Lord Advocate Launches War on Twitter 420

In what we think is a world first, the Lord Advocate of Scotland is claiming in the contempt of court case against me that I am legally responsible for the content of replies to my tweets.

The claim is founded on an argument that when you tweet, there is a menu which enables you to hide replies. If you do not hide a reply, you are therefore the publisher of that reply. As the Lord Advocate is putting it:

2. That the Twitter account under profile name @CraigMurrayOrg is operated by the Respondent. When the user of such an account publishes a post on Twitter, there is an option for readers to post publicly available comments in relation to each post and to reply to other readers’ comments. Replies to original posts will appear on the timeline of the author of the original post and on the timeline of the author of the reply. The user of the account who published the original cannot delete comments by others but, since November 2019, has the option to hide replies to their original post.

Note this is a very different argument to the accepted principle that if you publish a defamatory or otherwise illegal tweet, you bear a responsibility for people retweeting or passing on the information.

What the Lord Advocate is saying is that you can post a perfectly legal tweet, but you are responsible for any illegal replies. So if you post “Joe’s Fish and Chips are Great”, and somebody replies “But old Joe is a paedophile”, you become the publisher of the reply and liable in law for it (presumably unless you hide it, but that has not been stated in terms). The Lord Advocate is arguing that the reason that this has not previously been the law is that it is a new situation, with the “hide reply” option only being added in November 2019.

The reason this argument is being made is that the Crown is struggling to prove I published anything illegal myself, but believes a reply to one of my tweets is more obviously illegal.

The situation on Twitter is very different to a blog or media website. This website is mine. It is registered to me, I am the publisher and I accept responsibility for its content. Even there, however, the law on comments is much more nuanced than people realise and I am not generally liable for comments unless there was something in the content of my original post that was illegal or encouraged illegality, given that reasonable arrangements for moderation are in place.

But neither you nor I nor any other user is the publisher of Twitter. There is no sensible view in which you are the publisher of replies to your tweets. Twitter is the publisher of tweets and users are responsible for what they tweet.

The Lord Advocate’s approach would have a massive chilling effect on Twitter and fundamentally change its nature. When you tweet there is an option to limit who can reply. People would be loathe to allow replies at all if they were liable in law for what other people might say. Nobody wants to have to be constantly checking replies to their tweets, including to old tweets, in case somebody – who may be somebody you never heard of – tweeted something illegal.

For good or ill, Twitter has become a major medium of social and political debate. That dialogue would be entirely changed if replies are routinely turned off. What troubles me is that, in stretching for a way to convict me, the Lord Advocate appears completely oblivious to the very wide consequences of this argument for free speech. The Lord Advocate is of course not only Scotland’s chief prosecutor, he is also a member of the Scottish Government, appointed by the First Minister.

I cannot help but put this together with the Hate Crime Bill, which was condemned as an attack on free speech by every reputable body you can possibly imagine, and conclude that Scottish Government has no concern whatsoever for the concept of freedom of speech. It simply does not feature in their internal thinking, and is of no concern unless hammered upon them from outside.

The doctrine that Twitter users are the legal publishers of replies to their tweets has massive implications were it to succeed in court. That it should be recklessly resorted to as part of this vindictive attack on me, shows how deep down the rabbit hole we are going.


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420 thoughts on “Lord Advocate Launches War on Twitter

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  • Josh R

    ok, barely relevant post here, but….

    watched “Trial of the Chicago 7” movie last night and loved it, really enjoyed it.
    Like all movies “based” on true events, I’m sure it’s taken plenty of poetic license with the dramatisation of events but I still thought it was brilliant.

    After following this obscene PR stunt at the Ol’ Bailey, through Murray’s eyes, this film rang so many bells it was quite chilling.

    Perhaps what most resonated with the Baraitser sh!t show, was the subject of “political prosecution” that the defence attempted to pursue, as one US administration decided not to prosecute whilst the succeeding administration decided to go for it.

    A timely reminder that fk all changes, reaffirming Mr Benn’s words:

    “Every generation must fight the same battles again & again, there’s no final victory and there’s no final defeat.”

  • Geoff Reynolds

    I am the disabled person with the heart condition that is featured in this video on Youtube.

    Today I am summoned to appear before Scarborough Magistrates Court to answer charges lodged against me for not giving my name, when asked, and also resisting arrest.

    This seems a little preposterous for the new crime of wishing to stand up in a pub during lockdown simply because my disability prohibits me from sitting.

    800 persons have now viewed this video that Craig allowed me to put on this blog and everything you see and read is perfectly true. Nothing has been adulterated or changed.

    Just as Craig is being punished for reporting the truth for contempt of court, I now stand to be charged for the same offence simply because I have dared to expose the system.
    Nevertheless, the magistrates could argue that I have tried to influence the outcome of a trial.

    When you appear in a court in the UK there is an assumption that the Crown has entered you into a contract at birth when your parents signed your birth certificate. In other words, it is a contract so binding that the Crown has attorney over your estate?

    Did you realise that you had entered into a contract with the Crown when you were just a few days old and neither you or your parents had any idea about the aforesaid contract?

    Under British/UK law a contract can only be binding when both parties have had full disclosure of the contents. How can this be the case when nobody even knows of the evidence of such a contract?

    The creation of this, so called, contract is produced by the State under the guise of Maritime Law that presumes you are dead or missing at sea.

    Even stranger is the fact that the courts can only deal with a dead person or a fiction that they created without your express knowledge. When you attend the court, like I will this afternoon at 3pm the Judge will ask me if I am MR GEOFFREY CHARLES REYNOLDS, this is the dead entity that the State created……..

    It appears on all your documents like credit cards, driving licence, passport etc.

    To challenge the authority of the court I have registered my birth certificate using the Common Law Court which is available via the internet.

    What I have done is made my claim to my identity and removed it from the Crown. Therefore, I am the legal owner of my identity.

    When the judge addresses me today and asks me if I am MR GEOFFREY CHARLES REYNOLDS, I will tell him that I am a LIVING MAN that goes by the name of geoffrey charles of the reynolds family.

    Immediately, this throws a spanner in the workings of the Court as the Judge is only allowed to deal with a dead entity or fiction of the State.

    I will further add that I am claiming COMMON LAW JURISDICTION and will hand a piece of paper to the Prosecution requesting that all parts of the STATE CONTRACT be made with full disclosure within 10 days or the case against me be dropped.

    There will never be full disclosure as the State wishes this to be hidden from the public…


    • Mary

      Excellent Geoff for standing up to the fascists.

      I am encountering the views of some friends who are Tory. Little do they know that there would not have been an NHS if Bevin and co had not governed the country in the post war years.

      I had written to the local Tory MP, shoed into the seat last December, telling her that treatment for my newly diagnosed cancer does not exist at present die to the Covid spread. I pointed out that I had worked at the local DGH until I retired and that it was damned hard work for poor pay and that my older brother had worked in the NHS as an orthopaedic surgeon for 40 years +. She sent back a patronising anodyne but useless response.

      One of these Tory friends has even suggested that I should be prepared to pay! I estimate that the scans, surgery and post operative Rx would cost approx £40k.

      PS That friend had surgery and post operative treatment for breast cancer by the local NHS some years back. Another one who votes Tory has similar views yet she herself was sent to a larger hospital 60 miles distant for her treatment. These hypocrites will NEVER acknowledge the fact that the NHS was a Socialist initiative for which we should so thankful unlike in the US where a large proportion of personal bankruptcies are due to inability to pay medical bills.

      • Brianfujisan

        Hi Mary

        I trust you are doing a wee bit better now.. Your tales of Tory friends being saved by the NHS… is mind boggling..

        I recently had VERY Good reason to be Mighty thankful to the NHS ( Scot ) …As I was rushed with blue lights to Inverclyde Royal Hospital – IRH – with a Perforated Gallbladder. They took my Two girls into a room and told them my chances were less than 50% as they could not operate due to my bad chest – Bronchiectasis -.. So I got Two Drains in.. 12 days I was in IRH.. the saved my life.. Even one of my Best friends ( Gwen – Dances in Moonlight ) was a part of the opp to insert the Tube into my Gallbladder … I Love them All

        Stay Safe oot there Mary

    • nevermind

      That was a sickening and appalling treatment Geoffrey. You told them twice that you are registered disabled and all they could do is stand between you and your son.
      They should have delivered you straight to hospital, but not one of these so called public servants was listening to you. Wetherspoons thugs. How can anyone trust the police after such a disgusting display of their public service.
      Do let us know how you want to respond and what, if anything at all, the judge had to say on their conduct.

      • Geoff Reynolds

        Attended the magistrates court in Scarborough yesterday at 3pm…

        Beforehand at 2.20pm I delivered a letter to the prosecutor asking for full disclosure on the contract that our Crown holds over us regarding my parents signing of my birth certificate that allows the State to presume a legal entitlement to my estate using a dead person’s fiction.


        Each time the magistrates asked me a question I replied,

        ” With all due respect your honour, are you trying to enter me into a contract?’ ‘ … ‘ ‘ if so, could I have full disclosure”

        The magistrate/magistrates seemed a bit taken back by my actions but I remained polite.

        They asked how I pleaded to the charges of not giving my name to the police and I cited a legal precedent RICE v CONNOLLY 1996.

        The prosecutor then informed the magistrates that I did not have to give my name to the police!

        A question arose between the magistrates of what I was being arrested for in the first instance?

        To cut a long story short, I did not make a comment on either charge but they recorded my silence as ”NOT GUILTY PLEAS” and entered it into the court records…

        I was informed that the police had video evidence of me resisting arrest and I told them I had video footage of the officers surrounding me and dropping me to the concrete ground. which Wetherspoons pub provided.

        I was informed the case against me for standing would be held next March at the same courthouse.

        Before I left I informed the magistrates that the case against me was biased as NORTH YORKSHIRE POLICE have still not provided me with the film footage of me being placed in a cell while being unconscious, police webcam disclosure of the whole incident and all files the police hold on me.

        I informed the magistrates that over two months had elapsed since my request and that I was being sent around the houses by the police by moving the request to different officers.

        One of the magistrates said to the other two that this was ”Typical”

        As I left the court I reminded the prosecutor that he had ten days to provide me with full disclosure of what I had asked earlier or drop the case against me.

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