Alex Salmond’s jeopardy has caused me a dreadful shudder of recognition and empathy. I too was accused of hideous offences under a civil service disciplinary code and barred from taking any action to defend myself. I was not allowed to speak to anybody at all about the charges, and particularly not allowed to know the identity of my accusers, or to organise witnesses in my defence – which appears the exact procedure which Alex Salmond now, with absolute justice, complains of. These Civil Service disciplinary investigations are contrary to all rules of natural justice, and designed to facilitate executive stitch-ups, not to uncover the truth.
As with Alex Salmond, some of the accusations against me were hideous – offering visas in exchange for sex, for example. They were so hideous that the mental anguish of not being permitted to take any normal steps to defend myself caused me a mental breakdown. I know what Salmond must be feeling. I received psychiatric treatment in St Thomas’ Hospital for a condition called “learnt helplessness” – meaning it was the dreadful experience of having things done to me which I was not permitted to take any normal steps to counter, which caused my clinical depression.
The charges against me were entirely fake and entirely vexatious, even malicious, issued after I had objected to British complicity in torture in the “War on Terror”, which the government denied at the time, calling me a liar, though now admits. The charges were designed to destroy my reputation. You can read the full story in my book “Murder in Samarkand”, widely available in libraries. I believe it conveys the anguish that “learnt helplessness” can cause.
To be plain, I was told not to reveal the existence of the charges to anybody at all and specifically forbidden from contacting witnesses. Nevertheless the charges were such obvious nonsense they eventually collapsed and I was found not guilty of all eighteen charges – but found guilty of breaking the order to keep the charges secret, in organising my defence. Not keeping the charges secret is the only disciplinary offence of which I was ever convicted.
The extreme Kafkaesque nature of this is only increased by the fact that the government themselves had revealed the charges in the widest possible manner, by leaking them to the Daily Mail, in the effort to permanently ruin my reputation. A number of the charges were sexual, such as having a secret flat to entertain prostitutes – again, totally untrue, but great for the tabloids. The use of false sexual allegations to destroy threats to the political elite is routinely deployed – Alex Salmond joins Julian Assange, Tommy Sheridan (whose recent court victories against the Murdoch press went totally unreported), Scott Ritter and myself among recent victims of this tactic.
There is one important difference between Alex Salmond’s case and my own – I requested several times that my case be referred for police investigation but the FCO refused, whereas the Salmond allegations have been referred. The case of Michelle Thomson, the entirely innocent former MP whose career was deliberately destroyed by Police Scotland keeping an investigation open for years into simple matters that could have been cleared up in a week, makes this a limited comfort. I don’t doubt we will see years of this nonsense against Salmond before it is finally dismissed.
“Safe” members of the establishment elite can conduct the most blatant of crimes and never get prosecuted at all. The late Tessa Jowell engaged repeatedly and personally in blatant money laundering of crooked Berlusconi funds that would have had anyone but a senior politician locked up. Amber Rudd was a Director of a share ramping scheme that ripped off hundreds of investors. Michelle Mone is currently engaged in a Ponzi scheme badly disguised as a crypto-currency. None of those will be prosecuted.
I would suggest that the financial affairs of the vast majority of the wealthy and powerful would not stand up to close investigation and scrutiny. But in the normal course of events the powerful are shielded from such scrutiny. Paul Manafort’s financial dealings would have been actionable at any time in the last few decades. It is only when caught in the mass fishing expedition of the Mueller “Russiagate” investigation that he gets convicted – for matters nothing to do with the ostensible reason for the investigation. Which is not to say the convictions are a bad thing, just that if you scratch below the surface of any multi-millionaire or any friend of the powerful, you will be able to convict them. They should all be scratched, not just those whom other wealthy individuals regard as a threat to the political order.
Prosecution is not happening in the Manafort case from motives of preventing financial impropriety of the rich – 99.9% of that is overlooked, all the time. It is happening because for some reason the neo-conservative Establishment in the United States continue to see Donald Trump as a threat. What I do not understand is why they see Trump as a threat to Establishment interests, as he has given no indication he means to follow through on any of his anti-establishment or non-interventionist campaign rhetoric. The Establishment are not those who should feel threatened by Trump.