from that subject.

I don’t imagine any genuine floating voter learned a lot. But the entire format and context was designed to make sure they didn’t learn a lot

Alistair Darling’s closing statement came over as though he didn’t actually believe it at all

The very next question comes from a No voter. Haven’t seen a question in twenty minutes from a Yes voter.

Four straight pro-unionist (and extremely ill-informed) questions from members of the audience obviously pre-selected by the chairman. Salmond given no chance to reply and then a pat question put to Darling.

I am truly astonished by the debate format, designed to leave no time at for consideration – or considered answers – on any of the questions and to ramp up the speed and sheer hysteria of the programme. The cutting aside to the “spin room” and that really horrible shoutey New Labour numptie woman. Also a very strange absence of the Tories, who are financing the Better Together campaign, and the other unionist elements.

In a format which seems designed to make sure nobody ever gets more than ten uninterrupted thought to develop a reasoned line of argument, and of which the express purpose appears to be simply to make people believe that the independence referendum is just a high volume slanging match between unreasonable people, it is Alex Salmond who comes over as calm and more thoughtful (not to mention polite) and Darling who comes over as the impassioned and rather snide one – contrary to advance billing.

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Craig Murray’s Trial: What Happens Next

Post By Kirsten MacDonald

On Monday morning, Lady Dorrian and two supporting judges will hear the application from Roddy Dunlop QC for Craig Murray to be allowed to appeal to the UK Supreme Court against both their verdict of contempt of court for jigsaw identification, and against the disproportionate sentence.

It is widely expected, given the obvious animus against Murray she has shown throughout the proceedings, that leave to appeal will be refused and Lady Dorrian will commit Craig Murray to jail, probably from Wednesday 9 June. At that stage, Murray’s legal team will have to apply direct to the UK Supreme Court to grant him an appeal, but his eight month sentence will likely be served before the Supreme Court even looks at whether to consider it.

For comparison, the English High Court has not yet decided whether to hear the United States appeal against the decision to refuse extradition of Julian Assange, even though Assange remains in Belmarsh prison while they decide whether to take their case. Murray languishing in Saughton or Barlinnie is unlikely to be a consideration for the Supreme Court.

There is no precedent for an appeal against conviction for contempt of court in Scotland to be heard by the UK Supreme Court; we are in uncharted waters. It is possible for Lady Dorrian to grant interim liberation so that Murray is not jailed pending a decision on taking his case by the UK Supreme Court, and then further until they had decided the case. The UK Supreme Court does not itself have power to grant liberation.

But anybody who heard Lady Dorrian interrupt Roddy Dunlop QC six times in the opening four minutes of his mitigation plea, and heard her tone of voice in the sentencing remarks, would view it as very unlikely she will delay imprisonment. One experienced reporter said to me that they had never heard any judge so “emotionally invested”.

There was one moment at the end of the sentencing hearing when there was consternation among the judges, noted by those with videolink access. When Roddy Dunlop QC stated that they would seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, Lady Dorrian’s air of stern control dissipated momentarily and there was a moment where all three judges were visibly, physically shifting around uncomfortably.

Lady Dorrian replied that any appeal would be to the nobile officium, an ad hoc court peculiar to the Scottish system which is brought into being where no other appeal route exists. That appeal would in effect be to Lord Carloway, Chief Justice of Scotland and an extremely close friend as well as colleague of Lady Dorrian, supported by a panel of judges all of whom work under Lady Dorrian, the Lord Justice Clerk.

The Murray team had decided such an appeal would be utterly pointless. There is very serious concern that the system of justice in Scotland has been corrupted, as expounded this week in the House of Commons by no less than Scotland’s former Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill MP:

Since the days of learning about the Gordon Airs case, HM Advocate v. Airs, I always assumed that those who were seeking to put forward information that was appropriate and fair would be protected. Yet in Scotland, in the fallout from the Alex Salmond affair, we have seen Mark Hirst, a journalist, prosecuted. The case, in which he was supported by the NUJ, was rightly rejected by the presiding sheriff in the borders. We have seen Craig Murray, a blogger and former British senior civil servant, now facing a prison sentence of eight months. That is not only shocking, but drives a coach and horses through a position brought in by the Scottish Government that there be a presumption against a sentence of imprisonment for less than a year. Their absence of criticism and their failure to comment has been quite shocking.

It is not simply cases brought by the Crown. It is the cases that have been pursued by the police, where people so much as tweeting anything that might be seen as possibly identifying a witness have faced a knock on the door from the police. That is fundamentally damaging to Scottish democracy. It is not what I expect and it has not come about by happenchance. It has been deliberate. It has been targeted. It is being driven by the Crown Office. If we are to have a free press, there has to be free reporting. That has to apply to bloggers as much as it applies to the mainstream press.

That people have been charged in Scottish courts and have faced possible terms of imprisonment for simply doing exactly the same as the mainstream press has done but not faced prosecution is simply unacceptable. There is also a reason that I am required to raise it here: it is that the position of the Lord Advocate of Scotland is no longer tenable. There has to be a separation of powers of having one individual who is both a legal adviser to the Scottish Government and also the head of the prosecution service in Scotland. That is no longer appropriate

Murray’s legal team effectively decided to break for the border and get the case out of corrupt Edinburgh. Roddy Dunlop QC argued that, by statute, the appeal against any ruling of a panel of two or more Scottish High Court judges is to the UK Supreme Court. There had been some legal consternation as to why Murray’s contempt case was heard by a panel of three judges in the first instance, which is unusual. It was perhaps intended to increase the thin veneer of respectability of these highly political proceedings, but it seems they may have shot themselves in the foot by providing an escape route away from the nobile officium, which plainly caught Dorrian completely off guard when Dunlop first raised it. Lord Turnbull looked around as if an answer to this development might be lurking somewhere behind him in his study. It was the most bizarre moment in these entirely bizarre virtual proceedings.

So Monday will be about the denial to Murray of the right to appeal. That a blogger might be jailed with no jury and no right of appeal, for a jigsaw identification which few other than Lady Dorrian were able to perceive, is a stain on the reputation of Scotland.

But not necessarily a black mark for Lady Dorrian. Many believe her ambition is to replace Lord Carloway, who retires shortly, as Lord President – Scotland’s top judge. The appointment will be made by the Queen on the recommendation of Nicola Sturgeon.

Lady Dorrian, while the Murray case was engaged in its painfully slow process, produced a report for the Scottish Government suggesting the abolition of juries in cases of sexual assault, and that accusers should not attend court or be cross-examined by defence lawyers. Dorrian’s public advocacy of this on the BBC alongside the Scottish Government funded Rape Crisis Scotland, will, to say the least, do her no harm with Nicola Sturgeon.

Murray is of course one of Sturgeon’s fiercest critics and opposes both the abolition of juries and the abolition of the right of defence lawyers to cross-examine accusers. The prime thrust of the reporting for which he is being jailed was that Nicola Sturgeon was behind the false accusations that were made against Alex Salmond.

There is a real possibility that aspects of Dorrian’s handling of the Murray case could come in for serious criticism by the Supreme Court. These include her acceptance of a handful of anonymous tweets claiming to have learnt identities from Murray’s blog (with zero evidence they actually knew identities) as having important evidential weight, her effective dismissal of his entire affidavits as lies despite hearing no evidence that contradicted them, her making no reference at any stage to Salmond’s acquittal (indeed both her judgement and sentencing remarks on Murray refer to Salmond’s “victims” and “offences” with no “purported”, “alleged” or other qualifier, even after the acquittal), her extremely low bar for jigsaw identification (to any individual who already had specialist knowledge), the breathtakingly draconian sentence, and the curt and offhand dismissal of all Article X ECHR freedom of speech arguments.

If Dorrian grants the appeal to the Supreme Court, she is opening herself up to criticism at a crucial time in her career. As one lawyer put it to me, to grant the appeal would be “asking for a kicking”. If she refuses permission to appeal, she is putting back any Supreme Court decision probably for two years, and giving herself the ability to imprison and silence Murray in the interim.

Murray’s team have very little hope for Monday.

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Pollokshields Shows How To Achieve Independence

Kenmure Street stood outside UK law yesterday, as Westminster legislation on immigration, opposed by the people of Scotland, could not physically be enforced by agents of the state. What the people did was gloriously, joyfully illegal. Its illegality must be embraced, not skated over by politicians worried at the precedent of people power.

Scottish cities have a history of social solidarity, and in my lifetime I remember similar scenes over warrant sales and poll tax, and of course roots of popular resistance in Glasgow can be traced back through Tommy Sheridan, Jimmy Reid and John MacLean. But there is, undeniably, an added element of nationalism here. The handmade banners decrying “Team UK” in Kenmure St and the active presence of the SNP’s Roza Salih in a community leadership role, will both be seen as significant in an event which future historians will rightly view as a socially important step on the road to Independence.

There is a strong understanding that this is English oriented immigration law and English racist attitudes towards immigrants, being imposed on a Scotland which feels very differently. Indeed, the contrast between Kenmure Street, and the Labour electoral collapse in Northern England as their voters turn to more open panderers of anti-immigrant snake oil, could not be stronger. It is a part of why Labour in Scotland is doomed until it embraces Independence.

But Kenmure Street is an example in a much wider way. I have repeatedly explained, in detail, that Scotland has the right to self-determination in international law. which specifically states that right cannot be constrained by the domestic legislation of the state from which you are seceding. Otherwise Latvia would still be Soviet and Slovenia would still be Yugoslav. Westminster legislation and its Supreme Court cannot override Scotland’s right to self-determination. It is an inalienable right.

The UK state will never accept the great loss to its resources that would result from Scottish Independence. Scottish territory, seas, military bases, renewable energy, water, minerals, food products, financial institutions, education, and above all “human capital” to exploit, are all viewed as essential to London.

Keeping Scotland is the most vital of all UK national interests. As I have explained till I am blue in the face, David Cameron only agreed the last referendum because at the time Independence stood around 28% in the polls and the UK state apparatus believed the referendum would destroy and humiliate the very idea of Independence. Instead of which, the astonishing Alex Salmond brought it to the brink of achievement.

Where it has hovered ever since.

That is why there will never be another referendum agreed by Whitehall. Even if Johnson wanted to agree (which he doesn’t), the security services, military and other power structures of the UK Establishment would prevent him.

Nor can Scotland, “legally” in terms of UK law, hold a referendum without agreement. The UK Supreme Court has already explicitly held that Westminster is sovereign, in its ruling that the Sewell Convention has no force in law. If, as she suggests, Nicola Sturgeon leaves it to the courts to decide if a referendum without a S30 is legal, I have no doubt whatsoever – not even 0.000001% uncertainty – that one of two things will happen.

(1) Either the Supreme Court will rule that, under the current Scotland Act, an advisory referendum on a reserved matter is illegal without Westminster agreement;
[I think that would very probably be the ruling; ultra vires expenditure]

(2) Or the Tories will simply amend the Scotland Act to specifically outlaw the referendum, which the UK Supreme Court will certainly uphold because of their established doctrine that sovereignty resides in Westminster.

Either way, one thing is absolutely clear. There will never be a “legal” referendum as legality is defined by London. It is just not going to happen. Independence is going to have to be achieved illegally in terms of UK law, but legally in terms of international law.

How do you do that? I am constantly told this is impossible, that the UK state will act to prevent it happening. Well, we saw the answer in Pollokshields yesterday, and very plainly. The British government cannot enforce its law on the streets of Scotland if the people of Scotland reject that UK law and its enforcers. Yesterday there were riot shields, helmets, long batons, horses, and all the panoply of repression on display, and all of that could not take two men out of the community, against the will of the people.

Pollokshields showed how the people of Scotland will eventually take their own Independence. The “illegal” way in British law. The Gandhi way. The Mandela way. The people’s way. You cannot impose UK law on the people of Scotland.

I can’t tell you exactly how it will happen. Kenmure St crowds may be protecting polling stations, may be protecting the parliament. But happen it will. The people of Scotland will take Independence sooner than people realise. We will not just wait on Boris Johnson or the UK Supreme Court for permission. Come it will for a’that.

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Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

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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Appeal For Defence Funds 532

UPDATE I today received a prison sentence of eight months for my reporting of the defence case in the Alex Salmond trial. I have a three week stay while we apply to this same court for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. My appeal will be based on the simple fact that I did not identify anybody. It will also be based on the right to report the defence case being denied by an extraordinary, impossibly strict application of “jigsaw identification”, and on fair process not having been observed.

Should this court refuse permission to appeal, which seems not unlikely, I will in all probability be jailed while we apply direct to the Supreme Court for permission, which will take some months.

I am afraid I find myself once again obliged to ask you for funding for the appeal. We have raised about £70,000 but are likely to need, at the least, double that.

UPDATE The defence fund has received £46,520 in the 24 hours since it was relaunched to fund the appeal to the Supreme Court. That does not get us there, but it is a good start on our way as the appeal continues. Over 2,000 people have donated, with the smallest donation being 82p and the largest £1,000. Every penny is greatly appreciated. I should make plain that despite the astronomical costs, some members of our legal team have been working substantially below their normal rates and with time donated free.

One donation of £500 from a gentleman I know, came with a note that explained that Willie MacRae had lent him £100 shortly before his highly suspect death. He regarded the £500 as repaying that debt, and was sure Willie would approve of the use of his money. That brought tears to my eyes.

UPDATE ENDS

On Friday I shall be sentenced, very possibly to prison, for contempt of court by “jigsaw identification”. While I do not believe anybody has ever been imprisoned for “jigsaw identification” before, my entire prosecution has been so perverse that I cannot imagine why they have done it unless that is the intention.

With enormous diffidence and frankly embarrassment, I find myself yet again obliged to ask people to contribute towards my defence fund before my hearing next Friday, to enable us to move forward with an appeal to the Supreme Court. Legal bills actually paid to date amount to £161,000, with about eight thousand not billed yet. Non-legal costs, including the opinion poll, total around £9,000. The total raised by the defence fund to date is around £143,000 with the balance of around £18,000 paid so far having come from my personal pocket.

The practical result of the judgement against me is that it is virtually impossible to report the defence in any sexual allegation case; as witness the fact that I was ordered by the court to take down every single word of my articles covering the defence case and evidence.

The judges ruled that publishing any information that could theoretically assist not the public, but literally a colleague who worked in the same office, to identify a complainant, would constitute jigsaw identification. They also ruled that jigsaw identification was committed if you gave a piece of information which could identify a complainant in conjunction with information that could be found anywhere else, no matter how obscure. For example, if information from page 19 of the Inverurie Herald six years ago, combined with information from page 178 of a book, combined with something I published could lead to an identification, I am guilty regardless of whether or not anybody did in practice actually piece together these obscure sources of information.

In fact the court heard nothing that would pass as evidence in court that any individual had in fact identified anybody as a result of my articles. There was zero evidence of harm. What has been harmful is the gross censorship of my journalism, with my entire daily account of the defence case removed, and my critique of the Garavelli article removed. In consequence, it is once again virtually impossible for anybody to discover WHY Alex Salmond was acquitted, enabling the massive state and media led campaign to claim he was really guilty – which sadly appears, with the counter-narrative banned, to have acquired great traction.

You will recall that I commissioned a Panelbase opinion poll which proved that a significant 8% of the Scottish population – that is around 400,000 adults – believed they had been able to identify one or more of the complainants in the Salmond case from publication, but when asked stated that the source of this caption was overwhelmingly the mainstream media.

Well I decided to re-run the opinion poll to see if anything had changed. These were the results. 11% of the Scottish adult population – that is half a million adults – by now believe they know an identity. This is how they know:



It is perfectly clear and entirely consistent with the first poll. 54% of people who believe they know an identity got their information from the newspapers. 27% got it from TV and radio (there may be overlap between these groups).

Yet no newspaper or TV journalist or editor is being prosecuted.
Not even Dani Garavelli, who is overwhelmingly named as the source of information – by fifteen different people – is being prosecuted.

So let us be perfectly clear. The three top sources named for identification were

Dani Garavelli – by a country mile
Kirsty Wark
BBC

None of whom is being prosecuted. Garavelli has published an entire series of major articles amplifying the prosecution case against Salmond, in Tortoise media, twice in Scotland on Sunday and in the London Review of Books, plus many other well paid commissions. She has effectively made a fat living out of an entirely one-sided account that claims miscarriage of justice simply by omitting all the defence evidence. In so doing she has plainly been much more credibly guilty of jigsaw identification than I. On the other hand, my long critique of Garavelli’s first Scotland on Sunday article, which interpolated the defence evidence which contradicted her account and proved that the jury was right, has now been banned, censored and desroyed by the court, the 21st century equivalent of burning the manuscript in the public square.

Garavelli has gone on to become media-puppet-in-chief to the Scottish government, producing a stream of adulatory articles about Nicola Sturgeon like this one about what a great constituency MSP Sturgeon is, which is (ahem) somewhat contrary to received wisdom.

Garavelli is protected because she is part of the inner circle, while I am prosecuted, when the mainstream media is not, because I am an opponent of the corrupt nexus of power that governs Scotland today. The official line is that through enthusiasm for Salmond’s cause I revealed information to the public that the mainstream media did not. That is a fiction the Scottish legal system has chosen to adopt, and for which I will be sentenced on Friday.

All the real world evidence shows that is untrue. I revealed far less than the mainstream media revealed. This is a shameless and openly political prosecution of one of the very few platforms of any size which explained the truth about why Alex Salmond was acquitted by the jury. That is my “crime”.

We have to get this out of the foetid corruption of Edinburgh and into Strasbourg. That is only possible via the UK Supreme Court, and my legal team are now working on that appeal. I urge you to subscribe not only because of the particular injustice of my own case, but also because this ruling puts a huge power in the hands of the state by making it next to impossible to report the defence in cases of sexual allegation. As such allegations are the favoured tool of the state against perceived dissident threats (cf Julian Assange), this is very dangerous indeed.

You can contribute to my defence fund here. I am extremely grateful to those who have and I want to stress that I absolutely do not want anybody to contribute if it causes them even the slightest financial difficulty. I am afraid to say that the amounts we need to raise remain ridiculous; this fact is of course all part of the implementation of suppression, by “lawfare”.




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The CIA’s Chinese Walls

It is not in dispute that the CIA is in possession of Julian Assange’s legal and medical files seized from the Ecuadorean Embassy, including correspondence and drafting by his lawyers on his defence against extradition to the USA on Espionage charges. The defence submitted evidence of this in court. After Julian was arrested in the Ecuadorean Embassy and removed, all of his personal possessions were illegally seized by the Ecuadorean authorities, including his files and his IT equipment. These were then shipped back to Ecuador by diplomatic bag. There, they were handed over to the CIA.

These facts were agreed in court in Assange’s extradition hearing by the US authorities. However, they claimed that the proceedings were not tainted by the fact that the prosecuting state had seized all the defendant’s legal papers, because “Chinese walls” within the US government meant that the CIA would not pass any of the information on to the Justice Department.

Frankly, if anybody believes that, then I have a bridge to sell you. In any court in any Western jurisdiction against any other defendant but Assange, the seizure of the defence’s legal files by the state seeking extradition would in itself be sufficient for the case immediately to be thrown out as hopelessly tainted. That is without adding the fact that the CIA was also secretly video recording Assange – through the UC Global security firm – and was specifically recording his meetings with his lawyers.

As it happens, UC Global also recorded for the CIA several of my own meetings with Julian, and I shall next month be travelling to Madrid to give evidence in the criminal trial of David Morales, CEO of UC Global, for illegal spying (UC Global is a Spanish company). At least, I shall be if I am not in prison myself as a result of the suppression of my own reporting of the defence in the Alex Salmond case.

I ask one simple question. The CIA put substantial effort into recording Assange’s meetings with his legal team, and UC Global employees also gave evidence they were instructed physically to follow his lawyers, who in addition suffered burglaries and other intrusions. The CIA put effort into collecting specifically his legal papers from Quito. If there are effective “Chinese walls” preventing the stolen and eavesdropped material on his legal defence being given or explained to the American government prosecutors, then who is the market for these legal papers? Who is the CIA providing them to? What other purpose are the CIA supposed to be seizing his legal papers for?

There is no legitimate answer to these questions. I find breathtaking the UK court’s insouciance about the most gross and deliberate violation of attorney/client privilege of which the human imagination is able to conceive. Yet this is just one of the numerous breaches of procedure in the Assange case.

I am frequently asked about the current legal situation. The USA has submitted its appeal to the English and Welsh High Court against the decision not to extradite. The defence have submitted their response to the appeal. In doing so they have also submitted a counter-appeal against the many deeply concerning points on which Baraitser ruled extradition was possible, before ruling it out on the sole grounds of medical history and conditions of custody.

The situation now is complex. The first thing to be said is that the High Court has not yet ruled that the United States government’s grounds for appeal have sufficient legal merit to be considered, and thus accepted the case and set a hearing date. This is taking much longer than usual, and hope is growing that the High Court may rule that the United States’ grounds for appeal are too legally weak to meet the bar of a hearing. If that is the case, Julian could suddenly be released very quickly.

If the appeal is accepted, a hearing date will be set and the legal grapevine thinks that could be as early as July – much quicker than usual. We then have the further complication that the counter-appeal by the defence is not an automatic process, indeed it is exceptional. The normal procedure would be that the High Court would hear the US appeal on the medical and conditions of imprisonment points and the defence response, and rule on that. Should the US appeal succeed, the High Court would send that judgement back down to judge Baraitser, who would reconvene Westminster Magistrates Court and order the extradition. The defence could then appeal to the High Court against the extradition on all the other grounds, which are numerous but headed by breach of the provision on no political extradition of the Treaty under which the extradition is taking place.

The whole process would then start again, which would take us well into 2022 with Julian still in jail. The defence hope the High Court would instead take the counter-appeal at the same time and hear all the arguments together, but it is by no means a given the High Court will agree. If the High Court considers the US appeal weak there is a danger that the High Court would also think a hearing on all the other points – which would last weeks – would be an unnecessary waste of its time. Which leads us to the paradox that a quick victory for Julian on health grounds that sees him released, would leave in place as a precedent the awful aspects of Baraitser’s ruling on extradition for political offence being lawful, and on the dismissal of Article X freedom of speech arguments, and the acceptance of US universal jurisdiction over publishing of US classified information worldwide.

A further paradox which may trouble us in future is that if released, and if Biden as now is determined to continue the persecution of whistleblowers and of Wikileaks, Julian Assange could find himself trapped in England. Anywhere else he goes, including his native Australia, he could be the subject of a further US extradition request leading to imprisonment. This is the dilemma of my friend Lauri Love, whose lawyers advised him against even accepting my invitation to visit Scotland, in case a new US extradition request is issued in any other jurisdiction he visits. Lauri is only safe from extradition in England and Wales.

There is a further danger that the British Home Office might immediately on release seek to deport Julian to Australia on the grounds his UK visa has expired, and that the Australian government may imprison him there in pursuit of a further US extradition request. So in aiming for a situation where Julian can work, run Wikileaks, and contribute his remarkable talent and intelligence to further expansion of freedom of speech and the internet and empowering of ordinary citizens, we still all have work to do.

———————————————

 
 
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

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

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

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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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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