Monthly Archives: January 2021


My Sworn Evidence on the Sturgeon Affair 471

UPDATED In addition to the substantial and very careful redactions made before publication, I have now made six more specific redactions at the request of the Crown Office, which is very agitated. I do not think this prevents the publication of these affidavits from still being useful.

I swore on oath two affidavits for my trial for contempt of court, and adopted them as my evidence today. I didn’t get to actually give the evidence orally as almost the entire trial was done on paper; although my QC specifically made a point of saying I was happy to take the stand for cross-examination by the Crown or questions by the judges, this was not taken up. When you go through the process you realise that this giving of evidence on oath is quite a solemn thing, so I am simply going to give you the text of my evidence for now without any comment, but redacted to prevent jigsaw identification of court protected identities.

Affidavit 1

AFFIDAVIT
of
CRAIG MURRAY, redaction Edinburgh, EH10 redaction

At Edinburgh on the TWENTY FIFTH day of AUGUST 2020, in the presence of David James Finlay Halliday, solicitor and notary public, Halliday Campbell WS, solicitors, redaction, Edinburgh, EH16 redaction, COMPEARED CRAIG MURRAY, redaction, Edinburgh, EH10 redaction who being solemnly sworn hereby DEPONES as follows:-

1. My name is Craig Murray, I reside at redaction, Edinburgh, EH10 redaction. I am 61 years old, a retired diplomat, now a historian and journalist.

2. I was Rector of the University of Dundee (2007-2010) and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law (2005-9). I am the author of books including Sikunder Burnes, Master of the Great Game (2017), The Catholic Orangemen of Togo (2010) and Murder in Samarkand (2007). The website academia.edu lists over 130 academic peer reviewed articles referencing my work.

3. I was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan 2002-4. Other roles included Deputy High Commissioner to Ghana (1999 – 2002), Deputy Head (Equatorial), Africa Department FCO (1997-9), First Secretary, British Embassy, Warsaw (1993 – 1937), Head of Maritime Section, FCO (1991-3) and Head of Cyprus Section, FCO (1989 -91).

4. Special responsibilities included Head of FCO Section, Embargo Surveillance Centre (1990-1), Alternate Head of UK Delegation to UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1991-3) and Head of UK Delegation to the Sierra Leone Peace Talks (1998-2000).

5. I have been awarded the Sam Adams Award for Integrity (USA) 2005 and the Primo Alto Qualita Della Citta di Bologna (Italy) 2006 and am an Officier of the Order of Mono (Togo). I have turned down three honours from the British state, OBE, LVO and CVO on grounds of Scottish nationalism, the last two being in the personal gift of Her Majesty the Queen.

6. As a journalist in new media, my output has been focused on my own website, which is nowadays my primary source of income. My articles have however been published in newspapers including the Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, and very many others both nationally and internationally.

7. I have been shown paragraph 11 of the Lord Advocate’s written submissions, which suggest that I published material not in the public domain because the stated purpose of my blog is to use insider knowledge of government to interpret contemporary events.  What I said is not a reference to acquiring material from inside the Scottish Government and publishing it.  It is a reference to using my experience at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to provide authoritative commentary on, and interpretation of, contemporary events, whether in Scotland, the United Kingdom or the wider world.

8. In August of 2018 I read the salacious account published by the Daily Record of an alleged sexual assault by Alex Salmond on a civil servant in Bute House. Aspects of the story appeared to me highly unlikely, in particular the willingness of the civil servant to simply obey his instruction of going to the bedroom and lying on the bed. On August 26 2018, I therefore published an article on my blog expressing this opinion.
https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/08/a-short-article-not-mentioning-alex-salmond/

9. I made no attempt to discover the identity of the civil servant involved, but I did make strenuous efforts to discover who had leaked the story to the media, calling and meeting a wide range of contacts in Edinburgh and Glasgow. To my surprise, I discovered with a high degree of certainty that the leaker was Liz Lloyd, Chief of Staff to Nicola Sturgeon. I also discovered that she had a personal history with the journalist concerned and did not link it in my mind to anything wider than that.

10. In January 2019, I published an article following Mr Salmond’s resounding victory in his judicial review case against the Scottish government. My article focused on the abuses of civil service procedure in the pursuit of Alex Salmond by Leslie Evans and Judith Mackinnon, and called for them both to be sacked.
https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/01/the-salmond-stitch-up-the-incredible-facts-and-why-mackinnon-and-evans-must-be-sacked/
11. The article concluded that if Nicola Sturgeon failed to act against them, it might indicate that she was herself involved in the campaign of false allegation against Alex Salmond.

12. As a result of this article, Alex Salmond, with whom I had only very slight prior acquaintance, invited me to meet him in the George Hotel in Edinburgh. Here, for the first time, he told me that Nicola Sturgeon had been behind the process designed to generate false accusations against him. He said as well as Mackinnon and Evans, Liz Lloyd was responsible for the actual orchestration.

13. Mr Salmond further said that the Scottish Government had made every effort to withhold vital evidence from Lord Pentland, who had ordered a process of commission and evidence on the available documentation. It was on the day that witnesses from Nicola Sturgeon’s private office were due to give evidence as to her own knowledge and involvement, that the Scottish Government suddenly conceded the case rather than have this evidence heard.

14. Mr Salmond further told me that there was a massive police operation underway to try to get accusers to come forward against him. This was going to ludicrous lengths. He showed me an email from one woman to him, in which she stated that she had been called in and interviewed by the police because many years ago Alex Salmond had been said by another person to have been seen kissing her on the cheeks in a theatre foyer. The woman stated she had told them it was a perfectly normal greeting. She wished to warn Alex of the police fishing expedition against him. He understood that over 400 people had been interviewed by the police.

15. He said those interviewed by the police had included all the personal protection officers he had as First Minister. They had all said they had seen him do nothing wrong, and they were watching him very closely, as was their job. At least one of these policemen, now retired, had been given a rundown of the evidence by the policeman sent to interview him. The retired officer challenged the interviewer as to how he could be involved in such a corrupt stitch up. He stated that the fact it was a stitch-up was evidenced by the fact all the accusations emanated from the same small coterie, there was not a single accusation from an outside or independent source.

16. That observation stayed with me as I followed and investigated the case over the next year and it remains a key fact. I was strongly inclined to believe Alex Salmond. I am of much the same generation of the Scottish political class and it is a small country. We tend to know each other or of each other. I had never in forty years heard a hint of gossip surrounding Alex Salmond and sexual behaviour, with the single exception of a rumoured romantic attachment redacted attachment with redacted. But that had not involved any rumour of unwanted advances by Mr Salmond, quite the opposite ; it was rather widely believed in nationalist circles that she had set her cap at him. The common joke was that redacted was a booby prize.

17. It had been impossible to follow the judicial review case without concluding that a very unfair process had been undertaken against Alex Salmond, and that it was impossible this could have happened without the knowledge and approval of Nicola Sturgeon. That was a shocking realisation to an Independence supporter like myself. But what Alex Salmond was now telling me went further, which was that Nicola Sturgeon was involved in the orchestration of fake complaints against him. This was fairly astonishing on first hearing.

18. I asked what the motive could be. Alex replied that he did not know ; perhaps it lay in King Lear. He said that he had genuinely intended to quit politics and had lined up a position as Chairman of Johnstone Press, which had fallen because of these allegations. But he had retired from the party leadership before, and then come back, and perhaps Nicola had concluded he needed a stake through the heart. He had made plain to her that he was not happy with her lack of progress towards an Independence referendum following the Brexit vote.

19. Alex Salmond was plainly very unhappy. He said that he believed that Nicola was banking on his loyalty to the SNP and to the Independence movement, thinking that he would not split the party by revealing what or who was behind the allegations against him. At this crucial time, a Salmond/Sturgeon split could derail the chance for Independence and have a truly historic effect. I asked him directly whether this meant he did not want me to publish this information at the moment. He confirmed I should not publish. This conversation was in confidence but, as my blog was highly influential within the Independence movement, he thought it vital that I know the truth as matters develop.

20. I told him that Sturgeon’s hostility towards him seemed to be longstanding. I recounted a story I had been told by Robin McAlpine, of an occasion shortly after his resignation when Alex Salmond had arrived at the Scottish Parliament for a function and the First Minister’s Office had refused to sign him in. Alex replied that this was true ; it was particularly embarrassing as the occasion had been to hand over a large cheque for funds raised for charity following a campaign he had initiated as First Minister. They had been forced to do the photoshoot in the rain outside instead.

21. I advised Alex Salmond that he should continue to fight any allegations vigorously and should not worry in the least about any consequential damage to the SNP or the Yes movement, which were both very robust. If the SNP leadership were behind the attacks on him, it was much better that people know.

22. I also told him I knew exactly how he felt, having been myself subject to false accusation when as British Ambassador I blew the whistle on UK Government collusion with torture in the War on Terror. To be subject to a fit-up, particularly by those you knew and considered friends, was extremely disorienting. I was probably one of the few people in the UK who knew precisely how he felt.

23. The meeting concluded with Alex making the observation that he blamed himself for having established far too centralised a system of power in Scottish Government and the SNP, and not taking account of how far that was open to abuse by a person of ill-will.

24. In June 2019 (I do know the precise date, time and venue but to give it might aid identification of my source with deleterious consequences for them) I met with a person well known in the Independence movement who informed me that they had been present at a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon and key members of her inner circle, including ministers, which had gamed the possible outcome of the Salmond affair. My source was trusted as a Sturgeon loyalist,

25. The view of the meeting was that if Alex Salmond could be convicted on just a single count, he would be destroyed politically forever, which was explicitly the objective. He would be on the register of sex offenders and branded a rapist in the public mind, even if the actual offence convicted was knee touching. I was also told that the Law Officers were confident of a conviction for something, which is why the multiplicity of charges. They apparently advised that, faced with a whole raft of charges, juries tended to compromise in the jury room to reach agreement and convict on a lower charge.

26. What struck me, both at the time and still, was that it was impossible to understand the account as given without it involving of necessity corrupt collusion between Nicola Sturgeon’s ministers and aides and the Crown Office over the handling of the Salmond case and the charges being brought.

27. I directly asked my source why they had been regarded as so trustworthy as to be included in such a meeting. They replied that they were generally highly supportive of « Nicola » and her leadership and had been on the fringes of her inner circle for a while. But they were not happy with the « fitting-up » of Alex Salmond, which they described as « unnecessary ».

28. I was aware that in telling me this my source was playing a double game. I was a British diplomat for over twenty years and a member of the Senior Management Structure of the FCO for over six. Obtaining confidential information from inside government circles, and assessing the credibility of the source and the information, is a core skill set for a diplomat, and I was a highly successful diplomat, becoming the UK’s youngest Ambassador.

29. I considered, using the FCO learnt criteria, the access and motivation of my source and my background knowledge of them, all of which I researched further. My conclusion was that this was a highly credible source with good access. This also squared with my impression ; they had seemed straightforward and no inconsistencies had appeared under question. I had known them for some years. I believed their account, and I still do.

30. At a later date, but substantially in advance of his trial, I informed Alex Salmond in broad terms of this conversation.

31. Equally crucially, this proved not just entirely consistent with all the further information I received, but a good explanation of it. In March 2020 I had explained and briefly shown to me by a source with good access the content of evidence related to the Salmond trial, much of which was to be excluded from the trial itself by the judge as collateral.

32. This material included the message from Peter Murrell, Chief Executive Officer of the SNP, to Sue Ruddick, Chief Operating Officer, to the effect that it was now the right time to put pressure on Police Scotland to move forward against Alex Salmond. It included the message from Ms Ruddick (I do not recall the recipient) to the effect that the problem was with Police Scotland refusing to detail precisely what evidence they required. If they would specify, then she could get that evidence for them. It included the message from Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, after the Scottish Government had abandoned its judicial review case, to the effect that they had lost a battle but won the war.

33. It included the message from redacted to another complainer to the effect that she had a plan that would enable them to have a strongly detrimental effect on Alex Salmond but have anonymity. It included the message from redacted to the effect that she did not want to attend any further meetings regarding a possible complaint if redacted were going to be present as redacted made her feel pressured rather than supported. It included the message from Ian McCann to the effect that he would sit on redacted’s complaint until it became necessary to deploy it. It included a number of messages from redacted which gave the impression she was playing a central role in orchestrating and organising complainers, but I do not recall any specific details of those particular individual messages.

34. Even more crucially, this account was consistent with what actually happened at the trial. In common with many observers, I was unimpressed by the performance of Alex Prentice for the prosecution and the truly pathetic and hopeless nature of a number of allegations. The inclusion of daft allegations like the « hair pinging » incident or the easily disproved hand on the knee in the car, are universally agreed to have weakened rather than strengthened the prosecution’s case when there were much more serious incidents admitted to have some basis in truth. Nor did these minor incidents contribute to « Moorov », being of a much lesser order than the main charges. The only way I could make sense of the Crown’s approach was in the light of what had been explained to me months earlier, the idea that the jury might settle on a lesser charge as a form of compromise. So here again, as in other ways, subsequent events are entirely consistent with what I was told in June 2019, and I am confirmed in my belief of corrupt collusion between the Crown Office and Nicola Sturgeon’s office.

35. I should state that I did not take notes at any stage in this investigation, in any meetings, and I am speaking entirely from memory here. That is why I am not giving verbatim messages but my memory of them. I have no doubt my memory is correct in essence. All of these messages are in the Crown’s possession and I trust will be produced to support this statement.

36. Again, my not taking notes reflects FCO training not to write down sensitive information outside of a fully secure environment but rather to remember. In a case involving sexual abuse, I was particularly concerned not to take notes that, if lost or overseen, might identify individuals.

37. In August of 2019, I learnt that my friend the veteran investigative journalist Laurie Flynn had been digging into the events which led to the Court of Session judicial review, and had an article written. I offered to host it on my blog. It was extremely interesting and highlighted the role of redacted, a name that was coming up again and again.

38. I therefore published Laurie’s article on 23 August 2019, and added further comments particularly on the role of redacted, whom I was beginning to consider a rather sinister figure. At this time I had no idea redacted. Indeed, it is very strange indeed, and quite out of order, that redacted was such an active member of the Scottish Government judicial review committee which had decided to contest the civil case, at great expense, and was to decide to concede it, at great expense.

39. In November 2019, I was told by a senior contact within the SNP whom I have known for many years (not the same source from June) that a deal had been struck between Peter Murrell, redacted and redacted whereby redacted would make an allegation of attempted rape against Alex Salmond, and Murrell would redacted return to front line politics redacted. The cold-bloodedness of this infuriated me. By around this time I had learnt the identities of, I believe, all of the complainers, not from a single source but by asking around my contacts. It was not difficult.

40. I realised that something extraordinary and morally disgusting was happening. If the public knew the identities of those being put up to make allegations, and just how close to Nicola Sturgeon they were, they would immediately understand what was happening. But the convention protecting the identities of those making allegations of sexual assault, made such allegations the perfect vehicle for a positive campaign to frame on false charges, while the perpetrators of this conspiracy to pervert the course of justice had the protection of the courts against exposure.

41. That accusers included :

redacted Nicola Sturgeon. First Minister of Scotland Leader of the SNP ;
redacted Ian Blackford, UK Parliamentary Leader for the SNP ;
redacted Angus Robertson, Former UK Parliamentary Leader of the SNP ;
redacted

It would cause a massive political storm were it known to the public, and raise major and in fact fully justified suspicions about motive. The combination of the anonymity of these accusers, and the exclusion from the trial on the grounds of « collateral evidence » – and continued intention of the Crown Office to suppress – of the messages implicating Peter Murrell and Sue Ruddick in the conspiracy, has resulted in the denial to the Scottish public of information which there is the strongest possible public interest in knowing, in order for them to judge the actions of those in power over them.

42. The weight of all this knowledge, and of not being allowed to tell it, was a heavy burden upon me. In general, I strongly support the principle of anonymity for people alleging they are victims of sexual assault. But this was an absolutely unique case. Where the « victims » are actually those wielding very considerable power in the state, and conspiring to frame an innocent man, is the principle of protection for sexual abuse victims of greater public interest than the public interest in being able to form an informed opinion on the massive abuse of state power which was in train ?

43. It was at this stage that I formed the opinion that there were questions here that urgently needed to be addressed, but it was not for me to decide. I therefore formed the view that, after the trial of Alex Salmond was concluded, this question would have to be put before a court, and, when the time came, I acted upon that conviction.

44. There was a period of several months when I was fully aware of the names of the accusers, and also fully aware that there was no general law or court order in place preventing me simply from publishing. That, however, would not have been responsible journalism and I determined to wait until I could put the matter before the court. The fact I did not publish the names when I could, over months, makes ludicrous the accusation of the Lord Advocate that I intentionally leaked out little bits of information as jigsaw identification.

45. I should explain that I was not enjoying this investigation at all. In fact, I hated it and was becoming quite seriously depressed by the shock of what I was uncovering. I had moved back to Scotland in 2014 specifically in order to campaign for Scottish Independence. I have been a member of the Scottish National Party since 2011. It was horribly disillusioning to discover the corruption at the heart of the Scottish Government.

46. I was also in a deep dilemma as to what to do about it ; the same dilemma Alex Salmond was, and is, in. To expose that it was Nicola Sturgeon who masterminded the conspiracy against him would be a real blow to the Independence movement. But to watch a plot to imprison an innocent man potentially for the rest of his life unfold before my eyes was also horrifying. Particularly as the most cynical part of the plot, to use the court anonymity granted to accusers of sexual abuse, to disguise who was actually behind the allegations, appeared to be working.

47. I should add that in May 2019 I met Alex Salmond in London to record a 50 minute interview for his TV company about my life and career, and that I met him again in approximately November 2019 in London for dinner with my good friend, the journalist Peter Oborne. On neither occasion was there substantive discussion of the charges against him.

48. On 21 November 2019, the Crown released substantial details of the charges against Alex Salmond. On 22 November, I looked through the newspapers and every Scottish newspaper had massive front page coverage of the accusations against him, in detail. The front page headline of the Herald read « 10 women ; 14 sexual offences ; Alex Salmond accused ». The details of all charges were printed on the front page, which had no other content. There were two other full pages on it inside.

49. The front page of the Scottish Daily Mail had the headline « Salmond in the dock » and the sub-heading « Former SNP Chief appears at High Court to deny 14 sex offences, including attempted rape, while First Minister ». There was no other story on the front page. There were eight full pages of further coverage inside.

The Daily Record front page had « Salmond on Trial the Charges : 1 attempted rape, 1 intent to rape, 2 indecent assaults, 10 sexual assaults, In the Dock ; 10 women accuse former First Minister of attacks. » There were two further full pages inside.

The Scottish Sun had « Salmond Rape Bid at Bute House  Ex-First Minister sex rap ; 10 women, 14 charges ; « pinned a victim down » and no other story on the front page.

The Daily Express had « Salmond Made Naked Rape Bid – Full details of 14 sex charges revealed ; Claims involve 10 women over 6 years ; I am innocent says ex-First Minister » and no other story on the front page, with four more pages inside.

The Scotsman had « Salmond, the charges ; Former First Minister accused of lying naked on top of woman and trying to rape her in Bute House » and no other story on the front page.

50. Broadcast media took the same tone. I was deeply concerned by the entire tenor of the press coverage, which appeared to be highly hostile to Salmond and present matters in a way that would be bound to influence potential jurors against him. I was also surprised by the sheer detail in the charges which the Crown Office had presented to the media.

51. This worried me because it creates a huge imbalance in media coverage and thus in public opinion. The Crown can release salacious detail about attempted rape while lying naked on top of somebody in bed, and the media can echo this to the heavens. But from that moment, nobody can publish anything to contradict the Crown without being in contempt of court. It seemed to me that, in these circumstances, the Crown ought to have been a great deal more restrained in the amount of salacious detail it was making available. Certainly, there was nothing in what was happening which would contradict the information I had been given of the Crown Office being party to a political plot to destroy Salmond.

52. In mid January 2020 I took part in an AUOB march through Glasgow which took place in a major storm. It was followed by a press conference at which I spoke and then by a joint strategy meeting with Plaid Cymru, all in soaked clothes. I have heart and lung conditions of longstanding and the over-exertion and hypothermia resulted in an ambulance being called later that evening. I refused hospitalisation because I was too busy.

53. However, the scare led me to write my « Yes Minister Fan Fiction » article of 18 January 2020 because, as the article plainly states, there were things I would not wish to die without having told.

54. It was, however ,a challenge to work out how to tell them without being in contempt of court given the charges against Alex Salmond. I therefore very carefully used a number of strategies not to be in contempt of court. Not to evade contempt of court charges ; actually not to be in contempt of court.

55. Perhaps the most vital strategy was what I would call post-dated cheque information. By which I meant, to leave information that people would not understand the ramifications of now, but would after the trial or once further evidence emerged. This applies most clearly to the edacted deal of redacted.

56. In January 2020, it was not widely known at all that redacted. Therefore, when I wrote : « I was thinking more of his wife, Permanent Secretary. redacted » my readership had no idea what I was talking about.

57. As with other information recounted above, it is remarkable how precisely events as they have unfolded have proven my sources were right. It is now notorious in Scottish political circles that the National Executive of the SNP last week adopted measures which effectively redacted, and did so in order to redacted. Many articles have appeared in the media to that effect. I regret that, redacted identity still being protected, I am not able to republish my article to show that I knew in advance and show what lies behind it. Nobody reads old articles on the blog ; very few people read articles below the first two on the homepage, and it is rare for articles to be read at all once they fall off the homepage (about two weeks). This is particularly true as Google de-ranks alternative or independent news sites.

58. At the time I wrote this article there was no order in force against publication of names. I nevertheless decided not to do that. I did not name redacted, instead using the alias « marmalade ». This was a private joke to myself referencing redacted. I was not in fact particularly thinking of redacted, or I would have called him « Keiller ».

59. I also did not give the names of either Sturgeon, Evans redacted Ms Sturgeon’s private secretary was, of course, male.

60. I further wrote the article as a satirical piece to disguise the nuggets of truth, in the manner of a Yes Minister script. As Jack Point put it :
« Oh winnow of my folly and you’ll find
A grain or two of truth among the chaff »
Satire has been for centuries a licensed vehicle for literary, social and political commentators, from Martial through Chaucer, Pope and Swift to Peter Cook. I find it hard to believe the Lord Advocate is seeking to prosecute satire – or I would have found it hard to believe, had I not been on this extraordinary journey of revelation of the corruption of the Scottish state.

61. I was particularly keen to satirise the Moorov doctrine. A lot of mince is still just mince – it does not turn into sirloin steak just because you have a lot of it. But, in doing so, I was also referencing the account I had been given in June 2019 of the tactics being employed by the prosecution, and seeking to make it plain to the Sturgeon circle that I knew precisely how their scheme was supposed to operate. That would have been entirely obscure to the general reader.

62. I was engaged in booking acts for the Doune the Rabbit Hole music festival, of which I am a director. I came up with the pseudonym « Orpheus » for Alex Salmond because I had just finished booking the Morriston Orpheus Male Voice Choir. I came up with the pseudonym Barclay simply because I was making bank payments.

63. The notion that this cryptic, satirical article, described as fiction, on a personal blog, would influence a jury is fanciful. When compared to the absolute torrent of hostile mainstream media material fed by the Crown Office, as detailed above, and vicious social media comment, aimed at Alex Salmond, the fact that the Crown Office are prosecuting only an extremely rare news source sympathetic to Salmond is, in my view, deeply sinister in the light of everything I have stated so far about the Crown Office – and more is to come.

64. On 21 January 2019, I received an email from the Crown Office requesting me to take down my Yes Minister Fan Fiction article as they considered it to be in contempt of court. I did not consider it to be in contempt of court- I had written it carefully not to be – so I did not take it down.

65. I was concerned about the constitutional implications of the Crown’s letter, and I still am. The Crown gave no indication of why they believed the article to be in contempt of court. When , many weeks later, I received the Lord Advocate’s Petition and Complaint, it appeared to indicate that they considered it was in contempt for jigsaw identification – but that made no sense, as when the Crown wrote to me on 21 January 2019 there was no order in place to protect the identities. The Petition gives no indication that the Crown was alleging that article might prejudice the jury. That argument only arrives months later again, in the Lord Advocate’s written submission.

66. I considered the matter very carefully. The rule of law is not arbitrary. If the Crown, without the intervention of a judge, has the power to censor publication, we are putting liberty in Scotland back several hundred years. The Crown Office cannot just order censorship on entirely spurious grounds thought up several months later.

67. I made a very conscious decision to content myself with the idea that, if they really thought I was in contempt of court, they would bring it to court and a judge could decide whether I was right or they were right. If they genuinely thought my article might influence a jury, given they were well aware of the article and wrote to me about it, the Crown Office had an obvious public duty to act before a trial to prevent that evil. I would have happily turned up in court and argued my case. To wait until long after the trial, after it is far too late to avert the evil they purport to be concerned about, and then make that allegation against me, is plainly pointless and vindictive and, again, sinister.

68. I visited the High Court before the trial to find out how to attend and report. I attempted to register as a journalist, but was given the absolute runaround between the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service and Judicial Communications. I suspect this is simply because their systems are geared to the outdated days of traditional media. I was unable to obtain accreditation, and thus could not be present for the prosecution evidence.

69. I therefore wrote up my commentary on Day 1 of the court case in an article entitled « The Alex Salmond Trial : Your Man Excluded from the Gallery » with some wider commentary about the context of the trial and the laws of evidence in Scotland, but with reporting of events in the trial itself entirely based upon what was published by other journalists inside the court. I was particularly following James Doleman, Philip Sim and Radio Forth and also the Grouse Beater blog which itself was purely drawing on published sources. I stated this explicitly in the article « 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. » I published nothing of the evidence – literally nothing – that had not been published by other journalists.

70. I had clearly at the forefront of my mind the desire to avoid identification of redacted, even though there was at that time no order in place to protect her identity. I am satisfied that I succeeded in this.

71. By my next report on 12 March, I was a little more organised and had sources inside the court giving me additional information. I thus knew fairly well in real time of the order protecting identities, and was still more careful. It was necessary, for the public to have an understanding of the basics of the case, to explain that several of the accusers held senior positions in SNP structures, but I was very careful to ensure I gave no details of actual positions or who worked in Edinburgh, who worked in London etc. This continued throughout the trial.

72. On 18 and 19 March, when I finally gained access to the court, I continued this policy of taking great care. In writing up that evening, I google searched on two particular pieces of evidence to check I was not giving away identities. For example, I searched many combinations of terms for Salmond, Alexander Anderson, helicopter, Stirling Castle and Gleneagles to ensure that my article could not lead to identification of redacted. I was satisfied it could not, and published my account with good conscience.

73. On the other hand, I found that google searches around the meeting of Geoff Aberdein with Nicola Sturgeon on 29 March very readily brought up the fact that redacted. I therefore amended my draft to delete reference to her presence at that meeting, even though that meeting is, from a political point of view, perhaps the most significant fact to have emerged from the trial, as it shows Nicola Sturgeon to have misled Parliament about when she first knew of allegations.

74. By contrast, the entire mainstream media published details of that meeting including redacted . Stuart Campbell has been pursuing this fact in correspondence with the Crown office. Kirsty Wark repeated this very simple jigsaw identification of redacted in the recent BBC documentary The Trial of Alex Salmond.

75. There is a very good list of articles which included this jigsaw information which I rigorously excluded to be found in the letter from the Crown Office to the Reverend Stuart Campbell of 19 August which you can see here :
https://wingsoverscotland.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/copfs19aug2020-1.jpg

76. I was much more careful to avoid jigsaw identification here than the mainstream media. After I was astonished to be charged with contempt by the Crown Office, I sought objective proof of this by commissioning an opinion poll from Panelbase.

77. This poll, conducted according to industry leading survey techniques, cannot establish whether anybody is correct in their presumed identification of witnesses. But it shows that, of those who believe they have identified witnesses, 66% believe they learnt the identities from TV or newspapers. One person named my blog as a source – in among many more names of mainstream media journalists. The individual who was most named as giving away identities, most named by a margin, was journalist Dani Garavelli. It is of course possible that the individual who named my blog was referring to the re-publication for comment of one of Garavelli’s articles on my blog.

78. I am not a lawyer. But, to a layman, it is remarkable to me that the Crown Office is prosecuting me citing my commentary on Garavelli’s article as contempt of court, whereas Garavelli’s article itself has not led to Garavelli being prosecuted, even though opinion poll evidence shows she was named far more than I as a source of identification. Given that Garavelli’s work is vehemently anti-Salmond while the Crown Office is prosecuting the most prominent pro-Salmond journalist, I would say this is, in the context of all else I have testified, sinister.

79. In publishing all of my accounts of the trial, I was extremely mindful of both the law of contempt of court and of my desire not to identify witnesses. The constraints were not just at the back of my mind, but right at the front of my mind, to the extent that there is highly considered discussion of these issues included in my articles throughout my reporting of the case.

80. But I was also strongly aware of a public duty to inform the public of the defence evidence. As already noted, the Crown had given the media, and the media had extravagantly published, salacious detail of the prosecution’s charges from long before the trial. When the prosecution evidence was led, there was again for the first few days an absolute frenzy of front page, news bulletin leading reporting, again focused exclusively on the most salacious and sensational extracts from what the accusers said in court.

81. Then, when the defence witnesses stood up one after another, without the benefit of anonymity, and gave their evidence under oath, there was virtually nothing. I witnessed the ranks of media in front of the public gallery literally shut their notebooks. Virtually no media reporting appeared of the fact that redacted could not have had her alleged morning exchange with Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh because the latter’s father had died that morning. Nor of the two separate eye witnesses, feet away, who testified that redacted was not groped at the Stirling Castle photocall. No account was given of Janet Watt, line manager, denying she had been told of incidents as claimed. Nor of Alex Bell, who detests Alex Salmond, nevertheless testifying that he did not see the claimed scene by the Jack Vettriano painting. I could go on and on with all the defence evidence which the media did not mention.

82. The general media situation is perfectly exampled in the subsequent BBC documentary, « The Trial of Alex Salmond », broadcast by the BBC on 17 and 18 October and fronted by Kirsty Wark. While purporting to be a day to day account of the trial and adopting a « Day 1 », « Day 2 » etc format, incredibly the documentary simply skipped from Day 7 to Day 10 and missed out the defence witnesses. That is just what the overwhelming majority of the media did – quite deliberately, of course. There can be no serious argument against the proposition that the Scottish mainstream media is overwhelmingly hostile to Alex Salmond.

83. It is a simple statement of fact that the only reason any measurable section of the Scottish population has the slightest idea of what the defence evidence was, is that it was published on my blog. Otherwise they would only have the false mainstream media presentation of highly selective quotes from Gordon Jackson to the effect that Salmond could have been a better man, but inappropriate does not mean criminal, and the deliberately created false impression that the jury was faced with only « he said, she said » decisions. The third party eye witnesses who challenged key aspects of accusers’ evidence went mostly unreported, except by me.

84. In a case with such massive political ramifications, in giving a fair account of the defence evidence I fulfilled a democratic duty I felt a strong obligation to fulfil. I am very proud of my role. And I did it while all the time keeping a very careful eye indeed on the line of jigsaw identification and contempt of court. That I was up to the line I readily admit ; a fast bowler does not deliver from behind the stumps lest he overshoot the crease and bowl a no ball. But I was very careful indeed not to cross the line.

85. It was put to me during the trial (I believe by the court reporter James Doleman, who I know from our both covering the Julian Assange hearing) that the law of contempt of court dictates in sexual abuse cases that the prosecution case can be widely reported but the defence case cannot be reported. The reason is jigsaw identification. He told me as a warning to be very careful.

86. His reasoning went like this. The Crown at the time of charge releases to the media details of all the charges. So they have released, for example, that a hypothetical woman X was assaulted in Bute House on 1 January. So when woman X gives evidence, you can publish it in detail because the Crown had already released it. However, if, in recounting the defence evidence, it were a relevant fact that she had a blue car, you could not mention it, because of jigsaw identification. The fact that her being in Bute House on 1 January would quite literally be a million times more identifying than possession of a blue car was irrelevant. So you could report the accusation but not the defence.

87. I considered this very carefully with regard to my reporting of the case, and it relates directly to the charges against me. It is highly identifying to say that a woman was with Alex Salmond in an official capacity on a visit to China, close enough to him to travel in his car and be with him in the lift. That is all extremely identifying ; everybody reported it because it was part of the prosecution case. Yet there is only one person that can be. But for me to report as part of the defence that she had curly hair – as do over 15% of the population – is jigsaw identification. I considered the argument the Lord Advocate now puts forward, before I published the piece, and considered it patently absurd.

88. I also considered that, if that were truly a statement of Scots Law, then the effect is obviously perverse. That only the prosecution case may be published and not the defence, would mean that even an innocent man found innocent, would forever be damaged in the eyes of the public who would know the detailed accusations against him but not why he was found innocent. That cannot be the intention of the law.

89. Nor can it be the intention of the law, as in the Alex Salmond verdict, that the accusers should even after the not guilty and not proven verdicts, continue a massive media campaign from behind the veil of anonymity against the acquitted man. This appears to me a massive abuse of the court order granting anonymity and I cannot believe that this was the intention of Lady Dorrian when she granted the order. I shall return to this subject shortly.

90. On the morning of 20 March, I was as usual waiting with my ticket to enter the public gallery, when Alex Prentice emerged from a door to the left of a court room entrance, paused and appeared to stare at me before continuing on into the courtroom. The supposed start time for the court came and went with the queue still outside, and then I was approached by two police officers, in front of everyone, and marched from the court. This was very humiliating, particularly as some pleasure was evident among the queue of mainstream media journalists who had come to demonise Alex Salmond.

91. The police were very pleasant but, in reply to my direct question, stated that they had no idea why I was being removed. The court staff at the front door stated the same. I therefore went home.

92. I now know that the court had heard a motion for my exclusion from the prosecution on the grounds of alleged contempt of court. I believe strongly that it was contrary to natural justice that the judge and prosecution should have been discussing me while I stood directly outside the court door, and I was not given any hearing or even accorded the common decency and respect of being informed what was happening. This is in stark contrast to events on the morning of the 10th March when an accredited member of the media, said to have tweeted out an identity – much more than I had done – was permitted to be present while the matter was discussed in closed court and was asked if he had anything to say.

93. My only complaint of the court refers to my own treatment, and, while I believe my treatment was wrong, I accept that the judge had infinitely weightier matters to deal with and was perhaps irritated by this minor distraction. As I stated directly in my article, my impression of both judge and jury in the two days I was permitted in to the Salmond trial is that they were doing their jobs in a highly impressive manner. On 18 March I published :

94. « The Court itself was impressive ; Lady Dorrian presided with exemplary fairness, dealing quickly and sensibly with points that arose on admissibility of evidence. The jury of 15 citizens looked engaged and earnest throughout. The impression of my first day is that it is a process that deserves respect and trust, something I never felt at an Assange hearing ».

95. On 19 March I published :
« There I will bow to the judge – who I continue to find very fair ».

96. After exclusion from the court on 20 March, I wrote an article complaining about the arbitrary manner of my treatment. I also phoned the court for more information, and was eventually called back by the clerk of the court, who could not tell me exactly why I had been excluded, but did tell me that the exclusion was for the duration of the trial, not just for the day. Neither he nor the other court staff of whom I had inquired as to what was happening told me that an order had been made banning the publication of the fact I had been excluded from the court. That seems a quite extraordinarily arbitrary proceeding – not only to ban a journalist from a public trial without allowing him any representations, but to also make it illegal to state he was banned. It sounds like something from a dictatorship, not from Scotland.

97. I have a strong basis in knowledge of human rights from my diplomatic career and have a sound knowledge of the Council of Europe (to whose Parliamentary Assembly I have indeed given evidence on human rights, as I have to the Westminster Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights and to the European Parliament Committee on Human Rights). I had no doubt that the entire circumstance surrounding my arbitrary banning from court without representation and the banning of any mention of that fact raises serious concerns.

98. I note the Crown Office claim to have written to me at this stage. I received nothing from them, either by email or post. Their letter of 21 January I had received both by email and by post, and had to sign for the postal letter. I do not know what happened about their subsequent purported communication, if anything.

99. Following the verdict, Alex Salmond stood on the steps of the High Court, referred to the evidence he had not been permitted to lead, and stated that a day of reckoning would come when the full truth would be set out, but explained that this would have to be deferred until after the Covid crisis has passed.

100. This came as a massive disappointment to me. Having known all about the conspiracy that lay behind his trial, I had hugely been looking forward to the day when it would be possible to publish the truth about the conspiracy behind these charges. I had assumed that Alex Salmond would himself immediately point the finger at Nicola Sturgeon, Peter Murrell, Sue Ruddick and the other conspirators who could be named because they did not have the court granted anonymity of redacted and others. But I deferred to Alex Salmond’s wishes in not publishing the full truth. As I published in my article of 30 March 2020, « I have, absolutely against my own instincts, deferred to Alex Salmond’s noble but in my view over-generous wish to wait until the Covid-19 virus has passed before giving all the names of those involved and presenting the supporting documents ».

101. The documents to which I referred were those mentioned above ; they proved the culpability of people including Murrell, Ruddick and McCann, whose anonymity is not protected. I was not aware when I wrote that the effort to suppress these documents – which frankly will be key documents in the course of Scottish history – was going to extend beyond the trial, that they would be kept even from the Holyrood inquiry, and that the Crown would seek to deny their use for my own trial.

102. I had been struck by the facts surrounding the exclusion of juror RR. He had been loud in asserting that he believed Salmond to be innocent. I found the circumstances surrounding juror RR’s reporting to the police very suspicious, just as I find the circumstances surrounding the taping of Gordon Jackson on the train very suspicious. If a juror said too much in conversation, a minority of people might know enough to tell him he really should not be talking that way. To walk away and clipe him up to the police seems to me an extreme and entirely unnatural reaction. It seems to me a great deal more likely that juror RR was set up ; particularly as the lady who engaged him in the conversation worked for a Scottish Government agency.

103. I actually drafted all that, but then did not publish it as it would have been in contempt of court. I decided instead to give no details at all. I am genuinely puzzled as to what the Lord Advocate thinks is actionable on that.

104. Unfortunately, Alex Salmond’s declaration of a « covid truce » on proceedings was not matched by the conspirators. They immediately began a concerted campaign to undermine the verdict in public opinion and to attack the reputation of the court and the jury. The campaign was fronted by Rape Crisis Scotland, an almost entirely Scottish Government funded organisation whose funding is under the control of officials whose management line redacted whose story of a knee grab on the very short ride from Pizza Express Holyrood to Waverley Station had been comprehensively debunked at trial.

105. The nine complainers in the case signed a joint letter maintaining their accusations against Alex Salmond, which was carried at saturation levels by the entire Scottish media, and was curious given that the complainers were purported by the Crown to be unconnected to one another. In a whole series of interviews across all Scottish media, Rape Crisis Scotland argued, in effect, that the verdict had been perverse, an example of the justice system failing abused women, and even was used by Rape Crisis Scotland to argue directly for the abolition of jury trials in sexual assault cases.

106. The campaign culminated at that time in an article written by Dani Garavelli for Tortoise Media and repeated in Scotland on Sunday, the Sunday edition of the Scotsman, which it is impossible to read other than as a sustained attack upon the court and the verdict. It was a particularly tendentious piece of work because it again repeated all the major accusations, with sympathetic personal interviews with five of the complainers, while omitting to mention a single one of the defence witnesses or any of the defence evidence that had shown them to be wrong and, in several cases, actually lying.

107. What is more, the Garavelli article again made very plain the identity of redacted by jigsaw identification and potentially of others, including redacted who redacted. It is of definite significance that, in the opinion poll I commissioned to get objective evidence of jigsaw identification, Dani Garavelli was by a significant margin the most named source by the public for complainer identification. The decision by the Lord Advocate to prosecute me, a very rare Salmond supporter with an audience, and not prosecute Garavelli, the media cheerleader for the anti-Salmond cause, appears not just selective prosecution, it is political persecution.

108. The great irony of this is that I am the one upholding the dignity of the court and explaining to the public why a diligent jury reached the sound verdict it did, while Garavelli is attacking the verdict of the court and doing so by omitting the crucial defence evidence that the jury heard. She also characterises individual jury members in her article. Yet it is I, the supporter of the court, who is allegedly in contempt, while the attackers of the court are not. The truth is, of course, that the failed prosecutors are favouring those who support the prosecution ; that these failed prosecutors get to decide who is tried for contempt is an abuse of process.

109. I decided that the best way to deal with the Garavelli article and with the entire avalanche of anti-court propaganda was to write my article « I have a plan so we can remain anonymous but have maximum effect » in which I reproduced Garavelli’s article in its entirety, with paragraphs of my commentary under her paragraphs where appropriate. The Crown production of this article in the bundle given to me has not printed out the contrasting colours, so the court will find it extremely difficult to follow what is me and what is Garavelli. This however is Garavelli :

« When the time came, the foreman stood up and said Not Guilty to 12 of the 13 charges. The verdict of the charge involving woman F – sexual assault with intent to rape – was found Not Proven, which is also an acquittal. None of the verdicts were unanimous. The foreman seemed content with decisions he was conveying, but others were not. One young-ish juror with glasses sat with his head bowed »

Followed by me commenting on Garavelli

« Garavelli has no idea how that youngish juror voted. Here again is a blatant attempt to convey that this was a perverse verdict… Garavelli is incidentally in very grave contempt of court in clearly identifying an individual juror and how she thinks he voted. Garavelli will of course be protected by the Establishment from any consequences of this ».

110. I was absolutely correct on all counts. It is a further example of the extreme consciousness of the law of contempt of court with which I wrote throughout. I had a great deal more respect for the rules of contempt than the Lord Advocate, who plainly only applies them to opponents of his prosecution of Alex Salmond.

111. As the accusers continued their public campaign against the verdict of the court, and continued their conspiracy after the verdict to destroy Alex Salmond politically from behind the screen of court enforced anonymity, I decided the time had now come to put before a court the question of whether that anonymity should be upheld even in these extreme and unique circumstances. The public interest in knowing that it was those in positions of great power in the Scottish Government who had colluded against Alex Salmond might well outweigh the general public interest in anonymity for complainers of sexual abuse.

112. On 31 March 2020, I therefore contacted my solicitor to find a QC to draw up a petition to court for the court to decide. We received a draft application from Craig Sandison QC on 15 April 2020, funded at my own expense. I was considering how to proceed, particularly in the light of Covid lockdown, when I was astonished to find myself charged with contempt of court a week or so later.

113. On 23 April 2020, two policemen came to my door and left on the doorstep a letter which, when I opened it a day later (early Covid precaution!), was from the Crown Office telling me I was charged with contempt of court.

114. Remarkably, within minutes of the police arriving, I received an email from Kieran Andrews of the Times newspaper, stating that

« The Crown Office has confirmed that it has started contempt of court proceedings against you in relation to the Alex Salmond trial. Would you like to comment? « 

We are not children. This is plainly a polite lie. Mr Andrews had not telephoned the Crown office that day and asked « I say, did you happen to charge Craig Murray with anything today ? ». What had happened was that the Crown Office, in keeping with its highly politicised and corrupt behaviour through all of the events which I have here recounted, had phoned a reliably anti-Salmond journalist and tipped him off about the charges against me. I believe that the Crown Office is deeply corrupt.

115. In reading the Lord Advocate’s petition and learning of the charge of jigsaw identification, it seemed to me that his charge was entirely subjective. The Lord Advocate appeared to appreciate the need for some kind of proof, as he prayed in aid a number of tweets as evidence that people had identified. But his understanding of Twitter appeared extremely naive. With a single exception, not one of these tweets showed they had correctly identified anyone (and that single one did not prove I was the reason). On the contrary, many of them were from bad faith actors or Twitter « trolls » with fake identities – « Tamara Patel » is a good example of a long term troll on my account with multiple other identities, including « Harry Johnson » and « James », whose claim to identify from my posts the Lord Advocate foolishly takes at face value. Others show in their Twitter handles that they are dedicated political opponents, i.e. some show union flags and one profile describes a « unionist » and « Rangers supporter ».

116. Nevertheless, in quoting these evidentially valueless tweets the Lord Advocate did seem to be acknowledging the desirability of some objective measure of likelihood to identify, so I set myself to think about whether I could help supply the Lord Advocate’s deficit of reason.

117. I came up the idea that whether or not I had been likely to identify would be objectively demonstrable by obtaining a sufficiently large sample of the population, and that the way to do this was through a professional survey company. I therefore commissioned an opinion poll from Panelbase, the results of which I append and which I believe will assist the court.

118. The survey could not check whether people really know the identities of failed complainers, but it does show that a remarkable 8% of the population believe that they do – that equates to about 350,000 adults in Scotland who think they know one or more identities. The number will have risen since, particularly after the Kirsty Wark BBC documentary which pretty plainly identified redacted.

119. Asked how they know identities, 66% said they knew from newspaper, TV or radio reporting. Given a free field to identify individual sources, seventeen different news sources were named, several multiple times, with a single mention of my website. Eight different journalists were named, some multiple times, and not including me. The most mentioned source as Scotland on Sunday/The Scotsman, where Dani Garavelli’s article appeared, and the most mentioned journalist was Dani Garavelli, who is the prosecution’s biggest cheerleader, and is not being charged.

All of which is the truth as the deponent shall answer to God.

Signed

Affidavit 2

SUPPLEMENTARY AFFIDAVIT
of
CRAIG MURRAY, redacted, Edinburgh, EH10 redacted

At Edinburgh on the TWENTY FIFTH day of JANUARY 2021, in the presence of David James Finlay Halliday, solicitor and notary public, Halliday Campbell WS, solicitors, redacted, Edinburgh, EH16 redacted, COMPEARED CRAIG MURRAY, redacted, Edinburgh, EH10 redacted who being solemnly sworn hereby DEPONES as follows:-

1. My name is Craig Murray, I reside at redacted, Edinburgh, EH10 redacted. I give this affidavit in supplement to the one I have previously given in connection with the contempt of court proceedings brought against me. My intention in doing so is to provide more information for the Court on the context in which I published my articles and tweets, and my reasons for doing so.

2. I was Rector of the University of Dundee (2007-2010) and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law (2005-9). I am the author of books including Sikunder Burnes, Master of the Great Game (2017), The Catholic Orangemen of Togo (2010) and Murder in Samarkand (2007). The website academia.edu lists over 140 academic peer reviewed articles referencing my work.

3. I was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan 2002-4. Other roles included Deputy High Commissioner to Ghana (1999 – 2002), Deputy Head (Equatorial), Africa Department FCO (1997-9), First Secretary, British Embassy, Warsaw (1993 – 1997), Head of Maritime Section, FCO (1991-3) and Head of Cyprus Section, FCO (1989 -91).

4. Special responsibilities included Head of FCO Section, Embargo Surveillance Centre (1990-1), Alternate Head of UK Delegation to UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1991-3) and Head of UK Delegation to the Sierra Leone Peace Talks (1998-2000).

5. I have been awarded the Sam Adams Award for Integrity (USA) 2005 and the Primo Alto Qualita Della Citta di Bologna (Italy) 2006 and am an Officier of the Order of Mono (Togo). I have turned down three honours from the British state, OBE, LVO and CVO on grounds of Scottish nationalism, the last two being in the personal gift of Her Majesty the Queen.

6. As a journalist in new media, my output has been focused on my own website, which is nowadays my primary source of income. My articles have however been published in newspapers including The Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, and very many others both nationally and internationally.

7. In or around March 2019, and from time to time over several months thereafter, I became aware of information tending to show that senior members of the SNP had sought improperly to involve themselves in the Salmond case. This included meeting with women to urge them to make or persevere with complaints to the police, coordination of complainers and their stories, liaison with the police over charges and attempts to persuade individuals other than the complainers to come forward as witnesses to allegations, which attempts were unsuccessful. I formed the view that these were genuine accounts, as they came from complementary sources who had access to the material under discussion.
I believed this to constitute prima facie evidence of, at the very least, politically motivated efforts to recruit and encourage complainers, and of illegitimate attempts to persuade “witnesses” to give evidence that, taken together, could amount to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. As this involved some of the most politically powerful individuals and forces in Scotland, I believed there to be the strongest possible public interest in these facts and in publication of them.

8. Before I published many of the articles and tweets that are the subject of these proceedings, I saw the information listed in this paragraph. I was not given copies of any of these documents and have never possessed any, other than Ann Harvey’s email, which was given to my solicitors at Ms Harvey’s request on 19 January 2021 to assist in my defence and is now produced as production 41 and which I can confirm was the version I saw. I wish to make plain the documents were each shown to me briefly on a screen and my recollection of them is from memory. Doubtless there will be minor errors in my recollection but I have no doubt of the purport, gist and individuals involved. The information was:

(a) A series of written communications involving Peter Murrell, Chief Executive Officer of the SNP, and Sue Ruddick, Chief Operating Officer of the SNP. They discussed inter alia a pub lunch or similar occasion between Ian McCann, a SNP staff member working for them, and redacted, one of the complainers in the HM Advocate v Salmond trial. At the lunch, Mr Murrell and Ms Ruddick expected redacted to firm up her commitment to giving evidence against Alex Salmond, and to discuss progress on bringing in others to make complaints. They expressed dissatisfaction at Mr McCann for his performance in achieving these objectives and expressed doubt as to his commitment to the cause.

(b) A communication from Ms Ruddick to Mr Murrell in which she explained to Mr Murrell that progress on the case was being delayed by Police Scotland and/or the COPFS saying there was insufficient evidence, and in which communication she expressed the sentiment that, if the police/Crown would specify the precise evidence needed, she would get it for them.

(c) Text messages from Mr Murrell to Ms Ruddick stating that it was a good time to pressure the police, and that the more fronts Alex Salmond had to fight on the better.

(d) Communications from Ms Ruddick about her visits to a number of locations, including the Glenrothes area, and including in conjunction or discussion with redacted. These communications detail their unsuccessful attempts to find witnesses who would corroborate allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Alex Salmond. They include a report of a meeting with young people who were small children at the time of the incident they were seeking to allege, who did not provide the corroboration sought.

(e) A message from redacted stating that she would not attend a meeting if redacted were also present as she felt pressured to make a complaint rather than supported.

(f) Messages in the WhatsApp group of SNP Special Advisers, particularly one saying that they would “destroy” Alex Salmond and one referring to Scotland’s ‘Harvey Weinstein moment’, employing the #MeToo hashtag.

9. That information formed some of the basis for the articles and tweets I published before and during the trial. I supplemented that information from my own attendance at the trial as a journalist and from other media reports of the trial. In my articles, I sought to provided reporting of, and commentary on, the HM Advocate v Salmond trial, and also to provide wider commentary on the trial and the political context in which it took place.

10. It was in the course of that wider commentary on the trial that I stated my reasonable belief, based on the information I had seen, that the criminal charges against Alex Salmond were the result of orchestrated work by senior members of the Scottish Government and the Scottish National Party.

11. Before publishing my articles and tweets on the wider context of the trial, I saw the information set out at paragraph 8(a)-(f) above. As I have stated at paragraph 3 above, I considered that this information was genuine. I also considered that it showed that: (i) that senior members of the Scottish Government/SNP had sought improperly to involve themselves in the inquiry into Alex Salmond; (ii) they had discussed the possibility of pressuring the police; and (iii) certain of the complainers had felt pressured by the involvement of senior members of the Scottish Government or SNP.

12. I considered that, as a journalist, I acted responsibly and in the public interest in publishing my articles and tweets, and that I did so because of the information I had seen. It was, and remains, a matter of considerable public interest and importance that high-ranking members of the SNP would improperly involve themselves in an investigation into a political rival, and express sentiments such as a desire to obtain whatever evidence the police needed and a desire to pressure the police.

13. I emphasise that my reason for publishing the articles and tweets was what I understood from the information I saw before I published. My intention was not to publish the names of the complainers, but rather the names other members of the Scottish Government/SNP who had engaged in the actions set out above.
All of which is truth as the deponent shall answer to God.

Signed:

—————————————————–

 
 
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Bitcoin: bc1q3sdm60rshynxtvfnkhhqjn83vk3e3nyw78cjx9
Ethereum/ERC-20: 0x764a6054783e86C321Cb8208442477d24834861a

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

A Time of Trial 150

Just about ready for my trial for contempt of court tomorrow; signing off a final affidavit in a minute. It is really difficult to get my head round the fact that I could very soon be jailed for up to two years for writing about the conspiracy to fit up Alex Salmond and reporting honestly and carefully on his trial, and face an “unlimited” fine.

One feature of the pre-trial hearings and rulings has been the Crown refusing to disclose documentary evidence, and refusing to allow my witnesses. It seems they are trying to get me convicted with no courtroom drama and as little said as possible. I have at this moment very little idea even of what evidence I shall be permitted to give myself from the (virtual) dock. I have, however, sworn on oath two affidavits, and the text of these will be published tomorrow on this blog, (redacted for jigsaw identification) once I adopt my evidence in court.

You can listen live to the court case from 10.30am tomorrow. Access details are here. I shall be very grateful indeed for everyone who does listen in. I am afraid it is a telephone link not an internet link; it is charged as a normal call to London (not a premium number), which may be free depending on your own phone contract. I cannot understand at all why the court uses this phone technology rather than the web, particularly as there is live video feed available to journalists.

Finally, I am afraid I again need money for my defence fund. I want to make very plain that I do not want anybody to give money who cannot afford it. I also do not want anybody to divert money to me that they would have donated to Julian Assange’s defence fund. Julian is facing far longer imprisonment than me, and frankly is a much more important figure with a great deal more to contribute on the major issues facing society. With those caveats, if anybody can donate to help me I will be very grateful.

The Defence Fund has to date raised £112,000. We have paid the legal team £61,500 to date and have a new fee note detailing over £75,000 (feenote). I have to calculate the exact sum but I believe about £25,000 of this is already paid. In addition, we have paid out £5,000 for a separate counsel’s opinion on the public interest in the anonymity of certain of the discredited accusers of Salmond set against the public interest in their pivotal positions in public life, we have paid £3,500 for the opinion poll evidence and we are paying £6,500 for specialist counsel to advice on social media law. Plus we will have the fees for the trial itself.

So I expect final costs will total over £160,000 and possibly substantially so. This is a huge amount to try to raise from my readers. It is a major indictment of our legal system that it is so ruinously expensive – Alex Salmond is an innocent man left with costs of many hundreds of thousands of pounds. The Crown has dragged out the case over a series of preliminary hearings – classic state lawfare tactics. And my lawyers have kindly capped or reduced their fees. If I did not genuinely believe that important issues of freedom of speech are at stake, I would not ask you to contribute. I would also point out that in these circumstances everything helps – the large bulk of the fund has been raised from many thousands of small contributions.




Click HERE TO DONATE if you do not see the Donate button above

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Bitcoin: bc1q3sdm60rshynxtvfnkhhqjn83vk3e3nyw78cjx9
Ethereum/ERC-20: 0x764a6054783e86C321Cb8208442477d24834861a

View with comments

Some Burns Night Warmth 65

This is my salvaged Belgian Efel Harmony 1 woodburner, sitting on a bit of recycled slate, in a hearth made of bricks and planed recycled railway sleepers, heating my home with wood taken from skips. With a glass of Lagavulin it’s not a bad way to spend Burns night, if not my usual way. Perhaps someone might send the photo to the Daily Record so they can be outraged.

Slainte Mhath

View with comments

An Incredible Omission 143

Astonishingly, the unprecedented Order from the Scottish Parliament to the Crown Office to hand over documents does not include the text messages between Peter Murrell and Sue Ruddick, which Murrell lied to parliament did not exist. In fact Peter Murrell does not feature in the request at all.

Those who hail the Committee’s Order to the Crown Office as a great breakthrough are not reading carefully enough. It is designed to fail. The orchestration of the plot is revealed very substantially in texts between Ruddick and Murrell. The Committee is only asking for texts between Ruddick and various categories of Scottish Government employee. Murrell and the other concerned SNP employee Ian McCann are not Scottish Government employees, but SNP employees. The Committee has deliberately excluded them.

This means, for example, the Committee will not see the exchanges between Murrell and Ruddick over the occasion when McCann was sent to firm up Woman H and make sure she would go through with it – woman being the accuser of the most serious accusation, and the woman who was not even at the small dinner where she claimed the incident occurred, as shown by eye-witnesses and the kitchen records.

The Committee also specifically excludes the Crown Office from providing any messages which identify an accuser. That makes the Order totally useless, as the only people, to my recollection, who fall into the Scottish government employee category requested, and who were in incriminating correspondence with Ruddick, are indeed false accusers. So the Committee won’t get those texts either. Ruddick’s “evidence generating” expeditions were in collaboration with somebody who, at a very late stage, became an accuser specifically so their tracks would be hidden by a court anonymity order.

It is important to remember that right from the outset of the plot, the accusers were knowingly planning to exploit the court granted anonymity routinely accorded to alleged victims of sexual assault, in order to facilitate their plan. As evidenced by the text from the Woman who Wasn’t There to another accuser-to-be that read:

I have a plan and means we can be anonymous but see strong repercussions

That message was read out to the jury in the Salmond trial.

The evidence of Geoff Aberdein is the most important single piece of evidence in the current Sturgeon Inquiry at Holyrood. Geoff Aberdein’s evidence is the most important single document in Scottish political history since 2014. It proves that Nicola Sturgeon lied to parliament about when she first was involved in the allegations about Salmond. It is not just that she held a meeting with him on the subject four days before she claimed she first knew – and has subsequently lied to parliament that this meeting was a chance encounter. It is that a full month before Sturgeon claimed she knew, Aberdein was contacted by a very senior member of Sturgeon’s staff and asked to have a meeting with Sturgeon on this subject. Subsequently, as four independent witnesses have testified to Sky News , that senior member of Sturgeon’s staff asked Aberdein to falsify a statement to remove their prior knowledge of the allegations against Salmond. Yet all of this, the most important evidence of the entire inquiry, has been excluded from publication and from consideration by the committee because it involves inextricably one of the anonymous accusers.

It is of course the case that Sturgeon knew of allegations long before even showed by Aberdein’s evidence, when she initiated the process to investigate ex-ministers. But it is not necessary to prove that in order to show that Nicola lied to Parliament – Aberdein’s evidence is sufficient for that.

We do have, of course, the bones of Geoff Aberdein’s evidence because he testified under oath in open court at the Alex Salmond trial as to these events, and I was there and heard him – although the attempt to get him to lie about what happened was not in the Salmond evidence as not relevant, and had not been public before being revealed by Sky.

The Inquiry Committee has now gotten itself into the ridiculous position of refusing to take into account sworn evidence that was given openly and on oath in the High Court of Edinburgh, because their legal advisers tell them it is inadmissible.

There is a hideous circularity to all of this. The Inquiry has been told it must reject Geoff Aberdein’s evidence on legal grounds, by the Solicitor to the Scottish Parliament. The Inquiry has been similarly told by the Solicitor to Parliament it must not question, on anything in Aberdein’s testimony, the official from Nicola Sturgeon’s office who organised the meeting with Aberdein and asked him to lie about it. The Committee has been told by the Solicitor to Parliament that it must not ask for any of the documents the Crown Office is hiding which name accusers. And I have not yet stood this up, but I have no doubt whatsoever that it is the office of the Solicitor to Parliament which is responsible for Peter Murrell being excluded from the Order for documents.

The Lord Advocate is a member of Sturgeon’s cabinet, is the prosecutor who prosecuted Salmond (and Mark Hirst and me), is in charge of the Crown Office which is hiding the evidence, and we have the Solicitor to the Scottish Parliament telling the Parliamentary Inquiry it cannot ask for key evidence or reveal key truth.

I must say, I have always been distressed by the calibre of Members of the Scottish Parliament, but their meek acceptance of the bent official advice that they must conduct the inquiry with their eyes closed, ears stopped, hands bound behind their back and one foot firmly secured into their mouth, is frankly pathetic beyond all expectation.

Please do read this excellent article by Iain MacWhirter.

—————————————————–

 
 
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Bitcoin: bc1q3sdm60rshynxtvfnkhhqjn83vk3e3nyw78cjx9
Ethereum/ERC-20: 0x764a6054783e86C321Cb8208442477d24834861a

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

Navalny Should Be Released 309

Alexei Navalny is not the pleasant liberal our mainstream media paint him to be. Before extensive grooming by the West, he was a racist populist. However, he now makes a more convincing liberal standard bearer than similar proteges like Juan Guaido and to some extent has probably changed with wider experience. He most certainly is not especially popular in Russia, outside some wealthier and younger demographics, but they are voters too, and human progress would not have been great without the much despised middle classes.

I am not in the least convinced by the ludicrous narrative that Vladimir Putin and the FSB were not competent enough to successfully assassinate Alexei Navalny in Russia, including as he lay unconscious in a Russian state hospital. I regard it as a nonsense. But neither do I necessarily suspect that the whole incident was engineered by the West or Navalny (exploited is different to engineered). Incidentally, I am perfectly prepared to accept that the security service outlet Bellingcat was right about the Russian security services following Navalny. I have no doubt whatsoever that they do follow him, and have done so for many years. So what? Western security services followed me intensely when I first became a whistleblower, and on and off ever since, most notably when I have contact with Julian or Wikileaks. The British government announced in Julian’s recent bail hearing it spent £16 million of public money on surveillance of the Ecuadorean Embassy – that’s £16 million on looking at a non-moving target! Security services follow people. There are thousands of the blighters, both in the West and in Russia, and follow people is what many of them do for a living. It is in no sense evidence of assassination. Every time my heart problem puts me in hospital, I don’t imagine it was the MI5 surveillance folks (who must, incidentally, be very bored. When I was younger they did get to look at some great parties).

Anybody who genuinely believes that Putin did not personally authorise the arrest and detention of Navalny on return does not understand Russia. Putin’s purpose is simply to show that he can – that the West cannot protect its protege, which is a good lesson for the next one, and cannot harm Russian interests abroad. In power calculations, Putin is almost always correct. I am fairly sure he is also correct in calculating that swatting Navalny will play well to his popular base, who like the macho thing.

I do not address the technicalities of whether Navalny’s suspended embezzlement sentence was legitimate, and whether he breached suspension conditions, because again if you think that has anything at all to do with what is happening, you are hopelessly naive. Navalny might very well be guilty of embezzlement, but on nothing in the same universe of scale as Putin himself and his inner circle. It is about selectivity of prosecution rather than innocence or guilt. If you have political control of the prosecutor, you hold the cards. Oh sorry, I was drifting back to Scotland.

So Putin can see Navalny jailed till 2025 on the embezzlement charge with no serious consequences and a minor stabilisation of his personal authority. But at what cost? My major criticism of Putin is that he has failed to move Russia, an absolutely vital pillar of European cultural heritage, back towards the European centre after decades of isolation. That involves development away from purely autocratic government; but there remains absolutely no sign that Putin even intends to position Russia for that move once he finally relinquishes power – which he ought to have done many years ago. Allowing Navalny to continue his campaigning will not hurt Putin and will not hurt Russia. It is a fascinating and universal fact that the longer people hold power, the more paranoid they become.

—————————————————–

 
 
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Bitcoin: bc1q3sdm60rshynxtvfnkhhqjn83vk3e3nyw78cjx9
Ethereum/ERC-20: 0x764a6054783e86C321Cb8208442477d24834861a

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

Let Nobody Ever State Again There Is No Evidence of the Conspiracy Against Alex Salmond 110

I am strongly advised to shut up and say nothing just before my trial. I will however point out three things:

1) These documents are all in the possession of the Lord Advocate. They are held in the Crown Office. That is why we are asking the Crown to disclose them. The Lord Advocate at no stage, in opposing their release, denied their existence. This is the Lord Advocate’s reply to the application. 20210114 Answers to Disclosure Request (3)
2) These are some of the same documents the Lord Advocate has refused to give the Holyrood Inquiry and which Alex Salmond has said prevent him appearing before the Inquiry until the Lord Advocate agrees he can reference them in his evidence.
3) The High Court has agreed with the Lord Advocate that these messages are irrelevant to my trial and do not go to my Article 10 rights of free speech. The High Court notably refrained from endorsing the Lord Advocate’s argument that they are “private messages” and that Murrell and Ruddick are protected from their disclosure under Article 8.
This is extremely important as it means the High Court has not endorsed the Lord Advocate’s arguments for keeping these messages from the Holyrood Inquiry. The grounds on which the High Court did find against me – relevance and Article 10 – relate to my trial but do not relate to the Holyrood Inquiry.

The High Court ruling notably does not endorse the argument here on Murrell and Ruddick’s privacy. The Lord Advocate’s refusal to provide these documents to the Holyrood Inquiry on the grounds of the privacy and data protection rights of Murrell and Ruddick is therefore unlikely to survive a court application by the Fabiani Committee. That would require a great deal more courage than the Committee have shown to date.

I am as advised not going to comment on the merits of the High Court ruling, or on what the messages show.

But, as a matter of simple fact, these messages have now been barred from:
1) The Salmond Trial
2) The Holyrood Inquiry
3) The Murray Trial

Move along please. Absolutely nothing to see here. Nothing at all. Everything in Scotland is perfectly normal and above board. Ignore Craig Murray, he is a conspiracy theorist.
And if you don’t ignore all this, if you publish anything, we may send you to prison.

—————————————————–

 
 
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Bitcoin: bc1q3sdm60rshynxtvfnkhhqjn83vk3e3nyw78cjx9
Etherium/ERC-20: 0x764a6054783e86C321Cb8208442477d24834861a

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

My Trial, and Freedom of Speech 155

UPDATE Some journalists, NGOs and observers registering for my trial using details below are being asked for the case number. This is HCA/2020-06/XM.

My trial for Contempt of Court in my reporting of the Alex Salmond trial is on 27 and 28 January at the Court of Appeals in Edinburgh. Contempt of Court charges can be brought by a judge or by the Crown. These are being brought by the Crown – an important point. It is a strange charge. The potential penalties are very serious – up to two years in prison and an “unlimited” fine. Yet it is not a criminal offence nor a criminal trial, and despite the life-changing penalties there is no jury; but the judges do have to rule on the facts to the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt.

I am being charged with contempt of court on three separate counts:

a) Publication of material likely to influence the jury

b) Jigsaw Identification of Protected Identities

c) Reporting the Exclusion of a Juror

These are some of the key issues involved:

a) Publication of Material Likely to Influence the Jury

  1. My defence team believe this is the first modern prosecution in Scotland (or England) for a publication allegedly influencing a jury in favour of the defendant. All previous prosecutions for at least 150 years appear to be for prejudice against a defendant. It has always been assumed the Crown and the judge are big enough to counter any prejudice against the Crown (If anyone wishes to research the unprecedented prosecution point further that would be welcome; it is of course difficult to prove a negative)
  2. The Lord Advocate cannot order censorship. The Crown has not had the power of censorship in Scotland for 300 years. I am not obliged to obey an instruction from the Crown Office to remove an article. If the Lord Advocate genuinely believed an article could influence a trial, he had a public duty to go to a judge before the trial, in a timely manner, and ask the judge to order the removal of the article. I would have contested, but obeyed if I lost – only a judge can order the removal of an article.
  3. It is ludicrous to claim my little blog influenced the jury, compared to the massive outpouring of mainstream media articles amplifying salacious allegations against Salmond released by the Crown Office.
  4. Political satire is protected speech
  5. My articles were well founded journalism indicating the Salmond prosecution was a conspiracy involving senior members of the Scottish Government and SNP, with the active corrupt collusion of the prosecutorial  authorities. This is true and evidenced in documents held by the Crown but kept from the Salmond trial, kept from the Holyrood Inquiry and so far kept from my trial. Publication of this true information was of crucial public interest and protected by my Article 10 rights to freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights.

b) Jigsaw Identification

  1. I did not jigsaw identify anyone.
  2. The Lord Advocate argues that I am responsible for tweets in reply to my own tweets. We argue this is not true – I am not the publisher of twitter – and would set a very dangerous precedent.
  3. The Crown is specifically arguing that the bar for jigsaw identification is that any one single individual with specialist knowledge would be likely to identify a witness from my writing; this could be, for example, an individual who worked in the same office, or the doorman at Bute House who knew who was there on which day. My defence is that jigsaw identification means likely to identify to the public. If the Crown’s definition were accepted, there would be a massive chilling effect on journalism.
  4. The mainstream media demonstrably gave more jigsaw identification information than I did, notably, but not only, Dani Garavelli and Kirsty Wark. I have been singled out for prosecution on political grounds.
  5. The court order protecting identities did not come into being before 10 March 2020. Most of the Crown’s alleged examples are before this date. We absolutely deny my articles enable jigsaw identification, but even if they did they were not illegal at the time of publication.
  6. Up until 10 March 2020, had I wished to publish identities I could have done so quite legally in the articles before that date which the Lord Advocate cites. Unlike England, there is no law in Scotland barring publication of witness identity absent a specific court order. The fact I did not do so in the year between my learning identities and the ban coming into force, in several articles on the case where I could legally have published the identities, make nonsense the Lord Advocate’s contention that I deliberately gave clues.
  7. After Alex Salmond’s acquittal the false accusers continued to take advantage of the court anonymity order to decry and undermine the jury’s verdict and malign Alex Salmond. Given the high positions of influence the women hold, I decided to challenge in court whether there was not a public interest in stopping this behaviour, in this unique case greater than the important general public interest in protecting identities. I did not take it upon myself to determine this, but commissioned and paid for a senior advocate to prepare a case for the judge to decide.  I received the draft application from my senior counsel but the application was postponed by Covid. I would not have taken this expensive and responsible legal route if I was leaking the identities illegally as alleged.

c) Juror Exclusion

  1. All I published was that a juror had been excluded but I was not allowed to say why. We argue this does not breach the court order preventing disclosure of the proceedings where the exclusion was discussed and ordered. The simple fact of the exclusion was not secret.  (Though it is a very interesting story indeed which I shall tell you once I can).

AN APPEAL FOR HELP

I hope that brief account gives some idea of the legal arguments involved. But everybody whose head is not buttoned up the back knows this is not really what the case is about. This is about the ability of those in power in Scotland to use the law to persecute their political opponents. They tried it on Alex Salmond, they tried it on Mark Hirst – both blowing up in their faces – and now they are trying it on me.

If there were a jury, I would not lose one moment’s sleep. But there is not. I am buoyed by the fact that what the Alex Salmond and Mark Hirst trials show is that while both Police Scotland and the Crown Office may stink of rotten corruption at the top, Scotland’s judiciary is still independent. It is worth noting that the simply astonishing admission of the Lord Advocate and Crown Office to malicious prosecution recently in the Rangers case is going to cost the taxpayer almost £50 million, once all costs are in and awards paid out. The police and legal costs for the Alex Salmond case total some £10 million wasted.

I call on journalists worldwide who support freedom of speech to pay attention and to cover this trial. The case is HMA vs Craig John Murray in the Court of Appeals, 27 January. The emails for registration are [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] – please copy to all three. I also ask you to press specifically for video access, not the dreadful quality sound only phone-in.

I also call on NGO’s, political associations, community bodies and elected representatives worldwide to apply to register for observer status using the same email details.

Once registered, journalists and observers should ask the court for copies of the court documents. I am severely constrained in giving out documents at present.

Members of the public will be able to register to listen live. I am afraid this will very probably be the same poor quality sound only link down the telephone. It also involves giving the court some registration details, and may incur call charges to a London number. Registration details will be posted here by the court shortly – where you will also find details for Martin Keatings’ vital case on Scotland’s right to hold an independence referendum without Boris Johnson’s permission.

I appeal for as many people as can do so to register and listen in. Your support is vital to me both morally and practically. I can see no reason why registered members of the public should not inquire to the court as to the availability of the documents. Justice is supposed to be seen to be done.

Long term readers of my blog know that for well over a decade we have campaigned against injustice, ill-treatment, imprisonment and detention of many, both the famous and the obscure. I therefore feel little shame in asking everyone now to try and join in the same cause on my own behalf.

—————————————————–

 
 
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Bitcoin: bc1q3sdm60rshynxtvfnkhhqjn83vk3e3nyw78cjx9
Etherium/ERC-20: 0x764a6054783e86C321Cb8208442477d24834861a

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

Only A Corrupt Lord Advocate Stands Between Peter Murrell and Prison 253

Following Robin McAlpine’s excellent article, some responded by asking where is the hard evidence of a conspiracy against Alex Salmond? Well, here is some of it, not public before.

My trial for contempt of court is now fixed for 27 January. This is an extract from my lawyers’ latest submission requesting disclosure of documents which the Crown Office is hiding, both from my trial and from the Holyrood Inquiry:

QUOTE

4. The information in question is:
(a) A series of written communications involving Peter Murrell, Chief Executive Officer
of the SNP, and Sue Ruddick, Chief Operating Officer of the SNP. They discussed
inter alia a pub lunch or similar occasion between Ian McCann, a SNP staff member
working for them, and xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, one of the complainers in the HM Advocate
v Salmond trial. At the lunch, Mr Murrell and Ms Ruddick expected xxxxxxxxx to firm
up her commitment to giving evidence against Alex Salmond, and to discuss
progress on bringing in others to make complaints. They expressed dissatisfaction at
Mr McCann for his performance in achieving these objectives and expressed doubt as
to his commitment to the cause.

(b) A communication from Ms Ruddick to Mr Murrell in which she explained to
Mr Murrell that progress on the case was being delayed by Police Scotland and/or
the COPFS’s saying there was insufficient evidence, and in which communication
she expressed the sentiment that, if the police/Crown would specify the precise
evidence needed, she would get it for them.

(c) Text messages from Mr Murrell to Ms Ruddick stating that it was a good time to
pressure the police, and that the more fronts Alex Salmond had to fight on the better.

(d) Communications from Ms Ruddick about her visits to a number of locations,
including the Glenrothes area, and including in conjunction or discussion with
xxxxxxxxxxxxx. These communications detail their unsuccessful attempts to find
witnesses who would corroborate allegations of inappropriate behaviour against
Alex Salmond. They include a report of a meeting with young people who were
small children at the time of the incident they were seeking to allege, who did not
provide the corroboration sought.

(e) A message from xxxxxxxxxxxx stating that she would not attend a meeting if
xxxxxxxxxxx were also present as she felt pressured to make a complaint rather than
supported.

(f) Messages in the WhatsApp group of SNP Special Advisers, particularly one saying
that they would “destroy” Alex Salmond and one referring to Scotland’s ‘Harvey
Weinstein moment’, employing the #MeToo hashtag.

5. The respondent saw this information before he published the articles and tweets that
are the subject of these proceedings. The respondent considers that the information
in question would materially weaken the Lord Advocate‘s case and materially
strengthen his case because: (i) it materially strengthens the respondent’s case on
Article 10; and (ii) it materially weakens the Lord Advocate’s case, and materially
strengthens the respondent’s case, on the alleged breach of section 11 of the
Contempt of Court Act 1981

END QUOTE

You can see the full application from my lawyers pub2101131230 DISCLOSURE APPLICATION (1) 

To which the Lord Advocate yesterday replied:

QUOTE

4. In respect of the first question, it is understood that the material referred
to in paragraphs 4a – 4f of the disclosure application are private
communications. As such they can have no bearing on the question of
the degree of likelihood of the disclosure of the complainers’ identities
by the publishing of the articles detailed in the Petition and Complaint
and Submissions for the Petitioner.

5. In respect of the second question, the Respondent asserts in his answers
and submissions that a finding of contempt would be contrary to his
Article 10 rights. The material is not relevant to the court’s consideration
of the Respondent’s Article 10 rights. Further, the disclosure of the
material may constitute a breach of the Article 8 rights of the parties to
those private communications.
Advocate

END QUOTE

You can see the Lord Advocate’s reply in full here 20210114 Answers to Disclosure Request (3). Note the Lord Advocate acknowledges the existence of these messages (which the Crown Office holds) but argues they are private, and irrelevant.

On the face of it, these messages are evidence of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. They refer to pressuring the police, to pressuring a witness, to highly improper encouragement of “evidence”. To reveal them would breach Peter Murrell and Sue Ruddick’s right to private communication? If, dear reader, you ever feel the urge to conspire to commit a crime, be sure to do it by text message, then the Lord Advocate will ensure that it is all kept nice and secret.

It is important to state that the woman in para (a) to whom Ian McCann was sent to screw her courage to the sticking point, was Woman H. She was vital as her allegation was the most serious of all. She was the most active perjurer in the Salmond trial, the woman who was not even present on the occasion she claimed to have been the victim of attempted rape. This is my report of the defence evidence about Ms H at the time, not reported in any detail anywhere else but on this blog:

The first witness today was Ms Samantha Barber, a company director. She had known Alex Salmond since 1994 when she was working for the SNP as a research assistant for the Euro elections. She had thereafter been employed by the European Parliament, and in 2007 become the Chief Executive of Scottish Business in the Community, a post she still held in 2014. She is now a director of several companies.

In the seven years Alex Salmond was First Minister she had several times been a guest at Bute House for dinner. She had a positive and respectful relationship with Alex Salmond but they were not personal friends outside of business.

She had been a personal friend of Ms H, the accuser who alleged attempted rape, for some years by 2014. They remain friends. She had been invited to the evening reception of Ms H’s wedding. She testified she is also a friend of Ms H’s current husband.

Ms H had telephoned her to invite her to the dinner at Bute house with the (not to be named) actor on 13 June 2014. Ms H in inviting her had stated she (Ms H) was not able to be there. In fact Ms H had indeed not been at the dinner. Ms Barber had arrived that evening at around 7pm. She had been shown up to the drawing room. The actor was already there and they had chatted together, just the two of them, until about 7.15pm when Alex Salmond had joined them. The three of them had dinner together. It was friendly and conivivial. At first the actor’s career had been discussed and then Scottish independence. Nobody else was there. Asked if any private secretaries had been in and out during dinner, Ms Barber replied not to her recollection. Nobody interrupted them

One bottle of wine was served during dinner. She had left after dinner around 9 and the actor had stayed on as Alex Salmond offered to show him around the Cabinet Room.

Defence Counsel Shelagh McCall QC asked her if Ms H had been there? No. Did you see her at any point during the evening? No.

[Ms H had claimed she was at this dinner and the attempted rape occurred afterwards. Alex Salmond had testified Ms H was not there at all. A video police interview with the actor had tended to support the idea Ms H, or another similar woman, was there and they were four at dinner.]

Prosecution counsel Alex Prentice then cross-examined Ms Barber. He asked whether she had received a message from the police on 29 January. She replied yes she had, and called them back on 3 February. Prentice asked whether they had then told her they wanted a statement, and whether she had replied she needed to take advice first. Ms Barber agreed.

Prentice asked why she would need legal advice to give a statement to police. Ms Barber replied she had never been involved in any judicial matter and wanted to understand the process she was getting into before she did anything. She had not said she wanted legal advice first, just advice.

Prentice asked again “why would you need legal advice before talking to the police”? Ms Barber again replied she wanted to understand the process she was getting into.

Prentice asked again, twice more, “why would you need legal advice before talking to the police?”. He got the same answer each time. You will recognise from yesterday’s report of his cross-examination of Alex Salmond, that it is a rhetorical trick of Prentice, to constantly repeat the same question in order to throw an unreasoned suspicion on the veracity of the answer. On this occasion he was stopped by the judge, who had enough.

Lady Dorrian pointedly asked him “Is a citizen not entitled to take advice, Mr Prentice?”, in a Maggie Smith tone of contempt.

Prentice then asked whether Ms Barber had already been at another Bute House dinner in May. Ms Barber replied not that she could recall. Prentice then asserted that the dinner on 13 June was with the actor, Ms H, and Alex Salmond. Ms Barber replied no, she genuinely had no recollection at all of Ms H being there.

The defence counsel Shelagh McCall QC then resumed questions. She asked if the police had put to Ms Barber that Ms H was there. Ms Barber replied that they had, and she had told them exactly what she had told the defence and now told the court, that Ms H had not been there.

The next witness was Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who swore on the Koran. She had joined the SNP in 2000 and been appointed national Women and Equalities Convenor in 2011. From 2015 to 2017 she was MP for the Ochil Hills.

Shelagh McCall QC asked if she knew Ms H. She replied for some years, and more frequently from 2012. Ms H had been involved in the Yes campaign. They had a good relationship, and in 2014 Ms H had asked her advice on standing for the SNP national executive committee.

McCall asked her if she remembered the date of the 13 June 2014 dinner. Tasmina responded yes, that was the day her father had died. She had received a message he was taken very ill that morning and had set off for London. At Carlisle they learnt he had died. (At this point the witness broke into tears.)

Before leaving Scotland with her husband she had messaged the First Minister’s office to say she would not be able to attend the Scottish women’s international football match the next day. (The point of this evidence is it contradicts Ms H’s evidence of her interaction with Ms Ahmed-Sheikh over the football.)

 

Given the nonsense that was Woman H’s allegation, given the context of a new policy for complaints against ex-ministers which has been shown beyond doubt to be designed from the origin to trap one single man, given the frantic attempts to boost, invent or shore up complaints, given that the complainers were all from a tight coterie at the heart of Scottish government, given that the complaints fell apart when exposed to examination in court, I have no doubt that what we have here amounts to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

In addition to which, Peter Murrell very plainly committed perjury when appearing on oath before the parliamentary inquiry into this matter, when he denied the existence of the hoard of text messages detailed above which are the subject of my latest disclosure application. Here is the evidence of his committing, firstly desperate obfuscation, then perjury.

But this is a straight lie. There is a lot more material. There is precisely the material detailed above that I have requested disclosure of for my court case and which the Crown Office refused to release as they are “private messages”. As you can see, it is precisely what Ms Baillie was asking for. The Crown Office has withheld this material from the Holyrood Inquiry. The Crown Office have also written to Alex Salmond – three times – to tell him that he will be prosecuted if he releases this material to the committee or provides any detail of its content.

There can be no doubt whatever that the Lord Advocate is now corruptly protecting Peter Murrell from a charge of perjury by keeping this material secret. I am aware that the Crown Office has received a letter from lawyers pointing out this perjury, and in response the Crown Office have tendentiously focused purely on one single question.

The Crown Office has rejoined that all of the undisclosed text messages in the series to which Jackie Baillie was referring are purely between Sue Ruddick and Peter Murrell. No other party official was involved, so Peter Murrell was not lying in this answer, which was specifically to a question of whether there were messages to any other party official.

But taking the totality of the exchanges, it is crystal clear that Baillie was not referring solely to texts to officials other than to Sue Ruddick. This is plain throughout but crystal clear here:

That is plainly a straight lie by Murrell. There is a great deal more material, as detailed in my application above and admitted by the Crown Office in their reply that these are “private messages”. It is plainly perjury by Murrell to say there is nothing else.

The Crown Office is lying to protect Murrell from perjury charges, and it has lied to protect Murrell before. The  only two texts from the voluminous Murrell/Ruddick exchanges that have been leaked and have been published, to which Jackie Baillie refers, read as follows. They are from Murrell, instructing his junior Ruddick:

“TBH the more fronts he is having to firefront on the better for all complainers. So CPS action would be a good thing.”

“Totally agree folk should be asking the police questions. Report now with the PF on charges which leaves the police twiddling their thumbs. So good time to be pressuring them. Would be good to know Met looking at events in London.”

Yet in correspondence with Kenny Macaskill MP, Lindsey Miller of the Crown Office – who were sitting on these messages – denied the existence of these specific messages before they were leaked. This is an extract from a letter to Macaskill from Ms Miller, deputy Crown Agent – who remember was in possession of the texts listed immediately above.

 

I defy anybody to state that they honestly believe that Murrell’s message to Ruddick instructing her: “Totally agree folk should be asking the police questions. Report now with the PF on charges which leaves the police twiddling their thumbs. So good time to be pressuring them.” can be characterised as “no evidence” that Murrell put pressure on the police, directly or indirectly. Miller was lying. You might say it is not conclusive evidence – though it is pretty damning. But you cannot say it is no evidence. It is strong, prima facie evidence.

Macaskill having next quoted the precise texts she was hiding to her, this was then Ms Miller’s response:

Yet again, the amount of sophistry involved in protecting Peter Murrell, and the care for his private messages, is in sharp contrast to the gung-ho attitude of the Lord Advocate and the Crown Office to the prosecution of anyone who exposes the conspiracy against Alex Salmond, of which the Crown Office is a part.

My friend and colleague Mark Hirst has been triumphantly acquitted last week on the ridiculous charge of threatening behaviour to which he had been subjected for saying that those who conspired against Alex Salmond would “reap the whirlwind”. The Court found, entirely sensibly, that this was plainly in a political context and there was no case to answer. The Crown Office had instituted an obviously ridiculous charge – found “no case to answer” – out of pure political malice.

Readers of this blog will recall they helped substantially, with £10,000 from my own defence fund having been transferred to Mark.

But Mark’s life has been turned upside down. He lost his employment as a journalist as a result of the charge. His life has been wrecked and he is now having to earn a living working very hard, for a lot less money, in a completely different field from that he is qualified in. I trust he will not mind my saying the whole experience hit him very hard. Remember his home was raided by five officers from the Police Scotland “Alex Salmond team” and all his electronic equipment confiscated, while his name was dragged through the mud on both social and mainstream media.

The same “Alex Salmond team” still exist, are working on my prosecution, and are currently still engaged in a painstaking investigation as to who leaked two of the Murrell messages to Kenny Macaskill. Both the Crown Office and Police Scotland effectively now operate as the private enforcement arm of the Murrells, protecting them from consequences of their wrongdoing and persecuting their perceived political enemies .

That is what Scotland has become.

It is also worth noting that the perceived political enemies are not unionists – in my own case, dozens of MSM journalists who much more plainly committed jigsaw identification than I are not being prosecuted – but Independence “fundamentalists”.

There is much more evidence that the Crown Office is hiding, apart from the Murrell/Ruddick messages and the SNP Special Advisers whatsapp group. The Crown has also refused to release for my trial, or to the Holyrood Inquiry, the following documents:

  • The text exchange between two complainants containing the phrase “I have a plan and means we can be anonymous but have strong repercussions…” referred to in the trial proper proceedings.
  • An e mail from SNP official and defence witness Ann Harvie alleging a “witch hunt” and the emails from Sue Ruddick to which she was replying. This was referred to in the trial proper but this evidence was not admitted before the jury after objection from the Advocate Depute.
  •  Scottish Government documents produced as part of the Judicial Review hearings which support Mr Ronnie Clancy QC assertion of conduct on the part of Scottish Government officials “bordering on encouragement”. This was referred to in open court in the Court of Session proceedings of January 8th 2019. This should include the relevant “One Notes” of the Scottish Government Investigating Officer.
  • Documents relevant to the circumstances in which details of a Scottish Government complaint was leaked to the Daily Record newspaper in August 2018.  The matter of the circumstances in which this information appeared in the public domain was referred to in the evidence of Chief Inspector Lesley Boal in the criminal trial.
  • Documents relevant to the circumstances in which the Scottish Government sources briefed the Sunday Post newspaper in August 2018 that matters were referred to the police on the advice of the Lord Advocate and whether there is documentation demonstrating that such advice was also revealed to complainants by Scottish Government officials or others as a means of persuasion

All of which is still only the tip of the iceberg. The extent to which the Crown Office colludes to keep the Holyrood Inquiry in the dark is truly a disgrace to Scotland.

My own trial starts on 27 January, which is now confirmed. It s going to be “virtual” – nobody will be in a courthouse, not even the judges nor me. I shall be sending out information on how you may follow it live shortly. I plead with you to do so – a political persecution is bad enough, I certainly do not want it to operate in the dark. Put 27 and 28 January in your diary!

—————————————————–

Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Bitcoin: bc1q3sdm60rshynxtvfnkhhqjn83vk3e3nyw78cjx9
Etherium/ERC-20: 0x764a6054783e86C321Cb8208442477d24834861a

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

 

View with comments

My Friend Emma Nelson 220

A joke someone made yesterday reminded me of a friend I had in the FCO, Emma Nelson, who died terribly young about 20 years ago. I wanted to say a few things about her that occurred to me in the context of the Alex Salmond case. In doing so I am conscious that Emma’s family might see this, and I want to be plain that no disrespect is intended at all. Quite the opposite.

Emma worked under me as a clerk, when I was Head of Maritime Section at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She was about fifteen years younger than me and a long way junior in the service. There were several people between me and her in the hierarchy, but I saw a great deal of her every day because, the way the FCO then worked, everything was on paper and she produced all the papers and both filled and emptied my trays, and magically found all kinds of old documents from my vague descriptions of them.

Emma was Scottish, very good looking, found many of the absurd pretensions of the FCO funny, and mocked my forgetfulness and untidiness relentlessly. We got on well. In the run up to the first Gulf war, we were both seconded to the Embargo Surveillance Centre, where I headed the FCO section of a joint department (MOD, FCO, GCHQ, DIS, MI6, DTp, Royal Navy), set up in a NBC bunker in Marsham Street that had originally been Bomber Command in the Second World War and was known as “the Citadel”. It had been re-equipped as a logistics HQ for NATO in WW3. Lots of the old WW2 maps etc were still on the walls in odd places. The Citadel is a warren; there were tunnels connecting underground to Whitehall departments. It was a 24/7 operation. I led on intelligence analysis and action with foreign governments. We slept there. At one stage I did not leave the bunker at all, not for a moment, for 4 weeks. It all went on for several months.

Working in that pressured environment, you get closer to people and social barriers drop. We did very, very occasionally get a break, and one evening I went on a pub crawl with several staff which ended with Emma and I, arms round each other’s waist, high kicking our way around Central London while belting out hits from Cabaret. Not at all sober, we got back to the bunker and slept in the same little cell on separate camp beds.

It was not a romantic relationship. We never kissed. It was certainly not sexual. On a further occasion, when we were out for lunch with another young woman who worked with us, she asked Emma direct if we were linked. “Naw”, replied Emma, “Craig’s a’ mooth and nae troosers”. Working in the FCO, where everyone gets reposted every two or three years, you get inured to fleeting friendships and after one of us was posted out we were very seldom in touch. It came as a shock to me when, a very few years later, I got a letter from Emma who was, from memory, posted in South America, saying she was seriously ill. Very shortly thereafter, I received notification she had died.

There has been a major outbreak on social media of people claiming that Alex Salmond’s relationship with female staff was very bad even if not criminal. But the large majority of what was described was far less physical than Emma and I high kicking together to Cabaret (remember, there were allegations of pinging someones hair, putting hands on shoulders over clothes, touching a knee over trousers and putting an arm round someone who was crying).

What worries me is this. By the standards of politically correct behaviour which social media on the Salmond case appears to state ought to be the norm, my relationship with Emma Nelson was wholly inappropriate if not criminal. I was much older than her and very senior. I had a power relationship to her. We therefore ought by these standards never to have had our arms around each other high-kicking, and certainly should not have been getting drunk together. Inappropriate. Inappropriate. Inappropriate.

But does that not merely enforce snobbishness? Is that not simply reinforcing class and social barriers? If I could not interact in that way with Emma because I was senior to her, is that really the world we want? And is it not enforcing a bitter joylessness on life? What kind of world is it going to be if fun interaction is only permitted with people of your same social level – which is what “power relationship” effectively means?

Nobody will ever convince me there was anything wrong in my relationship with Emma. But I can see precisely how the extraordinary prevalence of misandry now would seek to misconstrue and portray it.

—————————————————–

 
 
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Bitcoin: bc1q3sdm60rshynxtvfnkhhqjn83vk3e3nyw78cjx9
Etherium/ERC-20: 0x764a6054783e86C321Cb8208442477d24834861a

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

Both Tortuous and Torturous 431

Magistrate Vanessa Bararitser walked into Westminster Magistrates Court No.1 at 10.12am this morning with the sunniest smile and most carefree disposition I have ever seen her adopt. Her shoulders appeared visibly lifted. She positively beamed at Clair Dobbin, counsel for the US government, as she invited her to put the case for the prosecution as to why Julian Assange should not be released on bail.

Mrs Dobbin has one of those gloomy, presbyterian personalities that only fully comes to life when it has the chance to condemn somebody. There is nothing like a flat Belfast accent for a really rousing condemnation, and this was a collector’s item.

Julian Assange, she stated in tones that made plain she considered that name in itself to be suspicious and unsavoury, had shown he would go to great lengths to avoid extradition to the United States. The judgement against his extradition turned only on one single point – that of his mental health – and that single point might easily be overturned by the High Court.

Assange had helped Edward Snowden to flee justice; he had boasted about it. As detailed in the US Government’s second superceding indictment, he had organised flights for Snowden and arranged a distraction operation to throw the CIA off the scent. When the US authorities had trapped Snowden in Russia by canceling his passport, Assange had tried to arrange not just private jets but even Presidential jets to help Snowden escape further. Such was Assange’s reach and ability.

Furthermore, the President of Mexico had made a public offer of asylum, giving Assange a firm motive to escape. Many countries would wish to support him and he might again enter a foreign Embassy. He had hidden for seven years in the Ecuadorean Embassy to avoid extradition to the USA. He had broken his bail commitments in 2012: “any idea that moral or principled reasons would bear on Mr Assange’s conscience turned out to be ill-founded indeed”.

The British government had been obliged to spend £16 million on the surveillance of Mr Assange while he was in the Ecuadorean Embassy. Those who had stood surety for him had failed in their duty to ensure that he presented himself in court in 2012. Tracy Worcester, who was among those offering surety now and had offered accommodation for the Assange family, had failed in her duty in 2012.

Furthermore Julian Assange had obtained diplomatic status from Ecuador, a further example of his seeking means to avoid extradition.

Dobbin then stated the US Government was appealing against the judgement not to extradite, and said it would do so on the grounds that Baraitser had made an error in law in incorrectly applying the relevant test on conditions that would bar extradition. In effect, Baraitser had set a new test of whether measures would be in place to make suicide impossible, whereas the correct test was whether measures would be in place to mitigate against the risk of suicide, and on that proper test the evidence was that the US system was sufficiently robust.

The test required a rigorous assessment of the facilities for treatment and prison conditions in the USA. This assessment had not taken place.

Dobbin went on to say that Baraitser had misinterpreted the law as to whether the cause of the immediate suicidal impulse was current circumstance or an underlying medical condition. She then argued that Assange’s young family ought not to be a factor, because they had been born while Assange was in the Embassy, and therefore in full knowledge that his future was entirely uncertain. Taken together, Dobbin concluded, these arguments posed an insurmountable obstacle to the granting of bail.

Edward Fitzgerald then replied that Baraitser’s judgement against extradition changes everything. Since October 2019, when the prison sentence for bail-jumping concluded, Assange had been held in Belmarsh prison solely on the basis of this extradition request. Now the request had been refused, he must be entitled to his liberty pending any appeal, as specified in the discharge order of Monday’s judgement. The status quo now was that the extradition request has been refused. Therefore the grounds for detention were gone, and further detention would be oppressive.

The court had accepted that incarceration was deleterious to Assange’s mental health, and he needed the support of his family. Conditions in the prison were made much worse by further lockdown due to Covid-19. Assange had not received a family prison visit since March 2020.

There followed a strange interlude where Fitzgerald stated that there was a major Covid epidemic in Belmarsh and 59 prisoners had tested positive in December. Dobbin rose to deny this and said there had been only 3 positive tests for Covid in Belmarsh, brandishing an email sent by the prison authorities at 10.49pm the previous night. There was heated discussion as to the veracity of this figure.

Fitzgerald next stated that the supervising prosecutor in the USA in this case had put on record his doubts that the incoming Biden administration would wish to continue this prosecution. He also pointed out that the Mexican offer of asylum was specifically for after the conclusion of legal proceedings and after discussion with the UK at foreign minister level. It was not an invitation to abscond.

Assange had no reason to abscond. There was little or no precedent for the High Court overturning any ruling against extradition on Section 91 health grounds. The defence strongly refuted the US government’s claim that the relevant tests had not been properly considered and applied by the court. Numerous expert witnesses had been heard. The Lauri Love case was the most relevant precedent. Stringent monitoring and bail conditions could be applied, but with the presumption now against extradition, Julian Assange should be returned to life with his family pending any US appeal, to give him a chance to recover his health.

Baraitser then immediately gave her decision. She stated that Assange had been a fugitive from British justice since 29 June 2012 when he failed to report to court as ordered. His entire motive for his residence in the Ecuadorean Embassy had been avoidance of a US extradition request. Assange therefore still had a motive to abscond. He had the backing of a powerful international network of supporters who could facilitate his escape.

The US government had the right to appeal and the High Court had the right to determine the matters at issue. It was therefore essential to ensure that Assange appeared before the High Court.

Assange had been deeply involved in the organisation of Edward Snowden’s escape which further underlined his contempt for the law. His health problems could be managed well in Belmarsh. Baraitser specifically accepted the figure of 3 COVID cases in Belmarsh given officially by the prison authorities. In conclusion, bail was refused.

COMMENT

All of Julian’s team were optimistic before this hearing and it seems perverse that, a judgement against extradition having been made, Julian should continue to be held in high security prison pending the US government appeal. He has already been in jail for over 14 months just in the extradition matter, after the expiry of his unprecedentedly harsh sentence for bail-jumping.

In effect, having already served that sentence, Julian is now being punished again for the same offence, spending years in extreme prison conditions purely because he once jumped bail, for which he already served the full sentence.

The logic of holding Julian now is simply not there, given the current legal position is that he is not being extradited. Furthermore this continuing raising and lowering of his spirits, and never-ending incarceration with no fixed limit, is destroying his fragile health. Baraitser has played cat and mouse this week. Julian is living his life in conditions both torturous and tortuous.

It is ironic to hear Baraitser declare in condemnatory tones, without equivocation, that Julian only entered the Embassy to escape extradition to the USA. This is of course perfectly true. But I remember the many years when the Establishment line, from the government and repeated in several hundred Guardian columns, was that this truth was a fiction. They claimed there was never any intention to extradite to the USA, and actually he was avoiding extradition to Sweden, on allegations that never had any basis and which disappeared like mist when the time actually came. I suppose we should be grateful for at least this much truth in proceedings.

Today’s judgement makes plain that whatever is happening with Monday’s judgement, it is not genuinely motivated by concern for Julian’s health. Yanis Varoufakis yesterday stated that the ultimate aim is still to kill Julian through the penal system. Nothing that happened today would contradict him.

The extraordinary figure of only 3 Covid infections in Belmarsh is very hard to believe and contradicts all previous information. Plainly Covid is less of a risk than anywhere else in London, and perhaps we should all break in to improve our isolation and safety. The only explanation that occurs to me is that the vast majority of prisoners are denied access to testing and are therefore not confirmed cases. or that the prson has chosen to give testing results for a single day and chosen to misrepresent the meaning of the statistic. In fact the point is not central to the bail application, but as a possible example of yet further malfeasance by the Belmarsh medical team, it is particularly intriguing.

The decision not to grant bail can be appealed to the High Court. I expect that will happen (there has been no chance yet to consult Julian’s wishes), and happen in about a fortnight.

—————————————————–

 
 
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Bitcoin: bc1q3sdm60rshynxtvfnkhhqjn83vk3e3nyw78cjx9
Etherium/ERC-20: 0x764a6054783e86C321Cb8208442477d24834861a

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

The Assange Verdict: What Happens Now 184

I fully expect that Julian will be released on bail this week, pending a possible US appeal against the blocking of his extradition.

There was discussion of when and how to make the bail application on Monday, after magistrate Vanessa Baraitser announced her decision not to grant extradition as it would be oppressive on health and welfare grounds. Lead Defence QC Edward Fitzgerald was prepared to make an immediate application for release on bail, but was strongly steered by Baraitser towards waiting a couple of days until he could have the full bail application ready in good order with all the supporting documentation.

I had the strong impression that Baraitser was minded to grant bail and wanted the decision to be fireproof. I have spoken to two others who were in court who formed the same impression. Indeed, in the past, she has more than once indicated that she will reject a bail application before one has been made. I can think of no reason why she would steer Fitzgerald so strongly to delay the application if there were not a very strong chance she would grant it. She gave him the advice and then adjourned the court for 45 minutes so Fitzgerald and Gareth Peirce could discuss it with Julian, and on return they took her advice. If she were simply going to refuse the bail application, there was no reason for her not to get it over with quickly there and then.

Fitzgerald briefly made the point that Assange now had very little incentive to abscond, as there had never been a successful appeal against a refusal to extradite on medical grounds. Indeed it is very difficult to see how an appeal can be successful. The magistrate is the sole determinant of fact in the case. She has heard the evidence, and her view of the facts of Assange’s medical condition and the facts of conditions in American supermax prisons cannot be overturned. Nor can any new evidence be introduced. The appeal has rather to find that, given the facts, Baraitser made an error in law, and it is difficult to see the argument.

I am not sure that at this stage the High Court would accept a new guarantee from the USA that Assange would not be kept in isolation or in a Supermax prison; that would be contrary to the affidavit from Assistant Secretary of State Kromberg and thus would probably be ruled to amount to new evidence. Not to mention that Baraitser heard other evidence that such assurances had been received in the case of Abu Hamza, but had been broken. Hamza is not only kept in total isolation, but as a man with no hands he is deprived of prosthetics that would enable him to brush his teeth, and he has no means of cutting his nails nor assistance to do so, and cannot effectively wipe himself in the toilet.

Not only is it hard to see the point of law on which the USA could launch an appeal, it is far from plain that they have a motive to do so. Baraitser agreed with all the substantive points of argument put forward by the US government. She stated that there was no bar on extradition from the UK for political offences; she agreed that publication of national security material did constitute an offence in the USA under the Espionage Act and would do so in the UK under the Official Secrets Act, with no public interest defence in either jurisdiction; she agreed that encouraging a source to leak classified information is a crime; she agreed Wikileaks’ publications had put lives at risk.

On all of these points she dismissed virtually without comment all the defence arguments and evidence. As a US Justice Department spokesman said yesterday:
“While we are extremely disappointed in the court’s ultimate decision, we are gratified that the United States prevailed on every point of law raised. In particular, the court rejected all of Mr Assange’s arguments regarding political motivation, political offence, fair trial, and freedom of speech. We will continue to seek Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States.” That is a fair categorisation of what happened.

Appealing a verdict that is such a good result for the United States does not necessarily make sense for the Justice Department. Edward Fitzgerald explained to me yesterday that, if the USA appeals the decision on the health and prison condition grounds, it becomes open to the defence to counter-appeal on all the other grounds, which would be very desirable indeed given the stark implications of Baraitser’s ruling for media freedom. I have always believed that Baraitser would rule as she did on the substantial points, but I have always also believed that those extreme security state arguments would never survive the scrutiny of better judges in a higher court. Unlike the health ruling, the dispute over Baraitser’s judgement on all the other points does come down to classic errors in law which can successfully be argued on appeal.

If the USA does appeal the judgement, it is far more likely that not only will the health grounds be upheld, but also that Baraitser’s positions on extradition for political offences and freedom of the media will be overturned, than it is likely that the US will achieve extradition. They have fourteen days in which to lodge the appeal – now thirteen.

An appeal result is in short likely to be humiliating for the USA. It would be much wiser for the US to let sleeping dogs lie. But pride and the wound to the US sense of omnipotence and exceptionalism may drive them to an appeal which, for the reasons given above, I would actually welcome provided Julian is out on bail. Which I expect he shall be shortly.

More analysis of Baraitser’s judgement will follow.

—————————————————–

 
 
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Bitcoin: bc1q3sdm60rshynxtvfnkhhqjn83vk3e3nyw78cjx9
Etherium/ERC-20: 0x764a6054783e86C321Cb8208442477d24834861a

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments

Julian Assange: Imminent Freedom 121

It has been a long and tiring day, with the startlingly unexpected decision to block Julian’s extradition. The judgement is in fact very concerning, in that it accepted all of the prosecution’s case on the right of the US Government to prosecute publishers worldwide of US official secrets under the Espionage Act. The judge also stated specifically that the UK Extradition Act of 2003 deliberately permits extradition for political offences. These points need to be addressed. But for now we are all delighted at the ultimate decision that extradition should be blocked.

The decision was based equally on two points; the appalling conditions in US supermax prisons, and the effect of those conditions on Julian specifically given his history of depression. The media has concentrated on the mental health aspect, and given insufficient attention to the explicit condemnation of the inhumanity of the US prison system.

I was the only person physically present in the public gallery inside the court, having been nominated by John Shiption to represent the family, aside from two court officials. I am quite sure that I again noted magistrate Baraitser have a catch in her throat when discussing the inhumane conditions in US supermax prisons, the lack of human contact, and specifically the fact that inmates are kept in total isolation in a small cage, and are permitted one hour exercise a day in total isolation in another small cage. I noted her show emotion the same way when discussing the al-Masri torture evidence during the trial, and she seemed similarly affected here.

Julian looked well and alert; he showed no emotion at the judgement, but entered into earnest discussion with his lawyers. The US government indicated they will probably appeal the verdict, and a bail hearing has been deferred until Wednesday to decide whether he will be released from Belmarsh pending the appeal – which court sources tell me is likely to be held in April in the High Court. I should be very surprised if Julian is not released on Wednesday pending the appeal. I shall now be staying here for that bail hearing.

I apologise for not giving a full analysis of the judgement yet, it has all been rather hectic, but wonderful. Here is a brief video giving more detail. I can produce a more considered piece tomorrow.

—————————————————–

 
 
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]

Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Bitcoin: bc1q3sdm60rshynxtvfnkhhqjn83vk3e3nyw78cjx9
Etherium/ERC-20: 0x764a6054783e86C321Cb8208442477d24834861a

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

View with comments