Monthly Archives: March 2021


Barnard Castle Revisited

I was pretty diffident a year ago in suggesting corrupt backhanders as a potential motive for Dominic Cummings to visit GSK in Barnard Castle, because part of me resisted the idea that even the Tories would seek to make personal profit from a pandemic. Since then, of course, we have learnt of the quarter of a billion pounds (yes, £250,000,000) given to family investment firm Ayanda Capital for PPE procurement for which Ayanda was utterly unqualified and unsuited, numerous other examples of closed bids and completely inappropriate awards. The UK seems not just to have returned to 18th century levels of corruption, but to 18th century lack of shame about it in the governing class.

I suppose at least yesterday’s announcement by Boris Johnson that 60 million vaccine doses will be “finished” by GSK at Barnard Castle dispenses with the argument that was thrown at me by literally hundreds of trolls that the Barnard Castle facility is only some kind of large garden shed and therefore could not have been involved.

We now know about Tory corruption in Covid procurement, which I could only surmise a year ago – and let me further commend to you last night’s Panorama on the barely functional private £27 billion (yes £27,000,000,000) test and trace system under Tory serial profiteer Dido Harding. But it does, of course, take two sides to make a corrupt deal. Surely a big company like GSK would not be involved in backhanders?

Well, GSK were fined US $3 billion in 2012 by US regulators for fraud – yes fraud, overcharging and making false claims about medicines. In 2016 UK regulators fined GSK £37.6 million for paying bribes to generics manufacturers not to produce cheap drugs for the NHS. Let me say that again – for paying bribes to generics manufacturers not to produce cheap drugs for the NHS. Defrauding the NHS. That is the moral level we are looking at here.

So to say that GSK are not averse to paying a bung is to put it very mildly. And to say the Tories are not averse to personal profiteering from Covid procurement is to put it very mildly. It seems like a match made in heaven. Now I do not claim this is what happened, and I have never claimed this is what happened. It is a hypothesis. But it seems a not unreasonable hypothesis. Particularly compared to Cummings’ official explanation for visiting Barnard Castle.

I came under massive troll attack for the suggestion last year. It was claimed that GSK Barnard Castle is not physically capable of involvement in vaccine production. That is now shown to be untrue. It was also suggested that such a deal would have been struck in the main boardroom in London. I think that is to fail to distinguish between the apparent deal and the backhander. The latter are very seldom arranged in main boardrooms.

Anyway do read my article from last year. With the extra knowledge we have now, it has matured pretty well given the amount of derision it received from members of our professionally uncurious and unquestioning mainstream media.

I should also mention that I received a whistleblower tip-off that Cummings had also visited the Honeyman Group while in Barnard Castle. I tried contacting them both by phone and by email and never received any response from the Honeyman Group, and have no further information to stand this up. If anyone can add anything on this I should be most interested to hear from you.

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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.

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Torturing the Scapegoat

I frequently find myself differing with readers who find it hard to understand that I can have personal friendships with people with politics very contrary to my own. I do not believe having a different opinion to me makes you a bad person. But there are times when I look at political opponents and consider that they can only be motivated by malice. I honestly believe you have to be a psychopath to wish to inflict the kind of calculated cruelty on hapless individuals who have already suffered much, that was presaged in Priti Patel’s new proposals for dealing with asylum seekers.

Not only is it extremely hard, and often dangerous, for many refugees to get in to the UK at all, it is very difficult indeed for them to have their refugee status accepted once they are here. I have personally both represented asylum seekers before immigration tribunals and given evidence on their behalf. I have seen the outright lies told by the Home Office representatives. In Uzbek cases I was astonished to hear the Home Office’s lawyers putting forward straight denial of political persecution in that country, based on official statements of the Uzbek government. I have seen the same in the case of a Bahraini shia family. I have seen the Home Office assert that gay people would not be in danger if returned, provided they refrained from all sexual activity or expressions of gay identity. I have seen the Home Office suggest that deep scars and burns were self-inflicted to claim torture.

In the event that the poor refugee overcomes this barrage of malignancy and is eventually granted asylum, Patel is now proposing new schemes to extend their misery. The right to re-unite their family will be restricted further; extraordinarily, all grants of asylum will be temporary, liable to revocation and deportation at a moment’s notice. In this way, the asylum seeker will never put down roots, never make a new home here, never become British, never have a family life. Patel is also planning restrictions on the right to work even after being granted asylum and on the right to benefits, potentially making life impossible even for fully genuine refuees.

All of which is utterly contrary to the provisions, letter and spirit of the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees and its Protocol of 1966, confirmed by the UN General Assembly. The above constitutes a direct negation of Articles 17 to 24 inclusive, and that is merely a start.

I do not claim the government’s position is utterly without foundation. Patel founds her views on the notion that these refugees have entered the UK illegally. But the Convention specifically precludes discrimination on that basis :

Article 31
Refugees Unlawfully in the Country of Refuge

1. The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their
illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory
where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or
are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present
themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their
illegal entry or presence.

Patel, as did Theresa May, argues that refugees do not qualify for the protection of this article as they did not come here “directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened”. That claim however is not as simple as it seems. What does it mean, in this circumstance, to come “directly”. It does not say that it means to come only from an adjacent territory. A single journey may pass through several points. I once drove directly with my brother from London to Warsaw. We slept overnight near Amsterdam and Poznan, but it was still a direct journey. I have seen ministers assert that asylum seekers are obliged to lodge their application at the first place it is safe to do so. But that is not what the Convention on Refugees says. Nor is there any other basis in international law for that assertion.

In any event, the longstanding principle of refoulement is not affected. It predates the Convention but is well captured in it:

Article 33
Prohibition of Expulsion or Return (“refoulement”)

1. No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any
manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom
would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership
of a particular social group or political opinion.
2. The benefit of the present provision may not, however, be claimed by
a refugee whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to
the security of the country in which he is, or who, having been convicted by
a final judgment of a particularly serious crime, constitutes a danger to the
community of that country.

The end goal of the treatment of refugees is expressed in Article 34. They should be welcomed in to the nation and the community. By contrast, the Tories are embarked on a vicious othering. The political attack on a small and vulnerable group of people, to appeal to the racist vote, simply appals me.

Article 34
Naturalization

The Contracting States shall as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and
naturalization of refugees. They shall in particular make every effort to expedite
naturalization proceedings and to reduce as far as possible the charges
and costs of such proceedings

Patel even plans to bring back the terrible fast track system, which was declared illegal by the courts. Nadira’s first film, the short Locked In, is a drama based on the true stories of several people subject to the fast track system, including at least one instance where a life was undoubtedly saved by a campaign by this blog’s readers, assisted by Jeremy Corbyn. Subscribers to Amazon Prime can watch for free; I am afraid there is a small charge otherwise. You can find the film here.

We have seen the UK government openly refuse in principle to accept the rule of international law in regard to the Northern Ireland Protocol with the EU, in defying the International Court of Justice and the UN General Assembly over the Chagos Islands, and in paying debt owed to Iran. In the Julian Assange trial, the UK government’s position is openly that the UK/US Extradition Treaty, which specifically excludes political extradition, is not compatible with UK law, even though the UK government signed and ratified the treaty. The UK government claimed on the contrary – and judge Baraitser accepted in her judgement – that the UK law specifically intends to allow political extradition, completely in contrast to the Treaty signed four years later.

We now have the remarkable position where the Tories are claiming it is ultra vires for the Scottish parliament to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, into Scots law, even though the UK has ratified it. That can only make sense if the UK government is arguing that it has no intention of making UK law compatible with this Convention it has signed.

The UK appears more and more shamelessly to proclaim itself as a rogue state. In a sense its position is worse than that of USA exceptionalism. The USA is frequently prepared to defy the international community in refusing to sign up to widely received international treaties – on climate change or the International Criminal Court for example. The UK has a less honest position of signing up to treaties without the slightest intention of abiding by them. The consequences in international relations will accrue, and eventually be dire.

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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.

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What A Week

Firstly I do promise that very shortly I shall get back to blogging about things that are not me. But it has been a wild week. I received intimation I had been found in contempt of court, my blog was taken down, I stood for internal election as an Action for Independence (AFI) candidate for the elections, I received the formal judgement on Contempt, I instructed lawyers to appeal, I was elected top of the list for the Lothians for AFI and my candidature announced with a real chance of being elected to the Scottish parliament, my blog was reinstated, Alex Salmond launched his political comeback with a new political party, Alba, and I along with all AFI candidates stood down from the election. All of that happened in five days.

So where do I begin? Well firstly, the blog is back but you will find that the historic articles which gave details of Alex Salmond’s defence in his acquittal at the High Court of Edinburgh have all been removed by order of the court, as potentially identifying complainants. This is I believe a great shame. This blog was literally the only source that bothered to publish the defence case, and the third party evidence of eye witnesses which showed that several of the accusers were actively lying. It is my genuine belief that, were if not for my blog, there would be no measurable proportion of the population that knows WHY the jury acquitted Alex Salmond, and the Scottish Government narrative, heavily promoted by the mainstream media, that this was some sort of erroneous jury verdict, would be entirely unchallenged in public consciousness. As it is, I was only able to inform an active but important minority about the evidence of defence witnesses. That evidence is now removed from this site.

I was found not in contempt on publishing material likely to influence the jury, and on reporting the exclusion of a juror. The finding against me on jigsaw identification was based on this argument:

It also depended on the notion that identification does not need to be to the public, but can be to a single individual with specialist knowledge, eg a workmate. If this is a true statement of the law, then it is reasonable to argue that I am indeed in contempt as “likely” to identify in that sense. The problem is that a great many other journalists and publishers would also have been in contempt under this very strict construction, and we then have politically motivated selectivity of prosecution. It would also be virtually impossible to ever report defence evidence in a case.

You can read the full judgement here. It is particularly scathing of my affidavits and say that they include “hearsay and gossip”. It is true they do include gossip, but it is clearly identified as gossip. The status of source for all information is clearly identified, and on that I have this point to make.

If as described in my affidavit a first hand source tells me of a meeting they were at, which discussed how to ruin Alex Salmond’s career by adding sufficient charges against him to ensure at least one would stick, that is an eye witness journalistic source. If you can stand up that they really do have access to such meetings, it is very good, direct source, eye witness information for a journalist.

If there were subsequently a trial of Nicola Sturgeon for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, my evidence would be worthless. It would indeed be hearsay. The eye-witness was my informant. I am just a journalist with a source.

But my affidavit was not given in a trial of Nicola Sturgeon. It is given in my own hearing for contempt. The purpose of my affidavits is to explain precisely my state of knowledge at the time of writing various articles, how I came by that knowledge, and what my intentions therefore were in publishing. This is fundamentally misconstrued by the judgement, and in a peculiarly pejorative way.

Anyway, that is for appeal. My sentencing hearing is on 7 May. It is quite possible that any appeal will require to be conducted from prison, which is a little dispiriting. But as my late mother always used to say as disaster rather frequently buffeted our small family: “Oh well, it’s all part of life’s rich pageant”.

To understand the coming and going of Independence fringe parties this last week, you have to understand the D’Hondt system under which Scottish parliamentary elections are conducted.

The Holyrood electoral system has two layers and the voter gets two ballot papers, a constituency ballot and a list ballot. The constituency ballot works on the simple Westminster “first past the post system” with which most readers will be familiar.

The second ballot is for a regional list. The purpose of the regional list is to provide an element of proportionality to the result. On the regional ballot you vote for a party. The votes for that party are downweighted according to how many MPs they elected in the constituencies. So for example in Glasgow, where the SNP won all constituency seats, the SNP votes were so downweighted on the second ballot it was impossible for them to win any of the regional seats.

In Lothians, where I am, at the last election the SNP won a majority of the constituencies and that also provided sufficient downweighting for them to get no regional list seats. By contrast, as the Tories, Greens and Labour win very few or no constituencies, almost all their fairly large blocks of Members of the Scottish Parliament are from the regional list.

In the last Holyrood elections in 2016, in six of the eight Scottish regions, the SNP won so many constituencies that over 850,000 SNP regional list votes were so downweighted, they were entirely wasted and elected nobody at all. With every opinion poll showing the SNP well over 20% ahead of the next party i constituency voting intentions, there is no doubt this massive waste of SNP list votes will repeat this year.

I hope that is clear?

Now the D’Hondt system in Scotland allows for parties that are list only parties. As these will have no constituency wins, none of their regional list votes will be downweighted at all. As there are several party list seats in each region available, allocated according to the proportion of votes cast for each party after after downweighting, a list only party has the advantage that it will in most regions only need in practice 5 to 6 per cent of the vote to start electing MSPs. The attraction of a pro-Independence list party is obvious, in that only a small minority of SNP voters need to divert their otherwise wasted regional list votes to an Indy list party, in order to start increasing the Independence vote in parliament and reducing the number of list MSPs from the unionist parties.

This tactic is however opposed with great vehemence by the SNP, who are nothing if not fiercely self-interested. It is also frankly rather difficult to explain to the average voter, because it is both complex and counter-intuitive. A second ballot paper that penalises parties for success on the first is a strange concept.

Personally I detest D’Hondt. It was forced on Scotland because of Tony Blair’s fears that the much simpler STV proportional system would prove popular and eventually spread to Westminster. STV also gives far more power to the elector, and far less to parties. Under STV you can rank your favourite candidates within a party, rather than have the party list ranking shoved on you, and under STV you can just prioritise the best candidates across party lines. Party managers hate that idea. And you only have to deal with one ballot paper.

Anyway, we have D’Hondt, which party power managers love because it gives the parties power to both choose the constituency candidate and to fix the ranking of their candidates on the party list.

Had I stood in this election, it is not at all improbable that a result like the 5% I obtained as an independent anti-war candidate in 2005 against Jack Straw in Blackburn would have got me elected to Holyrood for AFI. For those who support Scottish Independence, the case for a good list party is unanswerable, and Alex Salmond’s leadership is what is required to push it over the 10% number that would probably equate to a dozen MSPs, rising rapidly thereafter. I should say that I was very much looking forward to the campaign and while I am sure my standing down for Alba is the best thing for Scotland, I won’t pretend I am not a bit down about it on a purely personal level.

I should finish with my own belief that this initiative is essential because I remain firmly of the view that Nicola Sturgeon has no real intention to risk her career and position by a genuine tilt at Scottish Independence. The existence of a represented opposition party to the SNP that really does want to achieve Independence, rather than just exploit the concept for votes and enjoy the gratifications of colonial administration, is absolutely essential to Scotland.

There are still many very good people in the SNP. But their claim that this time, if we elect them to well-paid positions, they will actually do something about a new Independence referendum, is unconvincing. We have heard it again and again. In five years time, we may find they have vanished from their apparently dominant position, as swiftly as Ireland’s Redmondites, and for the same reason.

I was delighted to hear Alex state clearly yesterday that a referendum is one route to Independence, but it is not the only one, and it is the Scottish parliament which reflects the sovereign will of the Scottish people. That has passed unremarked amid the media brouhaha: it may prove a historic moment.

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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.

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Temporary Blog Closure

In view of our understanding that the High Court has found some articles on this blog to be in contempt of court, and in view of the fact that the Crown Office had sought to censor such a large range of articles, this blog has no choice but to go dark from 15.00 today until some time after tomorrow’s court hearing, when it will be specified to us precisely how much of the truth we have to expunge before we can bring the blog back up.

This is a dark day for the entire team here. We will be looking to appeal this to the Supreme Court and if required (though we very much doubt it will be) to the European Court of Human Rights.

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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.

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A Small Story of Scottish Justice

A story you will not have heard unless you read the Oban Times or are one of the 146 people who live on the island of Lismore, gives a profound insight into the abuse of state power in Scotland today.

You may recall that back in April 2020 Dr Catherine Calderwood, the Scottish government’s chief medical advisor, was forced to resign after breaking lockdown regulations on a family visit to St Andrews. One week later, it hit the newspapers that, in conflict with Scottish government advice, another key Scottish government figure in dealing with the epidemic, Prof Mark Woolhouse of the University of Edinburgh, had moved to his holiday home on the island of Lismore. Woolhouse is Professor of Epidemiology and a member of Nicola Sturgeon’s covid-19 advisory committee.

The Daily Record reported that people on Lismore were not happy:

One islander, who didn’t want to be named, said: “It’s just another example of hypocrisy.

“Locals in Lismore are far from happy because coronavirus refugees put the community in danger.

“There’s not even a doctor or nurse on the island.

“Just as Professor Woolhouse came here, various politicians were telling people to stay away from the Highlands and Islands.”

On 22 March Nicola Sturgeon stated:

“Those who do not normally live on the islands and who have traveled there in the last few days will be able to leave to reduce pressure but from now on ferries will be for those who live on our islands, who have an essential need to travel to and from the mainland and for essential supplies or business.”

Other Scottish ministers repeatedly made clear the message that the Highlands were not in a position to cope with any extra strain on health services, so people should not go there to escape the epidemic and if already there, should leave to where they normally lived.

Now Professor Woolhouse had left Edinburgh and taken his family to Lismore a few days before the official advice not to travel to the Highlands. But whether he had official foreknowledge of coming restrictions, or was acting on his own information as an epidemiologist, or it was genuine coincidence as claimed, I do not know. What is true is that Edinburgh University was still operating and teaching when he abandoned Edinburgh for his holiday home. And what is true is that he ignored government advice for non-residents to leave the Islands and return to their permanent homes.

Woolhouse was not pleased with the adverse publicity. He therefore started initiating lawyers to chill any media outlet which criticised his retreat to the island, with some success (though I note the Record report is still there). Four months later he was still on Lismore, and on 31 July 2020 an interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel Four News included this extraordinary passage on live TV:

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: “Is that what you did yourself, a personal risk assessment, because you came in yourself for criticism for moving your family out to a remote Scottish island at the beginning of this pandemic”
Prof Woolhouse: “Krishnan that matter is under some legal dispute and if you want Channel 4 to join the legal case you are very welcome to we came for a one week holiday and got caught by lockdown like many thousands of other people around the country”
Krishnan Guru-Murthy: “And you are still there are you?”
Prof Woolhouse: “We are, as it happens. The community has been extremely welcoming and extremely supportive and we are very grateful to them for that.”
Krishnan Guru-Murthy: “So what is the legal sort of confusion, we are obviously not wishing to join litigation but I am wondering what it is you’re threatening when you say that, I mean what’s the confusion around what you have done.”
Prof Woolhouse: “As I have said, the matter, the reports in the press are under legal review…”
Krishnan Guru-Murthy: “So you didn’t move, you just happened to be caught there, is that what you are saying?”
Prof Woolhouse: “Yes, we just happened to be caught there, like thousands of other people”
Krishnan Guru-Murthy: But why haven’t you gone back, because your job is in Edinburgh”
Prof Woolhouse: “Yes, it turns out like many other people that it is entirely able (sic) to carry out this work remotely, thanks to some very fleet-footed work by my ICT team at the University of Edinburgh, for which I am grateful as well.”
Krishnan Guru-Murthy: So what do you say to those people, I am not putting this allegation to you myself, but you have been accused of hypocrisy haven’t you?”
Prof Woolhouse: “As I say, if you want Channel 4 to get involved in the legal action, you are very welcome to continue this line of questioning.”
Krishanan Guru-Murthy: I am asking you, when people accuse you of hypocrisy, what is your answer to that?”
Prof Woolhouse: “My answer is the matter is legal and I am ending this interview now. Sorry Christian (sic).

One thing we can say for certain is that Prof Woolhouse’s claim that he somehow got stuck or stranded on Lismore is a lie. Firstly, the ferries were kept going and non permanent residents were positively instructed to use them and go home. Secondly, a friend of his daughter had arrived with them for a holiday and managed to go home with no problems, as Oban Sheriff Court was to hear last week (of which more later).

Jeremy Gilchrist enters this story. He is a full time resident on Lismore for many years and, I must declare, a friend of my family. At the start of the pandemic, Jeremy along with other Lismore residents was alarmed at the small wave of outsiders coming to holiday homes on the island from cities and potentially bringing the virus with them. They started a facebook group on the subject, and Jeremy went so far as to make a report to the police of potential breaches of lockdown regulations. The reply from Oban police station was that the lockdown regulations were not, in March 2020, legally enforceable.

[I might make it clear at this stage that I do not really approve of this kind of Covid vigilantism, but can understand it in an island environment and I have no sympathy at all for those who own second homes in the Highlands and Islands, like Prof Woolhouse – or Elizabeth Saxe-Coburg.]

Islanders also started to make clear to the pandemic incomers they were not entirely welcome, simply by politely telling them so. Jeremy, who is 70 years old, on 30 May 2020 waved to Prof Woolhouse’s wife, who then stopped as she passed his home. He asked her “Why are you still here?” She claims that he added she should “go home”, which Jeremy denies saying, though it is not an unfair implication.

Some weeks thereafter, Oban police came to the island to see Jeremy Gilchrist and he thought that finally they were taking seriously the question of people coming to holiday homes on the island in breach of lockdown rules. He was astonished to find that the police were launching a high-powered investigation – into Jeremy Gilchrist.

That was the start of over six months of nightmare. Normally getting the police to come investigate a crime on the island is a difficult pull on limited resources, but suddenly there was unlimited police time available to go all over the island, interviewing residents and asking them if they had ever seen Jeremy Gilchrist act aggressively, and if he had ever been heard to say anything racist.

Think about that – you live on a small island and suddenly the police are asking all your neighbours if they know you for a violent racist. The strain was appalling. Jeremy Gilchrist was to learn from Oban police that the instruction to devote all these police resources was coming directly from the Crown Office. This is Scotland 2021, and Jeremy Gilchrist is, in the eyes of the Crown Office, just some pleb islander. Whereas Professor Mark Woolhouse, Order of the British Empire, is a member of the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Covid-19. Woolhouse is therefore within the charmed Scottish Government circle of those whose enemies get persecuted at unlimited Police Scotland and Crown Office expense. Especially as the whole story of the dubious adherence to lockdown advice of its own adviser was potentially politically embarrassing to the Scottish Government.

Jeremy Gilchrist therefore found himself charged by the Crown Office with “acting in a racially aggravated manner intended to cause alarm or distress”. Because Prof Woolhouse’s wife, Prof Francisca Mutapi, is a black Zimbabwean. She claimed in court that she had believed Gilchrist wanted her to leave the island because she was black, not because of Covid, and that he had wanted her to go back to Zimbabwe, not go back to Edinburgh.

There was no claim made that Jeremy Gilchrist had said anything about her being black or about Zimbabwe. Gilchrist had, as the court heard, been campaigning for all holiday home dwellers to leave the island, in accordance with official Scottish government Covid advice, with no reference to anybody’s ethnic origin. Prof Mutapi is a highly intelligent woman and herself a Professor of infectious diseases at the University of Edinburgh. The idea that – after the controversy over her family being on the island had been in the national newspapers – she genuinely did not understand why some people including Gilchrist wanted the family to leave the island, is a nonsense. It appears to be a very transparent attempt at hiding bad behaviour – deciding to live on the island during a pandemic – behind a protected characteristic. Astonishingly, this behaviour was then promoted by the Crown Office and Police Scotland.

Here is an extract of the report of the trial last week from the Oban Times:

Ms Mutapi told the court that as she jogged by she became aware of him ‘gesticulating’ and when she stopped to say hello, he had told her to ‘go back home’.
When she replied it was her home, she said he began shouting: ‘This is not your home, you don’t belong here.’
Ms Mutapi described her ethnicity as ‘black Zimbabwean’ and regarded his comments as meaning either go back to the cottage or go back home to Africa.
She said she felt ‘angry, attacked, sad and shocked’ as Scotland had been her home for the past 25 years and the holiday home had been in her husband’s family for 40 years.
She said Gilchrist had never made such remarks when he had seen her with her husband, so she decided to report it to police as he had singled her out as a woman on her own, she said.
But Gilchrist’s advocate Alan Gravelle said Gilchrist had simply meant go back to Edinburgh.
Mr Gravelle also asked Ms Mutapi why she had not told police that her daughter’s friend had travelled to Lismore but then left during lockdown to return to her parents.
‘I didn’t think the friend’s presence was relevant,’ replied Ms Mutapi.
She further denied Mr Gravelle’s suggestion that the racism complaint had been made to ‘silence legitimate criticism’ about their visit which had intensified after a national newspaper report in April slammed her husband for being on Lismore.
Gilchrist, a retired fruit grower, was subsequently charged by police with acting in a racially aggravated manner intended to cause alarm or distress – which he denied.
Giving evidence, the court was told that due to Covid, a neighbour of his with cancer had NHS treatment cancelled and subsequently died.
Gilchrist, who also has type-1 diabetes and a partner with disabilities, insisted his comments were not about the complainant’s ethnicity and denied being racist.
He disputed having used the words: ‘this is not your home’ and claimed he had simply asked her: ‘Why are you still here?’
‘They shouldn’t have been there and I had a right to ask why they were there,’ Gilchrist told the court. ‘I was concerned about the virus being brought to the island. It was about keeping people off the island for our safety.’
Prior to the incident, Gilchrist had also had reported a different second home owner to the police but was told there was ‘nothing’ officers could do.
He had consistently raised his concerns with the island’s Covid group, posted on Facebook and raised them face-to-face with other second home owners who had ‘not enjoyed’ hearing it, Gilchrist admitted.
Mr Gravelle said his concerns represented many on the island about people having fled the cities to holiday homes and the risk of introducing coronavirus to remote communities. Home to under 200 permanent residents, fears were rife about food shortages and the absence of NHS staff for its elderly population, while Lismore community leaders had also been warned to prepare for fatalities, the court heard.
However, Procurator Fiscal James Dunbar said Gilchrist had set out to ‘confront’ Ms Mutapi with aggressive behaviour and that she represented ‘one second home owner too many’ for him.
Sheriff Patrick Hughes told Gilchrist the trial had not proved his behaviour had been criminal or racist; it was clear he had become ‘obsessive’ about Covid.

It is important to note that the Procurator Fiscal put no evidence of any kind before the court to back his disgusting and unjustified assertion that Jeremy Gilchrist is a racist. There can be no such evidence as he is not any kind of racist, and the police had wasted much time on a politically motivated wild goose chase through is neighbours, acquaintances and social media.

I am struck by:

Procurator Fiscal James Dunbar said Gilchrist had set out to ‘confront’ Ms Mutapi with aggressive behaviour and that she represented ‘one second home owner too many’ for him.

It won’t come as a shock to many highlanders or islanders, that here the Crown Office explicitly sides with the second home owner over the resident. But note the procurator here demolishes his own argument that Gilchrist’s objection was anything to do with ethnicity. That was plainly a nonsense. In terms of his behaviour in talking to Ms Mutapi being “threatening”, remember he is 70 years old and unwell, and was stood outside his own front door.

Jeremy Gilchrist was acquitted at Oban Crown Court this week. But six months of his life had already been ruined, he lost tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees and he was wrongly labeled a racist by the police to the entire community where he lives.

There is never any shortage of police resources in today’s Scotland to investigate thought crime. Burglaries or riots in George Square, not so much. The Crown Office wasted substantial amounts of taxpayers’ money in large scale police investigation of Jeremy Gilchrist and in prosecution of accusations which were never going to result in conviction because they were plainly – simply – wrong. The politically directed Crown Office did so in order to assist the self-evidently spurious attempt to deflect attention from lockdown hypocrisy by a key Scottish Government adviser. This was another Crown Office decision about politics and media presentation, not about justice.

A final more worrying thought. These kinds of entirely unjustified persecutions in Scotland will become much easier for the Crown Office with the new Hate Crime Law. Ms Mutapi was undoubtedly caused offence by Mr Gilchrist, and belongs to a protected group. In the terms of the new law, I think Jeremy Gilchrist would be guilty, despite having no racist intent whatsoever. Interactions with members of protected groups will be on anything but a footing of equality under the new law, and the capacity for malicious allegation will be enormous and very difficult to refute. Which is why liberal democracies generally avoid such laws.

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The World Darkens a Little More: I May Have to Spend Some Time as a Political Prisoner

I suspect I should say as little as possible in the next few days. With apologies to The National, I have copied their story out from behind their firewall.

BEGINS

A FORMER diplomat has instructed his lawyers to begin preparations for an appeal to the Supreme Court after learning he had lost a contempt of court case over his reports from the trial of Alex Salmond in March last year.

Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, attended two days of the trial – at which Salmond was found innocent – and sat in the public gallery, later writing about it for his blog.

However, in January he faced a virtual contempt of court hearing before Lady Dorrian, the Lord Justice Clerk, at the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh.

It is now understood that a session for judgement to be delivered will be held at the High Court before Lady Dorrian, Lord Turnbull and Lord Menzies on Thursday – exactly eight weeks after the initial 90-minute hearing.

Sources close to Murray, 62, indicated that he was advised by court staff and his legal team that if he won the case, the judgement would simply be published.

However, if he lost, and particularly if a custodial sentence was probable, there would be a new hearing of the court – which has now been called.

Contempt of court carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and an unlimited fine.

Last month, Clive Thomson, a 52-year-old from Rosyth, was jailed for six months for contempt in the same case.

Murray is expected to stand as a candidate for Action for Independence (AFI) on the Lothians list in May’s Holyrood election.

READ MORE: Craig Murray bids to lead Action For Independence’s list in the Lothians

However, if sentenced to a year or more in jail, he will be disqualified from standing.

Murray was accused of contempt over publications likely to influence the jury and with jigsaw identification of complainants.

His defence argued that if the Crown believed these were likely to influence the jury, then action should have been taken before the trial and not after.

On jigsaw identification, his counsel, John Scott QC, argued that Murray had known the identity of all the complainants for months and had taken care not to give them away.

He argued: “[Murray] was aware of the names of the complainers, even when there was no court order regarding them. But he said it would not be responsible journalism to have named them.

“The Crown appears to say there must be a deliberate campaign to drop enough hints so that the complainers can be identified.

“There is a great deal of evidence showing he was not someone who was fixated on naming the complainers and dropping hints to identify.

“The fact alone is that he knew about the names and if he wanted to name them, he could have done so.”

In the two months between the hearing and judgement, he has said on social media that the delay was taking a toll on his family and on his mental health.

One member of the Murray family told The National: “Objective evidence shows that mainstream media published far more jigsaw identification pieces than Craig and were not prosecuted.”

Asked how Murray felt about the possibility of being jailed, they said: “Well, obviously not happy.

“Nadira and he have a one-month-old son and he’s not in good health nor getting any younger.

“But never underestimate his commitment and principle – he is a lot tougher than he looks.”

ENDS

I should be grateful if you would now go to the National Website and poke about a bit so they don’t lose any advertising revenue.

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Vote for Bonnie Prince Bob in Edinburgh Central

What would Craig Murray be like if he had charisma, good looks, style and a huge slug of street cred? I came across this video last night. In fact virtually every single point made by Bob is a point I have made on this blog, but it sounds so much more radical coming from him.

The blocking of Joanna Cherry from standing in Edinburgh Central by Nicola Sturgeon in order to shoo in her anointed successor, NATO’s Angus Robertson, protege of Lord John Kerr, secretary of the Bilderberg Group and my former boss (remarkably all that is straight fact), should be reason enough to vote against Robertson, even if you don’t know the truly filthy story that lies beneath. But who else a decent independence supporter might vote for in Edinburgh Central was a problem.

Until Bonnie Prince Bob.

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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.

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A Very Tough Video to Make

I fear it may also be a tough watch, and I am grateful to anyone who tries. The justified and well evidenced acquittal of Alex Salmond by a largely female jury was only the beginning of a nightmare.


Also available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8NjRSUkkWE

UPDATE I accidentally transpose in the video which of the two complainants from the original civil service process was met by John Sommers, Nicola’s Principal Private Secretary, on 20 and 21 November 2017, before Nicola wrote to Leslie Evans on 22 November 2017 telling her to include former ministers (but not civil servants) in the sexual harassment process. This was three and a half months before Nicola claims she first heard of the allegations against Alex Salmond.

The question of which of the two Sommers met makes no difference to the argument or series of events. END UPDATE

Anybody who has not already done so, should also watch this excellent speech by David Davis, who using parliamentary privilege can fill in a few of the things which I cannot.

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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.

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Vigilant over Vigils

UPDATE Social media has got very excited over the fact the young woman is apparently an actress. But why should she not be? In my extensive contact with actors, they are particularly likely to be politically engaged. I should also note that I have received quite a lot of abuse for pointing out that the reason this one person got on the front page of all the newspapers is that she is young and pretty. That is simply true- it is what newspaper editors do. I am criticising the media for this. Opposing the prioritising of media exposure by physical attractiveness is in fact a classic feminist stance, so I have no idea why feminists are attacking me on it. END OF UPDATE.

In one sense, I am delighted that the heavy-handed police action at the vigil for Sarah Everard has brought about public revulsion at the attack on free speech and the right of assembly, just as Priti Patel prepares to bring in the dreadful policing bill which represents the biggest single threat to freedom of assembly in the UK for 200 years. Its foundational principle is that the right of freedom of assembly is subordinate to the right to drive a SUV anywhere and any time you please, without having to detour around people taking part in democratic expression. It has a subsidiary principle that all public manifestations of political dissent will be intimidated by massive police presence, and that the cost of that massive intimidatory presence will in itself be reason to ban the demonstration. Which would be delightfully Kafkaesque were it only a joke.

The excuse for breaking up the Everard vigil was of course Covid. In all but the most extreme circumstances, where public health management conflicts with the most fundamental of human rights, then human rights should avail. The Patel legislation is not a response to Covid, it is a response to Extinction Rebellion. I remain wholly supportive of ER; the need to jolt people out of their complacency and inaction over climate change is a massive political priority, and I certainly hope Extinction Rebellion will be back with a bang in the summer.

But I am afraid to say it could not escape my notice that the protest over the Everard vigil was in stark contrast to the lack of protest at the police breaking up the Assange vigil in Piccadilly Circus, which was much smaller and less intrusive and much better social distanced. Unfortunately the police ,arrested 92 year old Eric who is not a young and pretty woman, so it got no media coverage.

The sad truth is of course that among those vying to be seen in both mainstream and social media to express outrage at the police disruption of the Everard vigil, are many fierce proponents of cancel culture. The outrage over which speech is limited is highly selective. That free speech also extends to Julian Assange or Piers Corbyn is not intuitive to the mainstream media at present. There seems to be a real danger that British society is losing all notion of the idea that free speech is for everybody, not just those you agree with or who are deemed respectable by the media and political class.

I was going to make a joke about freedom of speech extending even to protests without any Duchesses, which led me to recall that there was in fact a bona fide Duchess on the last Assange demonstration I participated in!

Scotland has of course just contributed to this general atmosphere of repression by passing a completely unnecessary Hate Crime Bill. Not only does this outlaw politically incorrect speech even within your own home – and in film and theatrical performances – there is every reason to believe it will lead to an increase in the political prosecutions for which the Scottish Crown Office is becoming renowned. At which point, it is worth noting it is now nearly seven weeks since my hearing for contempt of court, with no sign of a judgement, which seems to me very extraordinary.

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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.

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What Can We Learn From the Terrible Fate of Sarah Everard?

Before writing anything about this dreadful case, and before you read my article, it is right to pause to think first about the terrible and entirely undeserved fate of Sarah Everard, and the agony those who loved her must now be suffering.

This tragedy has led me to get into a twitter spat with people who are promoting the line that “all men are potential rapists”. It started when I took issue with a tweet by Stella Duffy (whom I know slightly).

This led to some fierce reactions by feminists, both female and male, then to some more replies by me, and then to quite a few tweets attacking me. As usual when heated debate is precipitated by a single distressing event, passion has been more in evidence than logic.

I think the difficulty lies in an ambiguity of language. The phrase “All men are potential rapists”, or Duffy’s expression “it is what any man might do”, can be taken to mean:

“You cannot tell, by appearance, which man is a rapist” – which is evidently true

or

“Every man is liable to rape” – which I would argue strongly is not true. The large majority of men would never rape, nor commit any other heinous crime.

I suspect that in some of those arguing on twitter, this is not just ambiguity, this is a deliberate conflation of the two concepts. There does seem to be a strain of radical feminist thinking which is anxious to promote the notion that every man is indeed liable to rape. That plainly is misandry – a gross prejudice, in the most literal sense, against people on the basis of their sex.

More interesting have been a number of twitter responses from women stating that they do indeed need to treat every man they might meet as a potential rapist, for their own self-protection, and adopt strategies to avoid dangerous situations. These are interesting because I think the majority of them are genuine iterations of how the writers really feel.

A large proportion of those responses come back to the fact that you cannot tell by appearance who is a rapist. It seems a stock response, judging by my twitter feed, to state that a woman would feel scared of me if she came across me or heard my footsteps while walking alone in a dark place. That is certainly true, and not only women are scared in those circumstances, though I accept they have more cause to fear.

But I am more interested in the sometimes detailed claims it is normal for women to exercise extreme caution in their every day dealings with half of the human race, when not walking in dark streets. One woman on twitter told me, for example, she had long advised her daughters against going out on one on one dates with men.

I have to say, on an every day basis that simply has not been my experience. In 45 years of adulthood, I have genuinely never picked up any sense of a woman being scared of me. In my career in professional situations I frequently had meetings with women, sometimes in my own office or even over lunch, and as a diplomat sometimes over a drink, and I genuinely have almost no recollection of ever being refused or put off, let alone in circumstances where I suspected the person was worried about my intentions. Had I suspected that, it would very definitely have worried me a lot that I gave such an impression. I have always been over-sensitive to what others think of me, to the point of vanity. I have never felt myself suspected of having potential for sexual violence.

I would very frequently offer to escort someone back to their home or hotel if there was any reason to think protection might be helpful, and was seldom if ever refused. On the purely social level, in my younger days I never had the slightest feeling of anyone being scared of me on a date, or to go with me on a date. Every date I ever had was one on one. I just cannot recognise the claims that women routinely in their daily lives treat all mean as a threat, as true in my own experience. Nor does it seem to be true of the women now close to me, in their dealings with other men.

I quite accept that those women on twitter who have told me that they distrust every man, are telling me the truth of their own experience. But I have never found most women, or indeed any women I encountered, to be like that, and I am telling you the truth of my own experience.

It genuinely concerns me that society is now in such a schizophrenic state that it is acceptable to say, in effect, that one half of the human race must never repose trust in a member of the other half of the human race. It ought to be no more acceptable to say that every man must be viewed as a potential rapist, as it thankfully is now unacceptable to label every Roma as a potential thief or black person as potentially violent. People are people.

Of course sexual violence is a terrible problem. Of course conviction rates are worryingly low. That does not mean every man is liable to rape.

That some men are a threat is plainly true. The public shock that it may be the case that a figure of public trust, such as a policeman, would be a danger is entirely understandable. That merely reinforces the truism that you cannot tell who is a potential rapist just by looking at them. But there it ends. The large majority of men are very decent people. To say otherwise is nonsense. It in no way disrespects Sarah Everard to state that she was not negligent, just extremely unlucky. The odds of any woman in the UK being abducted off the street in any given year are one in many millions. Of course women walking alone at night should rightly be cautious; men out at night should be particularly vigilant to avoid situations that may alarm women, more so than ever at present. But there is no rational cause for a general state of fear or a general demonisation of the male sex.

I have never viewed the police as particularly like to be good people in their private lives (I naturally except both my brothers here!)

This may surprise you. When I was about six years old, a fairly senior policeman who was acting as a courier for my father, was caught when a bag of illegal money burst. This had quite profound ramifications for me, not least that my father fled the country and I did not see him again for the rest of my childhood. The Rolls Royce and the Mercedes disappeared (I learnt from an uncle only recently that my father’s share of the black money alone in 1965 had been over £1,500 per day, £25,000 a day in today’s money). After my father left, the rest of my childhood was spent in rural but very real poverty. It also meant I had the great fortune to be largely brought up by my maternal grandfather, a profoundly wise and intellectual old socialist. I often wonder what Craig Murray would have been like if that bag had not burst, and I had instead been brought up as the stinking rich heir to a very dodgy gambling empire. Possibly I would have become not a very nice person.

Anyway, I realised policemen were not all great even before I understood the terrible things they can do in an official capacity. Hearing Cressida Dick’s wavering tones over the alleged policeman’s involvement in the terrible death of Sarah Everard, naturally brought to mind that she was directly in charge of the police operation that murdered Brazilian electrician Jean Charles De Menezes, for the crime of looking a bit like an Arab.

It is also worth stating that everyone, including Cressida Dick, appears to be leaping to conclusions amid a blaze of publicity that is going to make a fair trial very difficult. We don’t know the evidence, or the defence, yet.

I am, I know, out of tune with the times. The politically correct repetition of the mantras of identity politics is the only kind of politics which is mainstream acceptable now. A terrible incident like the dreadful fate of Sarah Everard must be responded to by cries of “all men are potential rapists” and a determined effort to drive deeper the wedges between the two halves of the human race.

Not to quite see it that way may even make me socially unacceptable in some circles. I shall have to be stoical about that.

For me, the great gulf in society remains between rich and poor. In rather different ways, that gap in available resources kills millions across this globe every week. You can find gender components in poverty; much more is race a crucial component; but the prime cause of poverty is inequality.

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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.

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Catalonia: The EU’s Secret Shame

My very real enthusiasm for the European Union had survived decades of sometimes bruising encounters with reality before being fatally holed by the strong political support given by European Council, Commission and Parliament to the brutal and violent suppression of Catalonia’s independence referendum. Subsequently, while I still view membership of the single market as beyond argument beneficial, I have been an enthusiast for membership of the customs union and EEA/EFTA, but agnostic on full EU membership and the political union.

This was reinforced on Monday with the shameful vote of the European Parliament to strip the legal immunity of those Catalan Members of the European Parliament in exile, to assist Spain in its efforts to extradite them to add to its list of Catalan political prisoners. There are today nine Catalan political leaders already enduring lengthy sentences in Spanish prisons for the “crime” of wishing their nation to be independent and attempting to hold a democratic vote on the idea. These are the EU’s highest profile political prisoners. Not even the much reviled Viktor Orban or Andrzej Duda treat democratic opponents in this way.

None of this has cowed the Catalans. The recent elections to the regional parliament resulted in the largest ever vote for pro-Independence parties, who had a clear majority of votes as well as seats. Part of the democratic expression of Catalan will has of course been the elections to the European Parliament, and nothing could send a clearer message than the decision of Catalan voters to elect three MEPs in exile whom the Spanish state wishes to jail for wanting a free Catalonie, which it calls “sedition”. Those are former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont MEP, former health minister Antoni Comin MEP and former education minister Clara Ponsati MEP, who now lives in Scotland.

The vote of the European Parliament to remove the legal immunity of these MEPs is the more shocking because this is precisely the kind of political circumstance in which the immunity is intended to protect MEPs.

I was interested to see which MEP’s had voted to lift the immunity, but on the European Parliament website I could find only a the result of the votes, with no indication how individual members voted. There were separate votes for each Catalan MEP and the results were all broadly similar to the vote on Carles Puigdemont MEP- 400 for, 248 against and 45 abstentions. I was genuinely shocked to discover that the reason that I could not see who voted which way, was that the vote was in fact secret.

When you are going to do something shameful, then it is best to do it in private. Parliaments do not generally take secret votes, for fundamental reasons of democracy – how can you know whether to vote for an MEP if you do not know how he votes in parliament? Nor is secret voting mandated in the official guide to this procedure for lifting an MEP’s immunity.

We do know that the move to lift immunity was initiated by the Spanish government and actively promoted by the Eastern European far right parties. I do not expect it to have practical effect, as judicial authorities in Belgium and Scotland have to date not accepted Spanish extradition requests on quite other grounds. But this shabby, grubby behaviour of EU parliamentarians in seeking, secretly and furtively, to enable further persecution of the Catalans, is another chapter in a truly shameful history for the EU.

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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.

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Covid 19 and Illegal Immigrants

On Saturday I asked a friend of mine who lives in Walsall whether he had been vaccinated yet. He replied that he had not, because he is an illegal immigrant, which I had forgotten. He has been here for seven years now, and I know him from before that in Nigeria. After some online research, I called him back and asked him if he knew that the government had announced that illegal immigrants could receive the vaccine through registering with a G.P., with no details asked. He said he did not have a G.P. and certainly would not be providing the state with all the information needed to register.

That chimed with me, because eighteen months ago when we moved to a different part of Edinburgh we had to change G.P., and I was horrified by the process. We had to produce passports and proof of address. Why a G.P. practice needs to see your passport is something I completely fail to understand, unless it is indeed a form of immigration check. The doctor’s job is to make you well, not to check you are using your real name. It is of course also difficult to provide proof of address immediately after moving, for obvious reasons. We had a period where I could prove with a utility bill that I live here, but that was not acceptable as proof that my wife and daughter lived with me.

I cannot tell you how much I detest all this. There has been a fundamentally authoritarian swing in society and I detest the way that so many people simply accept it. The system used to run on trust and honesty. For most of my life, if you walked into a GP’s office to register yourself and your family, you would just fill in the forms and get registered. The assumption was that you were telling the truth, barring any indication otherwise. Society has changed so the default, the presumption, is that you are lying unless you can prove otherwise. This is an appalling and fundamental societal shift that people have simply accepted.

If I tell a doctor that I have moved into a certain house, I expect that doctor to believe me. If I tell them my wife and daughter live with me, I expect them to believe that too. Why on earth should I have to prove it to get medical treatment? If I tell them I am a giraffe, certainly they may doubt.

This presumption you are dishonest is most marked in the field of money. It is almost impossible to make any financial transaction of any size, without proving positively you are not a money launderer or drug trafficker. Again, the presumption is of guilt until you can prove otherwise. If you wish to withdraw any significant sum of your own money in cash, a bank will even require to know what you intend then to do – with your own money. You cannot put money into a business without proving the origins of that money. The degree of intrusiveness is simply enormous, the realms of the state have expanded exponentially, the integrity of the citizen is officially disbelieved at all times. All of which is deployed almost exclusively against the little people.

I believe that a system which assumes that everybody is a rogue and a liar, that nobody’s word is trustworthy, leads to a situation where the important societal norms of trust and honesty are so officially disrespected, that these good behaviours start indeed to disappear through discouragement.

I should make plain I am not against the policing of crime; quite the opposite. Laws should be well enforced against those who are not honest, that is important reinforcement. But that is very different from the assumption that nobody is honest, and regulatory control of simple, everyday social and economic transactions on the basis of zero trust.

All that brings in a truly authoritarian state.

So I am not surprised my friend does not want to register with the G.P. to get vaccinated. It brings a host of intrusive questions, and Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policies, which aim to turn everybody with whom an immigrant has dealings – landlords, employers, banks etc. – into a government informant, has destroyed any feeling of security in dealing with authority in the immigrant population.

Nobody knows how many illegal immigrants there are in the United Kingdom. An estimate of 1.3 million people was used at the time it was announced they could apply for Covid vaccines. I believe that may be a severe underestimate. 22 years ago when working in the FCO I paid an official visit to a Thames Water sewerage works (it’s a glamorous life in the diplomatic service) at a time when Thames Water were looking for a big contract in Accra. We were discussing the fact that nobody truly knows the population of Accra, and I was told the same is true of London. The volume of sewage in some parts of London (Newham, Tower Hamlets) showed that the actual population was approaching twice the official population.

London in particular would simply grind to a halt without the illegal immigrants who keep its services and infrastructure going. Boris Johnson recognised this as Mayor of London, and in a quickly buried moment of sanity called for an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

For what it is worth, I think Johnson is an intelligent man, capable of a wide and sensible understanding of real problems and solutions, but that he has no interest in pursuing these at all. He subordinates any ideas for the public good, to ideas that will bring him personal power and wealth. When you think about it, that is a special, higher grade of calculating evil.

In fact, an amnesty for illegal immigrants is precisely what is needed for the sake of society in general. Society deplores illegal immigrants while being highly dependent on their labour. Their position outside of formal institutions is fertile ground for crime and exploitation. an amnesty will bring millions of people within the formal economy and able to pay tax. The Covid crisis should be used to give the political cover required – the alternative is to have pools of Covid continuing to exist within highly concentrated communities living in dense populations, waiting to mutate and break out again.

Immigration amnesty as a response to the pandemic should be a no-brainer, bringing those living amongst us into a position of human dignity in the state and able to enjoy its protections. It would be great to see some good emerge from this crisis.

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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:

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Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:

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Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

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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.

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Mote in Your Own Eye

This blog remains, as far as I am aware, blocked in Russia. (Am receiving messages it is not currently blocked, at least on several major ISPs, which is good news). It is, to the best of my knowledge, the only western political blog of wide readership which advocates stripping Russia of all the colonial possessions it obtained contemporaneously with, indeed in competition with, the growth of the British Empire. That a blog which champions Independence for, inter alia, Dagestan, Chechnya and Tatarstan, and which says Crimea should be given back to the Tatars, is condemned by the political Establishment as pro-Kremlin is, on the face of it, paradoxical.

The reason for it is, of course, that this blog also views Russia’s opposition to neo-con Western militarily enforced hegemony throughout the Middle East and developing world, as an essential though inadequate counter-balance. It also combats the rampant Russophobia of our media and political class, and the widespread, deliberate whipping up of hatred against a great culture and people, central to our European heritage. That involves exposing propaganda lies like Salisbury and Douma. The Establishment really do hate that. As neither Salisbury nor Douma, nor much else in the Western narrative, stands up to even a little intellectual scrutiny, the media and Establishment seek to demonise this blog as in some sense a Russian agency. The amusing thing is, of course, that neither this blog nor its author has ever received a penny from any Russian source, while the Establishment rolls around in oligarch cash.

There was an amusing new twist this week where the Times newspaper claimed that Russian trolls were behind the “attacks” on Nicola Sturgeon, otherwise known as telling the truth about Nicola Sturgeon’s actions. Why the Times, and most of the unionist media Establishment especially the BBC, has been so very keen to defend Nicola Sturgeon and under-report the evidence against her (and continue to make wild accusations against Alex Salmond) would be an interesting digression. Suffice it to say, that after five years with a pro-Independence majority at Holyrood, after Brexit, and with a clear mandate for a referendum on Independence, Nicola has not called one.

One of the Integrity Initiative’s on-call Russophobes, David Leask, wrote in the Times:

Mainstream Scottish nationalists have long suspected pro-Kremlin social media of targeting the first minister, particularly since her criticism of the Salisbury attacks in 2018.
However, analysts have rarely been able to draw a significant direct line between so-called troll factories and tweets aimed at Sturgeon and her party.
New data published by Twitter on hundreds of Kremlin or Iranian accounts removed for attempting to “manipulate the platform” show some activity with a Scottish flavour.
About two dozen accounts linked to the authoritarian governments tweeted or retweeted pro-independence or other Scottish messaging and have been banned.
Two accounts Twitter linked to the Iranians, each with many thousands of followers, have repeatedly retweeted Craig Murray, a blogger and former ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is one of Sturgeon’s most ferocious critics. There is no suggestion Murray, who has a substantial online presence, was aware of or sought such support.

So there we have it. It is the Russians targeting Nicola, because my 90,000 twitter followers included 2 “linked to” Iran, who retweeted some of my tweets.

Which twitter accounts were these? Which tweets did they retweet? We don’t know. One of Sturgeon’s acolytes tweeted the “evidence” for this, which was a link to a twitter statement on its website on the suspension of Russian-linked accounts. That gave a link to what it claimed as “evidence”, but that was simply a cache of 1.5 Gb worth of tweets, very many thousands of them, with no explanation as to why they were said to be Russian linked. How the “Iranian-linked” tweets involving me were pulled out of this enormous cache – and why – is a very interesting question. [I can’t actually rediscover the tweet or the report page on twitter with its unevidenced assertions. If anybody can, please post it in comments below]

The Times report is an entirely evidence-free zone, but its principal complaint appears to be that “Kremlin-linked” accounts have been tweeting material under the hashtag #dissolvetheunion. It then gives this quote:

Joanna Szostek, who teaches political communication at the University of Glasgow, described it as the latest move in a game of “whack-a-mole . . . It’s interesting that a few of these accounts are also pushing #dissolvetheunion tweets. Anything that weakens a major Nato member would presumably look good from Russia’s point of view.”

But the longest bit of the article, its substance, is the quote from the SNP’s own uber-Russophobe Stewart MacDonald who gives a disquisition on how terrible it is that the evil Russians should – advocate for Scottish Independence. MacDonald, who carries a British Army issued visitor ID in his wallet and has snaps of himself in combat fatigues observing British Army exercises, both of which he has been known to show hopefully to impressionable young people, is far better known for his enthusiasm for NATO, Israel and the corrupt government of Ukraine than he is for Scottish Independence. I suspect deep down he fantasises about going to war against the Russians with the British Army. Why he is in the SNP, nobody knows. Why anybody thinks that Russia advocating for Scotland’s Independence would make Russia Scotland’s enemy, is quite beyond me.

There is an extremely bad history of misidentification of Russian trolls by the right wing loons paid to undertake such work, particularly Leask’s old comrade-in-arms Ben Nimmo, who famously outed Ian the Russian Bot. This ought to be the most famous video of all time and be played weekly in schools to vaccinate children against government propaganda.

Unfortunately, very many governments do actively sponsor social media and mainstream media disinformation. The Integrity Initiative was one major such secret black propaganda operation, linked to the Salisbury event among other things, and it is hilarious in a dark sort of way that journalists like Leask, who took the Integrity Initiative’s shilling, get upset at alleged Russian initatives which are essentially the same thing.

Almost entirely unreported in the British media was last week’s revelation by The Grayzone of a new FCO covert propaganda operation involving (and funding) Bellingcat, the BBC and Reuters Thomson.

The UK FCO projects were carried out covertly, and in partnership with purportedly independent, high-profile online media outfits including Bellingcat, Meduza, and the Pussy Riot-founded Mediazona. Bellingcat’s participation apparently included a UK FCO intervention in North Macedonia’s 2019 elections on behalf of the pro-NATO candidate.

The intelligence contractors that oversaw that operation, the Zinc Network, boasted of establishing “a network of YouTubers in Russia and Central Asia” while “supporting participants [to] make and receive international payments without being registered as external sources of funding.” The firm also touted its ability to “activate a range of content” to support anti-government protests inside Russia.

The new documents provide critical background on the role of NATO member states like the UK in influencing the color revolution-style protests waged in Belarus in 2020, and raise unsettling questions about the intrigue and unrest surrounding jailed Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Twitter not only suppressed dissemination of this information, it put a warning on those tweets it did allow into selected timelines, that information came from hacked material. It has never done that to the pro-Western outpourings of Bellingcat. But my profound congratulations to our friends at Anonymous for bringing more of this murk to light.

You might like to compare this document from an FCO-funded contractor, with Stewart MacDonald’s horror that Russia should allegedly sponsor a few tweets favouring Scottish Independence:

Or this from another FCO-funded contractor:

The FCO role in Belsat, the entirely NATO member funded “Belarussian” TV channel based in Poland, is also of great current interest,

Do read through the Grayzone article, which is excellent. Remember this: when it comes to every form of devious behaviour, it is the British state which wrote the book.

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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
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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.

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