The Alex Salmond Trial and Censorship 175

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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175 thoughts on “The Alex Salmond Trial and Censorship

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  • Matthew Vallance

    As if the reported “run” on toilet paper, by members of the public panicking over the threat of Coronavirus, here we have The State helping to make the situation worse, by scaring themselves shitless over the Alex Salmond Trial.

    The British Establishment is in full-scale panic mode over Scottish Independence – which makes it, to me, unhfathomable as to why the SNP, instead of going full pelt for Independence, is indulging itself in this damaging nonsense with the GRA, and indulging in in-fighting over the selection of candidates for the 2021 Holyrood Election, withn a side order of weel-kent faces standing down.

    No, as someone who has spent decades covering Scottish sport, fine well Ah ken – nobody snatches defeat from the jaws of victory as often, and with as little style, as the Scots.

    • Muscleguy

      As the Rev Stu of Wings has pointed out if he had been in their position and had campaigned all their lives for Independence if they thought it was within touching distance they surely would have carried on to enjoy that from the inside.

      That they are going now strongly suggests that they think Independence is a long way off. Which means Sturgeon, still saying we can have indyref2 this year is lying through her teeth at us.

      Sturgeon and much of the rest of the Holyrood party is engaged in expectations management realising that if we realise the truth we will firstly get disheartened and secondly get angry.

      I have already stated publicly that I shall not vote SNP if GRA is passed or not taken off the table. Independence has to be worth wanting and if that means rule by woke fascists with women deprived of their safe spaces, denied the ability to meet or organise and all public conveniences are unisex and progress on single sex hospital wards (a government aim) is rolled back again then I will vote No to Independence as well, with a very heavy heart but nevertheless.

      I am coming to think Sturgeon must be removed for the sake of the SNP and the sake of the wider Indy movement. She has become the problem. In declining to consider other attested ways with international precedence for achieving Independence which Craig has outlined some time ago.

  • Theophilus

    You must be doing something right if they want to shut you up!
    Best wishes

    • Antonym

      This shows that you have stepped on the “highest” toes. Only with that kind of back cover c-servants dare to go out of their normal way as above.

  • Tom Welsh

    Nowadays, and for a good few years already, I do a mental double-take when I hear that someone is being prosecuted for alleged sexual misconduct.

    The Assange case has shown the entire world how, whenever the powers that be wish to destroy someone they see as a threat, their first step is to blacken his name.

    As Groucho Marx put it, “Truth goes out the door when rumor comes innuendo”.

    • Tom Welsh

      As Mr Murray has repeatedly pointed out, the article complained of does not mention any particular persons or cases, and is framed as satirical comment on a particular legal doctrine.

      If the authorities read the article and see their own malicious behaviour reflected in it, that is surely their problem. “If the cap fits, wear it”.

        • Tom Welsh

          Please do, Craig! I am happy to be of the slightest assistance.

          In the light of the Assange show trial, the Skripal farrago, etc., it is quite surprising that the authorities still seem to expect us to believe in their impartiality.

          The British justice system is surely all of a piece. If part of it is self-evidently crumbling away from corruption and undue influence, it is natural to mistrust all of it.

          • yesindyref2

            Tom, the COPFS is a department of the Scottish Government, not the British (UK) one, and the appointment of its two top officers, though appointed by the Queen, are recommended by the First Minster – WITH the approval of the Scottish Parliament.

        • yesindyref2

          This bit did kind of take it out of the realms of satire, and beyond the realm of allegory, particularly the second capitalised line.

          “This is of course my first Yes Minister effort.

          I think the COPFS were taking the easy and perhaps, kind, way out as I doubt they want to prosecute you for Contempt of Court. And they still might not, even with the article still there – and this one to add to it. And if you changed that original article even now as I mentioned above, you’d probably be in the clear, without having been “censored”. It’s not needed, it really isn’t needed, and it’s too “directive”, in the sense of guiding.

      • jmg

        Tom Welsh wrote:
        > As Mr Murray has repeatedly pointed out, the article complained of does not mention any particular persons or cases, and is framed as satirical comment on a particular legal doctrine.

        That’s right, Craig wrote at the end of that article:

        “As with the original series, although based on a realistic civil service scenario dealing with similar events to those the civil service actually deals with, this conversation between a Minister and Permanent Secretary is purely fictional. No real situation is alluded to and any resemblance between the people and situations portrayed here and anything that is happening in real life is entirely accidental. Please do not attempt in the comments section to relate this entirely fictional hommage to Yes Minister to any actual events involving any actual court cases. Because you might wander into contempt of court.”

        Internet Archive: Yes Minister Fan Fiction — Craig Murray — 18 Jan 2020

        So perhaps the original Yes Minister series could also be prosecuted, according to that 21 January letter.

        • Tom Welsh

          “So perhaps the original Yes Minister series could also be prosecuted, according to that 21 January letter”.

          I have no doubt that it would have been, had HMG wished to suppress Messrs Jay and Lynn. As they were insiders themselves, though, it didn’t.

    • Stephen Ambartzakis

      Good luck Mr Murray, as you say Tom, the accusation of sexual misconduct has become ever more risible through being over used. Wait until those who are uncomfortable to the state are accused of pedophilia, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia et al.These are, generally, the tactics of the insecure, of whatever stripe, which I refer to as “point and shriek” Nothing upsets the chair polishing bureaucrats as much as being laughed at.

      • Tom Welsh

        Well put, Stephen. You are quite right.

        First they came for the alleged paedophiles; I did nothing because I was not (yet) an alleged paedophile.
        Then they came for the alleged “Russian trolls”; I did nothing because I was not (yet) an alleged “Russian troll”.
        Then they came for the politically incorrect… [gulp]…

  • Joan Summers

    Wishing you all the luck in the world. And AS too. I do hope his case is heard fairly.

  • Ruth

    Thank God there is someone of influence and knowledge and little fear to fight the obscenely corrupt British Establishment/deep state

  • global dominance

    What’s happening in Craig’s case is intimidation.
    There is a putsch or coup on right now to get the power off the people. The newspapers have been shut up and many NGOs have been neutralized. It is scientifically orchestrated.

    Try this way of looking at the ‘pandemic‘
    It is the perfect tool to force through legislation worldwide for:

    1. A Cashless society
    because paper money is dirty and spreads germs.

    2. Micro-chipping i.e. bar-coding, tracking and medication of the global herd
    by means of compulsory vaccination with sub-dermis chips for ‚convenient‘ record-keeping

    3. Ostracization of refusers linked to Facial Recognition requisites.
    Access to supermarkets and railway stations only with pass-card. In other words the possibility of Food Denial.

    • Muscleguy

      I was with you until the vaccine denial part. Vaccines have done more for worldwide human health than antibiotics. We made smallpox extinct in the wild. with vaccination, I have a smallpox vax scar from when I was 6. We are within touching distance of doing the same for polio virus with only religious ignorance standing in the way.

      BTW I hold a Biomedical Phd and am published in Nature if you wish to take me on in debate on this issue.

      Further BTW in third place is the demonstration and scientific proof for adding a smidgeon of sugar/glucose to oral rehydration solution to make it very much more effective. If you can prevent a cholera patient from dying from dehydration their immune system is usually good enough to clear the infection themselves. Oral rehydration solution can achieve this without antibiotics.

      I’m a distance runner and I add sugar to the salt replacement drinks I make up for truly long/hot runs with bought tablets for the purpose. Of late you have actually been able to get them containing sodium instead of choline so I won’t have to also add a sprinkling of table salt. I have no truck with the sugar laden athletic drinks. I’ve trialled them and they are heavy and used according the manufacturers’ instructions left me nauseous and spitting into the verge still 9 miles from home.

  • Daisy Walker

    A bit unusual for the PF to contact you directly – normally they send a Police Officer to carry out their ‘warnings’.

    Does this count as an official PF warning and is recorded on your personal record as such (in the same way a conviction is)? If it were me, I would be making enquiry to ensure it has not.

    Good luck to you and Mr AS.

    • Tom Welsh

      Yes, Walter. It’s still a free country… except in those respects in which it is not.

      One could easily compile a thick book from instances of how it is not.

  • Cubby

    Craig, please report whatever you feel you can but for goodness sake do not cross the line.

    Good luck.

  • Mac Maclean

    The state wish to curtail freedom of speech, the truth while covering up their dirty deeds and corrupt ways.

    I always look forward to reading your articles and ongoing commentaries.
    Thank you Craig I admire your ever good principles and great work you do for our nation!
    Good luck with walking that fine line before you.

  • Gordon Gibson

    But what is the update on the Assange hearing. I’ve been relying on your excellent reports ( and recirculating them).

    • Tom Welsh

      The Assange hearing has apparently been adjourned until mid-May. I cannot for the life of me imagine why, unless it’s to let the public forget about it (and Mr Murray’s damning reports).

      • Bibbit

        As Craig confirmed, the primary motivation to prolong Julian’s ‘process’ is the hope that this ‘war of attrition’ will drive him to end his own life.

  • John O'Dowd

    I don’t think there is any mystery about this. They don’t want proceedings reported by a knowledgeable, independent, fearless correspondent, and have now issued a pretext for your arrest as a possible means of preventing your reportage.

    September 2014 rattled the Brit Establishment – it was never meant to be so close -the next time they might lose their most valuable ‘possession’ – and now the gloves are off.

    I really do hope you have a crack legal team ready to spring you, since I suspect they could well arrest you ahead of proceedings. Deeply sinister times.

    Go carefully Craig.

  • djm

    I rarely agree with anything you write, CM, but am outraged that the PF should be writing to you in these terms.

    Its definitely an attempt to unsettle you but perhaps you’re secretly pleased your posts get circulated beyond the usual circle jerk ?

    All the best

    Kind regards

    • Tony

      So a large group of highly-informed people, who often disagree with each other about such major issues as brexit and Scottish independence, is a “circle jerk”? Hmmm…..I think I know who’s the one being a jerk here.

    • Tom Welsh

      What is this “circle jerk” of which you speak?

      I have been familiar with English for only 69 years, so my understanding is limited.

      • N_

        Agreed about xkcd. Real geeks too. A lot of its cartoons are shallow: boring programmer types thinking they’re “elite” because they know about the gambler’s fallacy or whatever. about electoral precedent was embarrassing. Someone should tell the poor guys that politics isn’t programming. Very few aspects of life are programming other than programming.

        But there are occasional gems. a an absolute classic and a particular favourite.

        • N_

          Sorry – the text for the first link should have read “
          1122 is embarrassing because “they think they’re so clever” and yet their point is banal, unnuanced, and in some ways wrong – they are out of their depth. But 386 is a classic and a particular favourite.

  • MBC

    Somebody must have put them on to your article. And somebody must be asking the Crown to intimidate you.

    I think you are right that this is intimidation. Your point that your article would require a judge to first of all judge it in contempt of court before they could compel you to remove it strongly suggests that they are putting pressure on you to remove it voluntarily.

    Who is asking the Crown to intimidate you? Who is pushing this?

  • MBC

    The other piece of nonsense is, if your Moorov satire was contempt of court, why was it not raised at the time?

  • Brian Forrest

    Absolutely with you all the way, Craig…I don’t do prayers, but am sending powerful positive vibes your way…Keep up the great work!

  • DiggerUK

    I haven’t heard if the Guardian has had equivalent notification of concerns about their reporting of Julian’s case. Highlighting the lies against him and downplaying the truths for him doesn’t seem to qualify as a contempt of court outside of Scotland. Maybe the Scottish editions are worded differently.

    This is a frightener Craig, designed to intimidate. If it was a serious attempt to quieten you down they would have initiated procedures to force you to remove the article.

    To date, you have not reported receiving so much as a Postit note about your revelations that Boris Johnson was pissed at the memorial day ceremony last November 11th. Not even a request to remove the article and that wasn’t satirical…….but then again the Cenotaph doesn’t come under Scottish jurisprudence…_

    • Tom Welsh

      “Highlighting the lies against him and downplaying the truths for him doesn’t seem to qualify as a contempt of court outside of Scotland”.

      That would be because highlighting the lies against him and downplaying the truths for him puts a journalist on the side of the judge.

      It’s only contempt of court if you seem to be trying to frustrate the judge’s efforts to get the accused condemned (or extradited, as the case may be).

  • peter.n

    Dear Craig

    are you sure, that letter is not fake? it was written 21.1, only 3 days after publishing yes minister, it would
    be really fast pace of actions by the crown and little odd to me.

  • Bill Thomson

    “Serious sexual offences,” I hadn’t been aware of that.
    I may now be prejudiced against a man not mentioned in Craig’s article.
    Surely the author of the letter is in contempt by making this subjective assertion?

    • Tom Welsh

      “Surely the author of the letter is in contempt by making this subjective assertion?”

      Good point! But, you see, the writer of the letter is one of the gang. The law doesn’t apply to him and his pals. That’s one of the reasons they have been going all in to destroy Assange; exposure of misdeeds to the light of day is the first step towards prosecuting and punishing them.

      And we can’t have that.

  • iain

    Glad you’ll be covering it as there’s sure to be a massive media spotlight on this one, unlike the showtrial in Woolwich. The latter has been receiving little coverage because they know much of the public would recognise Assange’s persecution is an affront to our elite’s alleged values. This one though is going to be a media circus, with every allegation presented as fact and the sheer number of allegations as definitive proof. His longtime “colleagues” will naturally all be ducking for cover, so important somebody will be in there reporting with clear eyes.

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