Monthly Archives: March 2020


Daily Record Investigates My Home and Finances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tumbleweed rolls by.

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

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

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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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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J’Accuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So why was the charge brought?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————

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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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.

I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

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Alternatively:

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

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

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Assange Bail Application Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

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

Alternatively:

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

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

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Tomorrow is Another Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is fashionable to write articles at the moment stating the Government has discovered the value of socialist intervention. I suspect history will show that nothing could be further from the truth.
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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Long Dark Night of the Soul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which makes me feel quite ill.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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In a Strange Limbo

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

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

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

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

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

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Reporting the Alex Salmond Trial

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

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

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

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

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

CRAIG MURRAY
To: [email protected]

Thu, 5 Mar at 16:53

Sirs,

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

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

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1

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

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

former Daily Mail chief columnist Peter Oborne

And the legendary investigative journalist John Pilger

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

Craig Murray

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

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

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

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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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Momento Mori – Unpopular Thoughts on Corona Virus

I have always been very fond of this photo, for reasons which are perhaps obvious. We are left to right Celia, Stuart, Neil, Craig and throughout our childhood we really were that close and that happy. The reason that I post this now is that my mother always told me she was amazed how good we looked in the photo, because it was taken when we were all off school sick with Hong Kong flu.

The Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968/9 was the last really serious flu pandemic to sweep the UK. They do seem extraordinarily regular – 1919, 1969 and 2020. Flu epidemics have much better punctuality than the trains (though I cheated a bit there and left out the 1958 “Asian flu”). Nowadays “Hong Kong flu” is known as H3N2. Estimates for deaths it caused worldwide vary from 1 to 4 million. In the UK it killed an estimated 80,000 people.

If the current coronavirus had appeared in 1968, it would simply have been called “flu”, probably “Wuhan flu”. COVID-19 may not be nowadays classified as such, but in my youth flu is definitely what we would have called it. The Hong Kong flu was very similar to the current outbreak in being extremely contagious but with a fairly low mortality rate. 30% of the UK population is estimated to have been infected in the Hong Kong flu pandemic. The death rate was about 0.5%, mostly elderly or with underlying health conditions.

But there was no massive panic, no second by second media hysteria, over Hong Kong flu. Let me start being unpopular. “Man in his 80’s already not very well from previous conditions, dies of flu” is not and should not be a news headline. The coverage is prurient, intrusive, unbalanced and designed to cause hysteria.

Consider this: 100% of those who contract coronavirus are going to die. 100% of those who do not contract coronavirus are also going to die. The difference in average life expectancy between the two groups will prove to be only very marginal. That is because the large majority of those who die of COVID-19 will already be nearing the end of life or have other health problems.

Let me make this important statement. I write as somebody whose heart and lungs are damaged and in poor condition, following the multiple bilateral pulmonary emboli which nearly killed me in 2004, which mysteriously appeared at precisely the time the UK and US governments were desperately trying to get rid of me as Ambassador, just a couple of weeks after I had been finally cleared of all the false charges with which the British government had attempted to fit me up. I was in a coma for days and subsequently given a maximum of three years to live (read Murder in Samarkand for the full story). If I get COVID-19 I expect I shall be fairly quickly gone off on my next adventure.

But I am OK with that. I have lived an incredibly full and satisfying life. I have no desire whatsoever to die – I have a wife and children I love deeply and I have important political battles I wish to fight. But human beings are not supposed to live forever and one day my time will come.

What worries me about the current reaction to coronavirus, is that it seems to reflect a belief that death is an aberration, rather than a part of the natural order of things. As the human species continues to expand massively in numbers, and as it continues casually to make other species extinct, it is inevitable that the excessive and crowded human population will become susceptible to disease.

As we see the catastrophic effects of human beings on the environment, including on other species and the climate, I am genuinely perplexed as to what are the underlying assumptions and goals of humankind. Do we really believe that medical science could and should eliminate all disease? There are numerous, well-funded medical scientists working very hard on research into the idea that ageing itself is a process that can be prevented. Because that is a notion very attractive to wealthy westerners, more money is being spent on preventing ageing than on fighting malaria and other tropical diseases. Where does this end? Do we really want a world – or at least a wealthy word – where everybody gets to be a centenarian? What are the effects of that on overall population, on demographics, economics and the allocation of finite resources including food and housing?

The mass hysteria around the current coronavirus is being driven by a societal rejection of the notion that the human species is part of the wider ecology, and that death and disease are unavoidable facts, with which it ought to be part of the human condition to come to terms. Let me offer a comforting thought to those of you who have bought into the hysteria. I have no doubt whatsoever that mortality rates from the coronavirus are being exaggerated. They are all based on extrapolation from those who have been tested, but there exists a very large population of people, worldwide, who have or have had the coronavirus, whose symptoms have been those of a cold or non-existent, who have not put themselves forward for testing. The Hong Kong flu had a mortality rate of 0.5% and I believe that ultimately COVID-19 will prove to be very similar. Just like flu once you get it, the only difference being it is more contagious so more people will get it.

Yes wash your hands, bin your tissues, keep things clean. Don’t hang around someone who has the flu. Take advantage of everything modern medicine can do to help you. But don’t be too shocked at the idea that some sick people die, especially if they are old. We are not Gods, we are mortal. We need to reconnect to that idea.

All human deaths are individual tragedies. I wish all solace and comfort to the grieving, and in no way wish to minimise the pain of individual loss of anybody of any age (I lost my own mother not long ago), or that even a small number of child deaths in particular will be dreadfully painful. My deepest and heartfelt condolences go to all the bereaved, and my warm regards go to all the sick and the worried. But the perspective of the wider place of human life in the cosmos is a help in grieving. The purpose of this blog remains not to shirk from saying what might be unpopular. I do hope people will start to consider COVID-19 in a more measured way.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Julian Assange Hearing – Your Help Wanted

Here is a list of things you can do to help. Everyone can do at least one of these.

1) Put 18 May firmly in your diary. The hearing stands adjourned until 18 May. Turn up on 18 May and join the protests there all day – show the world this is a political trial, and we know it. Woolwich Crown Court is walking distance from Plumstead Railway Station in South East London. If you feel able to do so, bring your tent and join the Free Assange Village that sets up on the grass banks around the court – there is loads of available space. But if you can just turn up for the day, that is just as valuable. Protests will roll on every day throughout the hearing which will continue for a minimum of three weeks.

Make all the noise you can at the protests. The prosecution is anxious to portray this as an “ordinary criminal case”. Make sure the world, and the judge, know it is not. There was an attempt by the judge to deflect the communication problems caused by Julian being locked inside a bulletproof glass cage, and blame the distant noise of protestors for that instead. Do not be deflected by this arrant nonsense. Make all the noise you can.

2) Write to your elected representatives. This really does have an impact if done en masse. You can do this whichever country you are in. The key points are these:

– Publishing the truth should not be a crime. Wikileaks exposed war crimes and worldwide corruption by governments.
– The prosecution case rests entirely on the argument that the UK/US Extradition Treaty of 2007 is legally enforceable, but that specifically Clause 4.i of the Treaty forbidding extradition for political offences has no standing in law. This is an absurd argument.
– Ask specifically your elected representative whether they personally believe political offences should be extraditable, and what they believe the impact might be worldwide on political dissidents in exile
– Demand they act on the disgraceful conditions in which Julian is held, including entirely unnecessary strip searches and manacling, lack of access to his legal papers and lack of access to his lawyers. Point out he has not been convicted and that these are incompatible with his status as an innocent remand prisoner. Point out he is being treated as the most violent convicted terrorists are treated, but he is unconvicted and accused of a peaceful political offence.

3) Put in a freedom of information request. I explained at great length why it is impossible that the UK could have ratified the US/UK Extradition Treaty in 2007 if it is indeed, as the prosecution claim, incompatible with the UK Extradition Act of 2003. Please read that again.

If you are in the UK
There must be documentary evidence of all the clearance work around Whitehall that was done to ensure the 2007 Treaty is fully compatible with UK law. I therefore need people to submit Freedom of Information Requests to:
a)Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Specifying Consular Dept, Legal Advisers, North American Dept, Nationality & Treaty Dept, Counter Terrorism Dept or their successors if renamed and any other relevant departments)
b)Home Office
c)Treasury Solicitors
d)Cabinet Office
e)UK Parliament

Requesting “All materials relating to the ratification and entry into force of the UK/US Extradition Treaty (signed 2003 ratified 2007), and particularly all discussion of the ability of the 2003 Extradition Act to apply all of its provisions, of the need or lack of need for any further statutory provision to incorporate it into English law, including but not exclusively any reference to extradition for political offences or to clause 4 of the UK US Extradition Treaty.” Materials should be requested from 2002 to 2007.

If you are in the USA, please similarly put in a FOIA request to the Department of Justice and State Department for all material relating to the implementation of the UK/US Extradition Treaty (signed 2003, ratified 2007), and particularly any discussion of the political offences exclusion at Clause 4, in particular but not exclusively with relation to the desirability of the UK implementing that clause and/or the UK’s ability to do so.

I realise I am asking for a bit of work here from you to work out how to do and phrase this. I have never been let down when drawing on the tenacity and perspicacity of our readers before!

4) Research the passing of the 2003 Extradition Act.

In Court the prosecution argued that the 2003 Extradition Act was the first such UK Act not to include an exclusion for political offences. Parliament must therefore deliberately have removed the political offences exclusion and the 2007 Treaty could not put it back in. The defence argued to the contrary that the 2003 Extradition Act is an Enabling Act on which extradition treaties depend. Both the Act and the Treaty are required for extradition, and the Act did nothing to limit Treaties from including a ban on extradition for political offences.

As always, Judge Baraitser ignored the defence argument. She three times asserted as a simple matter of fact that Parliament had intended to allow extradition for political offences when passing the 2003 Extradition Act. Twice she did this in interruption of the defence argument to the contrary.

Normally neither arguments about the intention of parliament, nor quotes from Hansard debates, are taken into consideration by English courts. With few exceptions, rulings have been that the legislation must be read on its face. But here, Baraitser has herself quoted the intention of parliament – using that very word – to justify dismissing the defence argument. It must therefore be legitimate to introduce evidence on the intention of parliament, if the judge is going to rely on the concept.

I therefore need people to read through all the Hansards of debates on the 2003 Extradition Act, both in the Commons and the Lords, to see what was said about extradition for political offences, and particular if any distinction was made between terrorists and peaceful political offenders, and whether ministers gave any reassurances. Apart from the debates, there may be parliamentary questions in Hansard on the same topic.

It is of course true that the 2003 Extradition Act was a product of the so-called “War on Terror” and the Iraq and Afghan invasions, passed by Blair, Straw and Blunkett, undoubtedly the most hostile to civil liberty, authoritarian government in modern British history. But even so, I feel fairly confident that to get the Act through the Commons and especially the Lords, ministers will have been obliged to give some reassurance it was not intended to use it against peaceful political dissidents.

I have received quite a clamour from people wanting to know how they can help. Off you go!

This blog will resume its daily coverage of the hearings when proceedings restart on 18 May. On a personal note, my sincere thanks to all those who supported financially. I am happy to report that from the afternoon of Day 3, an accommodation was made by the Court whereby Julian was given six seats in the public gallery for family and close friends, and he kindly listed me for one of those, so I no longer had to queue at 6am, and I hope that will continue.

Finally may I say that I am always delighted when readers, and subscribers, introduce themselves personally. I find it really heartwarming and it certainly helped keep my morale up at a very tiring and emotionally draining time. So please do not feel in the least reticent to say hello if you come along from 18 May.

There was a tremendous camaraderie at the hearing among Julian’s supporters, and I believe I met people from well nigh every country in Europe and the Americas. We kept each other going, and Julian lit up every time he saw friendly faces. It was a very intense week, and even with a wonderful and loving family to go home to, I felt a bit down after we all split up, and everyone who has been back in contact since has said the same thing. I am haunted by the thought of how much more dreadful Julian must feel, back into the bowels of that high tech dungeon and virtual solitary confinement, with very little contact with his legal team or his papers and months to go before anything else happens. Do think of him and pray for him if you have a faith.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

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

Alternatively:

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

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

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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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Doune the Rabbit Hole 2020

Long term readers know that the Doune the Rabbit Hole Music Festival is run by my family and myself and is a major part of my life. It is in a sense my “day job”. The full line-up for 2020 is now here.

The artistic direction of the festival is very much the province of my son Jamie, though when you see something entirely unexpected like the Morriston Orpheus Choir you know there is some input from me!

I have written before about why we do the festival. It is about lifestyle and community, about creating a nicer, kinder world for a short time in the fields on the edge of the Highland Line. Doune the Rabbit Hole is a conscious attempt to maintain the communal values of the earliest music festivals, and the experience is very different from that of the large commercial ones. It is a family festival not just in the sense of being family owned and run. Under 12s come free and there is a huge amount of time and other resource devoted to providing facilities and entertainment for them. The very presence of so many children is important to the sense of being a community, not an audience, as is the extraordinary age range of those who come. There is no dominant age group. Pets are welcome and lots of people bring them.

The finances of the festival are a huge challenge. The fixed costs of the required infrastructure – fencing, temporary roads, water, stages, lighting, sound systems, toilets, tentage, signage, security, first aid and more – are colossal, amounting to over £400,000. This is why many of Scotland’s camping festivals, including Wicker Man and Electric Fields, have closed down in recent years. In the modern age, much of that is mandated by the authorities, for example we would be much happier without six miles of fencing. That is before you pay the musicians. Live performance rather than selling recorded music is nowadays a much higher percentage of a musicians’ income, and the cost of leading bands has increased exponentially in real terms over the last couple of decades. Plus, as a matter of principle, we pay all the musicians, including those looking to break through, of which we have masses.

Ten years of trying has proven to us that the only way a camping festival can survive financially is to reach a size of about 8,000 people, due to the fixed costs. You can imagine the challenges of attempting to grow the festival to the size needed, with all the infrastructure required to keep that many people entertained, safe, fed, watered and with clean toilets (and having the cleanest toilets of any festival is very high on our priorities), yet at the same time retain the community, family, non-commercial and above all friendly atmosphere. I hope that this link might take you to the public reviews on Google. My feeling was last year that we achieved this atmosphere for the visitors but not for the crew, who were over-stressed. I am spending a lot of time on how to make the community work for everybody and keep the finances together, while avoiding commercialisation. We are always very keen on keeping bar and food prices down to ordinary, non-festival levels and making sure that people never feel ripped off on site.

Let me be perfectly open with you and say that this is the year we finally hope we will reach a size where the festival stops losing money. The reason that it has been able to survive and develop to this stage, is that I have over the years put in a six figure sum of my own money to keep it going (which is also the reason I do not now have any!)

The Douniversity proved a very popular innovation last year, with a legion of talks including by Kristin Hrafnsson (editor in chief Wikileaks), Robin McAlpine and myself. This year Common Weal are curating the Douniversity, which I am sure will be great.

The festival has become to me an essential annual spiritual refreshment, and a vital part of what keeps me going.

Finally, I would as every year very much welcome volunteers from our readers who would be prepared to come and help out at the festival, particularly behind the bars, but if you have other particular skills or preferences I am sure they can be accommodated. In the first instance, please send me a message via the contact button top right of the blog to introduce yourself. Please do let me know if you have done it before or if you have otherwise met me, as I have a terrible memory for names. We do, however, need to sell a great many tickets, and if you fancy coming just to enjoy the event you will be very welcome indeed. You can buy tickets here.

.

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It’s Super Bernie Day

I retain the belief that the motivations of Bernie Sanders’ voters – a fair society with decent pay, healthcare, working conditions, immigration justice and the ultra wealthy paying their share – will not be affected today by the massive media hype of the right wingers coalescing around the corrupt and inept Joe Biden. I therefore expect that in 24 hours Bernie will be well down the path to becoming the Democratic nominee.

I should like to believe that the leaked DNC emails of four years ago will yet have a vital effect. By exposing the way Hillary and the DNC rigged the primaries and cheated Bernie out of the nomination last time, they have already made people far more alert for procedural cheating this time. That background will also make it far tougher for the right to mobilise unelected superdelegates to undemocratically prevent Bernie from getting the nomination. It is not a good look to cheat him again. If people did not know about the hidden cheating last time, fixing the Convention would be a simpler sell.

I maintain the hope that the novel coronavirus will prove less virulent and less potent than generally feared. If I am wrong, the USA will shortly experience the massive difference in ability to control an epidemic when ordinary people are not covered by an adequate public health service. Similarly, we in the UK will understand that the Tory policy of running the NHS at 99% capacity as a norm is ridiculously improvident; the expense of carrying a substantial spare capacity for emergencies ought to be part of any decent planning, a principle which has been scandalously neglected.

Here is an interesting irony for you. Almost everybody on the left in the UK, and certainly anybody who has expressed the slightest concern at the appalling repression of the Palestinian people, has been slurred and falsely abused as an anti-semite these past four years. Yet every friend of mine who has been falsely slurred as an anti-semite is, like me, rooting strongly for Bernie Sanders to become the first Jewish President of the United States. Meanwhile the Guardian, which in the UK has led the charge against the left with an average of over 8 articles a week in 2019 accusing left wing figures or the left in general of anti-semitism, is pulling out all the stops to prevent Bernie becoming the first Jewish President of the United States.

The Guardian has rebranded as Joe Biden News. When Kath Viner became Editor it targeted the Clintonite identity politics right for its much needed online revenue increase. Last night its US Politics livestream ran 16 straight items gushing about Joe Biden, his rallies and his endorsements from Buttigeig, Klobuchar and a stream of other irrelevant right wing figures.

Today’s Guardian Online Front Page: The Guardian is Rebranding as Joe Biden News

I am personally pleased that the right has finally settled on the hopeless Biden as its standard bearer. I wonder if we will now be allowed to ask why Burisma paid Hunter Biden $850,000 to be non-executive director of a Ukrainian gas company which he never even visited? It is a fine example of the complete departure of rationality from political life that, even when appalling corruption is laced with geopolitical implications touching on issues of war and peace, you are not allowed to point out the stinking mess without being labeled as a supporter of Trump.

Finally, after the Russiagate 2 “Bernie is a Russian Puppet” effort fell rather flat, those united US intelligence agencies are still attacking with a message which scarcely pretends to be anything other than an attempt to damage Sanders by gross libel and insinuation. The curious involvement of Pompeo and Barr in this tells us one thing fairly plainly. Trump would much prefer to face Biden than face Sanders. He is of course right. If the Democrat establishment block Sanders in favour of another bought and paid for Wall Street puppet, they will end up with Trump until 2024 – and then Ivanka.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

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

Alternatively:

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

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

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The Armoured Glass Box is an Instrument of Torture

In Thursday’s separate hearing on allowing Assange out of the armoured box to sit with his legal team, I witnessed directly that Baraitser’s ruling against Assange was brought by her into court BEFORE she heard defence counsel put the arguments, and delivered by her entirely unchanged.

I might start by explaining to you my position in the public gallery vis a vis the judge. All week I deliberately sat in the front, right hand seat. The gallery looks out through an armoured glass window at a height of about seven feet above the courtroom. It runs down one side of the court, and the extreme right hand end of the public gallery is above the judge’s bench, which sits below perpendicular to it. Remarkably therefore from the right hand seats of the public gallery you have an uninterrupted view of the top of the whole of the judge’s bench, and can see all the judge’s papers and computer screen.

Mark Summers QC outlined that in the case of Belousov vs Russia the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg ruled against the state of Russia because Belousov had been tried in a glass cage practically identical in construction and in position in court to that in which Assange now was. It hindered his participation in the trial and his free access to counsel, and deprived him of human dignity as a defendant.

Summers continued that it was normal practice for certain categories of unconvicted prisoners to be released from the dock to sit with their lawyers. The court had psychiatric reports on Assange’s extreme clinical depression, and in fact the UK Department of Justice’s best practice guide for courts stated that vulnerable people should be released to sit alongside their lawyers. Special treatment was not being requested for Assange – he was asking to be treated as any other vulnerable person.

The defence was impeded by their inability to communicate confidentially with their client during proceedings. In the next stage of trial, where witnesses were being examined, timely communication was essential. Furthermore they could only talk with him through the slit in the glass within the hearing of the private company security officers who were guarding him (it was clarified they were Serco, not Group 4 as Baraitser had said the previous day), and in the presence of microphones.

Baraitser became ill-tempered at this point and spoke with a real edge to her voice. “Who are those people behind you in the back row?” she asked Summers sarcastically – a question to which she very well knew the answer. Summers replied that they were part of the defence legal team. Baraitser said that Assange could contact them if he had a point to pass on. Summers replied that there was an aisle and a low wall between the glass box and their position, and all Assange could see over the wall was the top of the back of their heads. Baraitser said she had seen Assange call out. Summers said yelling across the courtroom was neither confidential nor satisfactory.

I have now been advised it is definitely an offence to publish the picture of Julian in his glass box, even though I didn’t take it and it is absolutely all over the internet. Also worth noting that I am back home in my own country, Scotland, where my blog is based, and neither is within the jurisdiction of the English court. But I am anxious not to give them any excuse to ban me from the court hearing, so I have removed it but you can see it here.

This is the photo taken illegally (not by me) of Assange in the court. If you look carefully, you can see there is a passageway and a low wooden wall between him and the back row of lawyers. You can see one of the two Serco prison officers guarding him inside the box.

Baraitser said Assange could pass notes, and she had witnessed notes being passed by him. Summers replied that the court officers had now banned the passing of notes. Baraitser said they could take this up with Serco, it was a matter for the prison authorities.

Summers asserted that, contrary to Baraitser’s statement the previous day, she did indeed have jurisdiction on the matter of releasing Assange from the dock. Baraitser intervened to say that she now accepted that. Summers then said that he had produced a number of authorities to show that Baraitser had also been wrong to say that to be in custody could only mean to be in the dock. You could be in custody anywhere within the precincts of the court, or indeed outside. Baraitser became very annoyed by this and stated she had only said that delivery to the custody of the court must equal delivery to the dock.

To which Summers replied memorably, now very cross “Well, that’s wrong too, and has been wrong these last eight years.”

Drawing argument to a close, Baraitser gave her judgement on this issue. Now the interesting thing is this, and I am a direct eyewitness. She read out her judgement, which was several pages long and handwritten. She had brought it with her into court in a bundle, and she made no amendments to it. She had written out her judgement before she heard Mark Summers speak at all.

Her key points were that Assange was able to communicate to his lawyers by shouting out from the box. She had seen him pass notes. She was willing to adjourn the court at any time for Assange to go down with his lawyers for discussions in the cells, and if that extended the length of the hearing from three to six weeks, it could take as long as required.

Baraitser stated that none of the psychiatric reports she had before her stated that it was necessary for Assange to leave the armoured dock. As none of the psychiarists had been asked that question – and very probably none knew anything about courtroom layout – that is scarcely surprising

I have been wondering why it is so essential to the British government to keep Assange in that box, unable to hear proceedings or instruct his lawyers in reaction to evidence, even when counsel for the US Government stated they had no objection to Assange sitting in the well of the court.

The answer lies in the psychiatric assessment of Assange given to the court by the extremely distinguished Professor Michael Kopelman (who is familiar to everyone who has read Murder in Samarkand):

“Mr Assange shows virtually all the risk factors which researchers from Oxford
have described in prisoners who either suicide or make lethal attempts. … I
am as confident as a psychiatrist can ever be that, if extradition to the United
States were to become imminent, Mr Assange would find a way of suiciding.”

The fact that Kopelman does not, as Baraitser said, specifically state that the armoured glass box is bad for Assange reflects nothing other than the fact he was not asked that question. Any human being with the slightest decency would be able to draw the inference. Baraitser’s narrow point that no psychiatrist had specifically stated he should be released from the armoured box is breathtakingly callous, dishonest and inhumane. Almost certainly no psychiatrist had conceived she would determine on enforcing such torture.

So why is Baraitser doing it?

I believe that the Hannibal Lecter style confinement of Assange, this intellectual computer geek, which has no rational basis at all, is a deliberate attempt to drive Julian to suicide. The maximum security anti-terrorist court is physically within the fortress compound that houses the maximum security prison. He is brought handcuffed and under heavy escort to and from his solitary cell to the armoured dock via an underground tunnel. In these circumstances, what possible need is there for him to be strip and cavity searched continually? Why is he not permitted to have his court papers? Most telling for me was the fact he is not permitted to shake hands or touch his lawyers through the slit in the armoured box.

They are relentlessly enforcing the systematic denial of any basic human comfort, like the touch of a friend’s fingertips or the blocking of the relief that he might get just from being alongside somebody friendly. They are ensuring the continuation of the extreme psychological effects from isolation of a year of virtual solitary confinement. A tiny bit of human comfort could do an enormous amount of good to his mental health and resilience. They are determined to stop this at all costs. They are attempting to make him kill himself – or create in him the condition where his throttling death might be explained away as suicide.

This is also the only explanation that I can think of for why they are risking the creation of such obvious mistrial conditions. Dead people cannot appeal.

I would remind you that Julian is a remand prisoner who has served his unprecedentedly long sentence for bail-jumping. His status is supposedly at present that of an innocent man facing charges. Those charges are for nothing except for publishing Chelsea Manning’s revelations of war crimes.

That Baraitser is acting under instructions seems to me certain. She has been desperate throughout the trial to seize any chance to deny any responsibility for what is happening to Julian. She has stated that she has no jurisdiction over his treatment in prison, and even when both defence and prosecution combined to state it was normal practice for magistrates to pass directions or requests to the prison service, she refused to accept it was so.

Baraitser is plainly attempting psychologically to distance herself from any agency in what is being done. To this end she has made a stream of denials of jurisdiction or ability to influence events. She has said that she has no jurisdiction to interfere with the strip searching, handcuffing and removal of Assange’s papers or with his being kept in solitary. She has said she has no jurisdiction to request that his defence lawyers have more access to their client in jail to prepare his defence. She has said she has no jurisdiction over his position in the courtroom. Se has suggested at various times it is up to Serco to decide if he may pass notes to his lawyers and up to Group4 to decide if he can be released from the armoured dock. The moments when she looks most content listening to the evidence, are those when prosecution counsel James Lewis argues that she has no decision to make but to sign the extradition because it is in good form and that Article 4 of the Treaty has no legal standing.

A member of the Assange family remarked to me at the end of week one that she seems very lazy, and thus delighted to accept any arguments that reduce the amount she needs to do. I think it is different to that. I think there is a corner of the mind of this daughter of dissidents from apartheid that rejects her own role in the torture of Assange, and is continually urging “I had no choice, I had no agency”. Those who succumb to do evil must find what internal comfort they may.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible. I wish to stress again that I absolutely do not want anybody to give anything if it causes them the slightest possibility of financial strain.

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

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