By Kirsten MacDonald
Republished from Consortium News
This paragraph is from Lady Dorrian’s original judgement on Craig Murray. It oozes malice and prejudice in its very plain twist of both logic and fact. She seeks to make something obviously to Murray’s credit work to his detriment.
 A notable feature of the affidavits is the repeated focus by the respondent on the absence of a court order prior to 10 March 2020 as meaning that had he wished to identify the complainers he could have done so prior to that date, “knowing there was no general law or court order in place preventing me simply from publishing”. This however “would not have been responsible journalism”. That it would have been a clear contravention of the IPSO Editor’s Code of Practice and of the local convention are not matters which appear to have engaged him, although it is clear from para 40 of his main affidavit that he was aware of the convention.
In his affidavits Murray had stated that he could have simply published the names at any time before 10 March 2020 and that would have been legal. It was therefore, Murray argued, ridiculous to argue he was instead engaged in a sneak attempt to out the names by code.
Dorrian judges that Murray should be given no credit for not publishing the names, because he did so in the name of “responsible journalism” and not in the name of the IPSO Editor’s Code or of a “local convention”. The extraordinary thing here is that Murray was following both the code and convention. He just did not name them.
It is even weirder than that. He did in fact name the Editor’s Code, but did not do so in the same paragraph where he explained his determination to not out the accusers.
Lady Dorrian’s logic here is precisely the same as saying “You may have been under the 30mph speed limit, but you did not state specifically you were under the 30mph speed limit according to the Highway Code, so your good behaviour does not count.” Dorrian’s position is self-evidently ludicrous.
Dorrian’s twisting does not stop there. As a blogger, Murray had no obligation to follow the Editor’s Code. His point was he could have published the names prior to 10 March with no legal penalty, and the fact he did not shows that he had no wish to. That remains true – there would have been no penalties for Murray in breaking either the code or the local convention.
Dorrian dismissed this argument on grounds which are spurious in logic.
In her Opinion rejecting Murray’s application to appeal to the Supreme Court, Dorrian returns to this same point. She makes a distinction between bloggers and journalists, and argues that bloggers and new media should get harder sentences for contempt than legacy media journalists, because legacy media journalists are self-regulated.
 The applicant describes himself as a “journalist in new media”. Whatever that may
involve, it is relevant to distinguish his position from that of the mainstream press, which is
regulated, and subject to codes of practice and ethics in a way in which those writing as the
applicant does are not. To the extent that the submissions for the applicant make
comparisons with other press contempts, and the role of mainstream journalists, this is a
factor which should be recognised.
Dorrian needed to answer two points raised by the defence.
The first was why Murray is prosecuted when objective opinion poll evidence shows the “respectable” media – especially the BBC and the Scotsman newspaper – were responsible for far more jigsaw ID than Murray.
The second was why Murray has been jailed for contempt when no legacy media journalist has been jailed for contempt for at least forty years. There have been some extremely serious findings of contempt in those four decades, including full and open revealing of protected identities, with both names and photos. They have been punished by fines and not imprisonment.
It was simply impossible for Dorrian to argue that Murray is not being treated more harshly than other relevant cases. So she argues that bloggers ought to be treated more harshly. Murray’s legal team are pinning their hopes that this will catch the eye of the Supreme Court.
Disdain for new media in general and for Murray in particular permeates everything written by Dorrian on the case. The evidential basis on which Murray was convicted is entirely obscure. Murray used the same code letters as all other journalists to report the accusers in the trial. He repeated again and again in his affidavits his intention to keep identities secret. He gives details of how he went about this.
Murray states, as discussed above, he did not reveal the identities when he legally could.
Murray states he conducted google searches to make sure details he published did not reveal identities.
Murray states that he omitted important details – like who was present at the 29 February 2019 meeting between Geoff Aberdein and Nicola Sturgeon – to guard against jigsaw identification, even when the entire legacy media published those details.
Both the first and last of those points are true as plain fact. That Murray also conducted google searches was not contested by the Crown.
Here is the most important point of all.
No evidence of any kind was produced in court to contradict Murray’s sworn testimony that he tried to conceal identities. Yet Lady Dorrian decided to treat Murray’s affidavit as lies despite hearing no evidence to contradict it, and despite no claim from the Crown that it was lies. She did so entirely on the basis that her own reading of Murray’s articles revealed to her a deliberate “campaign” to reveal the names by “clues”.
The astonishing thing is this. Murray’s articles on the case had totaled hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of page views before Lady Dorrian read them. Yet nobody before Lady Dorrian had ever alleged – including not on any social media platform – that Murray was conducting a campaign to out witnesses.
Like all Murray’s journalism, there was a very great deal of comment from those hostile to him. Including on Facebook, Twitter and his blog. That includes paid trolling by both Sturgeon related SNP staff and by British Government influence programmes. But not even any of these had ever claimed to have discerned or alleged a campaign by Murray to reveal identities. Nor had the prosecution ever alleged it. The notion arose entirely in the mind of Lady Dorrian.
Nothing that would meet the bar of evidence was produced to the court that anybody was in fact identified from Murray’s writing.
Murray further testified, with evidence, that he believed it was for the courts to decide on anonymity.
After the acquittal Murray had instructed, at his own expense, Craig Sandison QC to draft an application to court to lift the anonymity of specific accusers shown in court to give false testimony.
The key point being Murray was going the legal route to this, had paid a QC and was prepared to accept a court decision on it. That is not consistent with a secret campaign to reveal identities.
There is one further pertinent point.
Lady Dorrian’s evident dislike of the modern world of new media makes her oblivious to who Craig Murray is. As I know from editing his collected works, Murray has been at the forefront of internet freedom campaigns since 2005. Murray has himself released secret classified documents on the net, mirrored thousands of times worldwide. Murray has been involved in notable Streisand effect campaigns with subjects including oligarch Alisher Usmanov and mercenary commander Tim Spicer.
Murray is a friend of Wikileaks, and with many from hacker communities, where he is well-regarded.
There is a plain truth that should be stated. Had Murray wished to reveal the names, he had the capacity and contacts to have them mirrored all over the internet in places where Scottish jurisdiction does not run. Murray has the knowledge, resource and access to initiate this in ways that could never be traced back to him. Anyone with a basic understanding of web activism can see that Murray has never wanted these names released. Or they would have been.
In my last report I recounted that an experienced journalist told me that they had never seen a judge so “emotionally invested”, as Dorrian against Craig Murray.
We now know that one reason Murray was kept waiting an agonising ten weeks for the verdict after the main hearing was that Dorrian was busy writing a report for the Scottish government. This tackles sexual assault trials and how to increase conviction rates.
Dorrian’s recommendations in that report include the abolition of juries in sexual assault trials, and the end of the right of the defendant’s lawyers to cross-examine the accuser in court proceedings.
Dorrian was clearly parti pris in all of this. In the United States and other jurisdictions she would have had to recuse herself.
Dorrian’s extraordinary decision on Murray’s guilt lacks a basis in evidence. But that is not a point that can be contested at the Supreme Court.
The original trial judge remains the sole judge of fact, which is a potentially disastrous situation for Murray. The UK Supreme Court can only intervene on points of law where the judgement is inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. Murray has only a narrow path to freedom.
As with all articles on this website, this article is free to reproduce in whole or in part, including in translation. If in part, there must be a link to the original.
There is of course a major difference in the finances of bloggers and mainstream media and it is an unfortunate truth that an appeal to the Supreme Court will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. Details of how to contribute to Craig Murray’s Defence Fund are here:
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