craig


On Being A Bit Wrong 701

I was down in London last week for discussions around my appeal to the Supreme Court, and staying in a hotel close to Leicester Square, I wandered along to see the fans during their game with Ukraine and its very noisy aftermath. I was hoping to write a piece about disgusting uncouth yobs of racist English nationalists and their stupid and perhaps violent excesses.

With the exception of the most hardline of unionists and the politically correct automatons of the “new” SNP, it is ingrained in most Scots to support two teams: Scotland, and whoever is playing England. This is generally expressed lightly, but the centuries of oppression and cultural and economic dominance that led to these attitudes are very real. I have been amusing myself greatly on twitter throughout the tournament by supporting the Czech Republic, Germany, Ukraine, any opponent of England, I confess largely because it creases me up to see unionists so easily triggered and unable to cope with teasing.

I know, I should get out more.

Well, I have to say I was wrong. I found it impossible to dislike the crowds of England supporters. They were joyous, and there was no sign I could find around Leicester or Trafalgar Squares of the kind of racist Brexit backers who had booed the England team for taking the knee. Indeed, the most striking thing about the crowd was its extreme multiculturalism, the most joyous and unified representation of most of the ethnic groupings on this earth, all with their arms around each other and sharing beer, wine, tequila, a variety of smokable substances, and anything else to hand.

There was also a far greater gender mix than I expected, and the women were by no means passive or in girlfriend mode. In fact some of the more aggressively uninhibited groups of celebrating young women were distinctly intimidating to an old fogey like me and had me scuttling to cover (they meant no harm but might have hugged me to death).

Yes, I know London is not Grimsby or the ex-red wall constituencies, I know English nationalism is a real problem and will split up the UK (about which I am intensely happy). But I was wrong to dismiss the Gareth Southgate phenomenon of an essentially decent Englishness and its reach. My loyalties for Euro 2020 (sic) now lie with the nation of my Italian grandmother. But I feel somewhat less revolted by the continuing success of the English team.

I should make my confession; I liked the English fans I was around that night.

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I should be very grateful if you read this excellent article by Alexander Mercouris on my appeal to the Supreme Court. Alexander is a lawyer and it is an explanation of the detail, but it absolutely captures everything I have been lying awake at nights and thinking about the case.

I was chatting to Vivienne Westwood at a rally for Julian Assange and she is very taken with the climate crisis. We are heading for the edge of an abyss, and a few people in power are considering how to slow down a bit, while almost nobody is suggesting we turn round. Vivienne reminded me of her website Climate Revolution, which is very stimulating and worth checking for updates.

Vivienne often chooses to express her thought through her art and allegorical representation, and also writes cogently and pithily. The breadth and depth of her knowledge and quality of her thinking are impressive. For those not with a natural artistic bent, it is worth taking the time to understand. For example, she chose to celebrate Julian’s fiftieth birthday not by eating birthday cake but by smearing it on herself. It is a great piece of agitprop, and invites you to work out why.

Finally, here is a lovely picture of John Pilger, who was on great form, and me showing off my bald spot.

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FBI Fabrication Against Assange Falls Apart

On the final day of the Assange extradition hearing, magistrate Vanessa Baraitser refused to accept an affidavit from Assange’s solicitor Gareth Peirce, on the grounds it was out of time. The affidavit explained that the defence had been unable to respond to the new accusations in the United States government’s second superseding indictment, because these wholly new matters had been sprung on them just six weeks before the hearing resumed on 8 September 2020.

The defence had not only to gather evidence from Iceland, but had virtually no access to Assange to take his evidence and instructions, as he was effectively in solitary confinement in Belmarsh. The defence had requested an adjournment to give them time to address the new accusations, but this adjournment had been refused by Baraitser.

She now refused to accept Gareth Peirce’s affidavit setting out these facts.

What had happened was this. The hearings on the Assange extradition in January 2020 did not seem to be going well for the US government. The arguments that political extradition is specifically banned by the UK/US extradition treaty, and that the publisher was not responsible for Chelsea Manning’s whistleblowing on war crimes, appeared to be strong. The US Justice Department had decided that it therefore needed a new tack and to discover some “crimes” by Assange that seemed less noble than the Manning revelations.

To achieve this, the FBI turned to an informant in Iceland, Sigi Thordarson, who was willing to testify that Assange had been involved with him in, inter alia, hacking private banking information and tracking Icelandic police vehicles. This was of course much easier to portray as crime, as opposed to journalism, so the second superseding indictment was produced based on Thordarson’s story, which was elaborated with Thordarson by an FBI team.

The difficulty was that Thordarson was hardly a reliable witness. He had already been convicted in Iceland for stealing approximately $50,000 from Wikileaks and with impersonating Julian Assange online, not to mention the inconvenient fact he is a registered sex offender for online activities with under-age boys. The FBI team was in fact expelled from Iceland by the Icelandic government, who viewed what the FBI was doing with Thordarson as wholly illegitimate.

Notwithstanding all of that, in June 2020 we had the extraordinary position of the US government, 18 months since the start of extradition proceedings and six months after opening arguments had been heard by the court, being permitted completely to change the charges and alleged crimes which were the grounds for extradition, in the second superseding indictment.

On 8 September 2020 I was in court to report Mark Summers QC addressing the question of these new superseding charges:

The court resumed with a new defence application, led by Mark Summers QC, about the new charges from the US governments new superseding indictment. Summers took the court back over the history of this extradition hearing. The first indictment had been drawn up in March of 2018. In January 2019 a provisional request for extradition had been made, which had been implemented in April of 2019 on Assange’s removal from the Embassy. In June 2019 this was replaced by the full request with a new, second indictment which had been the basis of these proceedings before today. A whole series of hearings had taken place on the basis of that second indictment.

The new superseding indictment dated from 20 June 2020. In February and May 2020 the US government had allowed hearings to go ahead on the basis of the second indictment, giving no warning, even though they must by that stage have known the new superseding indictment was coming. They had given neither explanation nor apology for this.

The defence had not been properly informed of the superseding indictment, and indeed had learnt of its existence only through a US government press release on 20 June. It had not finally been officially served in these proceedings until 29 July, just six weeks ago. At first, it had not been clear how the superseding indictment would affect the charges, as the US government was briefing it made no difference but just gave additional detail. But on 21 August 2020, not before, it finally became clear in new US government submissions that the charges themselves had been changed.

There were now new charges that were standalone and did not depend on the earlier allegations. Even if the 18 Manning related charges were rejected, these new allegations could still form grounds for extradition. These new allegations included encouraging the stealing of data from a bank and from the government of Iceland, passing information on tracking police vehicles, and hacking the computers both of individuals and of a security company.

“How much of this newly alleged material is criminal is anybody’s guess”, stated Summers, going on to explain that it was not at all clear that an Australian giving advice from outwith Iceland to someone in Iceland on how to crack a code, was actually criminal if it occurred in the UK. This was even without considering the test of dual criminality in the US also, which had to be passed before the conduct was subject to extradition.

It was unthinkable that allegations of this magnitude would be the subject of a Part 2 extradition hearing within six weeks if they were submitted as a new case. Plainly that did not give the defence time to prepare, or to line up witnesses to these new charges. Among the issues relating to these new charges the defence would wish to address, were that some were not criminal, some were out of time limitation, some had already been charged in other fora (including Southwark Crown Court and courts in the USA).

There were also important questions to be asked about the origins of some of these charges and the dubious nature of the witnesses. In particular the witness identified as “teenager” was the same person identified as “Iceland 1” in the previous indictment. That indictment had contained a “health warning” over this witness given by the US Department of Justice. This new indictment removed that warning. But the fact was, this witness is Sigurdur Thordarson, who had been convicted in Iceland in relation to these events of fraud, theft, stealing Wikileaks money and material and impersonating Julian Assange.

The indictment did not state that the FBI had been “kicked out of Iceland for trying to use Thordarson to frame Assange”, stated Summers baldly.

Summers said all these matters should be ventilated in these hearings if the new charges were to be heard, but the defence simply did not have time to prepare its answers or its witnesses in the brief six weeks it had since receiving them, even setting aside the extreme problems of contact with Assange in the conditions in which he was being held in Belmarsh prison.

The defence would plainly need time to prepare answers to these new charges, but it would plainly be unfair to keep Assange in jail for the months that would take. The defence therefore suggested that these new charges should be excised from the conduct to be considered by the court, and they should go ahead with the evidence on criminal behaviour confined to what conduct had previously been alleged.

Summers argued it was “entirely unfair” to add what were in law new and separate criminal allegations, at short notice and “entirely without warning and not giving the defence time to respond to it. What is happening here is abnormal, unfair and liable to create real injustice if allowed to continue.”

The arguments submitted by the prosecution now rested on these brand new allegations. For example, the prosecution now countered the arguments on the rights of whistleblowers and the necessity of revealing war crimes by stating that there can have been no such necessity to hack into a bank in Iceland.

Summers concluded that the “case should be confined to that conduct which the American government had seen fit to allege in the eighteen months of the case” before their second new indictment.

Baraitser refused to rule out the new charges, and then did rule out the immediate defence request for an adjournment to give them time to respond to the new charges. At the end of the hearings she refused to accept the Peirce affidavit explaining why the defence was unable to respond. The court had by then spent nearly a month listening to witnesses refuting the first superseding indictment, as prepared by the defence, but nothing addressing the second superseding indictment.

Summers was absolutely furious when Baraitser refused to accept Peirce’s affidavit on the subject, to the extent he was still explosive in the street outside after the hearings had concluded.

While Baraitser’s eventual decision barred extradition on the grounds of Assange’s health and US inhumane prison conditions, the second superseding indictment and Thordarson’s accusations were accepted as a valid basis for extradition.

Thordarson has now told Icelandic magazine Stundin that his allegations against Assange contained in the indictment are untrue, and that Assange had not solicited the hacking of bank or police details. This is hardly a shock, though Thordarson’s motives for coming clean now are obscure; he is plainly a deeply troubled and often malicious individual.
Thordarson was always the most unreliable of witnesses, and I find it impossible to believe that the FBI cooperation with him was ever any more than deliberate fabrication of evidence by the FBI.

Edward Snowden has tweeted that Thordarson recanting will end the case against Julian Assange. Most certainly it should end it, but I fear it will not.

Many things should have ended the case against Assange. The First Amendment, the ban on political extradition in the US/UK Extradition Treaty, the CIA spying on the preparations of Assange’s defence counsel, all of these should have stopped the case dead in its tracks.

It is now five months since extradition was refused, no US government appeal against that decision has yet been accepted by the High Court, and yet Julian remains confined to the UK’s highest security prison. The revelation that Thordarson’s allegations are fabricated – which everyone knew already, Baraitser just pretended she didn’t – is just one more illegality that the Establishment will shimmy over in its continued persecution of Assange.

Assange democratised information and gave real power to the people for a while, worldwide. He revealed US war crimes. For that his life is destroyed. Neither law nor truth have anything to do with it.

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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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Warmongering British Actions in the Black Sea

The pre-positioning of the BBC correspondent on HMS Defender shatters the pretence that the BBC is something different to a state propaganda broadcaster. It also makes plain that this propaganda exercise to provoke the Russian military was calculated and deliberate. Indeed that was confirmed by that BBC correspondent’s TV news report last night when he broadcast that the Defender’s route “had been approved at the very highest levels of the British government.”

The Prime Minister does not normally look at the precise positions of British ships. This was a deliberate act of dangerous belligerence.

The presence of a BBC correspondent is more than a political point. In fact it has important legal consequences. One thing that is plain is that the Defender cannot possible claim it was engaged in “innocent passage” through territorial waters, between Odessa and Georgia. Let me for now leave aside the fact that there is absolutely no necessity to pass within 12 miles of Cape Fiolent on such passage, and the designated sea lane (originally designated by Ukraine) stays just out of the territorial sea. Look at the definition of innocent passage in Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea:

Very plainly this was not innocent passage. It was certainly 2 (d) an act of propaganda, and equally certainly 2 (c), an exercise in collecting information on military defences. I would argue it is also 2 (a), a threat of force.

So far as I can establish, the British are not claiming they were engaged in innocent passage, which is plainly nonsense, but that they were entering territorial waters off Crimea at the invitation of the government of Ukraine, and that they regard Crimea as the territory of Ukraine and Crimean territorial waters as Ukrainian territorial waters.

I want to impress on you how mad this is. The whole point of “territorial sea” is that, legally, it is an integral part of the state and that the state’s full domestic law applies within the territorial sea. That is not the case with the much larger 200 mile exclusive economic zone or sometimes even larger continental shelf, where the coastal state’s legal jurisdiction only applies to specific marine or mineral resources rights.

Let me put it this way. If somebody is murdered on a ship within twelve nautical miles of the coast, the coastal state has jurisdiction and its law applies. If somebody is murdered on a ship more than twelve miles off the coast, the jurisdiction and law of the flag state of the ship applies, not the law of any coastal state in whose exclusive economic zone the ship is.

In international law, the twelve mile territorial sea is as much part of the state as its land. So to sail a warship into Crimean territorial seas is exactly the same act as to land a regiment of paratroops in the Crimea and declare you are doing so at the invitation of the Government of Ukraine.

There is no dispute that Russia is in de facto control of the Crimea, irrespective of British support for the government of Ukraine’s claim to the region. It is also true that Russian annexation of the Crimea was not carried out in an accordance with international law. However, it is not, in practice, likely to be reversed and the situation needs to be resolved by treaty or by the International Court of Justice. In the interim, the UK government legal position can only be that Russia is an “occupying power”. It is impossible that the UK government legal position is that Ukraine is in “effective control” of the territory.

We need to see the legal advice provided by FCO legal advisers. It is simply not the practice in international law to ignore the existence of an occupying power which is a recognised state, and act with armed forces on the authority of a government not in effective control. The difference in British attitude towards Russia as an occupying power and towards Israel is tellingly different.

The legality of the British action is, at very best, moot. In realpolitik, it is an act of brinkmanship with a nuclear power and further effort to ramp up the new Cold War with Russia, to the benefit of the military, security services and armaments companies and the disbenefit of those who need more socially useful government spending. It is further an act of jingoist populism for the neo-liberal elite to distract the masses, as the billionaires’ incredible wealth continues to boom.

NATO will shortly commence a naval exercise in the Black Sea. As not all the member states of NATO are quite as unhinged as Johnson, it is to be hoped it will refrain from this kind of extra layer of provocation. There is a large part of me that says they cannot possibly be mad enough to attempt to intervene in Ukraine with military force, or at least its threat. But then I look at Johnson and Biden, and worry. This can all go horribly wrong.

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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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Black Ops in the Black Sea

Sometimes it is worth stating the obvious. The United Kingdom does not have a coast in the Black Sea. British warships are not infesting the Black Sea out of a peaceful intent, and there is no cause for them to be entering disputed waters close to anybody’s coast. This is not a question of freedom of navigation under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. There is nowhere that a British warship can be heading from the UK under the right of innocent passage that would require it to pass through coastal waters by Crimea. The Black Sea is famously a cul-de-sac.

There is certainly a right to pass to the Ukrainian port of Odessa – but that in now way requires passing close to Crimea. This is therefore not “innocent passage”. There is a right of passage through the Kerch strait, which Russia has to date respected. Russia has not just a right but a duty to enforce sea lanes for safe navigation through the strait, exactly as the UK does off Dover.

I expect we will now be in for a mad frenzy of Russophobia, yet again. I shall comment further once I have more details of why and exactly where Russia was firing warning shots. But just remember this, it was not Russian warships near the British coast, it was British warships in an area where they had no business other than ludicrous, British nationalist, sabre-rattling.

The UK needs to lose its imperial delusions. Sending gunboats to the Crimea is as mad as – well, sailing an aircraft carrier expressly to threaten the Chinese. There are those who see this activity as evidence of the UK’s continued great power status. I see it as evidence of lunacy.

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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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Assange Is Still in Jail

Julian Assange remains in a maximum security jail, despite never being sentenced for anything but a long ago served spell for bail-jumping, and despite the US Government’s request for extradition having been refused.

It is approaching six months since I was in court to hear the decision rejecting Julian’s extradition, and it was in the same week that Baraitser ordered Julian be kept in jail pending a US appeal. Since then the US has submitted its appeal, which is somewhat intemperate in its efforts to discredit a number of highly distinguished expert witnesses at the hearing. The defence has submitted its response, including notice of points, where Baraitser found for the US, that the defence intend to counter-appeal.

Then for over three months – nothing. The High Court has not only not set a date for the US appeal, it has not even indicated if the US appeal meets the bar to be heard – there is some thought that the appeal lacks any arguable points of law and may be simply rejected. But the seemingly leisurely approach of the High Court to looking at the matter is entirely inappropriate given that, in the meantime, an innocent man is suffering the most extreme form of incarceration available in the UK.

Assange’s status is that his extradition has been rejected. He ought not to be in jail at all, let alone in such harsh conditions.

By contrast, I am sitting in my study despite being sentenced to eight months in jail. I am at liberty while the Supreme Court decides whether to hear my appeal. My lawyers believe, from their contact with the court administrators, that it is entirely possible that the Supreme Court will decide on whether to take my appeal, within the four week suspension of my jail sentence granted by Lady Dorrian. This is because otherwise I might be imprisoned.

Why can the Supreme Court potentially decide whether to hear my appeal so quickly due to the threat of imprisonment, when the High Court is taking six times or more as long to decide whether to hear the US appeal, when an innocent man is already imprisoned? It makes no sense.

It is not due to complexity: while of course Julian’s case is more important, any points of law at issue in the US appeal are notably less complex than in my own appeal. To me, the only possible explanation is the determination of the state to keep Julian imprisoned at all costs.

It is now plain that Biden intends to press forward with the charging of Julian, a publisher and journalist, under the Espionage Act. This despite the opposition, however belated, of every major news organisation and every major civil liberties oriented NGO. Biden’s recent European trip was choreographed to establish his full credentials as a Cold War warrior and to ensure a western orthodoxy of hostility towards China. Biden is proving, as predicted, a perfect representative of the security and military state.

Having seen off the $15 minimum wage and proposals for meaningful “New Deal” expenditure, Biden can get down to the serious neo-liberal work of improving the fortunes of the ultra-wealthy.

In October 2020, I published a post specifically about the massive suppression on the internet of information about the corrupt dealings of Joe and Hunter Biden, particularly in Ukraine. On 10 February 2021 I published an article about the sacking of Nathan Robinson from the Guardian, which included his statement that the Guardian had spiked his column about Hunter Biden’s corruption.

Russell Brand caused a stir last week when he spoke about the suppression of information about Biden corruption, along precisely the lines of my article last October. He was of course immediately “othered”, as has been Glenn Greenwald.

There is a fascinating phenomenon in western democracies of fake liberal left political parties acting as enablers of the global billionaire elite. Biden, Starmer, Sturgeon, Macron, Trudeau, Sanchez, all pretend to be some kind of alternative to rampant neo-liberalism while acting as its most effective enablers. All are very willing advocates of not just neo-liberalism but the military and security complex and the NATO cold war stance, plus companions in the steady ratcheting down on civil liberties. None has the slightest intention of closing the gap between ordinary people and the super-wealthy.

The democracy of false choice appears to be a decent working title for the current state of western society.

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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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The Mind of Lady Dorrian

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.

[68] 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.

[4] 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.

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The Decline of Western Power

Boris Johnson sees himself as the heritor of a world bestriding Imperial mantle, but in truth he cannot bestride the Irish Sea. The overshadowing of the G7 summit by his peculiar concern that Irish sausages should not be eaten by those in Northern Ireland who do not believe in evolution, was a fascinating examplar of British impotence as he failed to persuade anybody else to support him. It looks like Danish bacon for the shops of Belfast and Derry will have to be imported through Dun Laoghaire and not through Larne. Ho hum.

The really interesting thing about the G7 summit is that it wasn’t interesting. Nobody expected it to change the world, and it won’t. John Pilger pointed out the key fact. Twenty years ago the G7 constituted two thirds of the world economy. Now they constitute one third. They don’t even represent most of the world’s billionaires any longer, though those billionaires they do represent – and indeed some of the billionaires they don’t represent – were naturally pulling the strings of these rather sluggish puppets.

It used to be that any important sporting event in any developing country would feature hoardings for western multinationals, such as Pepsi Cola and Nestle baby milk. Nowadays I am watching the Euros football pitches surrounded by electronic hoardings in Chinese. The thing about power is this; it shifts with time.

None of the commitments made on covid or climate change constituted any new money, any real transfer of wealth or technology. It was a non-event. Nobody will ever look back at anything beyond the personal as having started last weekend in Cornwall.

From there, pretty well the same people moved on to pretend to bestride the world militarily at NATO, where the first job was to pretend they had not lost the long Afghan war they have just, err, lost.

At NATO, they stuck out their tongues at China, which has upset them a lot by becoming the world’s most powerful nation. China was accused of an aggressive military posture, which is amusing in its utter lack of truth. Other than some construction of tiny artificial islands (which China is in fact wrong to claim can generate maritime claims according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea), it is very difficult to understand on what this NATO accusation of aggression is based.

If China really is trying to outdo many centuries of western Imperial conquest – stretching up to the recent destructions of Libya and Syria – by building tiny artificial islands, it is a plan of extreme cunning and patience. NATO seem to have discovered their new enemy by reading Ian Fleming.

Let me tell you something that actually is true. I cannot think of any instance in world history of any power enjoying the level of economic dominance currently enjoyed by China, and yet showing such restraint and lack of interest in Imperial conquest. It is not China which is sailing aircraft carriers towards Boris Johnson, it is the other way round. In fact the restraint China shows in not carrying out the simple task of sinking Johnson’s silly aircraft carrier, undermines the propaganda of thousands of NATO press officers and social media operatives, including the UK’s very own 77th Brigade and Integrity Initiative.

It is even sillier to attempt to terrify us all with the thought that the Russians are coming. I know it upsets the Putin fans when I say it, but Russia’s share of the world economy has declined just as the G7 share has. As Russia was always, and still is, poorer than the poorest of the G7 nations, the NATO attempt to portray Russia as a great threat is really rather silly. If there is truth in the story of a couple of super military intelligence officers traveling widely but not killing many people, and of cunning Russian computer hackers engaging in cyber warfare while leaving cyrillic fingerprints behind, in a manner strangely identical to the CIA guidance on how to lay Russian false flags as shown in the Wikileaks vault 7 releases, then it is still difficult for me to understand why this would all require trillions of dollars in military hardware to stop it.

Interrupting hacking with Trident missiles seems neither cost effective nor proportionate. But then I am not an ace NATO military strategist.

Follow the money. Of course the NATO show is all about diverting simply incredible amounts of our money and resources into the military industrial complex, which is permanently profitable for politician backhanders; the arms industry remains the only “legitimate” industry more corrupt than banking, which is quite a feat.

I shall sleep safe in my bed at night knowing that the money NATO spends just this year to keep me safe from the Russian and Chinese tanks which are absolutely poised to roll up Princes Street, could have eliminated malaria forever. God bless our glorious leaders.

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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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Hating Peter Tatchell

I would dearly love to say that I am a friend of Peter Tatchell, but I can’t really claim to be more than an acquaintance and perhaps ally. We have shared a platform several times, always say hi to each other at demos and events where we see each other, but have never really had a personal conversation. Peter always appears to me somewhat withdrawn; a mutual friend described him to me as aloof. I think he is shy, which seems a strange thing to say about someone whose life has been, as the new Netflix documentary Hating Peter Tatchell makes plain, a series of spectacular and often individual performance protest events.

In the documentary you see Peter get brutally beaten by nationalist extremists in Russia, and by Mugabe henchmen in London. You see some remarkably un-Christian blows hit him as he is removed from the pulpit at Canterbury cathedral. You learn his mum was a religious bigot and he was very brutally beaten, as attested by his mother and sister, by an extremely violent stepfather, who looks in photos a caricature thug. There is a fragility and vulnerability about Peter that makes you want to protect him; but he still ventures into danger.

The documentary features almost exclusively Peter’s campaigning for gay rights, which is a weakness as his canvas is much broader than that. There are some interesting ironies along the way which are missed. It refrains from pointing out that the victor and beneficiary of the appalling homophobic campaign against Peter in the Bermondsey by-election was Simon Hughes, himself then firmly in the closet. Extracts from a Glasgow TV show, in which Tatchell is heavily criticised by young people for “outing” gays, very briefly show the show’s host John Nicholson – who I am pretty sure was himself in the closet at the time.

It is very good to be reminded by this documentary that widespread and open homophobia was a major force in British society right through the 1980’s. Peter Tatchell deserves a place in history as one of the leaders in changing that, and I am proud to know him. I strongly commend the documentary to you. However its weakness lies in trying to squeeze Peter through the Overton window. By focusing on gay rights alone, it can portray Peter as the victor, who is now in line with accepted attitudes.

The documentary explicitly states he became a “national treasure” when he took on Mugabe. The big set-piece is his taking on Putin’s Russia by traveling to the World Cup and demonstrating in Red Square against the killing and torture of gays in Chechnya. Any pro-gay demonstration in Russia takes enormous courage, but the police dealing with him on this occasion were polite and non-violent and he was released the next day. Peter is however quite right in outlining discrimination against gays in Russia and Putin’s tolerance or even encouragement of it. The accumulation of Overton-signaling soft targets towards the end of the documentary is completed by a brief clip of him interrupting Jeremy Corbyn to protest against human rights violations by Assad.

I don’t exactly blame the documentary makers, who had to sell the film and get at least some of their money back, but this mainstream media friendly Tatchell is just one corner of the picture. He does not just take on designated western enemies such as Putin, Mugabe and Assad.

Peter has been an extremely dedicated supporter of Julian Assange, turning up repeatedly for years outside the Ecuador Embassy and at subsequent demos, often alone and unannounced, and without pushing himself forward to speak (I have found a reluctance to integrate Peter into the Assange defence campaign, which puzzles me).

The documentary shows him trying to arrest Mugabe but there is no mention of his still more spectacular ambush of Blair’s motorcade and attempt to arrest the war criminal. His steadfast and active support for Palestine, his opposition to Trident and to the Iraq and Afghan wars, all this is shown only in the end credits by the banners he is holding. His long-running campaign against Saudi Arabian human rights violations, and those of other Gulf states, is ignored in favour of Western “enemies”.

This is my favourite Tatchell placard:

Peter Tatchell is, to me, a great hero and always will be. I probably do not agree with him on every single issue, but no sentient human being should ever agree with any other on absolutely everything – if you do, one of you is not actually thinking.

A final thought. I have repeatedly stated that the Westminster government will not voluntarily give up Scotland, and only agreed to the 2014 referendum because they thought it impossible to lose. They got a huge shock and will not go that route again. Winning Scottish Independence is almost certainly going to involve a measure of civil disobedience. This documentary is a profound lesson in how civil disobedience can bring about social and political change, and the sacrifices it entails, and I urge you to watch it with that perspective.

———————————————

 
 
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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State Suppression

Yesterday the House of Commons was debating “safety of journalists”. After reams of MP waffle about evil foreigners, the Alba Party was allocated 60 seconds and tried to use it to raise my case.

That is a completely unedited extract from Hansard. So much for the “mother of democracies”.

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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:




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

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Official: Lady Dorrian Rules Courts Should Apply Different Standards to Bloggers and Mainstream Media

We are racing to lodge our application to the Supreme Court by Friday, so I am just going to post an email I just sent my legal team:

BEGINS

This is an extraordinary passage of the Opinion:

“(4) 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”.

What does the last sentence mean in practice? Well, submissions for the applicant only made comparisons with other press contempts in two areas:

1) Disproportionate sentencing compared to other press contempts

2) Implicitly, that the opinion poll showing mainstream media responsible for far more jigsaw identification demonstrates selective prosecution.

It seems to me much more likely she is referring to 1). In which case she can ONLY mean there should be a different sentencing tariff for bloggers than mainstream media. IN PRACTICE SHE IS ARGUING THAT BLOGGERS SHOULD BE JAILED AND MAINSTREAM MEDIA NOT.

If she did mean 2), she can only be arguing that a different bar for contempt? jigsaw identification? should be applied to mainstream media journalists as opposed to bloggers, and it is OK selectively to prosecute bloggers but not mainstream media for doing the same thing.

Either way, this seems to me a screaming red flag Article 10 AND due process area that ought to grab the attention of the Supreme Court.

It seems to me quite incredible to argue that an employee of Murdoch or other tabloids has intrinsically higher ethical standards than a former senior diplomat, British Ambassador and University Rector, and therefore the tabloid hack must be, openly and acknowledged, treated by more favorable standards by the courts.

Frankly, that is nuts. I find it hard to believe she wrote that paragraph – but I am very glad she did. It shows a very great deal indeed.

———————————–

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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An Open Letter to Lady Dorrian

My name is Nadira Murray, wife of Craig Murray. On the 7th of June Craig will be sent to prison per your decision under the law of contempt of court.

I understand and fully support your decision of protecting sexual assault victims however I do not feel Craig has been judged fairly. Craig even wouldn’t tell me the women’s names or identities, or ever foul mouth them during the trial when I asked about it.

Craig does protect and previously had directly helped many women who suffered abuse including a few women’s asylum seekers’ cases, without any payment.

In my country Uzbekistan, he sourced British government funding as well as giving his own money for victims of domestic abuse in a hospital refuge in Samarkand. These were women who had attempted to burn themselves to death with kerosine this is a local culture for abused women.

I have been living with Craig for almost two decades now, and I know him as a gentle soul, a helpful human being, a kind partner and a loving dad to his four children.

Having come from an abused background and then police state, I know exactly what trauma is, and your unfair decision is a form of power abuse, which brings back my own PTSD trauma from my own country from authorities.

I gave birth recently, with a 3 months old baby now, and have a 12 year old son, and my work from home – Craig has been a helpful hand and the main income in the household. My children need their daddy, I need my partner.

Him being under my watch (as his doctors stated his conditions are pulmonary hypertension, APS and atrial fibrillation, among other illnesses) I worry his health is not suitable for the prison which you ignored and took away his basic human rights. Prison hospitals are not suitable for his type of serious illness!

I believe you are sending him to a deliberate death sentence knowing and ignoring his health conditions.

I urge you to reconsider the sentence and allow Craig to be at home with his children who need him.

Yours sincerely,

Nadira Murray
4 June 2021

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Craig Murray’s Trial: What Happens Next

Post By Kirsten MacDonald

On Monday morning, Lady Dorrian and two supporting judges will hear the application from Roddy Dunlop QC for Craig Murray to be allowed to appeal to the UK Supreme Court against both their verdict of contempt of court for jigsaw identification, and against the disproportionate sentence.

It is widely expected, given the obvious animus against Murray she has shown throughout the proceedings, that leave to appeal will be refused and Lady Dorrian will commit Craig Murray to jail, probably from Wednesday 9 June. At that stage, Murray’s legal team will have to apply direct to the UK Supreme Court to grant him an appeal, but his eight month sentence will likely be served before the Supreme Court even looks at whether to consider it.

For comparison, the English High Court has not yet decided whether to hear the United States appeal against the decision to refuse extradition of Julian Assange, even though Assange remains in Belmarsh prison while they decide whether to take their case. Murray languishing in Saughton or Barlinnie is unlikely to be a consideration for the Supreme Court.

There is no precedent for an appeal against conviction for contempt of court in Scotland to be heard by the UK Supreme Court; we are in uncharted waters. It is possible for Lady Dorrian to grant interim liberation so that Murray is not jailed pending a decision on taking his case by the UK Supreme Court, and then further until they had decided the case. The UK Supreme Court does not itself have power to grant liberation.

But anybody who heard Lady Dorrian interrupt Roddy Dunlop QC six times in the opening four minutes of his mitigation plea, and heard her tone of voice in the sentencing remarks, would view it as very unlikely she will delay imprisonment. One experienced reporter said to me that they had never heard any judge so “emotionally invested”.

There was one moment at the end of the sentencing hearing when there was consternation among the judges, noted by those with videolink access. When Roddy Dunlop QC stated that they would seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, Lady Dorrian’s air of stern control dissipated momentarily and there was a moment where all three judges were visibly, physically shifting around uncomfortably.

Lady Dorrian replied that any appeal would be to the nobile officium, an ad hoc court peculiar to the Scottish system which is brought into being where no other appeal route exists. That appeal would in effect be to Lord Carloway, Chief Justice of Scotland and an extremely close friend as well as colleague of Lady Dorrian, supported by a panel of judges all of whom work under Lady Dorrian, the Lord Justice Clerk.

The Murray team had decided such an appeal would be utterly pointless. There is very serious concern that the system of justice in Scotland has been corrupted, as expounded this week in the House of Commons by no less than Scotland’s former Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill MP:

Since the days of learning about the Gordon Airs case, HM Advocate v. Airs, I always assumed that those who were seeking to put forward information that was appropriate and fair would be protected. Yet in Scotland, in the fallout from the Alex Salmond affair, we have seen Mark Hirst, a journalist, prosecuted. The case, in which he was supported by the NUJ, was rightly rejected by the presiding sheriff in the borders. We have seen Craig Murray, a blogger and former British senior civil servant, now facing a prison sentence of eight months. That is not only shocking, but drives a coach and horses through a position brought in by the Scottish Government that there be a presumption against a sentence of imprisonment for less than a year. Their absence of criticism and their failure to comment has been quite shocking.

It is not simply cases brought by the Crown. It is the cases that have been pursued by the police, where people so much as tweeting anything that might be seen as possibly identifying a witness have faced a knock on the door from the police. That is fundamentally damaging to Scottish democracy. It is not what I expect and it has not come about by happenchance. It has been deliberate. It has been targeted. It is being driven by the Crown Office. If we are to have a free press, there has to be free reporting. That has to apply to bloggers as much as it applies to the mainstream press.

That people have been charged in Scottish courts and have faced possible terms of imprisonment for simply doing exactly the same as the mainstream press has done but not faced prosecution is simply unacceptable. There is also a reason that I am required to raise it here: it is that the position of the Lord Advocate of Scotland is no longer tenable. There has to be a separation of powers of having one individual who is both a legal adviser to the Scottish Government and also the head of the prosecution service in Scotland. That is no longer appropriate

Murray’s legal team effectively decided to break for the border and get the case out of corrupt Edinburgh. Roddy Dunlop QC argued that, by statute, the appeal against any ruling of a panel of two or more Scottish High Court judges is to the UK Supreme Court. There had been some legal consternation as to why Murray’s contempt case was heard by a panel of three judges in the first instance, which is unusual. It was perhaps intended to increase the thin veneer of respectability of these highly political proceedings, but it seems they may have shot themselves in the foot by providing an escape route away from the nobile officium, which plainly caught Dorrian completely off guard when Dunlop first raised it. Lord Turnbull looked around as if an answer to this development might be lurking somewhere behind him in his study. It was the most bizarre moment in these entirely bizarre virtual proceedings.

So Monday will be about the denial to Murray of the right to appeal. That a blogger might be jailed with no jury and no right of appeal, for a jigsaw identification which few other than Lady Dorrian were able to perceive, is a stain on the reputation of Scotland.

But not necessarily a black mark for Lady Dorrian. Many believe her ambition is to replace Lord Carloway, who retires shortly, as Lord President – Scotland’s top judge. The appointment will be made by the Queen on the recommendation of Nicola Sturgeon.

Lady Dorrian, while the Murray case was engaged in its painfully slow process, produced a report for the Scottish Government suggesting the abolition of juries in cases of sexual assault, and that accusers should not attend court or be cross-examined by defence lawyers. Dorrian’s public advocacy of this on the BBC alongside the Scottish Government funded Rape Crisis Scotland, will, to say the least, do her no harm with Nicola Sturgeon.

Murray is of course one of Sturgeon’s fiercest critics and opposes both the abolition of juries and the abolition of the right of defence lawyers to cross-examine accusers. The prime thrust of the reporting for which he is being jailed was that Nicola Sturgeon was behind the false accusations that were made against Alex Salmond.

There is a real possibility that aspects of Dorrian’s handling of the Murray case could come in for serious criticism by the Supreme Court. These include her acceptance of a handful of anonymous tweets claiming to have learnt identities from Murray’s blog (with zero evidence they actually knew identities) as having important evidential weight, her effective dismissal of his entire affidavits as lies despite hearing no evidence that contradicted them, her making no reference at any stage to Salmond’s acquittal (indeed both her judgement and sentencing remarks on Murray refer to Salmond’s “victims” and “offences” with no “purported”, “alleged” or other qualifier, even after the acquittal), her extremely low bar for jigsaw identification (to any individual who already had specialist knowledge), the breathtakingly draconian sentence, and the curt and offhand dismissal of all Article X ECHR freedom of speech arguments.

If Dorrian grants the appeal to the Supreme Court, she is opening herself up to criticism at a crucial time in her career. As one lawyer put it to me, to grant the appeal would be “asking for a kicking”. If she refuses permission to appeal, she is putting back any Supreme Court decision probably for two years, and giving herself the ability to imprison and silence Murray in the interim.

Murray’s team have very little hope for Monday.

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Not Forgetting Palestine

Once you have been active in politics for a few decades, you get used to the popular convulsions of support for Palestine every few years when Israel military action against Gaza becomes particularly intense. Then follows a ceasefire, the media move on and Israel resumes the daily routine of low level evictions, destruction of tree crops, imprisonments and murders that accomplishes the gradual extinction of the territories that the Western powers pretended to intend for a Palestinian state.

For the media, 50 Palestinian children killed in a week has been a story. The regular killing of 50 a year is not; and anybody who thinks it is must be labeled an anti-semite and hounded from political life.

As a young man, the two great injustices we campaigned on were South Africa and Palestine. I never dreamt the latter abuse would possibly outlast me. These two issues resonated so much because they were both remnants of European colonial arrogance, founded on racism and a sense of cultural superiority. Nowadays I cannot even think myself into a mindset that says that for the greater good of the United Kingdom, it is OK to deport the entire population of the Chagos Islands to make way for a military base. But that was the view not just of governments, but of Labour governments, inside my own lifetime.

I should like to think that the undeniable openness of Israeli apartheid rule has made a fundamental shift in thinking towards Palestine, but I do not think much has in fact changed, and the media and political class remain bought and paid for on the issue.

The general British population may return to slumber until the next major bombings, but one man who will not forget is Richard Barnard of Palestine Action. Incredibly, Barnard has been charged by police and the Crown Prosecution Service with blackmail for proposing to hunger strike until the Israeli Elbit weapons factories in the UK are closed down.

That is not a mistake; he really is charged with blackmail for a proposed hunger strike. I have been trying to find precedent for this and while I can find examples of the argument being made that hunger strike is emotional extortion, I certainly cannot find any example, anywhere in the world, of actual prosecution. The International Committee of the Red Cross has considered the ethical argument with relation to prisoners:

Hunger strikers are often criticized for using their physical welfare as an instrument of protest, the (debatable) argument being that this constitutes a form of blackmail. It is inappropriate to assert, however, that hunger strikers should be placed in the same category as persons intending to commit suicide. This is a simplistic approach to the issue which wrongly reduces it to purely medical terms: namely, that since any doctor would come to the assistance of someone who attempts suicide, so hunger strikers should be „assisted“ (i e force-fed) to prevent them from „killing themselves“.

This is certainly a misconception. Someone who attempts suicide is either appealing for help, as in the majority of cases, or he truly wants to end his life. (The “black-and-white case” often cited here is that of a general, found guilty of treason, who prefers to blow his brains out rather than face a shameful court-martial. Although some doctors would even argue for a case of acute and severe depression, it can be claimed that not all suicides are necessarily to be “medicalized”.) The clear-cut case of a politically motivated hunger striker is different. The striker does not want to die: on the contrary, he wants to „live better“, by obtaining something for himself, his group or his country. If necessary, he is willing to sacrifice his life for his cause, but the aim is certainly not suicide. (Soldiers charging a heavily defended enemy position also run the risk of dying. Are the suicidal too?} All too often hunger strikers who fast up to or beyond the limits of irreversible physiological consequences are labelled as suicidal. This naturally gives any prison or judicial authority the perfect excuse for ordering doctors to intervene forcibly.

As I am shortly likely to become the first person in the UK – and so far as I can tell, the first person in the world – to be jailed for supposed “jigsaw identification” of witnesses, I accept I have a jaundiced view of the novel abuse of law against dissenters. Having witnessed and reported day after day after day of abuse of process in the extradition hearing of Julian Assange, I have entirely lost any faith in the justice system where it collides with the wishes of government. But the persecution of Richard Barnard for his calling out the UK’s role in the manufacture of instruments for the death and maiming of Palestinians takes things to a whole new level. The law is twisted by power to make all dissent criminal.

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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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Fighting On

Just to let you know that, after a week of feeling horribly ill, I am now pretty well recovered and ready for the challenges ahead. I will get the MRI scan results next week, but not particularly apprehensive.

I see yesterday the supposedly irresistible combination of Gordon Brown and the follically challenged Earl Strathearn met secretly to save the union. Which is a good time to remind you of this fact, which the media have wiped from history:

Gordon Brown, 2010 UK General Election: 8,609,527 votes – 29.0%

Jeremy Corbyn, 2019 UK General Election: 10,269.051 votes – 32.1%

By tacking hard to the right, confusing opposition with abstention, and making uncritical support of Israel a condition of membership, Keir Starmer is trying very, very hard to do even worse than the idiot Brown. But it’s a tough bar to get below.

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EU States Combined to Force Down Snowden Flight

The USA, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Austria combined to force down President Evo Morales’ jet in Vienna in 2013 after the CIA falsely reported whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board. The monumental cynicism of these nations in sanctioning Belarus for a directly comparable action is sickening, even by the standards of western hypocrisy. Indeed, to force down a Presidential jet covered by diplomatic immunity is a greater offence to international law than Belarus forcing down the Ryanair flight.

Both actions are wrong. You will excuse me also for pointing out that there is no sanction on Israel for targeting over 30 news organisations in Gaza and bombing them.

Perhaps I might go still further and mention that as I am about to go to jail for dissident blogging, I see the western powers as having limited moral authority to complain of Belarus jailing dissident bloggers? That is even without mentioning the long term persecution and entirely false accusation of my friend and the world’s greatest exposer of war crimes and government corruption, Julian Assange.

Apologies for the very short post. Am not too well and have been confined to bed since yesterday. I have an MRI scan in the morning, but hope and intend to bounce back very soon.

In the event I am put in jail at short notice, I wish to make plain that I am absolutely happy with my family and in fighting form, raring to get to the Supreme Court and there is no chance whatsoever that I will voluntarily commit suicide.

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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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Chilling – Not In a Good Way

Dave Llewellyn sat next to me in the public gallery of the Salmond trial as we witnessed the defence witnesses – largely female – who shredded the prosecution case. A few weeks ago, seven detectives of the Serious Crime Squad raided Dave’s home at 5am, handcuffed him and questioned him over conspiracy to murder – in relation to a public Facebook post. Dave has now been charged with a lesser but still imprisonable offence.

You will recall Mark Hirst, friend of both Dave and I, being charged with threatening communication for using the expression “reap the whirlwind” in a political sense – a charge from the Crown Office so outrageous that it was eventually thrown out by the court as “no case to answer”. Well, the Dave Llewellyn case is extremely similar.

Future poet laureate John Betjeman should have been hung, drawn and quartered, oh at least three times, for writing in his famous poem “Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough”, if the standard of pretend literalness and credulity being applied by Police Scotland and the Crown Office had been applied to Betjeman. (And no, Dave’s post does not reference bombs.)

The truth is that in Scotland we now have a police, prosecutorial and justice system which is at the disposal of the Sturgeon clique for the pursuit of their private vendettas against political opponents. The fact that I am set to be jailed for “jigsaw identification”, when I demonstrably and provably did far less of this difficult to define activity than the mainstream media, who have not been prosecuted, is further evidence of that, as were the charges against Mark Hirst, and indeed Jeremy Gilchrist.

Please note that all of these political prosecutions have been based on thought crime. People in a small and definable political group – all people I know – are being prosecuted merely for publishing or saying things which annoy somebody in the Sturgeon clique. This is even before the Hate Crime Act, with its further swingeing restrictions on free speech, comes into effect. These are very dangerous times indeed to be any kind of dissident writer or campaigner in Scotland. The interesting thing, of course, is that the political orthodoxy being enforced is superficially liberal-left; a set of right-on beliefs whose exponents are so convinced of their own morality, they are happy to jail anybody who differs.

My personal crime against this orthodoxy is not to accept the mantra that all men accused of sex crime are automatically guilty, and that the “victim” must always be believed, whatever the evidence to the contrary. I also think people accused of serious crime should have the right to be judged by a jury of their peers. These are seriously unfashionable opinions.

On Tuesday I wrote a different post to this. It actually gave the detail of what David Llewellyn posted, and examined it. My article also revealed who was behind the complaint against him, and referred to some interesting history of Llewellyn’s own investigations.

However I received strong advice that to publish my article might itself be construed contempt of court, and that I ran the risk of being instantly jailed rather than free pending appeal, and further that to publish may attract yet another political prosecution from the Crown Office. I therefore did not publish and cannot give you the detail of the Llewellyn case, at least until after its conclusion.

I find this deeply depressing. I should not, in normal circumstances, have had the slightest hesitation in giving you the detail of what is happening to Dave Llewellyn, and more importantly why, in the same way I did with Mark Hirst. I find the notion that my own journalism is successfully being “chilled” in this way highly worrying, and this adds to the sense of injustice I feel in my own case. In fact anger and perhaps even humiliation at the powerlessness – and fear I am becoming a coward – has pretty well prostrated me for three days. I feel somewhat recovered now, and determined to fight on. But for the first time I find myself seriously considering, after my case is concluded, leaving my beloved Scotland and going to live in a country which does not jail dissident writers.

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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 is Left for Palestine?

Western media and politicians are now firmly coalesced around the Israeli government narrative. Israel is unwillingly fighting a war of self-defence in Gaza after hostilities were commenced by aggressive Hamas military attack. The storming of Al Aqsa mosque, the shooting at people in prayer, the right wing mobs attacking East Jerusalem, the Krystallnacht style destruction of Palestinian businesses and lynching of Arab Israelis, none of that ever happened at all. What happened was that Hamas launched a missile war and Israel was obliged, ever so reluctantly, to exercise its right of self defence, with enormous care not to hit civilians, except that, entirely accidentally, the IDF has killed a couple of hundred civilians including scores of children.

Palestinians die in the passive voice in western media. The media always says they “have died”; they were never “killed”, and there is virtually never any attribution of the death. By contrast, Israelis are active voice “killed by Hamas” or “killed by missile strikes”. Look out for this journalistic sophistry – once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

I used to be a firm opponent of missile strikes from Gaza. My view was firstly, that they cannot be militarily targeted so constitute an attack on civilians, secondly that they were a gift to Israeli propaganda, and thirdly that they were militarily ineffective. All of those remain true, and yet my view has changed and I find myself celebrating the fact that Hamas has, against all odds, managed to acquire more and better missiles. Part of that change of view is that I have come to see that there is no such thing as an innocent adult coloniser. But the bigger part is that I cannot see what on earth else the Palestinians are supposed to do.

Western politicians obviously believe that the Palestinians should accept apartheid quietly, and should have the good grace silently to wither away. The ultra-venal leaders of the majority of Arab states also wish the Palestinians would just die and allow them to enjoy the lavish personal benefits of their new alliances with Israel. It is absolutely plain there is no political process of any kind in train to alleviate the Palestinian plight, that even those “liberal” western politicians who floated the idea of a “two state solution” meant, at best, internationally recognised apartheid and bantustans. Joe Biden manages the remarkable feat of being still more zionist than Donald Trump.

Were I a Palestinian, I should undoubtedly have concluded that for an entire nation to turn the other cheek to a power which is seriously intent on genocide, is not a viable policy. Military resistance may seem hopeless, but sometimes to attempt to live with a shout of defiance and an effort to fight is the only dignified option remaining to a human.

It was a beautiful day in Glasgow yesterday for the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Committee demo, and it was great to be able to meet up again with so many magnificent and public-spirited people. It was an especially young crowd, which was excellent, and I was able to meet many Palestinians who drew comfort from the public support at a traumatic time.

Watching Mick Napier very much in charge of events, I was struck by the thought that there are so many really excellent and altruistic people who put their heart and entire lives into good causes for very little credit. Mick has been involved with SPSC as long as I can remember, has won important court victories in Scotland against ridiculous definitions of anti-semitism, and I have seen him at vigils on cold wet nights with a dozen people there. It made me realise how many Mick Napiers I have had the great privilege to know. We must not take the good-hearted for granted.

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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.

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Pollokshields Shows How To Achieve Independence

Kenmure Street stood outside UK law yesterday, as Westminster legislation on immigration, opposed by the people of Scotland, could not physically be enforced by agents of the state. What the people did was gloriously, joyfully illegal. Its illegality must be embraced, not skated over by politicians worried at the precedent of people power.

Scottish cities have a history of social solidarity, and in my lifetime I remember similar scenes over warrant sales and poll tax, and of course roots of popular resistance in Glasgow can be traced back through Tommy Sheridan, Jimmy Reid and John MacLean. But there is, undeniably, an added element of nationalism here. The handmade banners decrying “Team UK” in Kenmure St and the active presence of the SNP’s Roza Salih in a community leadership role, will both be seen as significant in an event which future historians will rightly view as a socially important step on the road to Independence.

There is a strong understanding that this is English oriented immigration law and English racist attitudes towards immigrants, being imposed on a Scotland which feels very differently. Indeed, the contrast between Kenmure Street, and the Labour electoral collapse in Northern England as their voters turn to more open panderers of anti-immigrant snake oil, could not be stronger. It is a part of why Labour in Scotland is doomed until it embraces Independence.

But Kenmure Street is an example in a much wider way. I have repeatedly explained, in detail, that Scotland has the right to self-determination in international law. which specifically states that right cannot be constrained by the domestic legislation of the state from which you are seceding. Otherwise Latvia would still be Soviet and Slovenia would still be Yugoslav. Westminster legislation and its Supreme Court cannot override Scotland’s right to self-determination. It is an inalienable right.

The UK state will never accept the great loss to its resources that would result from Scottish Independence. Scottish territory, seas, military bases, renewable energy, water, minerals, food products, financial institutions, education, and above all “human capital” to exploit, are all viewed as essential to London.

Keeping Scotland is the most vital of all UK national interests. As I have explained till I am blue in the face, David Cameron only agreed the last referendum because at the time Independence stood around 28% in the polls and the UK state apparatus believed the referendum would destroy and humiliate the very idea of Independence. Instead of which, the astonishing Alex Salmond brought it to the brink of achievement.

Where it has hovered ever since.

That is why there will never be another referendum agreed by Whitehall. Even if Johnson wanted to agree (which he doesn’t), the security services, military and other power structures of the UK Establishment would prevent him.

Nor can Scotland, “legally” in terms of UK law, hold a referendum without agreement. The UK Supreme Court has already explicitly held that Westminster is sovereign, in its ruling that the Sewell Convention has no force in law. If, as she suggests, Nicola Sturgeon leaves it to the courts to decide if a referendum without a S30 is legal, I have no doubt whatsoever – not even 0.000001% uncertainty – that one of two things will happen.

(1) Either the Supreme Court will rule that, under the current Scotland Act, an advisory referendum on a reserved matter is illegal without Westminster agreement;
[I think that would very probably be the ruling; ultra vires expenditure]

(2) Or the Tories will simply amend the Scotland Act to specifically outlaw the referendum, which the UK Supreme Court will certainly uphold because of their established doctrine that sovereignty resides in Westminster.

Either way, one thing is absolutely clear. There will never be a “legal” referendum as legality is defined by London. It is just not going to happen. Independence is going to have to be achieved illegally in terms of UK law, but legally in terms of international law.

How do you do that? I am constantly told this is impossible, that the UK state will act to prevent it happening. Well, we saw the answer in Pollokshields yesterday, and very plainly. The British government cannot enforce its law on the streets of Scotland if the people of Scotland reject that UK law and its enforcers. Yesterday there were riot shields, helmets, long batons, horses, and all the panoply of repression on display, and all of that could not take two men out of the community, against the will of the people.

Pollokshields showed how the people of Scotland will eventually take their own Independence. The “illegal” way in British law. The Gandhi way. The Mandela way. The people’s way. You cannot impose UK law on the people of Scotland.

I can’t tell you exactly how it will happen. Kenmure St crowds may be protecting polling stations, may be protecting the parliament. But happen it will. The people of Scotland will take Independence sooner than people realise. We will not just wait on Boris Johnson or the UK Supreme Court for permission. Come it will for a’that.

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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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Appeal For Defence Funds 532

UPDATE I today received a prison sentence of eight months for my reporting of the defence case in the Alex Salmond trial. I have a three week stay while we apply to this same court for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. My appeal will be based on the simple fact that I did not identify anybody. It will also be based on the right to report the defence case being denied by an extraordinary, impossibly strict application of “jigsaw identification”, and on fair process not having been observed.

Should this court refuse permission to appeal, which seems not unlikely, I will in all probability be jailed while we apply direct to the Supreme Court for permission, which will take some months.

I am afraid I find myself once again obliged to ask you for funding for the appeal. We have raised about £70,000 but are likely to need, at the least, double that.

UPDATE The defence fund has received £46,520 in the 24 hours since it was relaunched to fund the appeal to the Supreme Court. That does not get us there, but it is a good start on our way as the appeal continues. Over 2,000 people have donated, with the smallest donation being 82p and the largest £1,000. Every penny is greatly appreciated. I should make plain that despite the astronomical costs, some members of our legal team have been working substantially below their normal rates and with time donated free.

One donation of £500 from a gentleman I know, came with a note that explained that Willie MacRae had lent him £100 shortly before his highly suspect death. He regarded the £500 as repaying that debt, and was sure Willie would approve of the use of his money. That brought tears to my eyes.

UPDATE ENDS

On Friday I shall be sentenced, very possibly to prison, for contempt of court by “jigsaw identification”. While I do not believe anybody has ever been imprisoned for “jigsaw identification” before, my entire prosecution has been so perverse that I cannot imagine why they have done it unless that is the intention.

With enormous diffidence and frankly embarrassment, I find myself yet again obliged to ask people to contribute towards my defence fund before my hearing next Friday, to enable us to move forward with an appeal to the Supreme Court. Legal bills actually paid to date amount to £161,000, with about eight thousand not billed yet. Non-legal costs, including the opinion poll, total around £9,000. The total raised by the defence fund to date is around £143,000 with the balance of around £18,000 paid so far having come from my personal pocket.

The practical result of the judgement against me is that it is virtually impossible to report the defence in any sexual allegation case; as witness the fact that I was ordered by the court to take down every single word of my articles covering the defence case and evidence.

The judges ruled that publishing any information that could theoretically assist not the public, but literally a colleague who worked in the same office, to identify a complainant, would constitute jigsaw identification. They also ruled that jigsaw identification was committed if you gave a piece of information which could identify a complainant in conjunction with information that could be found anywhere else, no matter how obscure. For example, if information from page 19 of the Inverurie Herald six years ago, combined with information from page 178 of a book, combined with something I published could lead to an identification, I am guilty regardless of whether or not anybody did in practice actually piece together these obscure sources of information.

In fact the court heard nothing that would pass as evidence in court that any individual had in fact identified anybody as a result of my articles. There was zero evidence of harm. What has been harmful is the gross censorship of my journalism, with my entire daily account of the defence case removed, and my critique of the Garavelli article removed. In consequence, it is once again virtually impossible for anybody to discover WHY Alex Salmond was acquitted, enabling the massive state and media led campaign to claim he was really guilty – which sadly appears, with the counter-narrative banned, to have acquired great traction.

You will recall that I commissioned a Panelbase opinion poll which proved that a significant 8% of the Scottish population – that is around 400,000 adults – believed they had been able to identify one or more of the complainants in the Salmond case from publication, but when asked stated that the source of this caption was overwhelmingly the mainstream media.

Well I decided to re-run the opinion poll to see if anything had changed. These were the results. 11% of the Scottish adult population – that is half a million adults – by now believe they know an identity. This is how they know:



It is perfectly clear and entirely consistent with the first poll. 54% of people who believe they know an identity got their information from the newspapers. 27% got it from TV and radio (there may be overlap between these groups).

Yet no newspaper or TV journalist or editor is being prosecuted.
Not even Dani Garavelli, who is overwhelmingly named as the source of information – by fifteen different people – is being prosecuted.

So let us be perfectly clear. The three top sources named for identification were

Dani Garavelli – by a country mile
Kirsty Wark
BBC

None of whom is being prosecuted. Garavelli has published an entire series of major articles amplifying the prosecution case against Salmond, in Tortoise media, twice in Scotland on Sunday and in the London Review of Books, plus many other well paid commissions. She has effectively made a fat living out of an entirely one-sided account that claims miscarriage of justice simply by omitting all the defence evidence. In so doing she has plainly been much more credibly guilty of jigsaw identification than I. On the other hand, my long critique of Garavelli’s first Scotland on Sunday article, which interpolated the defence evidence which contradicted her account and proved that the jury was right, has now been banned, censored and desroyed by the court, the 21st century equivalent of burning the manuscript in the public square.

Garavelli has gone on to become media-puppet-in-chief to the Scottish government, producing a stream of adulatory articles about Nicola Sturgeon like this one about what a great constituency MSP Sturgeon is, which is (ahem) somewhat contrary to received wisdom.

Garavelli is protected because she is part of the inner circle, while I am prosecuted, when the mainstream media is not, because I am an opponent of the corrupt nexus of power that governs Scotland today. The official line is that through enthusiasm for Salmond’s cause I revealed information to the public that the mainstream media did not. That is a fiction the Scottish legal system has chosen to adopt, and for which I will be sentenced on Friday.

All the real world evidence shows that is untrue. I revealed far less than the mainstream media revealed. This is a shameless and openly political prosecution of one of the very few platforms of any size which explained the truth about why Alex Salmond was acquitted by the jury. That is my “crime”.

We have to get this out of the foetid corruption of Edinburgh and into Strasbourg. That is only possible via the UK Supreme Court, and my legal team are now working on that appeal. I urge you to subscribe not only because of the particular injustice of my own case, but also because this ruling puts a huge power in the hands of the state by making it next to impossible to report the defence in cases of sexual allegation. As such allegations are the favoured tool of the state against perceived dissident threats (cf Julian Assange), this is very dangerous indeed.

You can contribute to my defence fund here. I am extremely grateful to those who have and I want to stress that I absolutely do not want anybody to contribute if it causes them even the slightest financial difficulty. I am afraid to say that the amounts we need to raise remain ridiculous; this fact is of course all part of the implementation of suppression, by “lawfare”.




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Those Scottish Elections, and What Happens Now

Well, there is no denying an overwhelming SNP victory, with an increased vote, increased seats, increased percentage and double the support of the next largest party. Together with the Greens there is a substantial pro-Independence majority in the Parliament, so that matter is settled. Personally I would welcome an SNP/Green coalition with a guaranteed pro-Independence majority of at least fourteen (depending on who is presiding officer). It would remove the Tory jibe that there is not a majority government. But I suspect the SNP will prefer to go it alone again.

The dominant question is Indyref2. It remains my fear that Nicola does not want to actually move for Independence, and will merely continue to make pretend moves in that direction. In the campaign she continually hedged around with not just after Covid, but after the effects of covid, and then the final resort piece of hedging that a referendum must be “legal”.

Let me spell out my fears. I do not claim I am right, because it is impossible for me to know either Sturgeon’s mind, or the future. But it is my best prognostication based on my own assessment of the public indications, and information from sources including several SNP MPs and MSPs.

I expect no serious steps towards Indyref2 to be taken before 2023, on the excuse of Covid, except possibly some more meaningless “enabling” legislation with no dates, to keep the troops believing.

In 2023 I expect Sturgeon to ask Johnson for a S30 in the full knowledge he will refuse, and I expect an answer to be stalled until 2024. I expect that then Sturgeon will be happy to see the matter go to the courts, at the behest of one side or the other. Sturgeon knows very well that the UK Supreme Court will state that the Westminster parliament is ultimately sovereign, because within the UK it is sovereign. That is why we need to leave this union.

It is very probable that Johnson will amend the Scotland Act specifically to preclude a referendum without Westminster permission. By then we will be at the next Scottish parliamentary elections, and Sturgeon will stand in 2025 or 6 on the basis that a referendum must be legal, we must ask Johnson for a S30, and for him to refuse would be a “democratic outrage”. Which game can go on forever, with no real intention of achieving Independence.

I realise that there are many very good, decent people within the SNP who believe that I am wrong, and that Sturgeon has a genuine commitment to Independence, and has some kind of secret plan which is much more radical than I have outlined.

Well, we shall see who is right.

The worrying thing is that I have been saying this since 2016 and would think five years of inaction have proven me right already. I have a horrible feeling that if we arrive in 2026 after five more years of inaction, Nicola’s followers will still believe her. I see a continuing role for Alba for those who are actually serious about Independence, despite its frankly disastrous electoral debut (the causes of which were largely not Alba’s fault, but that is for another day).

Nicola and the SNP have of course it firmly in their power to prove me horribly wrong. They can prove me a complete fool by using this mandate to take bold and genuine steps and achieving Independence. In which case, not only shall I acknowledge I was a complete fool, I shall be delighted to do so.

I think this is a good time to utilise again one of the few decent things from the Guardian, its daily Covid graphs.

I have broadly supported lockdowns, aside the odd specific illogicality, and strongly advocate vaccination. But the facts are unanswerable – despite some people’s addiction to fear, they have to face it is just about over. Despite politicians’ addiction to the heady combination of increased personal exposure and popularity, plus increased control over the population, it is just about over. Vaccines have licked it in the UK. The risk of death to a non-geriatric healthy person is now as close to zero as makes no difference.

Oxgangs library has been turned into a Covid Testing Centre. I sat on a wall this morning and observed for half an hour as nobody went in and nobody came out, and the young man on the door tried to find ways to relieve his boredom. The time will shortly be with us when the public appetite will fade for daily briefings that say six people feel slightly unwell in Elgin.

England and Wales have enjoyed seven consecutive weeks of negative excess deaths (I can never find the Scottish figures on this). That means this spring is very possibly the least dangerous period you have ever lived through, in terms of the chance of you dying.

As the vaccine programme goes ahead, it gets ever safer. At some stage, the public are going to notice. We have had attempts to boost the fear factor by successive claims that the South African or Indian or Brazilian strain had arrived in Britain and was massively more deadly, massively more transmissible, evaded the vaccine, killed more young people. All of these arrived in the UK and none of the claimed disasters happened.

Of course, there could one day really be that super deadly variant. Equally, there could be an entirely new pandemic disease. But we cannot live our lives locked and cowering against these eventualities. For now, we should come out – vaccinated – into the sunlight again. The emphasis should be on border control and firmly restricting international travel until the rest of the world catches up. It should also be on overseas aid to help the rest of the world catch up. Biden has shamed our Tory government by his support for voiding patents on Covid vaccines, but the Tories have always seen the pandemic as personal profit opportunity.

But meantime, the strongest temporary border controls. As long term readers know, I am very strongly opposed to mass air travel anyway, only made possible because of disgraceful international complicity in not taxing fossil fuel for aircraft. Nobody actually needs a £30 ticket to Ibiza.

There is another issue where I doubt that Sturgeon genuinely believes what she says, or intends to act speedily, and that is trans rights. Here she will be under enormous pressure to deliver GRA reform very quickly, and that from her closest allies.

This is going to be interesting. Trans rights have been a very useful wedge issue for Nicola and extremely effective against her most dangerous internal rival, Joanna Cherry. Broadly similar issues, like gay marriage and abortion, were intensely controversial until carried into law, and then the matter was effectively settled as a matter of public debate. I expect trans rights might be similar and that Nicola has no real interest in settling the matter because she does not want the controversy to die down.

Personally I am extremely frustrated at the extraordinary alignment between

Never-never Independence supporters and trans rights,

versus

Independence Now supporters and trans exclusion

There seems no logical connection between the two, yet these strange alliances have become the most important dominant fact in the politics of Scottish Independence. My own opinion – which upset huge numbers of staunch Independence Now people on twitter – is that Alba’s strong identification with excluding trans women is one reason for its electoral failure.

Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist has become a pejorative term, but it seems to me a precise intellectual description of where an especially vocal section of Alba support was coming from, and voters found it rather weird and bitter.

I was considering founding a party which supports trans people, but at the same time wants Scotland to achieve Independence irrespective of any legal or political efforts at veto from London. But I fear there would only be me in it.

So the trans wedge issue has become so important to Nicola politically, I suspect she has no real interest in ending it. Besides, legislation is difficult. The current proposal is ridiculously over-simplified, as demonstrated by Gordon Dangerfield. I support self-ID and I extremely strongly uphold the principle that people should be who they want to be, and unlike Gordon I really don’t care about their genitalia and don’t see why anybody else should either. Mind your own business. But I can see that in certain rare and specific circumstances, like elite sport or people involved in criminal justice proceedings, there may be a need for some kind of arbitration of genuineness or good faith of a gender change; with good faith being the presumption that has to be overturned.

I might add that I particularly dislike the jibes at “women with beards” and the social media posts making fun of the physical appearance of trans people. There has been far too much cruelty flying around. I count Stuart Campbell and Chris Cairns as friends and allies who genuinely want Independence. But I cannot approve of this kind of cartoon, and I feel obliged to say so. How would it make you feel if you were a trans woman?

[Update I am told it is not Chris Cairns but is signed Stella. I had presumed that was part of the “joke”, but if it is not Chris I of course apologise to him].

It is of course also true that pro-trans activists are far too rude to people who disagree with them, with a small and defined group seriously nasty and out of control, including threatening violence. That group is closely connected to SNP leadership figures. This is all quite appalling. Frankly both sides of the debate need to find tolerance and empathy.

What is my prediction? I think the trans issue will be shelved, and Nicola will seek to placate Ms Blackman and her ilk by the abolition of jury trials in cases of sexual assault, as a first step, to be followed later by the abolition of jury trials in other crimes against women. Why all of that is an appalling idea I shall expand further one day, though I find it rather shocking that anybody would need that explained.

One thing I am sure of; we will see decisive action from Nicola on the abolition of juries long before we see any real movement on Independence. I would bet my life on that.

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