The Long Dark Night of the Soul 485

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.

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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485 thoughts on “The Long Dark Night of the Soul

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  • Tony M

    Most MPs won’t even have a chance or time to read the preamble or won’t even try to, before being pryed out the bars and forced to vote on it, if it’s felt necessary to even do so. It can probably be summarised in two words though “anything goes”. Sturgeon and Boris joint dictators, for the forseeable.

    • michael norton

      Sturgeon wants Alex Salmond banged up for a good stretch.
      Her future is mapped out in lock-step with Boris.
      We will be like the Soviet Union, soon, no pubs, no music hall, no democracy and no peoples justice.

  • Andrew

    You have been excluded because your blog has exposed the prosecution case for what it is. That is why. Undermining the establishment when it is putting someone to the sword is just not allowed.

  • Tony M

    Strange Bill, has anyone spotted the omission, there seems to be provision for court proceedings in England (or possibly England & Wales) and Northern Ireland to be conducted by live video or audio link, but unlike with all the other parts, there is no corresponding arrangement being made for Scotland, unless the Scottish Monsters are going to produce their own equivalent.

  • James

    With reference to Julian Assange (who is innocent of any criminal wrong-doing – the one and only `crime’ he has committed is being a good journalist).

    Does anybody here know the conditions that George Blake was kept in when he was on trial? I can’t imagine that he was kept in a big glass box during the hearing and I can’t imagine that he wasn’t even permitted to confer with his defence team.

    It does strike me that certain aspects of the judicial system have degenerated spectacularly over the last 50 years.

  • Dom

    Let’s hear some reflections from the elderly Tories on here to how highly Dominic Cummings actually rates their lives. The herd immunity strategy must have come as a rude old shock to some lifelong exponents of Von Misean/Spencerian ideology

    • James

      I’m not old and I’m not a Tory – but I’d say that the current `lock-down’ does seem to be a brilliant excuse to trash all the civil liberties that we thought we had.

        • J

          I do too, James. But even if you didn’t read the Telegraph economist describe it as a cull, or Bloomberg or Counterpunch or various economists, it’s odd you don’t consider the two ideas intimately linked. This article was stronger and more informative than most:

          The UK, where the decade and more of austerity had already left the National Health Service (NHS) unable to cope with routine annual influenza seasons without postponing elective procedures, sought to make a virtue of necessity by claiming that it was aiming at ‘herd immunity’. This was nothing but a sanitized declaration of bankruptcy with a strong whiff of genocide. Considering that the pandemic would hit the poor hardest, accepting that the virus would spread, dozens of ‘loved ones’ would die, and only the fittest would survive was like saying ‘let the devil take the hindmost’.

          • James

            J – yes – I think that all decent people would agree that the NHS has been under-funded and mismanaged.

            I also believe that Boris Johnson is a thoroughly venal character.

            BUT – I can’t imagine for one minute that he believed that killing off his core support base (the elderly) ever entered his head. I rather believe that he made a U-turn and moved from `mitigation’ (the previous policy – of letting it develop but trying to slow down the process) to `suppression’ (which will require a total lock-down) precisely when he understood that (a) the NHS really wasn’t prepared for the numbers of cases needing hospital treatment that `mitigation’ would produce and (b) (more importantly) he saw that it was precisely his core support that would be hit hardest.

            The `suppression’ approach does incur enormous loss of basic civil liberties.

          • Dom

            James, your simple-minded beliefs and theories are worth less than a piece of used bog roll .

          • SA

            Johnson is completely out of his depth and totally dominated by Dominic Cummings. He does not think. Also he naively thought that by asking his core elderly electorate (this by the way is no longer true because the Tories are under the illusion that the have broken all the red walls in the world) to self isolate, they will be safe.
            The government changed its view only when the football clubs cancelled events and many people started to put pressure on the stupid theory of herd immunity which has more to do with the government treated as like sheep.
            The original theory was purely economic and the chief scientific officer ex GSK man must have been leant upon because the theory is bonkers.

          • Clydebuilt

            James Boris doesn’t need his pensioner support base any longer. He’s got a new one, working class Brexiteers told for decades by their daily comics to hate / blame foreigners.

          • Giyane

            Darling James

            Bojo doesn’t need a support base .
            He has algorithms predict who never votes and marks them as Tory , even if they have only just turned 20. That is his core of elderly voters. Well they will be later , won’t they?

          • N_

            Boris Johnson doesn’t run sh*t, and none of this is about political parties wanting votes or “issues for idiots” such as mismanagement or underfunding, any more than Auschwitz or Hiroshima were about those kinds of nonsense.

      • George

        The USA has a strategy to reduce world population to 500 million. Look up the Georgian stones.

        They think the planet can only support 500 million habitants.

        GSK swapped it’s cancer treating assets for the vaccine business of Novartis in 2014.

        GSK saw an opportunity to expand vaccine business especially in USA, where legislation may be introduced to force people to have vaccine.

        This current scare is an opportunity to cull the population, reduce civil liberties. Expand big pharma profits.

        A simple remedy is to use Quinne, which is found in tonic water. 10 day’s treatment cost £2.

  • Alisdair Mc

    James, “BUT – I can’t imagine for one minute that he believed that killing off his core support base (the elderly) ever entered his head”
    Nothing enters his head, that’s the problem.

    • J

      True enough Alisdair.

      To James:

      We’ve watched the entire political class murder several million people over the last twenty years and drive hundreds of thousands to their death in the UK, essentially to enrich themselves. James finds it difficult to believe they will continue doing exactly what they’ve already done.

      1. The coronavirus bill is ill advised, authoritarian, potentially disastrous and frought with long term danger long after the present emergency.

      2. Over next month the deliberate culling policy of ‘Herd Immunity’ (more accurately described as ‘do nothing’) will be shown to have already created a disaster, that’s already happened. This disaster will be made worse because the government is still effectively doing nothing useful, but is preparing itself to shrug off democratic rights and oversight.

      It was never a binary choice between these two ‘options’. Both are cynical and calculating, neither were necessary or measured or even a response. There are, and always were, many other choices and responses available.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    UK has now ‘suspended all trials by jury’.

    I wonder if the timing of this one was to prevent the Alex Salmond jury acquitting him?

    With a jury in place, do ’emergency’ powers allow the judge to ram through a ‘guilty on all charges’ verdict after dismissing the jury?

    Those more au fait with the Scottish legal system may be able to answer that one………

    • John Macadam

      UK has not suspended jury trials. In England and Wales all new jury trials will be deferred. Existing workload will be run off. Much the same positon is happening in Scotland. I expect a verdict in the salmond case today and then the jury are discharged. Only reporters and lawyers are at risk after that

    • Giyane


      All compliant MPs , compliant that is to Eugenics Cummings’ warped fantasies, were left alone in the last election.
      Thinking Tories were sacked. Thinking Corbynites were ballot stuffed by algos. Non thinking even SNP leaders will use any correspondence as chip wrappers.
      Does anyone actuslly believe this prime minister?
      He is CIA trained , same as the late Al BoogieWoogie of Mosul.
      .Like Obama, the outside is local , but the inside is programmed purely for US hegemony. I know that’s an exaggeration, but it’s closer to the truth than the fantasy that Tory Boris Johnson was just voted in by the people of the UK

  • don marr

    Come on Craig, you are old enough to know the truth isn’t anything to do with the law.
    Thanks for your sterling work.
    I’ve greatly enjoyed reading your elegant reports.

  • Belinda

    Having worked in courts I have never seen a judge send the jury out on a Friday morning let alone afternoon as they don’t want to be seen as rushing the jury into a verdict and serious matters deserve considerable deliberation after all. There is an example in the court archives of a successful appeal in a rape trial when the trial judge, the infamous Lord Dawson sent the jury out to reach a verdict before “we break for lunch”. There is no way the jury could have seriously reached a verdict in this case in such a short time frame.

    • N_

      Yes it is highly unusual. The judge could have left the last 10 minutes of her summing up for Monday morning. But if she wanted a quick verdict she didn’t get one. That said, remember that this is Scotland where juries have an odd number of members (15) and a majority verdict is fine from the word go. My guess is that the verdict won’t be the same for all 13 charges – let’s put it that way.

  • Cubby

    Grousebeater reporting that the Judge has dismissed two of the jurors. No specific reasons given. Trial continues with 13 jurors now. Majority of 8 still required for a verdict. I believe if the number of jurors goes below 12 it will mean a whole new retrial with a new jury.

  • Kebby

    Given this is a pretty high stakes trial I wonder what kind of surveillance/scrutiny the jury are under — it any.

  • Kebby

    Another two juries being dismissed/dropping out could very well happen. That would be quite a shock result.

  • Kebby

    As has happened in other cases sometimes jurors do report their fellow jurors. Like say someone said they had read something on the craig murray blog. Not saying that is what has happened here.

  • Cubby

    Ongoing BBC bias against Alex Salmond.

    On the current BBC website under the heading – what did the trial hear – there are 9 sub headings. Of the 9 sub headings 7 are all for the prosecution and only 2 for the defence. There is a sub heading covering the prosecutors summing up but not one for the defence summing up.

    • Leonard Young

      I pointed out the slanted reporting of the Guardian yesterday or the day before. The verdict on Salmond is in. NOT GUILTY. Read the again slanted and grudging report of the decision by the Guardian here:

      …where one paragraph shamelessly exploits the inadequate Scottish (tortuous) difference in arriving at not guilty via the “not proven” verdict, which opens up the opportunity for “no smoke without fire” assumptions the Guardian has just now seized upon in these sentences:

      “The not proven verdict on sexual assault with attempt to rape stops short of a finding of not guilty but leaves the accused innocent in the eyes of the law. Two jurors were discharged by the judge on Monday morning, reducing the size of the jury from 15 to 13.”

      The Guardian is clearly stating here that its report is a grudging acknowledgement of a technical victory for Salmond, and the more subtle it tries to be the more it reveals a “no smoke without fire” conclusion. It reinforces this with an apparent aside that actually EMPHASISES the fact that two jurors were discharged, (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). The clear implication here is that the Guardian is in so many words claiming Salmond is in fact guilty, but within reporting rules is attempting to hide that position.

      This is the fundamental flaw in Scottish procedure. Either the evidence stacks up, or it doesn’t. But in Scottish law the jury is given the ridiculous opportunity to imply guilt by association, media coverage, or legally bankrupt “hints” that should have no place in proper justice.

      • Tim Rideout

        Actually it is the Not Guilty verdict that is the odd one out in Scots Law. It was only introduced from England in the 18th Century as I understand it. A Scottish trial is technically a ‘Proof’ and therefore the two verdicts are either Proven or Not Proven. I think that is much more logical. There are many people found ‘guilty’ who are actually innocent, and many folk who are found ‘Not Guilty’ who are actually guilty. Al Capone, for example, was only ever convicted of Tax Evasion, despite being guilty of everything. Not Proven would have been a much better verdict except that does not exist in the US.

  • Dave

    “A 2008 investigation by the Sunday Times found Dawson had the second highest rate of having his sentences or convictions overturned on appeal, with thirty successful appeals against sentence and three against conviction in the past five years. The judge with the most successful appeals was former Lord Advocate Lord Hardie. ”,_Lord_Dawson

  • Dave

    Judge ‘pushed rape case jury into a quick verdict’

    A man jailed for raping a schoolgirl had his conviction quashed yesterday after the trial judge was found to have pressured jurors into a quick verdict.

    Michael Dyer was called a sexual predator and a danger to women when he was found guilty of plying the drunk 15-year-old with drugs before the attack.

    The 44-year-old was jailed for five years for rape at the High Court in Glasgow in 2006. Lord Dawson, who has since died, told the jury summing up in the case would not take long. But judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh have ruled that Dyer was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

    Jurors took 28 minutes to find Dyer guilty of raping the teenager in Glasgow in August 2004.

    He had lodged a special defence that she had consented to sex.

    Appeal judges heard that after evidence, Lord Dawson told the jury they would be addressed by the Crown and defence and said: “I don’t imagine it will take very long. We’ve only had six witnesses in this case, a very short case.

    “You should get out and consider your verdict before luncheon.”

    Lord Dawson also told jurors: “There is no need for you to try and persuade each other to any point of view… the voting system is what you ought to (operate) to see what your verdict will be.”

    Dyer remains in custody and the appeal court may substitute a conviction for unlawful sexual intercourse. The Crown asked for time to consider a re-trial.

  • The Daily Redcoat

    Two jurors discharged
    The jury returned to the court with Salmond in the dock.

    Two of the 15 jurors have been discharged from service this morning, leaving 13 sitting to reach a verdict.

    Judge Lady Dorrian informed the jurors that a finding of guilty to any charge would still require a majority of eight among their remaining number.

    Lady Dorrian sent the jurors back out to continue considering their verdict.

  • michael norton

    Local to me a policeman was killed, the murder trial has just been stopped because of coronavirus.
    This is a far, far more important trial than Alex Salmond.

    The trial of three people accused of murdering a police officer has been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    PC Andrew Harper died after he got caught in a towing strap trailing behind a car on a country road in Berkshire in August 2019.

    The Old Bailey jury was discharged on Monday when a third juror began self-isolating, after two other members withdrew from the trial last week.

    Henry Long, 18, and two 17-year-old boys deny murder.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Alex Salmon cleared of ALL charges! If the jury agreed with the defence that a substantial number of the charges were a malicious conspiracy to fit Salmond up for political purposes then surely the alphabet sisters should face charges themselves.

    • michael norton

      I agree Vivian,
      the alphabet sisters should have BIG charges against them, if Alex Salmond is found innocent of everything.

  • Tony M

    Hoho! Cat is right amongst the pigeons now. Salmond’s lawyers will now have a field-day with the libellous slanderous press and media.

    • jake

      Well done Scots Law and all who sail in her. Looks like it and the crew have kept it water-tight and fit for purpose .
      At journey’s end and safe in port, all credit to the captain and crew for stopping the leaks, countering the tides of reportage and ignoring the wreckers on-shore waving their lanterns. Sad though that two mutineers were made to walk the plank.

  • Roger Ewen

    Not guilty god bless Alex salmond.
    Now the night of the long knives. The traitors are to be taken to task.

  • affanae weel

    Excellent news, this has had a very bad smell about it since the beginning. Can we now see charges bought against ? whoever leaked this to the press back in the beginning, if not against all involved.
    The one thing that I had naively hoped snp would bring to Scotland, was honesty and transparency, however difficult that is against a vicious msm and westminster double dealing, still hoping.
    Craig, many thanks for your work here, hopefully, you will be able to write about this soon, and clear some of the murk.

  • Caff

    Surely it is a matter of public interest that the identities of the ‘Alphabet Sisters’ are now published.

    • Nut Brown Maiden

      ‘The Alphabet Sisters’ is a good nick name.

      FYI ‘The Alphabet Sisters’ is the name of a book written by the Australian author Monica McInerney.

  • M.J.

    Salmond was found Not Guilty on all chanrges except one, which was Not Proven
    So you can switch the light on now. 🙂

  • Tom Kennedy

    Excellent news. Justice has been done, despite the attempted fitting up. Poor Alex Salmond, having to go through this ordeal. Well done Craig for giving us a neutral view of the proceedings, one which might never otherwise have seen the light of day.

  • TomJoad

    “Thanking his friends, family and supporters for standing by him throughout the trial, he said his own “nightmare” could not compare to the coronavirus crisis….After thanking his “exceptional” legal team, Salmond said he planned to release further information about the case at a later date.
    “As many of you will know, there was certain evidence I would like to have seen led in this trial but for a variety of reasons we weren’t able to do so. At some point that information, that fact and that evidence will see the light of day but it won’t be this day, for a very good reason,” he said….”

    Revenge, served, cold….

  • Nelson

    I heard Leslie Hinds the over week. She is the transport convener for Edinburgh, and she’s also responsible for emptying the bins. Probably because nobody else can be bothered. Not Craig Murray, or me. She rocked up to a church hall on a Monday night to have cyclists ranting at her.

    And there is a one-man internet blogger not being able to sleep because people don’t take him seriously.

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