The Alex Salmond Trial: Your Man Excluded From the Gallery 230

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet this is a person who could stay in a bedroom inside Bute House (not Salmond’s bedroom), who was employed then in a central, vital political capacity, CENSORED PENDING CONTEMPT OF COURT TRIAL, a person approved as an SNP candidate by central vetting, who attempted as the court heard today to get the nomination for an CENSORED PENDING CONTEMPT OF COURT TRIAL consituency CENSORED PENDING CONTEMPT OF COURT TRIAL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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230 thoughts on “The Alex Salmond Trial: Your Man Excluded From the Gallery

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  • Squeeth

    !…what I do believe this trial might do is enable the broader SNP membership to cast off a fairly small and unrepresentative group of careerists who have gained control of the party machinery, who never had Independence at heart and have been making a very fat living on the back of the efforts of a devoted membership.”

    I know what you mean but realistically, good luck with that.

  • Republicofscotland

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

    Wow! That is a very telling sentence, not just about H but about the consequences for AS, and a possible return to lead us to independence, considering AS is the only person within the SNP to actually carry out a indyref, discrediting him is thus the goal.

    • terence callachan

      You have to be careful.
      Anyone that gets in the way of Westminster’s control of Scotland becomes a target

    • terence callachan

      Republic of Scotland…..I agree….furthermore the very idea that they accused AS of a major crime and then decided not to tell anyone because they didn’t want anyone to know but then go on to say that is except for staff in SNP HQ , I told them because they said they would use it to stop AS rejoining SNP and this from someone who was annoyed that AS wouldn’t back her candidacy for a constituency near his .

  • David Mcinnes


    I’ve been questioning the SNP leadership for nearly to years on this “soft Independence, career politicians” within the party who are happy with “status quo” and ever so once in a while speak up against Wasteminster nut do nothing more.

    I must also say that further agreement regarding gender politics has seemed to overwhelm everything coming forward from the SNP and I say that as an existing member.

    Why is this Lesley Laird still in post other than being protected by Nicola Sturgeon.


    • Cubby

      David McInnes

      I think you mean Leslie Evans, David, not Lesley laird.

      I am not sure Nicola Sturgeon can just sack her. But she could, I think, ask for her to be transferred and a replacement provided by the UK Civil Service. But I agree the whole process stinks.

  • SayLess

    In some countries, it is an offence to not promptly report a crime that you witness or become aware of being committed. Does Scotland have such a law? If so, Ian McCann would have broken that law by not reporting the alledged attempted rape.

    • Cubby


      I have no confidence in the BBC to report this case truthfully, accurately and with minimal bias.

    • Frank Waring

      One of the slightly unexpected features of Scottish criminal law is that cross-examination is not allowed to be overtly ‘hostile’. So it is even less likely than in England, that a witness should change their account as a result of a ‘brilliant’ cross-examination.

  • Contrary

    So, from live tweeting from Philip Sim, we’ve had two witnesses – one saying they didn’t get drunk at dinner that night, and the other saying witness H never seemed uncomfortable with Alex Salmond… These aren’t witnesses for the prosecution surely? I may have made a wrong assumption here – I thought all prosecution cases would be presented, then it would be defence’s turn – so are they addressing each charge separately? Prosecusion/defence for each charge.. Does anyone know & can clarify?

    • John Macadam

      The Crown leads all their witnesses first, so yes, this is evidence AGAINST Alex, at least technically. If not cross examined then that suggests defence happy with what they heard

      • Contrary

        Thanks John. I should imagine the defence is indeed happy with what they heard, I can’t imagine what the prosecution purpose was on presenting those witnesses – they contradict their other evidence. Well, from the information we’ve heard anyway, maybe I am just missing too many chunks of evidence. I expected something a bit more,,, polished, from the prosecution when the charges seemed a bit, um, weak? in substance, though.

        • jim hogg

          Sometimes witnesses (in general – not specifically in relation to this case) don’t say what they’re expected to say. If they’ve not been carefully precognosced they can spring the odd surprise. They may also change their minds/reassess, and the effect may be significant.

          It would sensible not to publish/post anything on here that could be construed as attacking the credibility of any of the witnesses in any way. That might amount to an offence under the Contempt of Court Act 1981.

          • Contrary

            Yes you are right Jim, I was just trying to determine prosecution and defence strategies, but I’m chatting too much about the actual substance in doing so, good reminder.

          • Frank Waring

            I was a juror in any case where the judge, in summing up, said that the accused had said something as they approached the complainant. I and the rest of the jury were sure that we had not heard this piece of evidence. At the time I naively and foolishly thought that the judge was just a silly old fool. I now realise that it is possible that the judge knew in detail what evidence was due to be given, and had not noticed that a slightly incompetent lawyer had failed to elicit this one piece of evidence from the appropriate witness. I shouldn’t need to say that this comment is not related in any way, or by any stretch of the imagination, to the current case. Perhaps I could be said to be guilty of revealing jury room secrets, but the law is an ass if it wants to pursue me 😉 !

      • Kenny

        Nope. These were defence witnesses called out of sequence for the sake of convenience. The defence can always ask for this and the prosecution can refuse, but it’s not at all uncommon. It happened in a case for which I served on the jury.

        Incidentally, Craig – you may want to be careful about mentioning constituencies etc. An amateur sleuth could probably figure out the identity of Woman H from what you’ve said, and that’s definitely likely to get you held in contempt. 😐

        • Contrary

          Ah, that’s a relief to know, or at least that it makes sense then. It’s not easy trying to follow a case as it happens, with such paltry reporting. Thanks Kenny.

          (Constituencies were mentioned in the reports, so I think Craig is okay with mentioning them)

  • Athanasius

    It occurs to me that Scotland is presently living in the period when the air is heavy and close and people are waiting for a giant thunderstorm to break. Salmond unleashed the genie of Scottish nationalism from the bottle where it had been locked up since the ’45, and I suspect whatever happens next is far beyond the control of the SNP.

    • Gordie

      Salmond made his contribution to returning national sovereignty to the people of Scotland. Nothing more. England will lose its Scottish possessions simply because the current situation is colonial and won’t hold regardless of what happens in this trial. Nationalism as you describe it or more accurately, the struggle for self determination, has been going on here since the time of the Romans.

    • Frank Waring

      The British Empire might more accurately have been named the Anglo-Scottish Empire. From the Act of Union to 1945, ‘Scottish independence’ would have meant renouncing the enormous material benefits to Scots of their leadership role in a hugely profitable international enterprise. Since 1945, these material benefits have evaporated — and now many Scots can see no great material benefit to arise from leaving their economic, social and political governance in the hands of the physically and mentally distant Parliament of a country which appears to be still lost in ancient dreams. If England would realise that it is just a country, like many other countries, she could talk sensibly to Scotland — and Scottish independence might not even be necessary.

  • Cubby


    Unlike a normal jigsaw not everyone knows what the completed picture should look like.

    Some people have all the pieces of the jigsaw and can clearly see the picture.

    Others have various pieces of the jigsaw available to them and are starting to see parts of the picture to varying degrees. As more pieces are added to their jigsaw these people all have one thing in common – they do not like what they are seeing.

    A lot of jigsaws may well be thrown up in anger as the picture develops.

  • bevin

    “Careerist politicians are the cancer in all parties”.
    The remedy for this plague has been understood for centuries. Firstly elections should be annual. Secondly all representatives should be subject to a simple recall process. Thirdly all legislation should be confirmed by the electors.
    Karl Marx, in his review of the Paris Commune made some very sensible and pedestrian suggestions regarding the payment of representatives.
    It is no accident that the basis of the long Whig reign of error in the C18th began (after putting down the Jacobites) with the Septennial Act. Or that the US constitution calls for regular, biennial, elections to the House.
    Craig’s confidence in the ability of the SNP membership to kick out the current leaders has to be viewed (after taking into account the superiority of all things Scots) in the light of the long, frustrating and utterly fruitless struggle of the membership of Europe’s largest political party to free itself, and its leadership, from the stranglehold of the Blairite bureaucracy. The outcome of which would appear to be the election of the most right wing leader that the Labour Party has ever had.

  • Mist001

    I’m a bit concerned about the jury actually. My 84 year old Mother ‘Cannae stand rat Alex Salmond’ (she cannae stand Mrs. Murrell either) but the thing is, if she was asked by the judge if she had any political affiliations or views in this case, she would blithely declare ‘no’.

    If the people on that jury are anything like my Mother and I suspect a lot of people are, then Alex is going down, regardless of guilt or innocence, just simply because some of them ‘cannae stand rat man’.

    It seems to be a trait of the inhabitants of the British Isles in fact, they enjoy taking people down a peg or two and you don’t get much bigger fish than this one that’s on trial.

    I’m worried for him.

    • Kathy Boynton

      …and yet my fiancé who shares your Mothers sentiments about Salmond would not be sending him down on the evidence he has heard so far (very surprisingly).

      • Cubby

        Kathy Boynton

        Sadly not everyone has the degree of personal integrity of your fiancé. No one should underestimate the level of hatred that exists in Scotland by a section of society towards A. Salmond.

    • Hamish100

      Play musty for me!

      You have a fair go at the First Minister bringing her down at every turn even when fighting a general election. It seems you prefer tories and britnats labour to the SNP
      I suppose things look different living in another country.

      • Mist001

        They certainly do look very different when you’re living in a different country, presumably something that you never had the gumption to do yourself.

        My feelings and criticisms of Mrs. Murrell and the SNP are entirely justified in my book. They let me down very badly and I will never forget that, nor let anyone else forget that. I despise them with a passion. I’m a resolute supporter of Scottish independence but it will NEVER happen with this bunch of clowns in place. They have fooled me once, they are currently and obviously fooling you and they are fooling the independence supporters but you probably haven’t noticed that because you were more interested in discovering where Scottish people live around the world.

        How’s your EU citizenship going these days? That’s the EU that the merchant banker Blackford told you that the SNP would never allow Scotland to be dragged out of.

        • Hamish100

          Interesting how you have a fixation over Mr and Mrs Murrell. Can you not say First Minister?

          Blackford didn’t take me out of the EU. English votes did. Still you blame the SNP.

          As said previously your attacks on the SNP with Campbell took place over a general election.
          Who was that to help?
          Thankfully most folk recognise that for Independence a small cabal of WoS supporters will not deliver. After independence you can vote for whoever, providing you live in Scotland.
          As for fooling people. I see you for what you are.

          • Gordie

            Have to agree with you there, Hamish. They have fuck all answers just bring the house down and then blame other folk when it starts raining. A clean out is required non the less. The sooner the better. Will the FM survive it? I hope so but it depends entirely on whether she had any input into this shite. I’d like to think not but a clean out of the fannies in the party administration required and more power for the constituency parties to select their own candidates, ie candidates apply via branches and constiuencies vet all candidates put forward to them.

    • Margaret

      I was on a rape jury at the High Court many years ago. I can only say that my experience is that the jury members do try their best to be fair, even although the accused in this case were not very nice people.

    • Neeps

      An 84-year-old would be excluded from serving on a jury in the first place, so you have nothing to worry about.

  • Cubby

    Just watched BBC Reporting Scotland. The coverage of the trial is minimal, focuses on the 2 complainants statements and the only comment on the cross examination of H is to say she denies any consensual activity.

    The British state working at full steam ahead. Bias by omission. Trusted journalists – what a joke. State controlled journalists more like.

    Control the media you control the truth.

      • Cubby


        Nothing – only the comment re consensual and H denying it.

        The rest of it was repeating what the 2 complainants said.

        • Margaret

          As Craig says, the jury will hear all the evidence that the court chooses to present. We’ve already seen that the “news”papers are being extremely selective and only publishing the most salacious parts of the evidence.

  • zoot

    weinstein, 23 years. wonder if the trial in scotland was deliberately scheduled to coincide ?

    • nevermind

      It looks as if it was deliberately placed between Womens week and H. Schweinsteins up and coming judgement.

  • James Cook

    “Iain Macwhirter reckoned this trial could split the SNP from top to bottom”

    Regardless of whether you agree or not with the above perspective, the timing of all of this is highly suspect.

    It would appear England has once again planned well to un-unify any Scottish political opposition to it rule.

    ……..and it would appear that Alex made it all so simple.

  • writeon

    ‘Rape’ and ‘sexual abuse’ and other terms linked to ‘sex crimes’, illegal or not; have become so intertwined with the sordid ‘cut and thrust’ of everyday politics; or, at least, that’s how it often seems; that surely there has to be some real hard factual evidence to back up the allegations apart from the words of the accusers themselves?

    To simply believe the allegations of ‘sex crime’ minus any independent evidence to support the allegations, seems to provide people, men or women, with a tremendously powerful political weapon to attack their political opponents and these weapons are extremely difficult to counter and defend oneself against.

  • Martinned

    This is the consequence of having jury trials. They almost unavoidably lead to the development of a vast canon of law of evidence. In the Netherlands, where I studied law, there is no such thing as law of evidence. As long as you don’t waste the court’s time, you can adduce whatever evidence you like. (As long as it’s lawfully obtained, of course.) And as an added bonus you get a judgment explaining which evidence the court did or did not find convincing, and why. (To the extent that that can ever be explained.)

    But in Britain, where juries are considered a sacred check on power, you wind up having endless discussions about which piece of evidence should or should not be admitted.

  • robert graham

    My first thoughts about the trial were of a long term sting operation put together by MI5 , all evidence gathered would be kept secret until required , nothing was to be used in the years to interrupt this process , a bit like feeding rope and installing a sense of security to the target , I am sure power goes to people’s head and at some point they start to believe their own publicly, and the air of untouchability enters their mind .

    I don’t know Alex ,the impressions I get is from his many appearances on TV etc just like most people here I couldn’t in all honesty say nah he wouldn’t do that , well he’s human like the rest of us , who knows ,

    The troubling part is this circle within the party , the comments I made previously are confirmed by the evidence given , its not denied evidence was being gathered , my presumption was the Security Services , Christ it turns out it was his own party , were they in collaboration with MI5 ? Now this takes it to an entirely different level , who exactly is directing policy the Tory Government ? These revaluations leave a sour taste , and the people who week in week out tramp about in all weathers , it’s like a kick in the stomach a real sickener ,
    I contacted Nicola Sturgeon when the excellent woman MP was targeted by the media about her alleged involvement in a mortgage scam a crime she was never questioned about or indeed changed , I wrote of my disquiet about the party throwing her under the nearest bus , no reply ok there must be a lot of mail that arrives daily , the same thing happened when I made contact about not being able to vote for a candidate , I put it down to staffing , now I wonder and I started to question some of the excellent plans by a lot of bloggers every one of them not taken up , Just how interested are the management in Independence , Not really sure now .

    • Hamish McGlumpha

      I have long been of the view that the SNP has been well and truly penetrated by the ‘security’ services (how could it be otherwise for a party whose raison d’etre is to end the British state?).

      There will inevitably be long-term sleepers in there, as spies reporting back, agents provocateurs, and in some cases direct actors. Some of them will be grunts, some will be in senior admin, some will be elected members of both parliaments.

      There will also be straightforward careerists with no ideology other than personal advancement.

      I have no idea if any of these are involved in this case!😉

    • Cubby


      I can see that you are putting together your own political jigsaw. The one I am putting together is not a pretty sight.

  • Pedro

    While I obviously cannot comment on a live trial , I can say that our branch has witnessed first hand how messrs Murrell and McCann deal with SERIOUS allegations against elected SNP folk(in our case a local councillor)
    Letters were sent , Murrell never replied.
    Multiple emails were sent , Murrell never replied .
    Eventually a large group of members hijacked Murrell as he arrived at HQ , he promised a response , no response ever came.
    Whatever the outcome of this trial , it SHOULD be the end of Peter Murrell.

    • Willie

      I think most ordinary members now have a good idea of how the party hierarchy gerrymanders vetting and candidate approvals. And this is the result. A stalled SNP with a party leadership out of touch with the membership and hostile to independence, and the wider independence movement.

      But good will come. Sturgeon and her coterie will soon be out on their ear and new leaders, leaders committed to independence, instead in their place.

      Time to get the band back together as they say and go full pelt for independence. A reinvigorated SNP in common cause with the wider Yes and AUOB movement. We’ve got the will, we’ve got the people, we got the talent, let’s go for it – and especially so as the Brexit disaster unfolds.

  • Ewen Atkinson

    Useful, incisive and insightful in many ways, and yeah – much more informative than the mainstreamers. Thanks very much.

  • Cubby

    BBC Reporting Scotland

    Another disgracefully biased report at 6.30 pm from the controversial state controlled broadcaster. How do they get away with it. Oh that’s right as per N. Korea they are the state broadcaster.

  • Paul Handford

    Harvey Weinstein has been jailed for 23 years.

    He has just been sentenced to 23 years. His folks plan to appeal. So we’ve yet to see how long any jail term will be.

  • John Higgins

    As I understand it, Leslie Evans answers to the cabinet secretary, not Nicola Sturgeon. That might tell yiu something.

  • MBC

    Yes it was that giveaway line about being a soft independence supporter then her rubbishing Alex Salmond’s book The Dream Will Never Die (that nobody took it seriously in politics) that raised a stench in my nostrils. And it explains why she didn’t go to her line manager or civil service union rep. As she was not in the civil service. And her wanting to go into politics for the SNP. Yes, all that. The most interesting part of all this evidence.

    • KathyB

      Are SPAD’s civil servants or not- I think that they may be eligible for membership of the Union for senior civil servants as this union appears to have been used to facilitate/agree the Ministerial procedures that Nicola signed off just before the whole thing blew up.

  • Mark Russell

    A couple of points, my only comment on this matter.

    Imagine for a moment that sometime in the future, Boris Johnson is charged with a number of serious sexual offences that are alleged to have occurred during his tenure as PM. There are several complainants and witnesses, who provide evidence of his misdemeanours during his trial. Events unfold through the media, in not a dissimilar way as those in the High Court.

    How can you possibly weigh the evidence if you are not there? Aside from missing all the nuances during the examination of witnesses, we have to rely on the objectivity and capacity of those reporting – and we must consider our preconceived subjectivity too. If you substitute Boris for Alex in a parallel universe, I suspect the tenor of comments would be rather different…

    A quarter century ago, I had a similar experience when I was charged with 21 offences on indictment from the High Court and faced a jury trial. Thankfully, these offences were not sexual – but they were extremely serious and would have attracted a significant custodial sentence.

    I had never been in trouble before; the police and criminal justice system were unknown but respected institutions – and as I hadn’t committed any of the alleged offences, I had complete trust in both – initially. I was arrested and questioned – and cooperated fully, but I was still charged – and that was the end of so many important things in my life; business, family and friendships.

    After I was charged, I had a solicitor appointed through the legal aid system. I’d been questioned for three days in custody and was exhausted and utterly despondent, when this young lad appeared in the police cell and introduced himself. I wasn’t that hopeful, to be honest, but by the time he left a half hour later, I knew everything would be ok.

    A year later, a jury trial over two months. Your life is publicly dissected and you endure the most painful and emotive testimonies – expert witnesses, friends and family. A horrid time as the prosecution tries to build its case. And you sit in the dock, trying to remain composed when all eyes – jury and Judge are upon you.

    I was extremely fortunate. My ‘young lad’ from the legal aid system was a diamond. One of the most capable individuals I have ever known and someone that I will always have the utmost respect for. Despite his age, he had already gained rights of representation of advocacy in the High Court and led my defence during the trial. He was a partner in a small firm in Edinburgh called McCourts* – just down the road from the National Library – his name was Alex Prentice.

    By the time the Crown concluded its evidence, he had completely demolished the case, concomitantly establishing non-disclosure by the police and Crown. The Sheriff stopped the trial, discharged the jury – and I was acquitted, along with a co-defendant. If ever there was a salutary lesson of honesty – that was one of the best. Ever.

    I walked away with my reputation and character intact – although at enormous personal cost. But the experience provided me with a salutary lesson in life that has far surpassed that loss – and has proved incredibly beneficial ever since.

    Alex only advised me to be honest and tell the truth. I didn’t have to, thanks to him. After watching his careful and forensic dissection of the Crown witnesses, I wouldn’t ever consider being otherwise. I owe him everything – as you will discover shortly when I publish my own memoirs.

    I’ve never seen him since, but occasionally note his name in various media dispatches – none of which are remotely surprising – even his progression to the ‘other side’ as the Principal Crown Advocate – and the prosecution of the AS case.

    Like many, I have enormous interest in this matter, for many reasons, but I am more than content to leave any comments I may have until proceedings are finally concluded – at the end of this case or its appeal. This isn’t Belmarsh – and these practitioners; bench, defence and prosecution are of the highest calibre and beyond reproach. We need to leave them to do their job without any distractions.

    If only it had been Boris….but perhaps that should be when not if!

    *coincidentally, McCourts represented Abdel Baset Al Megrahi at Camp Zeist – today referred back to the appeal court

    • Cubby

      Mark Russell

      “A couple of points, my only comment on this matter. ”

      It would be nice if you kept to that promise. Many thanks.

    • Wikikettle

      Mark Russell. Very harrowing experience Mark. Lets hope, as you point out with your experience, its a fair trial. Please disregard that shallow comment by Cubby, who contributes non stop.

      • Cubby


        Just asking if he can keep to his promise old chap. What’s shallow about that.

        It’s not my fault you have nothing to contribute.

      • andic

        “Mark Russell. Very harrowing experience Mark. Lets hope, as you point out with your experience, its a fair trial. Please disregard that shallow comment by Cubby, who posts non stop”

        Fixed that for you Mr Kettle

        Regarding Mark’s post, your final conclusion is hopeful, but I am afraid that people change over time and even sell out. Look at Craig’s assessment of the JA judge whom he suggests may be uncomfortable but has decided to go through with it due to a lack of moral fibre. And as a result looks for ways to avoid responsibility. Craig seems to have a better opinion of AS’s judge I hope that he is vindicated.

        • Cubby


          Very droll old boy.

          The judge may be ok in Craigs eyes but as the jury will decide and Craig does not know the jury members your post does not contribute much other than showing you are good at posting droll comments but not so much at paying attention.

  • Chris Young

    I doubt if Alex Salmond would be in this situation today had he not been publicly critical of a certain middle east country (which I cannot remember the name of).

    • J

      One of the lessons of the Epstein case should have been the proximity and close co-operation of intelligence agencies (Mossad, CIA, MI6) with organised crime, for whom Epstein procured blackmail material against powerful public figures, among other things. In Salmond’s case, that the establishment have resorted to this trial tends to suggest they have little or nothing on Salmond (otherwise they wouldn’t have to) which certainly endorses, rather than damns him.

      It may turn out they’ve done him a favour, his trial could signal that he’s far cleaner than most people understand.

    • nevermind

      Yes that is rather surprising Mary, there seems to be no controlling vociferous minority religion undermining political life and or representation like in England.

    • Brianfujisan

      I had a Look around ‘ Black Isle Journalism ‘.. Seems legit.Nice Site.

      I use facts not opinions, to help you make informed decisions. I’m not controlled by anyone and therefore I’m not afraid to say it like it is. As a wheelchair user you may see random posts appear about disability issues. Equality for all is my motto. As an independent journalist I take great pride in helping inform you about stories the mainstream press don’t cover.


      Alex Tiffin
      Freelance journalist covering politics with a specific interest in welfare, disability & world events. I present facts so you can make informed decisions.

      Owen Jones
      Author of ‘The Establishment’ and ‘Chavs’, Socialist, Guardian columnist. Losing my Northern accent. My views etc…

  • Stewart Murray

    Did you see the headline in todays Scottish daily express? It reads ‘Weinstein case gave me nerve to report rape bid’ How on earth is someone who is a major accuser, allowed to contact a national newspaper. on the day that Weinstein was being sentenced.

  • Bayard

    “There is something strange about the notion that trial should theoretically be public, but the public not permitted to write about it. What is the point of trials being public if the public are not permitted to comment?”

    Surely, you’re not supposed to comment, you are supposed to be awed by the majesty of the Law and keep quiet.

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