Defend Mark Hirst 261

Mark Hirst, a former senior SNP staffer at Holyrood, is being criminally prosecuted under the 2003 Communications Act for saying this:

These women, and not just these women, some of the people involved in this are senior members of the Scottish Government, senior members of the SNP, and they have been involved in this active collusion to try and destroy Alex Salmond’s reputation and there’s not a cat’s chance in hell that they are going to get away with that.
So they’re going to reap a whirlwind, no question about it, that’s going to happen as soon as this virus emergency is out of the way, then there is going to be a bit of reckoning takes place and we’ll clear out the soft independence supporters which are currently leading the party, that’s why we’ve seen no movement in nearly six years and we’re going to claim the party back, get the country back on course for Independence but to do that we are going to have to wade through what’s left of this leadership and get them out of the way, which I am confident that we’ll do.

The Crown is making the ludicrous charge that this is a statement of a “menacing character”. Mark is being charged under the Communications Act 2003 Para 127 (1)(A)

The Crown Office has been briefing its favourite tame journalist at the Times on the charges against Mark Hirst. You will recall that when I was charged with Contempt of Court, I was contacted by the Times immediately after the police left my home.

As the Times reports, the Crown office are briefing that Mark Hirst has been charged for stating that Salmond’s accusers would “reap the whirlwind”. Both the Times and the Crown Office are guilty of gross dishonesty in presenting that phrase out of the context, which context you can now see plainly in the above full quote. The Crown Office is dishonestly attempting to convey the impression that “reap the whirlwind” implied some personal or even violent vendetta against the conspirators, whereas what Mark Hirst was actually referring to was a political campaign to take back control of the SNP from scheming careerists.

In fact what Mark is saying has precisely the same import as this tweet of mine:

Deliberately to miscontrue a call to political action in opposition to a political grouping as an act of “menace” is state persecution which has profound implications. The prosecution of Mark Hirst is the act of an executive with major fascist leanings.

Mark is the journalist and friend to whom I referred that had five policemen enter his home and confiscate all his phones and laptops. It is far from plain why that action was necessary when he is being prosecuted for the contents of a video that he openly posted online. The provenance of his video is not in dispute: why would they need his phone and computers?

This seems another example of Police Scotland’s “fishing expedition” approach. Remember, the police who did this described themselves to Mark as the “Salmond Team”. The burning question is, why does Police Scotland still have a “Salmond Team” going around to terrorise people in their homes during a pandemic, even after Salmond’s acquittal?

That the decisions on who to prosecute are entirely political is conclusively demonstrated here and here.

I am sorry to say that it appears that the very notion of free speech is anathema to the current government of Scotland.

When we consider what they are doing against Mark Hirst and myself to attack free speech using the Contempt of Court Act 1982 and the Communications Act of 2003, we have to seriously worry about the new legislation currently going through the Scottish parliament specifically to limit freedom of speech.

On 23 April 2020 the Scottish Government introduced its Hate Crime and Public Order Bill into the Scottish Parliament. This vastly increases the amount of speech subject to criminal prosecution. It introduces new categories of protected characteristics, and gives Ministers powers to add new ones without going back to parliament. There is a specific power in the Bill for ministers to add “sex” as a protected characteristic, for example. Crucially it removes the need to prove intent embodied in current law. If you call someone an “old fool”, you will be committing a criminal offence even if you meant nothing by it and were just using a common phrase, age being a protected characteristic. Calling someone a “stupid boy” will similarly become illegal. To possess “inflammatory” material will specifically be a crime even if you had no intention to communicate it to others.

Richard III would very definitely be illegal under this legislation for anti-disabled prejudice. The Merchant of Venice would be illegal for anti-semitism. Once “sex” is added by Ministers, The Taming of the Shrew would be illegal for misogyny. I was glancing through The 39 Steps yesterday and was struck by a very anti-semitic passage I had forgotten was there. Is possessing John Buchan to be illegal? I can see nothing in the bill which would protect you from prosecution for possessing Buchan, if the Crown Office decided to go for you over it. Can you see any protection? Genuine question.

The Bill specifically includes performance. Politically incorrect jokes will become an actual criminal offence. Really. Pretty well every Carry On film ever made would now be illegal and subject its producers, writers and performers to possible imprisonment if made now. I quite accept that the mores of society change, and there is much in Carry On films society would find unacceptable now, but criminal? The Act moves matters of taste and disapproval firmly into the field of the police and the courts. It is a grossly authoritarian piece of legislation.

Once you have statutes in place that make telling a sexist joke a crime, you are dependent on the police and on prosecutors to apply the law in a sensible and liberal manner. But what the case of both Mark Hirst and myself makes plain – as indeed does the Alex Salmond case itself – is that Scotland does not have that at all. Scotland has politically controlled, vindictive and corrupt police and prosecutors who will, as the Mark Hirst case could not demonstrate more plainly, twist any law to the maximum to contrive a prosecution against those labeled as political enemies.

Mark Hirst is a good man. I realise so many of you dug very deep to fund my own defence, but I do urge those who are able to do so to support Mark, who also faces jail for the “crime” of political writing and with whom I stand shoulder to shoulder. My own defence fund has raised more than we need at the current stage of proceedings so it is my intention, absent major objection from you whose money it is, to transfer £10,000 from my defence fund to Mark’s.


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261 thoughts on “Defend Mark Hirst

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  • Steve+Hayes

    The expression of opinion is not an offence; it is a fundamental human right. All anti-free expression laws are illegitimate and ought to be resisted by all.

  • Dave

    Within the UK, Police Scotland makes sense, as its one of many police forces, and smaller than the MET, who get to investigate each other, but in an independent Scotland, Police Scotland is one national police force and can only investigate itself!

  • Peter VE

    I don’t live in Scotland, and I prefer bourbon, but this is still appalling.
    Several years ago I took Mein Kampf from the local library. I cannot emphasize how bad the writing was, the points the author trying to make unintelligible, and I gave up after the first hundred pages. Every aspiring right winger should read it and submit a paper for review.
    Under the apparent meaning of this statute, the libraries of Scotland could not hold Mein Kampf, or Fahrenheit 451, for that matter. Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty Four, Homage to Catalonia, all pulped. No more Playboy hidden under the mattress (showing my age here) for you teenage boys.

    • Peter+M

      “I cannot emphasize how bad the writing was, the points the author trying to make unintelligible”
      Did you read an English translation the German text?
      There is also a lot of context referring to especially German history and politics (often wrongly interpreted or out of context and with a huge bias for all things Germanic) that has to be understood to make sense.

  • Billy Bones

    Gosh. There’s an awful lot of British nationalist trolls on here which were never here before.

    They’ll be banning your twitter account next, Craig.

    Just donated to Mr Hirst’s fund and thank you for bringing this horrific, political persecution to my attention.

    Is there something in the water at COPFS as some there appear to have gone quite ‘doolally’?

  • Geoffrey

    So a free fairy tale liberal advanced independent Scotland might look a little different than in your dreams ? It might, like those emerging Eastern European economies, be reliant on investment from large foreign powers with money, and be forced to support foreign wars and distasteful regimes. Perhaps even be led by one of those ” Authoritarian leaders” we read about ? It might even be much less liberal than the country underneath it.

    • Doug

      “…be reliant on investment from large foreign powers with money, and be forced to support foreign wars and distasteful regimes.”

      That’s the so-called united kingdom for you.

    • M.J.

      A good point indeed. Maybe Scotland needs to be in the UK for its own good, and London needs the infuence of Scottish justices sometimes!

  • Peter

    So Coronavirus is not the only disease infecting the country right now.

    I wonder how far this outbreak stretches to Westminster.

  • Doug

    The sooner Alex Salmond’s book is published the better. Time to get rid of the careerist numpties polluting the SNP/SG. The so-called united kingdom is a sick joke; time to put it out of its misery. Independence, first and foremost.

  • Julia+Gibb

    Supporting Mark so quickly is admirable. A major fear (as intended) is the legal costs at the outset. Well done and I hope both cases are thrown out. I suspect the main objective was hassle and intimidation from the very beginning.

  • dearieme

    I left Scotland long ago but at that time the Scots legal system seemed markedly superior to the English. Scots liked to think the schools were better too; after all, they had been for a few hundred years.

    Has devolved government really undermined both of those advantages?

    • Alex James

      I think you know the answer to both your questions. In my opinion justice has been subverted by the SNP. Education is a large debate, but suffice to say frre tuition at universities has led to a fall in Scottish student numbers, because the universities need foreign students and their fees to survive financially.
      This autumn the foreign students won’t arrive, what then for our top educational establishments?
      Free tuition for university students led to a reduction of funding for other educational institutions such as those providing courses in subjects like plumbing. The result is that the working classes have been penalised to subsidise the middle classes.

    • Ingwe

      Anyone know how close Mr Hirst’s defence fund is to its target? Mr Murray has transferred 50% of the £20k initial target; I and many others I hope have given other probably smaller sums but it would be nice to know where we are. I’ve not seen any update to his site.

  • susan

    You didn’t mention the totally unscientific addition of “gender identity” making a woman saying transwomen are male a hate crime. Why did you omit that Craig? The potential addition of misogyny would be meaningless if any male could claim to be a woman.

  • Tom

    “reap the whirlwind”. suffer serious consequences as a result of your actions. This expression alludes to the proverb they that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind , which is taken from Hosea 8:7. the Bible, so legally they need to censor that as well

  • Jm

    Strange the authorities in Scotland aren’t so keen to apply this law to,for example,some of the more insane football message boards.

    I suppose there wouldn’t be enough courts to handle the huge numbers.

  • Christopher Barclay

    None of this comes as a surprise. Senior police officers who turned a blind eye to the actual rape of underage girls by grooming gangs then used the prison system and the threat to life inside to silence people who reported on the rapes and the inaction of the police. It must seem pretty inconsequential then to collude in the cover-up of false accusations of rapes that didn’t occur.

    Rape trials must continue to be brought before a jury, so that political judges cannot convict innocent men on the words of lying women. Otherwise all men will face the terrorism of false accusations of rape, unjust convictions and the violence experienced by sex offenders in prison. Thank God for the women who sit as jury members and determine the innocence or guilt of men accused of rape on the merits of the case.

    The police took Mark Hirst’s electronic equipment because the action would probably disrupt his ability to earn a living. Then there is the huge cost of defending a case in court. The threat of victimising someone financially is especially effective if made to people with dependents.

    • Bobbi

      Sheriff only ‘domestic abuse’ courts have a 100% conviction rate. This is what is being aimed at for rape trials: judge only ‘trials’ with a 100% conviction rate.

  • Stuart

    Having emigrated as a child, my knowledge of Scots law is limited. However I would have thought that prior to proceeding to trial there would have to be a committal hearing before a judge to establish that there was sufficient evidence to establish that there was a case to answer. Otherwise the prosecution could simply bring baseless prosecutions to harass individuals (as seems to be the case here). I would think that if this flimsy evidence were put to a committal hearing an impartial judge would throw it out. Can anyone with legal knowledge comment? Also, if a judge finds that the prosecution’s case is baseless what sanctions can they bring against the prosecution?

    • Jim

      The legalese is ‘incompetent’ but no action would be taken against the Prosecution. Prentice and Co. would live to fight another day.

  • Steve

    Question if I may… Why has no MP (or MSP?) used the cover of parliamentary privilege to name the alphabet sisters?

  • Gordie

    What or who is the origin of the charges against yourself, Mark Hirst and the others?

  • kitbee

    Didn’t someone in the Labour Party refer to ‘stabbing someone in the front’. Not a nice expression but nobody took it literally for christ’s sake.

  • Tom Paine

    I of course noticed that “The Crown” is prosecuting an Independence supporter who is a political opponent of the “soft” independence people who now hold power and who have not moved one single inch towards independence with that power.
    I am shocked of course that The Crown would attempt to punish an independence supporter. Shocked, Shocked I say. Next you’ll be telling me that there is gambling in the back of Sam’s Place.
    The biggest joke in the world is that the UK is a leading democracy.

  • Tom Paine

    I find it fascinating that it is considered illegal to threaten political opponents with a future political defeat.
    That of course means that democracy is non existent, because then the people can never defeat the people in power.
    In every future political debate, will opposition politicians have to utter ritual statements hoping for their opponents successful re-election?
    Will Sir Keir have to begin PMQ’s with a honest and stirring statement that BoJoke and the Tories win every future election?

    • Alex James

      It may have escaped your notice, but this article is about injustice in Scotland. We are fully aware of what goes on in England. Your point would be better made if it referred to FMQs.

    • bevin

      “Will Sir Keir have to begin PMQ’s with a honest and stirring statement that BoJoke and the Tories win every future election?”
      I’m sure he’d be very happy to do so- a fellow doesn’t get invited to join the Trilateral Commission because he’s a troublemaker.

  • Pete Barton


    What my beef is here is

    I want to know who brought the complaint, who in the Crown office facilated this charge being implemented etc.

    But most importantly who is pulling the strings behind it.

    If it’s important to have the Scottish governmental process in the sights, as well as guys like Craig,Stu and Mark it’s equally important to know who is pointing the gun, showing the target a day authorising a take out.

  • Ts

    I’ve never seen so many unionists comment on here. There could be some SNP msp that are playing a part for the British state(the ones that tried to get a innocent man convicted). To me i think The Tiimes have their hands on this in some big way the crown office and high up in police SCOTLAND. If you find a connection between the three you will find the answer. This seems to me anyway another story trying to bring dowm the SNP behind the scene’s. I don’t believe they are all careerists that is definitely not the case no-way! not even close. If anybody thinks that is the case why on earth would the SNP put themselves through so much crap (understatement bid time!) from all the british MSM for years. The SNP are doing their damnedest to make Scotland better. You dont throw money into social care mental health care drug related problems the poor etc etc etc if you a careerist that’s why it doesn’t make sense. Nobody can deny the SNP have been the best party for Scotland and will always be as they genuinely care.

  • Gary Scott

    No, looking at the law as it pertains to written material it seems that possession alone is not enough. You would have to be in possession with “a view to communicate it” to another. Although there seems to be no leeway for plays and this should trouble even the most fervent anti racist of us as it means we cannot put on plays that specifically DEAL with racism/sexism etc as to show what the character goes through would be an offence (there is no exception shown) With the law being so wide it will be open to being abused, and certainly WILL be abused. Those who certainly are NOT chauvinistic by nature and merely mention a story or report upon it will be brought before the court IF the authorities choose to do so. Other, more favoured writers will be left in peace, just as is the case of Mark Hirst. Not a threat in anyone’s book but a chance to go in with the tackety boots on. I suppose it IS designed to eventually fail and not go before a court but it is the chilling effect of doing this to a journalist that is entirely the point behind it..

  • Gary

    NB I also see from looking at the act that it is subject to Summary Proceedings ie in front of a Sheriff ONLY, no jury trial. This troubles me even more..

    • Courtenay Barnett


      Is there a right of ‘election’ in the Act? I.e. Can the accused elect to be tried by Sheriff alone or by Judge and Jury as of legislative right?

      • Freda

        No, it’s only in England that you can ‘elect’ to be tried in front of a judge and jury at the Crown Court instead of at the Magistrates Court. In Scotland the mode of trial (summary or solemn) is solely at the discretion of the Crown.

        • Courtenay Barnett


          Seems unfair in that the Crown can choose the mode of trial and then secure a significant advantage.

          Usually the accused has a reasonable chance at justice if the jury has the final word regarding the assessment/judgment of the facts in the case. Then in such a situation as that of Alex Salmond, it then surprises me that a jury trial had advanced ( i.e. since it would have been the Crown afforded Salmond the better chance for justice).

          Funny ol’ world – even in Scotland.

          Thanks for providing the information.


  • Billy and Sean

    If you want to know who is behind the prosecutions of Craig Murray and Mark Hirst, look no further than the Scottish wonder kid Ken McCallum.

    He owes his career to the union and he’s not going to let a couple of upstart bloggers take away any of his power.

    • Ciaris

      Interesting. Says he took charge of the Skripal hoax, which of course Craig has covered in detail. One wonders at what strings were pulled to get Craig and Mark charged with this non offence? I observe with interest that they don’t really hide it anymore. Law enforcement appears to have no ‘Chinese Walls’ at all between themselves and Spookville. Director Big Dick just pulls strings, everyone complies. I don’t say this is new, more that it’s now glaring.

      • Billy and Sean

        There’s no need for strings Ciaris, for every bureaucrat it’s a “known known” that it’s career suicide or worse, not to do what MI5 wants done.

  • Ian McLean

    The first quoted passage contains only two sentences. One of them has 110 words. Is this a record?
    For what it’s worth, I agree with all of them.

  • Giyane

    I am reading a book which might well offend Police Scotland. It asks its readers to speak the truth and oppose tyranny in all its forms, not to to be cowed by the powerful whose motive is only to protect their wealth and power. It’s the grand child of the ‘ reap the whirlwind ‘ book. Quite a lot of it would not pass the communications legislation used against Mark Hirst.
    How long before it is banned?
    I suppose Police Scotland would prefer a book that told people to lie and encourage criminal behaviour.
    The Freemasons Handbook, or the Daily Record.
    Are Police Scotland unaware that their attack on free speech will encourage people to believe they are politically motivated and corrupt?
    Good. You now have Northern Ireland.

  • Stonky

    I have spent a considerable amount of time talking to and interviewing Chinese who lived through the Cultural Revolution. One of the recurrent themes was how quickly things disintegrated as the zealots got hold of more and more power, and how shocking it was for ordinary people to watch this happen.

    A couple of days ago I posted on Craig’s Twitter feed. The gist of my comment was that with a totally compliant media, the authorities can literally do anything they please. They are becoming increasingly aware of this, and there will soon come a point where they simply stop even pretending that things like equality before the law exist any more.

    This case represents another step toward that point. The case against Mark Hirst is a ludicrous abuse of power – anybody could find a thousand examples every day of much more threatening language being used in public discourse, which nobody would ever dream of taking literally – exacerbated by the seizure of his computer, for which, as Craig has pointed out, there is no earthly justification in the context of the “offence” of which he is accused.

    • Stonky

      There are other deeply ironic parallels with the Cultural Revolution.

      Few people nowadays realise that the vanguard of the Cultural Revolution was not the peasants, the workers, the PLA, or Communist Party members. It was howling mobs of radical students.

      Dedicated communist veterans who had risked their lives fighting to secure their county’s freedom against Chiang Kai-shek’s fascists, then the Japanese fascists, then Chiang Kai-shek’s fascists again, were dragged before howling mobs of radical students and forced to invent “crimes” they had committed, and then beg forgiveness for these crimes from the howling mobs.

      Meanwhile the howling mobs – children who were not old enough to have ever done anything worthwhile in their lives – were busy transforming China’s economy, from the production of stuff that ordinary people needed and wanted to the production of badly-scrawled placards carrying inane slogans.

      And as I pointed out in my previous post, one of the things that was most shocking to ordinary people was how fast this all happened as they watched the process unfold…

    • Stonky

      As for the subject of this article – Defend Mark Hirst – there is something we can actually do.

      I have seen it mooted that one of the things that could be done to support Craig would be a mass publishing of the names of the alphabet women, using sources other than his blog, ang explaining how the poster had managed to work our the name. I think that idea has merit, but it would have to be carefully organised in order not to leave other individuals vulnerable.

      In Mark’s case it’s a lot simpler. We just have to repost his words on public forums, newspapers, blogs and Twitter. I have a Tweet here that I think serves the purpose:

      Prosecuting Mark Hirst is a vile abuse of the law. Thousands of comments are posted every day more violent than his words – comments that no one would ever dream of taking literally. I endorse Mark’s words and his sentiment:

      Alex Salmond’s accusers deserve to reap the whirlwind

      My plan is to post this as a Tweet starting from 10 o clock this morning UK time. Unfortunately my own Twitter feed is a bit of a tumbleweed zone – I doubt if as many as half a dozen people ever see my original tweets. So I will post it as a response on other better frequented feeds like Craig’s. Even then I am concerned about the fact that I seem to exist in some kind of a shadowbanning grey zone – I’ll go a week in which numerous people will like, retweet or respond to my posts, and then I’ll go a week in which I literally get no responses at all. Currently I’m in a “no response” phase. However, I still think it is worth a try.

      I hope others will follow my example. I think it would be best to copy and post it as an original message rather than just retweeting it. If even one tenth of the people who contributed to Craig’s defence fund do likewise, we will render Mark’s prosecution unworkable, or a joke.

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