craig


A Very Political Prosecution

CORRECTION I published in error that 73% of those who know identities of Salmond’s accusers learnt them from mainstream media. The correct figure is 66%. I aggregated broadcast and newspapers but these were not exclusive questions. In fact the percentage of those in the know who cited broadcast, newspapers or both as their source was 66%.

We are looking for potential witnesses who would be willing to give a sworn statement, and if necessary swear on oath in court in my trial for contempt, that they followed my reporting of the Alex Salmond trial and were unable to work out any of the identities of the accusers from my reports. It is particularly helpful if you can say more than this in one of two ways:

Firstly, if you can say you were unable to work out who the accusers were from my accounts, despite yourself possessing some specialist knowledge, that would be helpful. Such specialist knowledge might include having held office in the SNP, having dealings with Alex Salmond and his staff, or having been a relevant civil servant.

And/or secondly, if you can say that you were unable to work out any of the identities from my reporting, but were able to do so from other reporting, and name the source.

I hope it goes without saying that I only want people to come forward who can genuinely do so in truth, and be prepared if necessary to swear to that.

I was very careful in my reporting not to “out” any of the identities, and I am happy to say that I can now prove that I had no significant effect on popular knowledge of the identities of the failed accusers. I took the unusual decision to commission an opinion poll on the subject from Panelbase, one of the UK’s leading pollsters. This was made possible using funds you provided with the defence fund, and I hope you will agree it is money well spent. We will seek to submit the poll as evidence in court.

You should realise this was at risk. I was committed to publishing the poll, whatever its results. If it came out saying that only a few people knew the identities, and they all learnt them from Craig Murray, I would have had to admit to that. But in fact, this is not what the poll shows at all.

It is important to note that my questions were an add-on to a Panelbase poll using their absolutely normal methods for sampling Scottish public opinion. They surveyed 1086 people and applied their standard weightings to the results.

The finding is stunning. 8% of the adult population of Scotland believe they know the identity of one or more of the failed accusers. That means over 350,000 people know, or believe they know, identities.

Of these, 66% learnt the identities from TV and newspapers. 29% learnt from independent websites or blogs. 19% learnt from friends or contacts. (You could of course learn from more than one source so this adds to more than 100).

We then asked an open question, giving people the opportunity to name the specific media from which they learnt the identities. There were a limited number of responses, so I give here the number of people who named each source rather than dress it up as a percentage:

Can you name a specific broadcast, newspaper or website source from which you learnt or deduced the identities? (there were no prompts, an open answer)

Scotland on Sunday 3

Sun 3

Guardian 2

Daily Record 2

BBC 2

Scotsman 2

Times 2

Herald 1

Telegraph 1

John James blog 1

Channel 4 1

ITV 1

Craig Murray blog 1

Press and Journal 1

National 1

Financial Times 1

Daily Mail 1

Can you name the specific journalist or blogger you had learnt or deduced identities from? (There were no prompts, an open answer):

Dani Garavelli 4

Severin Carrell 2

Magnus Linklater 1

Paul Hutcheon 1

Kenny Farquharson 1

Kieran Andrews 1

David Mackay 1

Mure Dickie 1

(Nobody actually replied Craig Murray or John James to this question, but given each had his blog mentioned once as a source it would probably be fair to add both with 1 each).

Dani Garavelli tops both lists, because her article on the case was published in Scotland on Sunday. As that is the Sunday edition of the Scotsman, that unionist rag is well ahead as the prime source of knowledge, with the Murdoch stable of the Times and Sun combined not far behind.

Plainly, it is unsatisfactory from the point of view of the law that 350,000 people know identities. Something which 350,000 people know in Scotland is not a secret, and has achieved the critical mass required for anybody who actually wants to know to be able to find out just by asking around. I strongly suspect that the large majority of those who do not know, do not wish to anyway.

But equally plainly, it is not my fault that 350,000 people know. It is overwhelmingly down to the mainstream media, as the poll shows. The simple truth is that, in a trial where a number of very politically powerful figures conspired together to bring false charges against one of the most famous people in Scotland, anonymity was always going to be extremely hard to protect. You can’t expect it to work as it rightly would in protecting the identity of a worker in Dundee attacked by a stranger. The poll shows that it did not work; and it proves that is not my fault.

I assume the single individual who mentioned me as the source was acting in good faith – though it is worth noting that the polling was carried out after every newspaper in Scotland had run the story that I am being prosecuted for contempt of court for revealing identities.  In that circumstance, that I am not more prominent is remarkable and must reflect a truth.

The charge of “jigsaw identification” is very difficult to refute. As soon as you publish anything at all about the evidence in a case, there is of course the chance that is the last piece of information that an individual with particular knowledge needed to work out an identity. Let me put if this way. If the jigsaw is a face in 1,000 pieces, if your information contributes 12 pieces out of 1,000 you may think you revealed nothing. But you cannot guard against the person sitting at home who already has 800 pieces and can make a guess now your 12 filled in an area.

My lawyers advise that for me to say others were guilty of jigsaw identification is not a defence, any more than if I were to rob a bank it would be a defence to say somebody else did it too. But what this poll shows conclusively is that in practice anyone who reported on the trial could be accused of jigsaw identification.

Nobody can look at the above data and say that the obvious course of justice is to prosecute Craig Murray and nobody else. Is there a single person who honestly believes that it is a coincidence that they are prosecuting the only journalist who fairly reported the defence case against this government led fit-up? That they have chosen to prosecute the political dissident and whistleblower and not the mainstream media who were collectively responsible for far more identification? The selectivity of this prosecution represents an Article 6 abuse of the European Convention on Human Rights.

There are of course two strands to the indictment against me, insofar as anything can be deduced from that incoherent document. One is jigsaw identification. The other is reporting likely to influence the trial. I have just demolished the first strand; you cannot possibly prosecute me and not the mainstream media. I refuse to take the second strand seriously. If they genuinely believed my reporting could influence the trial, they had a public duty to take action before or during the trial, not months afterwards. This is very plainly a political persecution.

A final note. With over 5,000 people having contributed to my defence fund, I do hope you will forgive the lack of personal replies to thank you. I am really quite overwhelmed and humbled by your kindness.

You should also know that, as it was never my intention to identify anyone, I have pending the outcome of my trial temporarily censored those sentences in my articles complained of by the prosecution as causing jigsaw identification, even though I strongly deny that they do. Prior to receiving the indictment, I had no idea precisely what the complaint referred to.  I have also censored the indictment of its references to the same material. I do not believe there was any problem with the originals; but it is a very few sentences and my lawyers rather insisted. I hope you will not feel I am too cowardly in this.

I have refused to censor those larger passages the Crown complain of where I state that the charges were a fit-up and a state sponsored conspiracy. I believe here there is a vital argument of freedom of speech, and I will not bend.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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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More Information Wars

I am subject to a very peculiar hidden censorship by Twitter. I have long noted that many of the articles I deem most important were reaching far fewer people than I might expect through Twitter, whereas inconsequential tweets reach large numbers with ease. I decided to do a controlled test on this, with a content free tweet.

 

This got retweeted 131 times and was seen by 134,576 people.

That’s 1,027 people per retweet.

That is the neutral control. Now here is the tweet of an article which I believe to be very important.

That got retweeted 419 times but was seen by just 38,288 people.

That’s 91 people per retweet.

On that measure 11 times less than the content free tweet.

The “Impressions” measure is governed by Twitter actually introducing the Tweet into somebody’s timeline. When I tweet, (the same principle applies when somebody retweets) Twitter does not just automatically drop that tweet into the timeline of all 80,000 people who follow me. It starts with a sample of those, and then an algorithm increases the number depending on how popular the tweet was. There are a number of moving parts to that, but retweets is a major factor. Yet in this instance, a tweet which is retweeted by over 1.1% of those who see it, is given far less exposure by twitter than a tweet retweeted by less than 0.1% of those who see it.

The reason that I did this experiment is that I have been observing this happening for a long time, with many of my most important tweets suppressed. Either there is electronic monitoring and analysis of subject matter to suppress certain political subjects, or there is active human monitoring. I am very much inclined to believe the latter, because I find the suppression kicking in is quite nuanced; it depends not so much on subject matter, as on precisely my take on the subject matter and how far it challenges the mainstream narrative.

Impressions per retweet is a rough measure of what is going on. For a more accurate measure you would need to divide Impressions by: my 80,000 follows plus the totaled follows of all who retweeted, in each case. But the rough measure is a good indication that something is amiss. As I said, I am attempting to measure a phenomenon I have noticed over a long period.

Yesterday, my friend Stuart Campbell had all his twitter accounts cancelled. The highly popular Wings Over Scotland account was taken down some time ago, and now his personal account and his old Sealand Gazette account have also been taken down. This is following a campaign against him by activists opposed to his view on trans rights. I do not share Stu’s views on that specific subject, but the attempt to impose conformity of opinion and to limit the right of free expression is appalling.

These attacks on free speech matter.

Sadly the internet has developed in such a way that alternative media outlets like this one are highly dependent on two major corporate gatekeepers – Facebook and Twitter – for bringing in the majority of our traffic. Both have instituted policies of deliberate suppression of views which do not accord to the agenda of the mainstream media.

The reason that my tweet in this instance was suppressed is that it points to my article giving information on the UK government’s coronavirus App which you will not find in the mainstream media.

I find Twitter much worse than Facebook in this regard. A few years ago I would have mentioned Google as a major source of traffic too, but that pass has long been sold. This website used to get a great deal of traffic from Google, but even though our readership is now many times what it was a few years ago, Google has penalised alternative media heavily in its rankings and we now get almost no traffic from that source.

People learn. About 40% of readers of this site now just come straight here, and not from any link or source, just dropping in themselves to see if anything new. Five years ago that number was less than 10%. The internet retains its ability to work round blockages, because it empowers the ingenuity of people.  Keep that hopeful thought and cherish it.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

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

Alternatively:

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

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

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Civil Liberty Vanishes

The sinister potential of coronavirus lockdown to suppress dissent was on display on Monday as police broke up a small group of protestors outside Westminster Crown Court during a case management hearing for Julian Assange. The dozen protestors, who included Julian’s father John Shipton, were all social distancing at least 2 metres apart (except where living in the same household). The police did not observe social distancing as they broke up this small and peaceful protest.

This is a stark illustration of the use of the current emergency powers to suppress legitimate dissent.

For the first time, there was something of a court victory for Assange’s defence team, as they obtained their preferred date of September for resumption of the extradition hearing. Last week magistrate Baraitser had tried to impose a choice of July or November based on the availability of Woolwich Crown Court. As defence witnesses have to come from around the world, July was too early for the defence, while November would mean another lengthy period of incarceration for the unconvicted Assange. This is not the first time the defence have secured the agreement of the US-led prosecution to a procedural request, but it is the very first time Baraitser has acceded to anything proposed by the defence, throughout all the lengthy proceedings.

SO the Assange hearing will resume in September, and of course I intend to be there to report it, if not myself incarcerated. The exact date is not yet known nor the venue. It will not be Woolwich but another Crown Court which has availability. I suspect it may be at Kingston-upon-Thames, because the government will want to maintain the theatre of the peaceful Julian being an ultra-dangerous offender and that is the other purpose built “anti-terrorism court” in London.

It is well worth reading this excellent article from El Pais by Julian’s partner, Stella Morris. It says a great deal that in the state that is actually holding Europe’s most prominent political prisoner, no newspaper would publish it. It is a truism that the general public fail to notice the slide into authoritarianism before it is too late. I confess I never thought to witness the process first hand in the UK. The information on guns in the article is new to me:

After Julian was arrested a year ago, Spain’s High Court opened an investigation into the security company that had been operating inside the embassy. Several whistleblowers came forward and have informed law enforcement of unlawful activities against Julian and his lawyers, both inside and outside the embassy. They are cooperating with law enforcement and have provided investigators with large amounts of data.

The investigation has revealed that the company had been moonlighting for a US company closely associated with the current US administration and US intelligence agencies and that the increasingly disturbing instructions, such as following my mother or the baby DNA directive, had come from their US client, not Ecuador. Around the same time that I had been approached about the targeting of our baby, the company was thrashing out even more sinister plans concerning Julian’s life. Their alleged plots to poison or abduct Julian have been raised in UK extradition proceedings. A police raid at the security company director’s home turned up two handguns with their serial numbers filed off.

We are now to be expected to entrust ourselves to a new coronavirus tracing app, currently being trialed on the Isle of Wight, that allows the government to know precisely where we are and with whom. The results will be permanently stored in a central database – something that is not required for the ostensible purpose of the app. The UK is alone among European states in seeking to create a national centralised database containing traceable unique identifiers for individuals. Precisely to address civil liberties concerns, all other countries are using a devolved database approach with amalgamation only of research useful date which cannot identify individuals. The UK is also refusing to share code with the public, or even precise detail of developers. The US firm Palantir, which has developed the app for NHSX, is coy about where its development is carried out and by whom. So far nothing has been released on the architecture of the App.

I highly recommend this podcast by Matrix Chambers on the very alarming civil liberties implication of the approach to the tracing app by Boris Johnson’s government.

There is no organisation or group with an interest in data privacy which is not sounding the alarm. The Register reports:

Controversially, the NHSX app will beam that contact data back to government-controlled servers. The academics who signed today’s open letter fear that this data stockpile will become “a tool that enables data collection on the population, or on targeted sections of society, for surveillance.”

As we reported yesterday, Britain has abandoned the international consensus on how much data should be collected to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter said:

We hold that the usual data protection principles should apply: collect the minimum data necessary to achieve the objective of the application. We hold it is vital that if you are to build the necessary trust in the application the level of data being collected is justified publicly by the public health teams demonstrating why this is truly necessary rather than simply the easiest way, or a “nice to have”, given the dangers involved and invasive nature of the technology.

Then a further report in The Register emphasised still more the UK government’s rejection of the Apple-Google app being used by virtually every other country, which is specifically devised to make impossible centralised storing of information which identifies individuals:

Presumably the goal with this kind of explanation is to comfort the vast majority of UK folk who don’t understand how the entire internet economy works by connecting vast databases together.

So long as you can rely on one piece of per-user data – like a “big random number” – everything else can be connected. And if you also have a postcode, that becomes 100 times easier. Ever heard of Facebook? It’s worth billions solely because it is able to connect the dots between datasets.

Indeed, it may be possible to work out who is associating with whom from the app’s ID numbers. Bear in mind, the Apple-Google decentralized approach produces new ID numbers for each user each day, thwarting identification, especially with the ban on location tracking.

Levy also glossed over the fact that as soon as someone agrees to share their information with UK government – by claiming to feel unwell and hitting a big green button – 28 days of data from the app is given to a central server from where it can never be recovered. That data, featuring all the unique IDs you’ve encountered in that period and when and how far apart you were, becomes the property of NCSC – as its chief exec Matthew Gould was forced to admit to MPs on Monday. Gould also admitted that the data will not be deleted, UK citizens will not have the right to demand it is deleted, and it can or will be used for “research” in future.

Yes, that is Matthew Gould in charge of the whole project. Matthew Gould, who as Private Secretary to first David Miliband and then William Hague, and then as UK Ambassador to Israel, held an extraordinary total of eight secret meetings with Liam Fox and Adam Werritty together.

1) 8 September 2009 as Miliband’s Principal Private Secretary (omitted from O’Donnell report)
2) 16 June 2010 as Hague’s Principal Private Secretary (omitted from O’Donnell report)
3) A “social occasion” in summer 2010 as Ambassador designate to Israel with Gould, Fox and Werritty (omitted from O’Donnell report)
4) 1 September 2010 in London (only one September meeting in O’Donnell report)
5) 27 September 2010 in London (only one September meeting in O’Donnell report)
6) 4-6 February 2011 Herzilya Conference Israel (omitted from O’Donnell report)
7) 6 February 2011 Tel Aviv dinner with Mossad and Israeli military
8) 15 May 2011 “We believe in Israel” conference London (omitted from O’Donnell report)

Funnily enough, I was recalling Matthew Gould last week when the Cabinet Secretary, after his “investigation”, published his report “exonerating” Priti Patel of bullying. It reminded me of when then Gus O’Donnell as Cabinet Secretary published his “investigation” into the Fox-Werritty affair, in which Gus O’Donnell systematically lied and covered up the meetings between Fox, Werritty and Matthew Gould, claiming there had only been two such meetings when in fact there were eight. It is also a good moment perhaps to pay tribute to the redoubtable Paul Flynn MP, recently deceased, who after I briefed him attempted to question Gus O’Donnell on the Public Administration Committee about the meetings he was covering up. With admirable persistence, despite continual efforts to block him, Flynn did manage to get Gus O’Donnell to admit directly that one of the Fox/Werritty/Matthew Gould meetings was with Mossad.

Hansard Public Administration Committee 24/11/2011

Q<369> Paul Flynn: Okay. Matthew Gould has been the subject of a very serious complaint from two of my constituents, Pippa Bartolotti and Joyce Giblin. When they were briefly imprisoned in Israel, they met the ambassador, and they strongly believe—it is nothing to do with this case at all—that he was serving the interest of the Israeli Government, and not the interests of two British citizens. This has been the subject of correspondence.

In your report, you suggest that there were two meetings between the ambassador and Werritty and Liam Fox. Questions and letters have proved that, in fact, six such meetings took place. There are a number of issues around this. I do not normally fall for conspiracy theories, but the ambassador has proclaimed himself to be a Zionist and he has previously served in Iran, in the service. Werritty is a self-proclaimed—

Robert Halfon: Point of order, Chairman. What is the point of this?

Paul Flynn: Let me get to it. Werritty is a self-proclaimed expert on Iran.

Chair: I have to take a point of order.

Robert Halfon: Mr Flynn is implying that the British ambassador to Israel is working for a foreign power, which is out of order.

Paul Flynn: I quote the Daily Mail: “Mr Werritty is a self-proclaimed expert on Iran and has made several visits. He has also met senior Israeli officials, leading to accusations”—not from me, from the Daily Mail—“that he was close to the country’s secret service, Mossad.” There may be nothing in that, but that appeared in a national newspaper.

Chair: I am going to rule on a point of order. Mr Flynn has made it clear that there may be nothing in these allegations, but it is important to have put it on the record. Be careful how you phrase questions.

Paul Flynn: Indeed. The two worst decisions taken by Parliament in my 25 years were the invasion of Iraq—joining Bush’s war in Iraq—and the invasion of Helmand province. We know now that there were things going on in the background while that built up to these mistakes. The charge in this case is that Werritty was the servant of neo-con people in America, who take an aggressive view on Iran. They want to foment a war in Iran in the same way as in the early years, there was another—

Chair: Order. I must ask you to move to a question that is relevant to the inquiry.

Q<370> Paul Flynn: Okay. The question is, are you satisfied that you missed out on the extra four meetings that took place, and does this not mean that those meetings should have been investigated because of the nature of Mr Werritty’s interests?

Sir Gus O’Donnell: I think if you look at some of those meetings, some people are referring to meetings that took place before the election.

Q<371> Paul Flynn: Indeed, which is even more worrying.

Sir Gus O’Donnell: I am afraid they were not the subject—what members of the Opposition do is not something that the Cabinet Secretary should look into. It is not relevant.

But these meetings were held—
Chair: Mr Flynn, would you let him answer please?

Sir Gus O’Donnell: I really do not think that was within my context, because they were not Ministers of the Government and what they were up to was not something I should get into at all.

Chair: Final question, Mr Flynn.

Q<372> Paul Flynn: No, it is not a final question. I am not going to be silenced by you, Chairman; I have important things to raise. I have stayed silent throughout this meeting so far.

You state in the report—on the meeting held between Gould, Fox and Werritty, on 6 February, in Tel Aviv—that there was a general discussion of international affairs over a private dinner with senior Israelis. The UK ambassador was present…

Sir Gus O’Donnell: The important point here was that, when the Secretary of State had that meeting, he had an official with him—namely, in this case, the ambassador. That is very important, and I should stress that I would expect our ambassador in Israel to have contact with Mossad. That will be part of his job. It is totally natural, and I do not think that you should infer anything from that about the individual’s biases.

When I put in Freedom of Information requests for the minutes of the eight meetings involving all of Liam Fox, Adam Werritty and Matthew Gould, they came back as blank sheets of paper, with literally everything removed but the date, in the interests of “national security”. When I put in a Freedom of Information request for all correspondence between Adam Werritty and Matthew Gould, I received a refusal on the grounds it would be too expensive to collect it.

I should make my position perfectly plain. I think a coronavirus tracing app is an important tool in containing the virus. I would happily use the safeguarded one being developed by Google/Apple with decentralised data and daily changing identifiers, not linked to postcodes, being adopted by major European governments.

But I think serious questions have to be asked about why the UK government has developed its own unique app, universally criticised for its permanent central data collection and ability to identify individuals from their unique codes. That this is overseen not by a scientist or health professional, but by the man who held all those secret meetings with Fox and Werritty, including with Mossad as admitted to Parliament by the then Cabinet Secretary, frankly stinks.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Alternatively:

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

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

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Backing the Wrong Horseman

Nobody knows how many people died as a result of the UK/US Coalition of Death led destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and, by proxy, Syria and Yemen. Nobody even knows how many people western forces themselves killed directly. That is a huge number, but still under 10% of the total. To add to that you have to add those who died in subsequent conflict engendered by the forced dismantling of the state the West disapproved of. Some were killed by western proxies, some by anti-western forces, and some just by those reverting to ancient tribal hostility and battle for resources into which the country had been regressed by bombing.

You then have to add all those who died directly as a result of the destruction of national infrastructure. Iraq lost in the destruction 60% of its potable drinking water, 75% of its medical facilities and 80% of its electricity. This caused millions of deaths, as did displacement. We are only of course talking about deaths, not maiming. This very sober analysis from Salon makes a stab at 2.4 million for Iraqi deaths caused by the war.

The number of Iraqi casualties is not just a historical dispute, because the killing is still going on today. Since several major cities in Iraq and Syria fell to Islamic State in 2014, the U.S. has led the heaviest bombing campaign since the American War in Vietnam, dropping 105,000 bombs and missiles and reducing most of Mosul and other contested Iraqi and Syrian cities to rubble.

An Iraqi Kurdish intelligence report estimated that at least 40,000 civilians were killed in the bombardment of Mosul alone, with many more bodies still buried in the rubble. A recent project to remove rubble and recover bodies in just one neighborhood found 3,353 more bodies, of whom only 20% were identified as ISIS fighters and 80% as civilians. Another 11,000 people in Mosul are still reported missing by their families.

For a vivid illustration, here is a photo of Sirte, Libya, after it was kindly “liberated” by NATO aerial bombardment. NATO carried out 14,000 bombing sorties on Libya.

Sirte, Libya, after NATO bombing

The neo-con drive to dominate the Middle East, in alliance with Saudi Arabia and Israel, has caused an apocalyptic level of death and destruction. It really is very difficult indeed to quantify the number of people killed as a direct result of the policy of “liberal intervention” in these countries. Bombing people into freedom has collateral damage. There are also the vast unintended consequences. The destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria launched a wave of refugee migration which led to politicial instability throughout Europe and contributed to, among many other consequences, Brexit.

For the purposes of argument, I am going to put an extremely conservative figure of 5 million on the number of people who died as a result of Western military intervention, direct or proxy, in the Middle East.

Now compare that to the worldwide death toll from coronavirus: 220,000. Let me say that again.
Western aggressive wars to coronavirus: 5,000,000 : 220,000.

Or put it another way. The total number of deaths from coronavirus in the UK so far is about half the number of civilians killed directly by the US military in the single city of Mosul.

Makes you think, doesn’t it? There are four horsemen of the apocalypse, and while of course I do not blame people for focusing on the one which is riding at them personally, do not forget the others. Coronavirus has not finished killing. But then nor have western wars.

The sight which I cannot stand is the mainstream media which cheered on the horseman of war as they argued for the invasion Iraq on the basis of lies – and still defend it as a “liberation” – who now pretend massive concern for human life. The hypocrites are disgusting.

I was wrong when I initially wrote about the coronavirus.

Before I detail where I was wrong, let me say where I believe I was right. Large general population sampling antibody studies are now just beginning to emerge, and I feel reasonably confident that I was in fact correct that the mortality rate of coronavirus is under 1%, and probably not too different from the 0.5% generally quoted for Hong Kong flu. The term “infection fatality rate” is now being used to describe this true mortality rate. The “infection fatality rate” is the percentage of those who get the disease who die.

These are very early days for whole population sampling antibody studies, and the true picture should become more plain over the next month or two. I must say I have found it alarmingly difficult to explain to people the rather simple concept that you cannot infer a mortality rate among everybody who catches the disease, from the results you get when by definition you have only been offering tests to the most acute cases presenting as needing serious treatment. Of course a fair proportion of the worst cases don’t make it through the disease. But there is a population of millions in the UK (and nobody has a serious idea how many) who have had the disease with no or mild symptoms, and who do not figure in the statistics.

The very large majority of people in the UK who have had coronavirus have never been tested. That is simply true. How many, nobody knows. That is also true.

I do not endorse the extrapolation from New York to the UK, in this Daily Mail piece, to try to calculate how many people may have had coronavirus in the UK. But buried in there is the best collection I can find anywhere of what sampling antibody studies are indicating for the “infection fatality rate” across various US and European locations, and there is a strong clustering under 1%. Now these are preliminary studies, though almost all from reputable institutions. Proper, large scale, antibody testing programmes to produce peer reviewed and authoritatively published studies are on the way, but not here yet. I repeat, though, that I think the infection mortality rate is somewhere below 1%.

Where I was wrong, was in not realising that what is different about this disease from a flu is that it is really very, very contagious. So a far higher percentage of the population get it, all at once. Over two seasons, only about 30% of the UK population got the Hong Kong flu. Unchecked, it seems this coronavirus can spread very much quicker than that. I do not know why, but it appears that it can. So the lockdown policies to prevent health services being overwhelmed are needed and do have my support.

I do not however support the level of alarmism and panic. Of course the disease is really appalling for those who get it badly. It is a painful, protracted and terrifying experience. But a similar level of scrutiny of extreme illnesses of other kinds would bring similar stories. I have had three brushes with death in my own life.

In 2003 I had multiple pulmonary emboli (bloodclots in both lungs), which left me in a coma for days, was incredibly painful and I understand very similar in terms of experience to the end phase of this coronavirus. In 1986 I was actually declared dead in a hospital in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria (salmonella paratyphoid B), and was woken up on a morgue trolley by a cockroach eating my nostril. In 1974 I had emergency surgery for peritonitis, and was in hospital for 5 weeks and then a convalescent home. Retailing the experience or images of any of these illnesses would be as capable or more of generating the terror being created by the detailed coverage of extreme cases of coronavirus.

Yes the coronavirus is horrible if you get it badly. Almost all severe disease is horrible and death very seldom consists of peacefully stopping breathing, despite Hollywood. I wonder if having lived so much in Africa has changed my attitude to death. We do not see death much in the UK. Did you know the British have a 350% higher propensity than the Italians to put their elderly into care homes? That is why the deaths in Italy were so much more visible, even though the truth is that the UK government is doing not significantly better, and quite probably worse, than the Italian government, at containing the virus. It is only now making a start at adding English care home deaths to the official statistics (Scotland has for weeks).

I do support lockdown, I do support every sensible precaution being taken because the virus is so contagious. I utterly deplore the vast quantities being spent on war, the $220 billion being squandered on Trident missiles while the most basic precautions stockpiling against the much more real threat of a pandemic were not undertaken, because Tories begrudged spending a few millions on the NHS. I get all of that and I repeat it. But we must not be panicked into believing that the threat is greater than it is. You have approximately a 99% chance, (still nobody knows for certain) of surviving this disease if you catch it. If you are under 60, your chance of death is almost certainly at worst 1 in 500 if you catch it. If you are older or like me have heart and lung issues, it looks a bit bleak. But we are not immortal, nor would I wish to be.

But remember this. Your odds of survival are massively better than were those of a civilian in a country that your country chose to invade in recent years. Did you, personally, do enough to try to stop that?

Remember, there are other horsemen.

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Craig Murray Defence Fund Launched

My Defence Fund has now reached over £75,000 from almost 5,000 donors. I am extremely grateful to each and every one. Work is now proceeding apace with the legal team. If charges are brought against any of the others who have been threatened by Police Scotland or the Crown Office over this case, including the journalist whose laptops and phones were seized by police, the funds will be made available to their defence also.

Original Post (from 24 April, with further update below).

I know of four pro-Independence folk who were last week phoned or visited by Police Scotland and threatened with contempt of court proceedings over social media postings they had made weeks back on the Alex Salmond case. Then on Monday, a Scottish journalist I know had his home raided by five policemen, who confiscated (and still have) all his computers and phones. They said they were from the “Alex Salmond team” and investigating his postings on the Alex Salmond case. He has not to date been charged, and his lawyer is advising him at present to say nothing, so I am not revealing his name.

Then on Tuesday morning, a large Police van full of police pulled up onto the pavement right outside my front gate, actually while I was talking on the phone to a senior political figure about the raid on my friend. The police just sat in the van staring at my house. I contacted my lawyers who contacted the Crown Office. The police van pulled away and my lawyers contacted me back to say that the Crown Office had told them I would be charged, or officially “cited”, with Contempt of Court, but they agreed there was no need for a search of my home or to remove my devices, or for vans full of police.

On Thursday two plain clothes police arrived and handed me the indictment. Shortly thereafter, an email arrived from The Times newspaper, saying that the Crown Office had “confirmed” that I had been charged with contempt of court. In the case of my friend whose house was raided, he was contacted by the Daily Record just before the raid even happened!

I am charged with contempt of court and the hearing is on 7 July at the High Court in Edinburgh. The contempt charge falls in two categories:

i) Material published before the trial liable to prejudice a jury
ii) Material published which could assist “jigsaw identification” of the failed accusers.

Plainly neither of these is the true motive of the Crown Office. If they believed that material I published was likely to have prejudiced the jury, then they had an obvious public duty to take action BEFORE the trial – and the indictment shows conclusively they were monitoring my material long before the trial. To leave this action until after the trial which they claim the material was prejudicing, would be a serious act of negligence on their part. It is quite extraordinary to prosecute for it now and not before the trial.

As for identifying the failed conspirators, I have done less than the mainstream media. But plainly the Crown Office, or whoever is pushing them to this persecution, had no genuine interest in protecting the identities, otherwise why did they tip off the media that I was being charged, and thus guarantee further publicity? If protecting the identities was their motive, to tip off the media would obviously be counterproductive.

But what proves that the Crown Office is acting from base motives and not those stated is the one-sided nature of this. Only supporters of Alex Salmond – the Alex Salmond found innocent by the jury – are being pursued by this continuing Police Scotland operation.

There are literally thousands who put out “Salmond is guilty” “Salmond is a rapist” “Salmond is a pervert” posts on social media before and during the trial. Not one has had the police knock on the door. The Herald published absolutely deliberately, the day before the trial, a montage of Alex Salmond amongst photos of mass murderers. They have not been charged. Every newspaper published “jigsaw identification” information which I withheld. They have not been charged or investigated, despite the evidence brilliantly compiled and presented to the Police.

No, this is a blatant, one-sided political persecution. That much is entirely plain. I have therefore decided, in the interests of open justice, to publish the entire indictment against me (with a single sentence redacted where I think the prosecution were excessively indiscreet). Neither the indictment nor the covering letter is marked confidential or not for publication. It is, so far as I know, a public document.

The Crown have very deliberately not included the names of any of the failed conspirators in the indictment and instead refer to the women by their court allocated letters. That is a plain indication to me that this is a public document drafted specifically with publication in mind. Otherwise the document would have more naturally used the names and not the alphabet letters.

More fundamentally this indictment is the basis on which they are attempting to put me in prison – in fact the indictment specifies up to two years in jail and an unlimited fine as the punishment sought from the court. I think the public interest, and my own interest, in it being public is very substantial.

The state believes it has finally discovered a way to put me in prison without the inconvenient hurdle of a jury of my peers. Contempt of Court is just decided by a judge. It is extraordinary that you can go to jail for a substantial two years with no jury protection and no test of “beyond reasonable doubt”; and on the whim of a judge defending what he may view as the dignity of his own office. This really is the epitome of bad law. To use it against freedom of speech is disgusting.

So here is the full indictment against me:

redactedcaseagainstcraigmurray (1)

If the indictment contains anything they did not wish to be public, well, I didn’t force them to serve it on me. From my side, the proceedings against me will be entirely open. I will remind you that you may find all or part of the indictment initially convincing; but you are yet to see my point by point reply, which naturally I shall also publish in due course.

[UPDATE

Pending the outcome of the trial, and on legal advice, I have redacted from the indictment those sentences complained of as aiding identification of a witness, and have redacted same sentences from original blog posts. My position is firmly that they absolutely do not they do not contribute to likely identification of witnesses, and the mainstream media did that to a far greater degree than I.]

The purpose of this operation against free speech is a desperate attempt to keep the lid on the nature of the state conspiracy to fit up Alex Salmond. Once the parliamentary inquiry starts, a huge amount of evidence of conspiracy which the court did not allow the defence to introduce in evidence during the criminal trial, will be released. The persecution of myself is an attempt to intimidate independent figures into not publishing anything about it. The lickspittle media of course do not have to be intimidated. To this end, I am charged specifically with saying that the Alex Salmond case was a fit-up and a conspiracy in which the Crown Office was implicated. So I thought I would say it again now:

The Alex Salmond case was a fit-up and a conspiracy in which the Crown Office was implicated, foiled by the jury. If Scotland is the kind of country where you go to jail for saying that, let me get my toothbrush.

Before then, I am afraid we have to fund my defence and I shall be very grateful for donations to my defence fund. My initial target is £60,000. I shall post daily updates on total reached, but I shall be using my established funding channels and not involving a crowdfunding website. I do not intend to fight this battle entirely on the defensive, and some of the funding may be put to launching actions against the Crown or others.




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The Disgusting Lies on Harry Dunn’s Death Must Stop

Beyond any doubt, it would have been Dominic Raab’s personal decision to grant a fake diplomatic immunity to Anne Sacoolas and permit her to leave the country. I have watched with sheer horror the Tory crocodile tears, the ministerial meetings with Harry Dunn’s brave but distraught family, and the PR pretence that the UK is seeking Anne Sacoolas’ return, now that she is safely back at CIA HQ. It is perhaps the most nauseating display of individual hypocrisy I have ever seen in politics. The callous abuse of Harry Dunn’s suffering family and the sheer cynicism of the patent charade that the government is supporting them, leave me deeply depressed – and very angry.

It may surprise you, but I have known and worked with some Tories who were at heart honorable men. The centre of this government is estranged from the very concept of personal honour.

The Permanent Secretary of the FCO, Simon McDonald, in appearing virtually before the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee this week, stated in evidence that the initial advice from FCO Legal Advisers was that Anne Sacoolas did not have diplomatic immunity, but that this legal advice changed after discussion with the US State Department. Crucially McDonald stated that the legal advice had gone to three FCO ministers including Raab, but he does not seem to have stated who made the actual decision to let Sacoolas go – largely because nobody on the Committee seems to have asked him the right question. With a CIA officer killing a young British lad, it is from my personal FCO experience inconceivable this was not Raab’s call.

I have explained, from long before there was any acknowledgement of the fact in the mainstream media, that Anne Sacoolas did not qualify for diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention. That specifically reserves immunity for families to diplomatic agents carrying diplomatic rank, which Sacoolas’ husband never had.

Please read my detailed explanation here, or the rest of this article will be hard going.

The Foreign Office Must Be Challenged Over Sacoolas’ Immunity

The British government claims that there is a secret bilateral treaty governing the status of American spies at RAF Croughton, under which Anne Sacoolas does have immunity.

Now I want you to follow this very closely. I apologise that, if you are unfamiliar with the concepts, it is difficult to get your head around.

You will recall that in the Julian Assange case, the British government is claiming that Article 4 of the UK/US Extradition Treaty of 2007, which bans “political” extradition, has no force in law. The British government argues that this is because an international treaty the UK has entered into only has legal force in the UK if it is specifically incorporated into law by UK legislation; and the 2007 UK/US Extradition Treaty never was so incorporated. The UK government argues that the 2007 Treaty depends on the 2003 Extradition Act, but as the 2003 Act is (they claim) incompatible with Article 4 of the 2007 Treaty, then Article 4 must fall. Political extradition would therefore become possible.

The UK government position in the Assange case is that the UK government’s treaty commitments are legally void unless specifically passed into UK legislation.

Well – very definitely no “secret treaty” over RAF Croughton has ever been incorporated into UK law. The only legal basis on which Dominic Raab could give Anne Sacoolas immunity is the Diplomatic Privileges Act of 1964, which incorporates the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations into UK law. And Ms Sacoolas’ so-called immunity is incompatible with the Vienna Convention as her husband is not a diplomatic agent carrying diplomatic rank. He could only be technical and administrative staff of the US Embassy (itself a dubious claim). The families of Technical and Administrative staff do not have any immunity under the Vienna Convention. Therefore Dominic Raab had no legal power to grant Anne Sacoolas immunity. There is no UK law that confers that power upon him, whatever any secret treaty might say.

In short, the British government is arguing the opposite in the Sacoolas case to its argument in the Assange case. It claims a secret bilateral treaty with the US could alone give Dominic Raab the legal power to grant Ms Sacoolas immunity. While in the Assange case it argues that a bilateral treaty with the USA carries no legal force.

I should straighten one wrinkle. I understand that the current fig leaf which UK government lawyers are attempting to shrink behind is the provision in the 1964 Diplomatic Privileges Act authorising bilateral arrangements which confer immunities over and above those conferred by the Vienna Convention. There is indeed such a provision, at article 7 of the Act.

But note this: it only provides for special bilateral arrangements already in place “at the commencement of the Act”, ie before 1964. Furthermore those bilateral arrangements must, as specified in the legislation, be listed in the London Gazette. I searched the Gazette, which was as little fun as it sounds. Journalism is tough work if you do it properly, which is presumably why the media no longer even pretend to do it. Eventually I tracked down the list of bilateral arrangements under the Diplomatic Privileges Act on page 8,292 of Issue 4,351 of the London Gazette.

Special bilateral arrangements with the USA were indeed gazetted (and now you know where that term comes from).

But note that this special arrangement for US technical and administrative staff only applies to clause 7 (b) of the Act, not 7(A). That is it only confers exemption from taxation. In effect, the only right Mr Sacoolas was granted was the right to buy duty free booze – a right which may well have its part to play in the death of Harry Dunn. There was no diplomatic immunity for Sacoolas, let alone his family, irrespective of what the FCO might claim.

There is no secret treaty over RAF Croughton, or arrangement for diplomatic immunity there, ever posted in the London Gazette under the 1964 Act or ever embodied in any other primary or secondary UK legislation. The initial FCO legal advice, that Anne Sacoolas had no immunity, was very plainly correct.

The evidence given by Simon McDonald was that a secret treaty purported to give full immunity to spies like Sacoolas, but that this treaty had been recently amended to remove their immunity. However, McDonald continued, in removing the immunity for spies it had not stated that it also removed immunity for their families, so that remained. He called this “apparently illogical” and “a recondite piece of law”.

It is in fact utter nonsense. The only families who have Vienna Convention immunity are the families of diplomatic agents having diplomatic rank. They only have diplomatic immunity through the diplomatic agent. A family cannot have diplomatic immunity while the (alleged) Embassy staff member on whom that immunity depends does not. It is not just illogical, it is impossible in terms of the Vienna Convention, and diplomatic immunity can only be conferred through the incorporation of the Vienna Convention into UK law in the 1964 Diplomatic Privileges Act. All of which Simon McDonald knows very well.

My own interpretation is that McDonald was obviously calling into ridicule a case for which he has great personal distaste, by making bare its absurdity whilst appearing to defend it as a loyal civil servant. Which is as absurd as the rest of this disgusting quagmire of immorality.

I am very grateful to those of you who responded to my call to put in Freedom of Information requests on the UK government position re the applicability of Article 4 of the 2007 UK/US Extradition Treaty. The first results are starting to come through. As suspected the government are being as obstructive and unhelpful as possible.

The FCO has stated that it does hold material on the internal assessment of the official UK government view from 2003 to 2007 of the compatibility of Article 4 of the UK/US Extradition Treaty of 2007 with the Extradition Act of 2003. However it is refusing to retrieve and release the material on grounds of excessive cost, claiming it would take more than the mandated 3.5 man days to process the request.

As all the material in question from those dates will be electronically stored, I know they are lying about excessive time and cost. We are looking to break down the request into several smaller chunks to parcel out. It is however very instructive already that the FCO is admitting it does hold the information. This confirms what I explained, that internal FCO systems, to my certain and direct knowledge, make it impossible that the 2007 US/UK Extradition Treaty could have been ratified by the UK without a preceding very thorough Whitehall assessment of the enforceability of all of its provisions in UK law.

Unfortunately I now have my own quite severe legal difficulties to which I need to attend. I was very keen to get this material to help the Harry Dunn campaign finished and published, which is why I am completing this article at 5.30am after writing it all night. I regret that the haste required has made my explanation of a technically complex subject not as straightforward nor as elegant as I would usually try to achieve. It also means that you need to follow the links and read some of the past material I had written, rather than my setting it out all afresh in a self-sufficient article as I would have wished. I do apologise for this, but will explain the difficult circumstances shortly.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

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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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That Leaked Labour Party Report

I have now read my way through all 851 pages of the suppressed and leaked Labour Party report on its handling of anti-semitism complaints. It is an important document, that is fundamental to understanding a major turning point in UK history, where Northern European social democracy failed to re-establish itself in the UK.

If whoever leaked the document still has access to the vast amount of original source material on which it is based, this is documentation of immense historical value. I would strongly urge them to send the original thousands of emails, texts and messages to Wikileaks to ensure that this is preserved for the public record.

More mundanely, the report is of obvious value as evidence to the Equality and Human Rights Commission as part of its investigation into anti-semitism in the Labour Party. The fact that it has not been officially adopted by the Labour Party does not make any difference to its value as evidence; nor does its status as regards copyright or data protection law.

If, for example, I were to discover evidence of blatant racism, and send that to the EHRC, the EHRC would not refuse to look at that evidence on the grounds it breached the racists’ copyright or rights under the Data Protection Act. These excuses for suppression of the report are just that. I am accordingly myself sending a copy on to the EHRC making just that point. I find it rather troubling that Keir Starmer seems more interested in suppressing this report than acting on its alarming findings – and I say that as someone who is not initially hostile to Starmer.

What are the key points we learn from the report? Well, firstly that there did exist among Labour Party members examples of genuinely shocking and indisputable anti-semitism. It is also true that in many cases the processes of dealing with these individuals did drag on for months or even years. Much of the report is concerned with precisely whose fault that was within the Labour Party.

The report does conclusively refute the accusation that delays were occasioned by Jeremy Corbyn or his office, or that his office displayed any sympathy for anti-semitism. In fact, the opposite is the case. Corbyn’s office showed a proper hatred of anti-semitism, but also an alarming willingness to throw good people under the bus on very flimsy allegations of anti-semitism. pp306-7 The report shows a serious inability to distinguish between real, nasty anti-semitism and opposition to the policies of Israel. Furthermore, this is the attitude of the authors of the report themselves who in many scores of examples take for granted that the accusations of anti-semitism are sufficient to consider the case proven, and accept a number of specified opinions as proof of anti-semitism which are anything but.

The headlines of course have been grabbed by the report’s stunning exposure of the fact that Labour HQ was staffed by right wingers so vehemently anti-Corbyn that they actively wanted the Conservatives to win elections. I think it is important to understand just how right wing they really are. Senior members of staff were messaging each other opposing any increase in corporation tax and opposing re-nationalisation of the railways as “Trot” policies.

The case of the horrible and very right wing John McTernan is instructive. McTernan had taken to writing articles in the Daily Telegraph praising the Tories and attacking Labour, but the Governance and Legal Unit of Party HQ refused to take action against him. They finally took action when he wrote an article urging the Tories to “crush the rail unions” for hampering the operations of private railway companies; but the action taken was to suspend a member who called McTernan out on his Tory support. p.140

John McTernan, meanwhile, formerly involved in New Labour and a delegate to 2016 party conference, was repeatedly reported from 25 July onwards for abusive language on Twitter and elsewhere, including describing Labour MPs who nominated Corbyn as “morons”; tweeting twice that Corbyn was a “traitor”; describing “Corbynistas” as racist; telling an SNP MP that he should “Come down to Peckham and try saying that, mate”; calling Corbyn a “Putin-hugging, terrorist-loving, Trident-hater”; and writing in the Daily Telegraph that all of Corbyn’s supporters were “online trolls”.368

No action was taken, and McTernan received the staff decision “No action – removed at referral”. On 18 August, however, Dan Hogan did report a member of McTernan’s CLP, Omar Baggili, who – in response to an article by McTernan in “The Telegraph” urging the Conservative government to “crush the rail unions once and for all” – tweeted at him “seriously John why haven’t you got yourself a Tory membership card. They’re anti unions & pro privatisation like you.”369 Baggili was suspended for “abuse”.

This is by no means an isolated example. One of my favourites is the case of Andy Bigham (pp538-45), who initially came to the attention of the Governance and Legal Unit for suggesting Corbyn was a traitor and Diane Abbot should be “locked in a box”. This was considered insufficient for action to be taken against him, and incredibly this stance was still maintained even when he subsequently posted that he had voted Conservative, urged others to vote Conservative and became the administrator of a Conservative Party Facebook Group.

Meanwhile left wingers were being thrown out of the party for having advocated a Green vote years before they joined, or for calling MPs who supported the Iraq war “warmonger”. The report makes an overwhelming case that the Governance and Legal Unit of the Labour Party failed to take action on accusations of anti-semitism because it was devoting all of its energies to a factional effort to remove Corbyn supporters from the party.

These right wing staff were hoping for Labour electoral defeats in order to get rid of Corbyn. Senior Labour staff were actually hoping Labour would lose its seat in the Manchester Gorton by-election.

27/02/2017, 16:53 – Patrick Heneghan: Just had discussion at strategy meeting We will meet Steve and Andy next Monday – we are looking at all 3 in May but select in Gorton within 4 weeks Katy will speak to you/Iain
27/02/2017, 16:53 – Patrick Heneghan: From karie
27/02/2017, 16:54 – Patrick Heneghan: They didn’t include us in the discussion.
27/02/2017, 16:54 – Patrick Heneghan: Well let’s hope the lib dems can do it….113

It has long been known that there was tension between Corbyn and Labour HQ staff over allocation of resources to key marginals in the 2017 general election. What I had not known prior to this report is that HQ staff set up another organisation (p.92), based in another building, to divert party funds and secretly channel them to the campaigns of their favoured right wing MPs. On p.103 is detailed the horror expressed by Labour Party HQ staff at the Labour Party’s good performance in the 2017 election. People were “sickened” by the exit poll showing the Tories losing their majority.

The emails and messages quoted throughout the report are a tiny percentage of those available and are, of course, the selection of the authors of the report. That is why I call on them to dump the whole cache, which they say is many tens of thousands, to Wikileaks. One theme which continually crops up in the selected passages for quotation, but a theme on which the authors of the report scarcely comment, is that support for British military attacks abroad appeared to be the touchstone issue for who was “in” and who was “out” with Labour Party HQ staff.

The Manchester terror attack occurred in the middle of the 2017 General Election campaign. Corbyn bravely, and correctly, stated something that had been unsayable in mainstream UK political discourse – that British invasions abroad provoke terrorism at home. Labour Party HQ staff hoped and believed this would sink Corbyn and were actively wishing Labour to fall in the polls. pp 96-7

Jo Greening 09:12: and I shall tell you why it is a peak and the polling was done after the Manchester attack so with a bit of luck this speech will show a clear polling decline and we shall all be able to point to how disgusting they truly are
(now obviously we know it was never real – but that isnt the point in politics!)
Francis Grove-White 09:13: Yeah I’m sure that’s right
Francis Grove-White 09:16: My fears are that: a) the speech won’t go down as badly as it deserves to thanks to the large groundswell of ill-informed opposition to all western interventions. And b) they will use that poll to claim they were on course to win and then Manchester happened. And whether or not JC goes, lots of the membership will buy that argument. Like after the referendum when they distorted the polling and claimed we had overtaken the Tories before the “coup” happpened
Jo Greening 09:17: if this speech gets cut through – as I think it may – it will harden normal people against us definitely in the face of a terror attack normal people do not blame foreign intervention they blame immigration whats more – all they will hear is we dont want to respond strongly we want peace with ISIS it all plays into a bigger picture of how they see corbyn so I have a feeling this will cut through you are right on the second point it has to be up to the MPs though to demonstrate how toxic he is on the doorstep throughout but that this speech particularly was toxic and Manchester had happened when that poll was in the field on the supporters I personally think we are going to do very badly in deed and I think it will shock a lot of them how badly we do including JC so everyone has to be ready when he is in shock it has to be clean and brutal and not involve the party at all in my opinion those crazy people who now make up our membership never want us to win in anycase they are communists and green supporters even if Manchester hadnt happened and we got smashed they would have never changed their minds
Francis Grove-White 09:23: Yeah that’s true

My emphasis added to show just how right wing thinking is at Labour Party HQ.

To return to the failure to deal with cases of anti-semitism, a great deal of the problem appears to have arisen from sheer incompetence of staff. The Labour HQ staff had been inherited from the Blair years, and factional loyalty and a history of right wing political activity related to the Progress agenda were much more important in employment decisions than qualifications or competence. The Governance and Legal Unit, which handled the complaints of anti-semitism, was staffed by vehemently anti-Corbyn right wingers and was a bad actor; but it was also just useless.

The most basic systems were not in place, like a log of complaints/allegations – there was no log at all, let alone by category – and there was therefore no system for tracking the progress of individual cases. Emails went unanswered or even unread for many months, sometimes in email boxes which nobody attended. The epicentre of this incompetence was Sam Matthews, who was to be the star of the BBC’s Panorama programme “Is Labour Anti-Semitic” and the primary source of the allegations that Corbyn’s office was preventing action and protecting anti-semites.

It is impossible to read this report – and I have ploughed through all 851 pages – without coming to the conclusion that Matthews himself was responsible for a great deal of inertia. The report hints throughout that the failure to deal with anti-semitic Labour Party members was a deliberate act by party HQ staff in order to make Corbyn look bad. This evidence does not make that case conclusively, though it certainly does nothing to undermine it. The report expresses the suspicion most clearly in a passage on a period where Sam Matthews started inundating Corbyn’s office with requests for input on anti-semitism cases only later to produce the replies to him as evidence of unhelpful interference. This is a key passage of the Report (LOTO = Corbyn’s office):

However, Matthews’ emails reveal that he was the person who initiated a process of asking LOTO for their views on cases, on the basis that he was asking for their “help”, explicitly saying “it’s really helpful to have your input”. Matthews has also asserted:

“I had been privy to emails where Jeremy Corbyn’s Chief of Staff, Karie Murphy, was responding on a case by case basis on antisemitism in order to not suspend someone who they all knew damn well should be suspended.

I thought I just can’t countenance this.”1290

Matthews’ assertions about Murphy are also untrue. Murphy responded to GLU-GSO on just one case, Craig Allaker, agreeing with Emilie Oldknow’s suggestion of a membership rejection. Murphy’s other emails indicate that she did not want GLU involving LOTO in disciplinary cases and she questioned why Matthews had suddenly started involving them.

The conclusion of the Labour Party is that Matthews and possibly others in GLU-GSO instigated this process of consultation with LOTO, and proposed suspensions in some cases for conduct which GLU had previously not considered to merit any form of disciplinary action. This was later used by the same staff to accuse LOTO of involvement in antisemitism cases or of letting off antisemites, blaming LOTO and Jeremy Corbyn for GLU’s inaction on antisemitism complaints.. It may have been GLU and GSO’s intention to make this accusation when they initiated this process of consulting LOTO.

The report proves conclusively that Matthews’ allegations of unwarranted interference from Corbyn’s office to block anti-semitism action are malicious lies. It does not however conclusively show that his motive for asking for input from Corbyn’s office was to generate material to appear to substantiate his lies, not does it show conclusively that his incompetence and that of the Governance and Legal Unit in general was a deliberate ploy to make Corbyn look bad. These are not, however, unreasonable inferences.

What this report proves beyond any doubt is that the entire thrust of John Ware’s infamous Panorama episode, Is Labour Anti-Semitic, was simply wrong. Corbyn’s office was not responsible for lack of action over anti-semitism. The people responsible were the very people whom Ware chummed up with to make the allegations.

All involved were bad actors, including John Ware. He made no attempt to fairly assess or present the facts, or to hear the counter-arguments of those close to Jeremy Corbyn, and appears at the very best to have accepted an extremely selective presentation of written material from Matthews without proper question. But it is of course worse than that.

John Ware, a freelance journalist, was hired by the BBC to make that documentary despite a long history of anti-Muslim, and specifically anti-Palestinian, propaganda that had previously brought the BBC into disrepute and cost the license fee payer money.

In 2006 a John Ware produced Panorama programme Faith, Hate and Charity made deeply damaging false accusations about involvement with terrorism by Palestinian relief charity Interpal and caused the BBC to have to pay substantial damages to the director of another charity, Islamic Relief. Both Interpal and Islamic Relief have continually been targeted by the Israeli government.

John Ware has frequently been labeled an Islamophobe, including repeatedly by the Muslim Council of Britain. There is a double standard at play here. I suggest to you that it is simply the case that the BBC would never commission somebody denounced as “anti-semitic” by the Board of Deputies, more than once, to film a Panorama.

John Ware is proud of his activism for zionism. In 2016 Ware had a paid propaganda tour of Israel as part of a “Commitment Award” from the World Women’s International Zionist Organisation. Ware is perfectly entitled to write articles for the Jewish Chronicle attacking the BDS movement, and he is entitled to his views. But in the BBC Panorama Is Labour anti-Semitic? programme, Ware posed not as a strong pro-Israel propagandist, but as an independent journalist conducting unbiased investigation. In so doing, he allowed Sam Matthews and numerous other Labour staff members to put forward lie after lie after lie, which Ware appeared to validate, as is conclusively proven by this 851 page report.

I am not in a position to know whether John Ware knowingly connived in the lies, or whether he was so blinded by his deeply felt zionist ideology that he allowed himself to be taken in. I do know that today John Ware is engaged in fronting an attempt to takeover the Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News, which has drawn criticism from within the Jewish community because the source of its finance is secret. It was plainly wrong for the BBC to hire somebody with the obvious axe to grind of John Ware to make a Panorama documentary on this subject.

Like the rest of the mainstream media, and like Keir Starmer, the BBC has taken the excuse of this Labour report “breaching the data protection act” to avoid reporting the contradiction of the lies the BBC spewed out for years. You wont find Nick Robinson, Laura Keunssberg or Andrew Neil tweeting enthusiastically about this story. Never have journalists been so united in refusing hard news information because of the dubious legal basis – though unquestioned first rate source and access – of the leak. The Guardian for four years ran up to twenty “Corbyn anti-semitism” stories and columns a week. Their only action on this report has been to denigrate it by reporting gleefully that the Labour Party may be sued for large sums under the Data Protection Act.

To turn to the report itself, it contains so many examples of Corbyn’s office pressing the Governance and Legal Unit to shove alleged anti-semites out of the party quickly, that I am not going to detail them here, but it includes all the high profile cases including Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker etc. It is plain from reading the report that the Governance and Legal Unit were both lackadaisical and incompetent – complaints against anti-semitism were a minority of complaints they received, and complaints of sexual harrassment were receiving even less action (p.264). But sporadically the party machinery appears more concerned to give a fair hearing than Corbyn’s office, who would just shoot anyone the Guardian requested.

There are horrific examples of anti-semitism within the report, but also instances where I would query the categorisation as anti-semitism not only of Labour HQ at the time, but of this report.

At p.214 a case is given of somebody deemed an anti-semite for quoting the Rothschild involvement in Genie Energy fracking in the Golan Heights. Now I claim to be the person who first broke this story to a wider audience, (after finding it in the trade press), and it is completely true. Here is Genie Energy’s own press release.

Mineral exploitation of the occupied Syrian Global Heights by the occupying power is illegal in international law. Shale gas drilling is highly problematic environmentally. It is Genie Energy’s own company press release which led with the involvement of Jacob Rothschild (and Rupert Murdoch).

Claude Pupkin, CEO of Genie Oil and Gas, commented, “Genie’s success will ultimately depend, in part, on access to the expertise of the oil and gas industry and to the financial markets. Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch are extremely well regarded by and connected to leaders in these sectors. Their guidance and participation will prove invaluable.”

“I am grateful to Howard Jonas and IDT for the opportunity to invest in this important initiative,” Lord Rothschild said. “Rupert Murdoch’s extraordinary achievements speak for themselves and we are very pleased he has agreed to be our partner. Genie Energy is making good technological progress to tap the world’s substantial oil shale deposits which could transform the future prospects of Israel, the Middle East and our allies around the world.”

I perfectly accept that there is a fundamental strain of anti-semitism that accuses the Rothschilds and other “Jewish bankers” of controlling world capitalism, and that this is dangerous and harmful nonsense beloved of the Nazis. The Labour report actually gives some examples of precisely that. But you cannot move from there to the position that any criticism of any specific action of the Rothschild family is therefore anti-semitism. To criticise their involvement in illegally fracking on the occupied Golan Heights is perfectly legitimate journalism. It is not an anti-semitic trope.

Similarly it is cited repeatedly (eg p.461) as “anti-semitism” to claim Israeli involvement with ISIS. Why is that? Nobody seriously disputes that the most important diplomatic change in the Middle East of the last decade has been the de facto alliance of Israel and Saudi Arabia (together with most of the GCC), aimed squarely at Iran. Nobody seriously disputes that ISIS, Daesh and Al Nusra have all been enabled at a fundamental level by Saudi and GCC funding and supplies. Some, but very few, analysts genuinely deny western assistance to those jihadi factions when operating against Syria. Nobody disputes the hostility between Isis/Daesh/Al Nusra and not only Hezbollah but also Hamas.

ISIS/Daesh/Al Nusra are the allies of Israel’s allies and the enemies of Israel’s enemies. It is not in the least irrational, nor anti-semitic, to posit possible cooperation. Personally I doubt there has been much – the Israelis are not as foolhardy as the Americans. The odd supportive air strike at Saudi urging, or targeted aid, or intelligence feed perhaps. There may be more. But the idea that it is anti-semitic to suggest Israeli aid to ISIS is wrong, and brings inyo play the question of the use of accusations of anti-semitism to chill legitimate analysis and criticism of Israel.

On Ken Livingstone, I do not think in the least that Ken is an anti-semite. I do however think he is wrong. I have always found the discourse around Nazi/Zionist links disturbing and generally anti-semitic in motivation. Of course there may have been contact at some early stage between Nazis who wished to eradicate Jews from Europe, and Zionists who wished Jews to move to Israel. But what purpose is there in pointing that out? The Jew-hatred of the Nazis is indisputable, and any misguided Zionist who tried to deal with them was not therefore a Nazi supporter. It is a pointless discussion with highly unpleasant undertones. How Ken was entrapped into it I struggle to understand.

The report is desperate to be seen as approving Labour’s now toughness on anti-semitism, and therefore endorses the characterisation of people as anti-semites whom I know not to be. Several instances are given of quoting or linking to Gilad Atzmon as evidence of anti-semitism, seemingly with no need felt to analyse the particular Atzmon article being quoted. Atzmon is of course an Israeli Jew of controversial views particularly on Jewish identity, but it ought not to be axiomatic that to refer to Atzmon is anti-semitic.

Some of this is troubling. We are all more aware nowadays of historic involvement in the slave trade. The BBC recently did some excellent programmes on Scotland and the slave trade. Yet the report contains an analysis by the Community Security Trust p.363 that states that to discuss Jewish involvement in the slave trade (in the instance in question, it was a Jewish person discussing) is an anti-semitic trope. The dangers of this approach are obvious. I have not studied it, and I doubt that Jewish involvement in the slave trade was as bad as Scottish. But I do not doubt it existed, and it ought to be equally as open as Scottish involvement to investigation and comment. You cannot dismiss just everything that may show any group of Jewish people in a bad light as “an anti-semitic trope”.

In short, in my view the report correctly identifies the existence of genuine antisemitism from a small minority of Labour Party members. It correctly identifies that the Labour Party machinery was highly incompetent in dealing with the vast majority of complaints of anti-semitism. It identifies that almost all input from Corbyn’s office was demanding tougher and firmer action. But it makes the error, in its desire to clear the Labour Party of any taint of anti-semitism, of enthusiastically endorsing definitions of anti-semitic behaviour which are so wide as to chill legitimate free speech.

So what conclusions can we form? Well, the first is that Corbyn failed to be sufficiently ruthless in clearing out the quite extraordinarily right wing Blairites that he had inherited as Labour Party HQ staff. The Labour Party is a horribly complex institution, with elected committees, and powerful unions to appease who control the purse strings. But Blair and Brown had managed to create a machine in their own right wing image, and it is hard to read this report without concluding that Corbyn lacked the ruthlessness required in a leader to spot enemies and be rid of them.

But then, his not being a ruthless bastard is why so many people flocked to support Corbyn in the first place.

The second point is that Corbyn’s tactic of constantly attempting to appease the media on anti-semitism was never going to work. The right wing press and TV had no genuine interest in anti-racism, other than as a tool to prevent the possible election of a European style social democratic government. Neither the media nor the Blairites were ever going to reconcile to Corbyn. We will never know what would have happened if he had come out and denounced the witch-hunt as an attempt to stifle supporters of the Palestinians, and spoken openly of Israel’s move to apartheid. He had the nerve to take on the establishment narrative when he stated that British military invasions cause terrorist blowback at home, and won public support. Whether a firm line on Palestine and calling out the witch-hunt would have had a better result than giving way before ten thousand unfair attacks, we can never know.

There are more general points therefore to consider about the nature of power and of political parties. I intend to address these in a further article – including some very worrying similarities with the staff and orientation of SNP HQ.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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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CIA Spying on Assange’s Privileged Legal Conversations

Here is an image of Julian and I talking in the Ecuadorean Embassy, part of the spycam footage that was commissioned by the CIA from Spanish security firm Global. Julian and I were discussing a number of overseas missions to liaise with foreign governments, which I was carrying out on his behalf.

(Incidentally can anybody explain why the precise image you see there is an image which does not appear at any stage when you run the video? I am not even hinting at anything suspicious, just technically interested).

Having been on the inside and knowing their capabilities, I have always assumed that the security services know everything I say and do, so I cannot claim this comes as a great shock or that my behaviour would have been much altered had I known. The shadowing on those overseas trips was unsubtle in any case, more of a warning off than attempt at covert surveillance. As anyone who has read my books will realise, I have always rather enjoyed the more shadowy elements, with me since my former profession. During a visit to Washington in September 2016 which has become somewhat infamous, for fun I entered an establishment of low repute and spent an afternoon giving out free flash drives with my tips to various young ladies and barmen, just to give the FBI lots of particularly wild geese to chase. I have wondered occasionally whether subsequent embarrassment is connected to Robert Mueller’s lack of desire to accept my evidence. (If you have no idea what I am talking about do not worry, you haven’t missed much and just skip this para).

While I am gently rambling away, I might add that it was most amusing to be portrayed as a housebound obsessive blogger by MSM journalists attacking me on Twitter over my Salmond coverage: that is attacked by MSM journalists who have never done anything in their life except copy and paste the odd establishment press release and pick up fat pay cheques from their billionaire owners.

There is however a point to this post. As the ABC news item above shows, Julian’s privileged conversations with his lawyers on his legal defence were being spied on, by the government which is now seeking to extradite him. In any jurisdiction in the civilised world, that should be enough immediately to bring proceedings to a halt. The first witnesses to be called when the hearing resumes are the witnesses who will attest to this. The defence have requested an adjournment of the case beyond May 18, because at present they have no access to their client due to Covid 19 lockdown in the jail, and because it is not at all clear witnesses will be able to travel from abroad by 18 May. Judge Vanessa Baraitser has refused to reschedule.

It is also worth asking why has nothing like that ABC coverage been seen on the BBC or Sky, where this case is actually being heard and Julian is a prisoner?

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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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Information Wars Part 2

Through a solicitor I have now obtained copies of, or at least the text of, the court orders banning me from the Alex Salmond trial. These court orders are simply an extract of the minutes of the court rather than separate documents.

The Advocate depute submitted to the court that this case has received considerable publicity, with one member of the public, namely Craig Murray has been running a continuous blog. This individual has previously received a written warning from the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service with regards to the Contempt of Court Act 1981, he subsequently posted a copy of that letter. The individual applied to the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service for access to the media gallery which was refused. He has attended within the Public Gallery when the court has been opened. It has come to the attention of the crown that this individual’s blog has divulged information which would identify one of the complainers in this case. He invited the court to exclude Mr Murray from the court for the remainder of these proceedings as his continued presence would not be in the interest of justice. Further he submitted that the possible breach of the Contempt of Court Order was currently being considered by the Crown.

The Dean of Faculty advised the court that he has no objection to the motion to exclude the individual from the court.

The Court being satisfied that the advocate depute has set out a prima facia case that Craig Murray may have breached the Order made, in these proceedings, by this court on 10 March 2020 in terms of section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, excluded the said Craig Murray from attending in the public gallery for the remainder of these proceedings, said exclusion being made at common law.

Ross Martin
Depute Clerk of Justiciary

The Court on the motion of the advocate depute directed that the close be closed to the public and members of the media. Further the court, on the motion of the advocate depute, there being no objection, made an order in terms of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, section 4(2) preventing the publication of the details of the issues raised in the legal submissions that took place, within a closed court between 10:45 hours and 10:49hours on 19 March 2020. Said order to be in place pending the resolution of trial proceedings against the accused Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond.

Ross Martin
Depute Clerk of Justiciary

This confirms some important facts. It was the prosecutor, not the judge, who had initiated my banning. Further, the prosecution had at the very least been following, and it is not a large stretch to assume been instrumental in, the refusal to accredit me as media and allow me to be present and report during the prosecution case. The reasons given for refusing my accreditation were a series of evident falsehoods and excuses.

The prosecution then brought a further motive to ban publication of the fact that I had been barred from the public gallery. That is a kind of super-injunction, and particularly sinister.

I also strongly object to the fact that the above court discussion of me was held in secret, without my being informed let alone present, and that I was given no opportunity to refute the points made against me. I was in fact in the queue outside the court while they were discussing me inside. As this was a legal proceeding and ruling by a judge, that is entirely contrary to natural justice.

The most important fact here is that it is all threat and bluster. I have not been found guilty of contempt of court. I have not even been charged with contempt of court. I was in fact very careful throughout to stay clear of contempt, more so than the mainstream media, as documented in detail by Wings Over Scotland. Remember that Contempt of Court carries up to two years in prison – and is decided by the judge without a jury, on a summary hearing.

As detailed in that Wings article, unlike the Guardian and the Times, for example, I omitted in my reporting the fact that one of the accusers had been present at a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon and Geoff Aberdein on 29 March 2018, precisely because to include it could have lead to her easy identification. I was much more careful than the mainstream media – but they were not threatened with contempt of court or banned from covering the trial.

The truth is that the prosecution were insistent I should be banned because of another, indisputable fact. Nobody else but I produced the in depth detail of the defence case that refuted the prosecution allegations, using eye witness testimony that in many cases proved the accusers were actively lying. The mainstream media gave detail of prosecution evidence and copied out the most sensational phrases of allegation to make lurid headlines; they gave virtually no detail of the defence witnesses or what they said on oath.

You can test this. Read my detailed account of the defence on the two days I was actually permitted in the court. Try doing a Google news search of the major defence witnesses who gave key evidence. What do you get? Virtually nothing.

Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 7

Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 8

I can and do make the claim that were it not for my reporting, the verdict would have seemed utterly perverse to the people of Scotland. Fortunately this blog has a large enough reach, sufficiently amplified by many thousands of other social media users, that I was able to get the truth out far enough to people, particularly within the Independence movement, to make a very real difference.

Despite the concerted attempts of the Crown to prevent me.

The Crown had already attempted to terrify me into silence with its earlier threat of prosecution. This had failed, and as I expected the Crown had not been able to follow through on its threats of prosecution for contempt. That the Crown was able to stop my attendance at the trial based on further obscure allegations of contempt – again not followed through – is illegitimate state censorship.

The judge was very wrong to ban me from the court not based on anything in contempt I had written, but on the notion that I might in future write something in contempt of court. This is plainly a violation of my human right to free speech under the European Convention. I am taking legal advice on action. You cannot ban someone from court on the basis they might say something wrong in future, when they have never been convicted of, or even charged with, contempt.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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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Information Wars

Long term readers will recall the Philip Cross Affair. A Wikipedia Editor named “Philip Cross” was relentlessly conducting a propaganda operation. It had two prongs; the first was continually to denigrate the Wikipedia entry of all public figures who opposed military intervention in the Middle East, removing positive information and adding mainstream media slurs in real time as they were made. The second and less noted prong was to big up the Wikpedia entries of right wing mainstream media figures, removing negative information and adding a positive spin.

Wikipedia eventually banned “Philip Cross” from making edits related to UK political figures.

The incredible thing about “Philip Cross” was that he never took a single day off. From 29 August 2013 to 14 May 2018 “Philip Cross” edited Wikipedia every day, including Christmas days, for 1,721 days. I can claim to be the person who first brought the “Philip Cross” operation to a wide audience, and here are my series of articles on the subject:

Is GCHQ Embedded in Wikipedia?

The Philip Cross Affair

Emma Barnett: A Classic “Philip Cross” Wikipedia Operation

The “Philip Cross” MSM Promotion Operation Part 3

Philip Cross Madness Part IV

Le Mesurier Gets Cross

If you are new to this, I really do commend that series as a fascinating glimpse into the information wars that lie behind what you read on the internet. The BBC World Service even made a radio programme about Philip Cross.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3csws6q

Being the BBC it downplays the affair in a number of ways – crucially, it gives several examples to show that Philip Cross’s edits are harmless, and not a single example of his thousands of vicious edits, such as his editing my Wikipedia entry to call my wife a stripper.

The BBC also disingenuously claim that the fact that Cross edited Paul Dacre’s entry shows he did not only edit anti-war figures. They fail to point out that that his edits to Paul Dacre were all designed to glorify Dacre, the Daily Mail’s editor until recently, whereas his edits of anti-war figures were designed to do the opposite.

But the BBC report does correctly state that the “Philip Cross operation” turns out to be an organised neo-con group operating behind the persona of Philip Cross, who is a real vulnerable person with health issues. George Galloway correctly says he was given information from a concerned close relative of Cross who believes he is being exploited. I can confirm that is true. I was also given the opportunity to meet the close relative but I declined as I saw no point in duplicating the effort and causing further stress.

Galloway believes this was a paid operation. It appeared to have very close links to the Times newspaper and to the Euston Manifesto group. James Harding, Times editor, had his page lovingly edited 118 times by the “Philip Cross” operation, largely to remove or rebut criticisms.

James Harding is of course currently editor of Tortoise magazine.

So who were the editors working behind the group name of “Philip Cross”?

For me, the most fascinating and insufficiently explored avenue of the Philip Cross affair was the question of his Twitter followers. “Philip Cross” had a twitter account which never did anything interesting. He simply retweeted articles by right wing journalists; that was the majority of his output. Very occasionally he would add a one line comment. There was nothing remotely original or interesting, even to a person who shared the right wing views of the “Philip Cross” persona, until the operation was exposed.

Yet this extremely dull twitter account by this obscure unwell man, which never tweeted anything original or witty, had among its 200 followers a collection of establishment figures and, most notably mainstream media journalists. Why on earth would Tristram Hunt and James le Mesurier of white helmet jihadis fame find it worthwhile to follow this obscure account? Above all, why did a whole slew of MSM “journalists” follow an account of no original interest at all?

There is no other possible conclusion than that these figures were aware of the “Philip Cross” operation when it was still apparently nothing but an extremely obscure man who liked obsessively editing Wikipedia and retweeting Nick Cohen and David Aaronovitch (his most frequent tweets). My intuition is – and this is not fact, but a working hypothesis that fits known facts to date – that the many MSM journalists who were, for no apparent reason, following the obscure “Philip Cross” twitter account, were not merely au fait with, but a part of, the Wikipedia editing operation that hid behind “Philip Cross” and his IP address.

So here are those MSM followers of the “Philip Cross” twitter account as noted by me on 21 May 2018. Note Dani Garavelli.

DANI GARAVELLI. I had quite forgotten until reminded by Leftworks. Once reminded, I recall that I was getting fed up typing up names and almost left her off as a nobody, writing for a publication nobody reads any more. I am glad I did not.

So why was Dani Garavelli one of “Philip Cross”‘s devoted Twitter followers from when the “Philip Cross” operation was still secret?

Garavelli was recently commissioned by James Harding (remember him above?) for Tortoise Magazine to write a hit piece with the aim of destroying Alex Salmond’s reputation by appealing to the #Metoo movement, evoking sympathy for the accusers and restating prosecution evidence while simply ignoring defence evidence.

Alex Salmond was of course an opponent of NATO bombing of Serbia and has been a staunch and outspoken opponent of UK military intervention in the Middle East. So who was editing negatively his Wikipedia profile? “Philip Cross” of course.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the British Establishment. Like a circle within a circle, like a wheel within a wheel, a never ending propaganda operation to control the population.

Once Garavelli’s execrable article was published by Tortoise (interestingly for free access by a magazine whose business model allegedly rests on its fierce paywall), the propaganda deluge online to hype it from MSM journalists and from UK government trolls was immense. Interestingly there was a third element – a whole raft of young paid employees of the SNP and a slew of similar wannabe SNP careerists. A fascinating amount of entryist penetration of the SNP has been exposed in this process.

It became obvious the political destruction of Alex Salmond is a major objective of the UK state, worth the potential burning of hitherto hidden assets. I paid close attention because the same forces were leveled against me in a hate storm for pointing out the very obvious deficiencies in the Garavelli article, facilitating a very successful online pushback by ordinary folk. That will be a subject to discuss another day.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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

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Coronavirus – Time for an Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants

My second podcast discusses some of the less considered effects of the coronavirus lockdown, and the need for an alternative to predatory capitalism in the aftermath. Again, just me chatting to you.

There is no intention these podcasts will replace written articles or that there will be less articles. I am merely trying out an additional kind of communication. I appreciate some people do not like watching videos, or only like watching professionally produced videos. Well, nobody is forcing you to watch. I should be grateful if comments could focus on the content.

——————————————

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

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

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

Alternatively:

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

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

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#SingalongaVanessa

I have been sent footage of judge Vanessa Baraitser appearing in a school musical. Even though this is a remarkable survival of the scrubbing of her existence from the internet, I saw no public interest in publishing it until yesterday, when she ruled that in the interests of “open justice” the identities of Julian Assange’s partner and small children should be made public. So in the interests of “open justice”, here is Vanessa singing.

In these difficult times we must all find what pleasures we can. So rather than #clapforBoris, I invite you to give it full voice, belt it out and #Singalongavanessa. With grateful thanks to Joe M for adding my subtitles.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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

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Beyond Words

Yesterday Mark Sommers QC, the extremely erudite and bookish second counsel for Julian Assange in his extradition hearing, trembled with anger in court. Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser had just made a ruling that the names of Julian Assange’s partner and young children could be published, which she stated was in the interests of “open justice”. His partner had submitted a letter in support of his Covid 19 related bail application (which Baraitser had summarily dismissed) to state he had a family to live with in London. Baraitser said that it was therefore in the interests of open justice that the family’s names be made public, and said that the defence had not convincingly shown this would cause any threat to their security or well-being. It was at this point Sommers barely kept control. He leapt to his feet and gave notice of an appeal to the High Court, asking for a 14 day stay. Baraitser granted four days, until 4pm on Friday.

I am in lockdown in Edinburgh, but received three separate eye witness reports. They are unanimous that yet again Baraitser entered the court carrying pre-written judgements before hearing oral argument; pre-written judgements she gave no appearance of amending.

There have been two Covid-19 deaths in Belmarsh prison so far. For obvious reasons the disease is ripping through the jail like wildfire. The Department of Justice is admitting to one death, and refuses to give statistics for the number of cases. As even very sick prisoners are not being tested, the figures would arguably not mean much anyway. As the court heard at the bail application, over 150 Belmarsh prison staff are off work self-isolating and the prison is scarcely functioning. It is the most complete definition of lockdown.

The Prison Governors’ Association submitted to the House of Commons Justice Committee (which yesterday morning considered prisoner releases in closed session) that 15,000 non-violent prisoners need to be released to give the jails any chance of managing COVID-19. The Department of Justice has suggested releasing 4,000 of whom just 2,000 have been identified. As of a couple of days ago, only about 100 had actually been released.

The prisons are now practising “cohorting” across the estate, although decisions currently lie with individual governors. Prisoners who have a cough – any cough – are being put together in segregated blocks. The consequences of this are of course potentially unthinkable. Julian has a cough and chronic lung condition for which he has been treated for years – a fact which is not in dispute.

Yesterday Baraitser again followed her usual path of refusing every single defence motion, following pre-written rulings (whether written or merely copied out by herself I know not), even when the prosecution did not object. You will recall that at the first week of extradition hearing proper, she insisted that Julian be kept in a glass cage, although counsel for the US government made no objection to his sitting in the body of the court, and she refused to intervene to stop his strip searching, handcuffing and the removal of his court papers, even though the US government joined the defence in querying her claim she had no power to do this (for which she was later roundly rebuked by the International Bar Association).

Yesterday the US government did not object to a defence motion to postpone the resumption of the extradition hearing. The defence put forward four grounds:

1) Julian is currently too ill to prepare his defence
2) Due to Covid-19 lockdown, access to his lawyers is virtually impossible
3) Vital defence witnesses, including from abroad, would not be able to be present to testify
4) Treatment for Julian’s mental health conditions had been stopped due to the Covid-19 situation.

Baraitser airily dismissed all these grounds – despite James Lewis QC saying the prosecution was neutral on the postponement – and insisted that the May 18 date remains. She stated that he could be brought to the cells in Westminster Magistrates Court for consultations with his lawyers. (Firstly, in practice that is not the case, and secondly these holding cells have a constant thoughput of prisoners which is very obviously undesirable with Covid19).

It is worth noting that the prosecution stated that the US government’s own psychiatrist, appointed to do an assessment of Julian, had been unable to access him in Belmarsh due to Covid 19 restrictions.

This is getting beyond me as it is getting beyond Mark Sommers and the defence team. Even before Covid 19 became such a threat, I stated that I had been forced to the conclusion the British Government is seeking Assange’s death in jail. The evidence for that is now overwhelming.

Here are three measures of hypocrisy.

Firstly, the UK insists on keeping this political prisoner – accused of nothing but publishing – in a Covid 19 infested maximum security jail while the much-derided Iranian government lets Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe out and hopefully will release her altogether.
Which is the inhumane regime?

Secondly, “open justice” allegedly justifies the release of the identities of Julian’s partner and kids, while the state enforces the secrecy of Alex Salmond’s busted accusers, even though the court heard evidence that they specifically colluded to destroy him using, as a deliberate tool, the anonymity afforded to people making sexual accusations.

Thirdly, nobody cultivates her own anonymity more than Vanessa Baraitser who has her existence carefully removed from the internet almost entirely. Yet she seeks to destroy the peace and young lives of Julian’s family.

Keep fighting for Julian’s life and for freedom.

Pieter Evert sent me this rather good cartoon, for which many thanks:

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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

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The Declaration of Arbroath, and the Way Forward Now

This is my first ever attempt at a podcast. The family think it is hilariously boring, like a TV lecture from the 1950’s. I try to persuade them that being hilariously inept is vital to my charm, but that makes them laugh even more.

It is a day late due to technical incompetence on my part. There are a couple of weird cuts where the kittens knocked the camera over. Consensus here is that next time I should just film the kittens. Nadira has offered to help with my next effort, so maybe things will look up.

——————————————

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

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Alternatively:

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

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Who Paid Dani Garavelli?

Tortoise was sponsored to produce the Dani Garavelli attempted assassination of Alex Salmond by Tulchan Communications, the same firm that employed Ruth Davidson on £50,000 a year for 24 days of corporate lobbying – until banned by the Scottish Parliament.

Tulchan Communications is an openly Tory body. Its Chief Executive is Lord Feldman, former Chairman of the Tory Party. Its directors include Lisa Kerr, former SPAD to George Osborne. It is a part of the UK’s suave system of corruption, whereby political hacks with the inside track get paid huge bungs by firms to influence ministers in their favour on tax, contracts, regulations etc.

It is genuinely not my normal style to judge an argument by who said it or by who paid for it. Nobody can possibly accuse me of not having judged and critiqued Garavelli’s article on its own merits.  But the reaction to my critique, both from the mainstream media and from a whole slew of paid SNP staff, was to attack me for receiving subscriptions for my blog.

That led me to the train of thought that the source of funding for this blog is open – it is you, the readers, voluntarily – but why were those same people not asking who funded Ms Garavelli and why?  I might not have done anything about it until I saw a tweet from Ms Garavelli stating that her piece had been “legaled” several times. Which is expensive.

By the fine art of provocation I got more details from Ms Garavelli of just how extensive her involvement had been.

Indeed, when you think about it, that makes it even more remarkable that she managed to speak to not a single person from the defence nor reflect any of the evidence of the defence witnesses. All that work yet meeting only one side? But it also makes this very expensive. Why would a magazine nobody reads pay so very much for a completely one-sided hit-job on Alex Salmond?

Tortoise claims to have an entirely new model for “slow” journalism, hence the name, putting in the research. That fits with what Garavelli has done here, although when you have made not the slightest effort to get more than one side of a story I am not sure why that is called “journalism” as opposed to “propaganda”.

Tortoise accepts subscriptions of £100 per year, but that is a minor part of their income. Most of their income comes from corporate sponsorship, and though they do admit this on their website, they are coy about which company is behind which article. BP are among the major actors. In the case of Dani Garavelli being employed to try and destroy Alex Salmond, the initiative to commission it from Tortoise came from Tulchan Communications. Garavelli was a very safe bet for this. Her normal employer is the independence hating “Scotland on Sunday”.

Garavelli had described the massive All Under One Banner marches as “the flag-fixated organisation beloved of the Trumpian tendency” and claimed they are disliked by the “mainstream” SNP. It seems to me highly improbable that Tulchan Communications would have expended so much money without giving Tortoise a pretty strong steer that they wanted an entirely one-sided account. The propaganda purpose is of course revealed immediately by the fact that Tortoise’s pretend subscription model operates from behind a paywall, but the Salmond attack article was pushed out for free everywhere. But I do not know what Garavelli’s brief was, and Tortoise could be pretty sure what they would get from Garavelli. I must add in fairness that I have no information whether Garavelli knew that Tulchan Communications were funding Tortoise for her article. It would be nost interesting to know whether she spoke to Ruth Davison at any stage.

Tortoise is what is politely known as an “Atlanticist” organisation, like a media equivalent of the Henry Jackson Society. It was co-founded by James Harding, Cameron appointed former Head of News at the BBC, by the ex United States Ambassador to the UK and by a Jack Daniels whisky heiress. Its corporate sponsors include the Bill Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Capita and BP. Radical it ain’t.

James Harding was of course the former Murdoch editor of the Times and Head of News at the BBC, who claimed that it had been his mission to make BBC News more pro-Israel, and later claimed that he had succeeded. I think we can say he was telling the truth.

All the people at Tortoise and all the forces they represent are firmly opposed to Scottish Independence. Tulchan Communications are extremely firmly opposed to Scottish Independence. Scotland on Sunday are fanatically opposed to Scottish Independence. Dani Garavelli makes a living from ridiculing Independence supporters.

So when Alex Salmond, who lifted the SNP into government and political dominance from small beginnings, was found innocent at trial, and these ultra anti-Independence forces combined to do a hatchet job on him effectively disputing the verdict of the court, the SNP needs to unite in congratulation and stop the self-interested sniping. Now.

——————————————

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

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

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

Alternatively:

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

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

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Here’s Two I Did Earlier

In the light of recent events, I thought I might revisit my appearances a few months ago on the Alex Salmond Show. In current circumstances people might have more time to watch.  It also helps explain why the state hates Alex Salmond.

https://youtu.be/-3dx3x05gYg

https://youtu.be/Wa1KQHmLPs8

The establishment have tried to “get” Alex SaImond in three courts.

The first was Scotland’s highest civil court, the Court of Session. They failed.

The second was Scotland’s highest criminal court, the High Court. They failed.

The third is the court of public opinion, and they are failing.

I am working on the question of who paid for Dani Garavelli’s much boosted hit piece. The answer proves to be much more interesting than I expected – by the time you watch the videos and have a bite to eat I will be close to publishing.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

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

Alternatively:

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

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

View with comments

“I Have a Plan So That We Can Remain Anonymous But Have Maximum Effect”

These were the words, shown in court, in a text of Ms H to a co-conspirator as they launched their infamous effort to destroy Alex Salmond. The plan was to make false sexual allegations against Salmond, which would ensure the conspirators lifelong anonymity as “victims” and thus protect them against any backlash should the plan fail. They were all very powerful women, so insuring themselves was paramount. The “plan” turns out to have the added advantage that the collapse of their efforts in court in no way diminished their ability to continue their anonymous campaign to destroy Salmond.

[UPDATE: James Doleman noted down a slightly different version of this quote in court. He has “I have a plan so that we can remain anonymous but see strong repercussions”. The meaning is effectively identical, but online trolls are trying to seize on the difference as evidence of subterfuge on my part.]

The Nameless 9 have been able to issue joint statement after joint statement seeking to cast doubt upon the verdict and even to deploy the jury’s verdict as merely another instrument of their own oppression, a further example of their own martyrdom. There have been no shortage of mainsteam media journalists and of Scottish Government funded institutions, most notably Rape Crisis Scotland, willing to amplify that “Salmond is guilty really” message. It reaches its apogee in an article from Dani Garavelli.

The establishment has united in relief behind Garavelli’s article, claiming it proves that Salmond is unfit for political office. The most fascinating thing is to see unionists and Sturgeon supporters join together in lockstep in their applause. Mhairi Hunter, Kirsty Strickland, Gerry Hassan and Bella Caledonia unite in retweeting with cries of admiration alongside Paul Hutcheon, Severin Carrell, Alex Massie and Kenny Farquharson of Scotland’s laughably biased corporate media, and everybody who is anybody at the BBC.

It is particularly telling that senior SNP figures are all retweeting rapturously an article that states explicitly that Sturgeon prioritises feminism over Independence, and has no intention of moving for Independence soon, and contrasts this with the views of Alex Salmond. It is also interesting that SNP figures are retweeting an article that casually labels Independence supporters “cybernats” and indulges in lazy anti-Scots caricatures of Salmond’s supporters and the way that they speak. I realise Garavelli is herself Scots; with a serious infection of cringe.

When I published my article on the trial setting out all the facts the mainstream media has withheld, I challenged any establishment hack to publish a critique of it and show where my facts were untrue. Of course they could not even attempt to do that. What they did instead was to publish a large photo of my home in the Daily Record with an article inciting against me, endangering the safety of my wife and children.

However once the Establishment decided to rally round Ms Garavelli’s article as the “intellectual” response to the Salmond verdict, I decided it would be hypocritical of me not to subject it to the detailed critique I had challenged them to make to my own article. It is not easy to challenge the facts in Garavelli’s article, because there are virtually none. It is an exercise in emoting. It does reproduce some prosecution accusations, and simply ignores the defence evidence as though it did not exist.

One result of the exercise is that I am absolutely convinced that nobody with an elementary education can claim in good faith that they find Ms Garavelli’s arguments convincing. If I believed that any significant number of people in public life genuinely believed that Ms Garavelli is right, I would quit for ever. I would never write again, on the grounds that logic and reason have been abandoned in favour of  tribal fetish that worships maxims like “the woman must always be believed”.

I am doing this because actual truth, actual fact matters. If we allow people like Garavelli and her influential backers to subordinate truth to slogan and emotion, we are back in the Middle Ages.

No.  Those who are lauding Ms Garavelli are doing so because they wish to destroy Alex Salmond and wish to destroy Scottish Independence, and to triumphantly proclaim the victory of their narrow  brand of intolerance disguised as feminism.

The most interesting feature of the current political scene in Scotland is this conjunction of fourth wave feminism in the SNP inner circle with the desire to put off indefinitely any real attempt at Independence. On that point at least, Garavelli’s article and I are in absolute agreement. To which it is worth adding, that you would have to be living with no internet not to have noticed the lockstep of unionists  with the Sturgeon fourth wave feminist inner circle in their efforts to destroy Alex Salmond.

So let us start to analyse Garavelli’s article. Please do at least go to the original on Tortoise for a minute. You can get the sense of her article better there before seeing my critique, and I want to be fair.  Plus I do not wish to deprive them of traffic. From my initial reading, if you are a Blairite you will feel right at home on Tortoise.

Garavelli’s article in blue.

It is 3.09pm, Monday, March 23, 2020. The year of the Coronavirus, Edinburgh. The Royal Mile – the stretch of road that runs between Holyrood Palace and the Castle – is eerily quiet. Gone are the workers with their carry-out coffees. Gone, the tour groups who gaze up at the cathedral, dedicated to St Giles, the patron saint of lepers.

St Giles is patron saint of Edinburgh. He is more generally referred to as patron saint of the disabled. His full official patronages are “cripples, beggars, lepers and Edinburgh”. Dani has of course selected “leper” and then “Alex Salmond” follows in the next sentence. Subtle, eh?

The trial of Alex Salmond was about power and sex, about the future of the political party he took from the margins to centre stage, and about Scotland’s status as a nation.

The small patch of pavement in front of the city’s High Court, however, is thronged with reporters and photographers, joined by a bunch of cybernats who shout out “on yerself, Alex,” as the former First Minister, former leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), former champion of the campaign for Scottish independence thanks a jury of eight women and five men for acquitting him of 13 charges of sexual assault from nine complainants.

The term “bunch of cybernats” is a pejorative with no justification. I know a few of the small number of people referred to and they are friends of Alex and not particularly active online. Why this use of the derogatory term “cybernats”? This is simply an attempt with no basis to dismiss the right to an opinion of those who supported Alex Salmond. Note also that in contrast to Ms Garavelli’s fine English prose, the “cybernats” are the rough uncouth other, who speak Scots: “on yerself”. Ms Garavelli could not possibly look further down her nose.

To those who have witnessed him in his pomp, Salmond cuts a diminished figure. The familiar dark overcoat, tartan scarf and saltire-dotted tie are still present and correct, but the triumphalist bluster and Tigger bounce have vanished.

“Triumphalist bluster”. Again, a highly derogatory description of Salmond with no attempt to establish it in fact. Indeed it is a quality that she says was not currently on display. So why make this insulting description?

And yet, he hints at their return. “There is certain evidence I would have liked to have seen led in this trial, but for a variety of reasons, this was not possible,” he says. “Those facts will see the light.” Everyone outside the court understands what this means. It’s a threat. It’s a promise. He is saying: “This is not over. Not by a long shot.”

Alex Salmond was prevented from leading in court evidence that the accusers with others conspired against him to bring false allegations. This debar was established both at two public pre-trial hearings and on two occasions during the trial when the judge intervened to prevent defence witnesses from giving evidence.

That evidence however will be central to the judicial review hearing of the Scottish Government’s handling of the case against him. It will also be available to the parliamentary inquiry at Holyrood into the same thing. It may also be used in any civil litigation Alex Salmond may bring.

To describe Alex Salmond’s plain statement that “those facts will see the light” as a threat is ludicrous. He could not prevent them from seeing the light in the judicial review and the parliamentary inquiry even if he wished to do so. To describe this as a threat is in no sense factual and is just a blatant display of the extraordinary bias with which Ms Garavelli views events.

In another part of the country, Woman K – former civil servant and one of the complainants – is working from home when Salmond’s voice suddenly cuts into her kitchen. Instinctively, she covers her ears. “I couldn’t move, I couldn’t hear him gloating. It was a visceral reaction,” she says.

Note the complete absence of the kind of pejorative framing of Salmond – cybernats, lepers, triumphalism – when it comes to Woman K, who is immediately established as a homely person in her kitchen. Unlike Salmond’s uncouth supporters, she speaks perfect English, not Scots.  Note that unlike Salmond, Garavelli does not try to judge or negatively categorise her words, but merely accepts her description of Salmond “gloating”.

Woman K is one of two women whose complaints about Salmond prompted the original Scottish government inquiry back in early 2018, just months after the Harvey Weinstein story broke. Ever since those allegations were leaked to the Daily Record newspaper, she has been unable to stop herself trawling Twitter and Facebook to read the insults written about her and the other women. “I can’t not look for stuff. I am always there, constantly refreshing. It’s an act of self-harm,” she says.

The effort to link Salmond to Weinstein is a constant tactic of those who wish us to judge the case without any consideration of the actual evidence. Woman K may be in emotional distress about the trial if she is telling the truth about events, or possibly even greater emotional distress if she is not telling the truth. Ms Garavelli is using the alleged emotional state to arouse sympathy; it is not evidence.

This tweet, on an anonymous account, is typical. “Whore A. #Liar. Whore B. #Liar. Whore C. #Liar,” it says. “Dettol and steel wool time at the SNP,” reads another. Some online warriors have come close to breaching the women’s anonymity.

The problem with claimed tweets from anonymous accounts is that there is, by definition, no means of telling who sent them, nor why. This is an attempt to link with the meme of Salmond’s friends branded as “cybernats” at the start of the article. In fact this is not evidence at all. The anonymous tweet could very well be sent by somebody as determined as Ms Garavelli to denigrate support for the jury’s verdict. Again, zero evidential value.

Since the verdict, I have spoken to five of the nine women, all of whom were offered extra security to keep them safe. They are devastated to find themselves cast as orchestrators of a grand plot to bring down the greatest Scottish politician of his generation.

Here is an attempt to dismiss the central claim of the defence, by ridicule. Dani does not mention any facts. One fact shown in court is that five of the nine were members of the WhatsApp group concerting the allegations. That fact makes the ridicule by Gavarelli entirely inappropriate.

We can note here for the first time that she spoke to five of the accusers, but spoke to zero of the defence witnesses who refuted them. This piece fails the very first rule on fairness of Journalism 101.

“It is so hard to see people take the jury’s finding and then say that means we were all conspiring or lying,” Woman K says. “Throughout this whole thing, we’ve not been able to have a voice and now there is no way any of us can counter the terrible things that are being said about us.”

Here we come to the key flaw in Ms Garavelli’s approach. She takes it as read the women were not lying – and she makes no effort at all to look at what they alleged, and why the jury did not believe them. There were two eye witnesses, in addition to Alex Salmond, who contradicted Woman K’s allegation.

The allegation from Woman K was that, after a dinner at Stirling castle, Alex Salmond grabbed her buttock while they were having their photo taken together. The circumstance was that everybody at the dinner had their photo taken with Alex Salmond one by one, by a professional photographer, on the rampart of Stirling Castle with the Lion Rampant flying behind them.

Two witnesses, Alexander Anderson and Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh, had both been in the same small group as Woman K on the ramparts with Alex Salmond. Both had also had their photos taken, and both testified they had watched Woman K have her photo taken with Alex Salmond from just a few feet away. Neither had seen anything happen as Woman K described. They did not see Alex Salmond grab her buttock, they did not see any strange reaction or sense of discomfort in Woman K nor any change in her attitude or behaviour.  In other words, Woman K’s account was not only denied by Alex Salmond, it was refuted by two close eye witnesses.

The extraordinary thing is, that Garavelli knows all of that. She sat through the evidence of Alexander Anderson and Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh. But she hides it. She blanks it out. She keeps it secret from her readers. She censors out all facts which do not fit her narrative. Because Ms Garavelli wrote this article with the sole purpose of presenting a sympathetic account of the discredited accusers while omitting all trace of the defence evidence. Garavelli’s only intent was to defame and destroy the reputation of Alex Salmond and try to insinuate by cold, deliberate and repeated omission and misrepresentation that the verdict of the jury was a mistake.

We should also address her claim that the “women do not have a voice”. That is yet another utterly unjustified claim to victimhood. All of the women are in powerful positions. They each had their voice heard loudly and clearly in court. The jury knew what that voice was worth.

Since then, the nine powerful women who concerted to make false allegations against Alex Salmond have continued to have the loudest voice in Scotland. They issued a joint statement through Rape Crisis Scotland, which appeared on the front page of every newspaper in Scotland and was all over the BBC.  How is that “having no voice”? This article is a further example of their continuing media campaign to destroy Alex Salmond, despite having lost in both the High Court and the Court of Session.  Unlike the innocent Mr Salmond, Woman K who lied about being groped during a photoshoot, can conduct her campaign from behind a screen of state protected anonymity.

Woman F – the other original complainant, who never actively sought criminal charges – says the social media backlash is compounding her distress.

“It’s difficult not to see the verdict as a reflection on yourself,” she says. “One of the reasons I didn’t want to go [to the police] was the idea of going through an adversarial court process with the First Minister, and then having a jury say they didn’t believe you. I found that prospect unbearable.

“Obviously they are taking a decision based on the evidence as they see it and interpret it, and that’s their role and their right, but it’s difficult to see that as anything other than a stamp of failure.”

Woman F is in a different category. An incident undoubtedly happened. She was working late on the ministerial box with Alex Salmond in Bute House and a few drinks led to a cuddle on the bed, which Alex Salmond acknowledged at the time and acknowledged at the trial, ought not to have happened and was inappropriate.

She did indeed raise the issue at the time, and received a formal apology from Alex Salmond and an offer to transfer to another job at the same level. She accepted his apology and chose to continue working with him and did so happily for a substantial period. Ms Garavelli is accurate that Woman F had never wanted to go to the police. She was badgered into it once the decision was taken to eliminate Salmond, as Woman F’s story was the little grain of fact around which they sought to create their pearl.

The interesting point is that Woman F’s original complaint said nothing about Salmond attempting to grope under her underwear. Those details were added later in a series of increasingly salacious statements once the police and the Leslie Evans process started sexing up (literally) the allegation. Under pressure, I believe Woman F became confused herself as to the truth of events.

Defence Counsel in summing up used the memorable phrase that Woman F’s account had “grown arms and legs” over the years. That is undoubtedly true from successive statements, and I think that is why the jury found it did not amount to sexual assault. I do not accuse Woman F of lying or scheming.

Their experience is, up to a point, inevitable. All trials are a battle of competing narratives, and this one was no different. Prosecuting, the Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice, QC – a low-key, but forensic operator – presented the complainers as committed professionals reduced to sexual playthings by a man drunk on his own untouchability.

Defending, Gordon Jackson, QC, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and his junior Shelagh McCall, presented them as schemers: women who had either made things up, or over-reacted. A majority of the jury believed Jackson’s version. Salmond is innocent; ergo – in some eyes – the women must be guilty.

But trials, particularly sexual offence trials, are complicated affairs, with high stakes and, often, muddy waters. There tend not to be eyewitnesses, and yet the jury must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt, and so convictions are difficult to secure.

This is false equivalence. Garavelli attempts to muddy the facts of this case firstly by portraying the difficulty as that of “he said, she said” decision by the jury. But that was not the case here. In most of the accusations, the accusers were shown to be lying by other independent witnesses – whose accounts Garavelli dishonestly and systematically omits.

In this trial the stakes were higher, and the waters muddier, than most. On the verdict hung not only the fate of the man who took the SNP from the fringes to the mainstream, and the country to the brink of independence, but that of his protege-turned-adversary, Nicola Sturgeon, along with the Scottish independence movement as a whole.

If that wasn’t enough weight to bear – unfolding alongside the Weinstein case in the US – it was seen as a referendum on the #MeToo movement; a litmus test for contemporary attitudes on sexual offending in the workplace. Had #MeToo challenged public misconceptions on sex and power? Was it being used to empower women; or to victimise men?

This is Garavelli’s second mention of the entirely irrelevant Weinstein – a blatant attempt to sully Salmond by association. The repeated references to #Metoo are only of any value in clarifying Garavelli’s own mindset and explaining the incredible levels of biased selection of fact in her article.

Because actually this was not about #metoo or about Weinstein, however much Garavelli and her political allies want it to be. It was about whether Alex Salmond committed certain criminal acts. Which he did not. He is innocent.

As for the muddy waters, where to start? Salmond is innocent; but he does not come out of this unsullied. “I wish on my life the First Minister had been a better man and I wasn’t here today,” said Woman H, who claimed whilst giving evidence that he’d attempted to rape her.

Of all the witnesses, Woman H was the one most comprehensively shown to be a nasty and ill-motivated liar. Her comments on the character of Alex Salmond are just that. The jury did not believe Woman H. We will come to her later.

The attempted rape charge was dismissed along with all the others, but the broader sentiment was endorsed. Both Prentice and Jackson, prosecution and defence, quoted Woman H in their closing submissions. “I wish on my life the First Minister had been a better man and I wasn’t here today,” Jackson said. “It’s a good line. Maybe it was rehearsed. But it is true. Because if, in some ways, the former First Minister had been a better man, I wouldn’t be here, you wouldn’t be here. None of us would be here.”

Jackson was using the understood rhetorical device whereby you start off by appearing to concur with your opponents’ point and then you go on to demolish it. This is yet again an example of Garavelli’s extraordinary and quite deliberate distortion by omission in presenting the defence case, and in particular omitting in virtually its entirety the evidence of all the defence witnesses, seven of them female.

This was, in fact, the core of the defence case: that Salmond was a flawed, demanding, irascible leader, whose behaviour could be inappropriate, though never quite so inappropriate as to be criminal. Never that.

This is simply an untruth. The core of the defence case was, plain as a pikestaff, that the allegations were lies concocted in collusion as part of a conspiracy to destroy Alex Salmond politically. The defence was not “he felt her up but that is not illegal”. By failing to present the actual facts of the defence, – in which Garavelli is in lockstep with the entire rest of the state and corporate media – Garavelli is quite deliberately seeking to encompass the goal of Salmond’s political destruction through repeating the allegations, seeing the innocent verdict as merely a bump in that road.

It was an impression reinforced last weekend when footage emerged of the garrulous Jackson discussing his client loudly on the Edinburgh to Glasgow train at a time when the trial was still in progress. He referred to Salmond and the allegations, as “inappropriate, arsehole, stupid, but sexual?” He also risked being in contempt of court by mentioning two of the complainers by name, and said his strategy included trying to “put a smell” on the women.

Many had wondered at the wisdom of choosing Jackson as a defence lawyer for a high profile sexual assault case. He did secure the acquittals, but at what cost? His indiscretion has effectively “put a smell” on Salmond, and he has referred himself to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

Garavelli at least here correctly admits Jackson was saying Salmond’s behaviour was not sexual, unlike the Murdoch media’s false claim he called Alex a sex pest. The taping of Jackson is highly suspicious. That Jackson, a former Labour MP, is not Salmond’s greatest fan is unsurprising. And we do not know his motive in modulating his views to his particular interlocutor on the train. There is no “smoking gun” here, no indication of any wrong act by Salmond, despite the media excitement.

Much of the prosecution case centred on what happened in Bute House – the First Minister’s official residence in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. To those of us who sat through the two-week trial, the lay-out of the Georgian townhouse is now as familiar as our own homes. The basement where the civil servants had their offices. The first floor with its chandelier-lit drawing room, the site of many an IndyRef dinner. The second floor (part official/part private), with its adjoining sitting room and study. And the third floor with its private bedrooms – one of which was the scene of whatever happened with Woman F, on the night of 4 December, 2013. That something inappropriate took place has never been denied. Woman F received an apology from Salmond at the time and an assurance it would never happen again. Now she too – along with the other complainants – is being branded a liar on the internet.

I cannot find a great deal of evidence of Woman F being branded a liar on the internet. I would not call her such. There is no doubt that under pressure she embellished successive accounts of the incident. We have no idea what a jury thinks, but it seems highly probable they thought her first and less extreme account was the true one.

The image created of the former First Minister – an image undisputed by the defence – was of a man who could not bear to be alone. A man who worked all hours in both his public and private quarters and expected civil servants and government officials to work alongside him. A man who drank while he worked, and wanted others to drink too. A man for whom the boundaries between work and leisure, business and pleasure were hazy. Blurred lines, as they say.

This again is simply untrue. There was no evidence led he could not bear to be alone. The defence led a great deal of evidence that it was perfectly normal for the First Minister to be accompanied by Private Office staff at official functions in the evenings and to be working on the paperwork in the ministerial box with him at his home until after midnight. As a former senior civil servant myself, I can tell you for certain this is absolutely true; it is how every UK minister operates too.

There were other hints of murkiness too: allusions to machinations which, as Salmond said, could not be spelled out in court. “There is something going on here,” Jackson told the jury. “I can’t prove it, but I can smell it.”

Those of us who covered the preliminary hearings know what he was talking about: texts and emails the defence see as proof of a plot. One of them read: “We have lost the battle, but we will win the war.”

The lost battle referred to the judicial review – pursued by Salmond – which found the Scottish government’s investigation of the first two complaints had been unlawful; the war, to the criminal trial. Between the start of the judicial review and police charges being laid, eight more complainers had come forward.

The reason there were “hints of murkiness” is that the defence were barred by the court from entering the evidence of conspiracy. All they could get away with was the odd hint.

The text “We have lost the battle, but we will win the war” was from Leslie Evans, Head of the Scottish Civil Service. She sent it minutes after Scotland’s highest civil court, the Court of Session, had handed victory to Alex Salmond in a stunning ruling that the Scottish Government process of investigation into Alex Salmond was “illegitimate, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”. Something else Garavelli does not tell you.

The Scottish Government then put Police Scotland and the Crown Office up to bringing in the criminal prosecution. They have now lost that too. Salmond has been vindicated in the highest civil court in the land and in the highest criminal court in the land. But Garavelli is still out to destroy his reputation despite the verdict of both courts.

The next act in this drama – Salmond’s reckoning – will be played out in a post-coronavirus world. But the seeds are already sown. They have been scattered by those supporters who turned up at the court day after day to shout “Captain, my Captain” or to play ‘Freedom Come All Ye’ on the bagpipes.

Oh look. It is those plainly retarded, very ethnic and uncouth Salmond supporters again.

They have been scattered by the former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, MP Joanna Cherry and MSP Alex Neil, who called for resignations and fresh inquiries; and by the online warriors tweeting bile-laden tweets about women they will never know.

Actually I know some of them. Can’t speak for others. Scotland is a small country.

It is clear Salmond is on the warpath. The question is how far will he go? Is he willing to set fire to the house he built, just to watch his enemies burn?

All great dramas have a central theme. The theme for The Rise and Fall and Putative Rise of Alex Salmond is power. It runs through the unfolding events like an electric current. The lust for it, what you do with it when you acquire it, and what happens when you refuse let it go.

It was a shift in political power dynamics – from Salmond to Sturgeon post-IndyRef – that provided the local catalyst; a shift in gender power dynamics post-Weinstein, the global catalyst. It is no exaggeration to suggest that without the confluence of these two “moments”, the allegations at the centre of the court case might never have come to light.

Oh look. That’s three mentions of Weinstein now.

For the last 20 years, Salmond and Sturgeon have been the SNP’s towering figures, each to some degree responsible for the ascendancy of the other. Sturgeon – 16 years Salmond’s junior – was on the executive of the Young Scottish Nationalists and helped secure Salmond’s victory in the leadership election of 1990.

Of all the daft things Garavelli has written, this is perhaps the most risible. Anyone over the age of fifty is convulsed with laughter. The idea that 30 years ago Alex Salmond needed the support of the young Nicola Sturgeon to become SNP leader is just silly.

In return, Salmond acted as Sturgeon’s mentor as she became an SNP candidate, a list MSP and finally, MSP for Govan – a seat she took from Gordon Jackson in 2007. Back then, Jackson was combining his legal work with his job as a Labour politician. The Scottish establishment is a very small world.

The Salmond/Sturgeon relationship suffered a blip in 2004. Salmond had resigned as leader four years earlier to be replaced by John Swinney (now Deputy First Minister) and when Swinney resigned, Sturgeon threw her hat in the ring. Salmond had insisted he had no interest in being leader again. But when he realised his protege wasn’t going to win, he changed his mind.

Sturgeon was not best pleased. But they hammered out a pact at the Champany Inn in Linlithgow – the birthplace of both Salmond and Mary Queen of Scots. They would stand on a joint ticket, it was agreed, with Sturgeon as Salmond’s deputy. Then, when the time came for him to go, she would be the anointed one.

Unlike Tony Blair, Salmond kept his part of the bargain. As the IndyRef campaign gathered momentum, Sturgeon’s public profile grew and grew so that when – on 19 September, 2014 – the result was declared and Salmond resigned, there was no question over who would succeed him.

This is all broadly true, which comes as something of a shock.

Sturgeon surfed into the role of First Minister on a tide of goodwill. She owned the SNP conference in Glasgow the following spring, striding onto the stage like a coral-suited Boudicca.

It wasn’t long, however, until two facts became glaringly apparent: 1) Sturgeon had a very different style and set of priorities from Salmond and 2) Salmond had no intention of letting her get on with the job unhindered.

Sturgeon was more cautious than Salmond, less clubbable and much more interested in women’s issues. Right from the start, she put gender equality near the top of her agenda. She was particularly vocal on all-women shortlists, quotas for public boards and the eradication of sexual harassment in the workplace.

This is true. She also thought gender balanced cabinets were very important indeed, until she decided that female majority cabinets were OK, it was only male majority cabinets that were bad.

After the Weinstein story broke in October 2017, and the ripples spread out to Westminster, Holyrood and beyond, she encouraged women to come forward with complaints and sought to improve the process by which that could be done.

Oh look. That is now four mentions of Weinstein.

What Nicola Sturgeon did was to initiate with Lesley Evans a process of retroactive complaint and actively to solicit complaints specifically against Alex Salmond. A process which the Court of Session was to declare “illegal, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”. Interestingly, the Scottish Government conceded the case and threw in the towel just as Liz Lloyd, Nicola Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff, and Mr Sommers, her Principal Private Secretary, would have had to come and give evidence under oath about Nicola’s involvement in all this. Another interesting fact Garavelli somehow does not tell you.

In the meantime, Salmond was becoming a problem. Early on she had to put him in his place after he appeared to suggest he would decide the strategy for the 2015 General Election. He fought and won the seat of Gordon in that election; then fought and lost it in the snap election of 2017.

He had already made it clear he believed Sturgeon’s softly, softly strategy was misguided and he blamed her “underwhelming” campaign for the loss of seat. Now, bereft of an official role, he turned into an embarrassment. In the summer of 2017, he staged a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, opening with the words: “I promised you we’d either have Theresa May or Nicola Sturgeon, but I couldn’t make these wonderful women come….”; an off-colour comment Sturgeon generously described as a throwback to “the Benny Hill era”.

Worse still, he launched a chat show on Kremlin-backed channel RT (formerly Russia Today), a move that caused consternation amongst even his closest friends. “I think there was a moment where his own hype overtook him and he wasn’t as alert to reality as he might have been,” one told me. “He began to believe the referendum was lost because the BBC was conspiring against him, rather than because his case was weak and he didn’t have anything to say about the hardest issues.”

Garavelli claims to have found one of Alex Salmond’s “closest friends”, who believes that the arguments for Independence are weak, who does not believe that the BBC were significantly biased in the 2014 referendum campaign, and who believes it is axiomatic that it is illegitimate to appear on Russia Today. In fact, what Garavelli is telling us is that she found one of Alex Salmond’s friends who shares none of Alex Salmond’s beliefs and happens to share all of Dani Garavelli’s beliefs. As somebody once said, I think we might put a “smell” on Garivelli here.

It is here that the narrative begins to diverge. For those in the Sturgeon camp, it goes something like this. In November 2017, Mark McDonald was forced to resign as Minister for Childcare for sending “inappropriate” texts. This reinforced the Scottish government’s view that Holyrood was unlikely to be immune to allegations of historic offences. So it drew up a code of practice that allowed complaints to be brought not only against current ministers, but former ministers going back to the Scottish Parliament’s inception in 1999. It had no idea the first person to fall foul of this process would be the former First Minister.

Those in Salmond’s camp agree McDonald’s resignation was a turning point, but for different reasons. If McDonald had resigned his Holyrood seat, as well as his ministerial role, there would have been a by-election and an opportunity for Salmond to return to frontline politics. They contend the new process was designed precisely to prevent that happening.

Whatever the truth, Woman K, the civil servant who claimed he grabbed her bottom while they were having their photo taken at Stirling Castle, and Woman F, the civil servant he apologised to back in 2013, came forward.

Except the truth is not in dispute. The Court of Session found that the Scottish Government version was a lie and that Leslie Evans’ new system was “Unfair, illegitimate and tainted by apparent bias”.

A Scottish government inquiry was launched, the story leaked to the Daily Record tabloid newspaper and the allegations passed to the police. The weekend the Record story broke, Salmond held a press conference at the Champany Inn at which he described the investigation as “flawed and bereft of natural justice”.

The sexed-up allegations were passed to David Clegg of the Daily Record by Woman A, CENSORED PENDING CONTEMPT OF COURT TRIAL.

Woman K remembers that weekend well. “My partner happened to be away and, no word of a lie, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep or drink anything,” she says. “I just sat on Twitter and refreshed it and refreshed it, and every time I did there was something new and horrifying being said about me.”

In an apparent display of power, Salmond launched a crowd-funder to raise money to fund the judicial review. In January last year, the government finally conceded its process was flawed on the basis that the investigating officer had previously been in contact with one of the complainants.

That is an utterly tendentious statement of the multiple grounds on which the process was found to be flawed. Judith Mackinnon had actively encouraged, on behalf of Leslie Evans, both the complainants to lodge allegations against Alex Salmond, and then herself been appointed the investigating officer. The government caved to avoid Liz Lloyd and Leslie Evans having to give evidence of their role in the affair.

A jubilant Salmond called for the resignation of the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, who led the inquiry. But then, a fortnight later, another dramatic twist. The former First Minister was charged with a total of 14 offences against 10 women (one charge was later dropped). And so the stage was set for Scotland’s trial of the decade.

And what a coincidence that timing was, folks.

No-one arriving at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday, 9 March, could have doubted the importance of what was about to unfold inside.

It was a few days BSD – Before Social Distancing – and the Royal Mile was very busy. A low winter sun was bouncing off the bronze toes of philosopher David Hume who sits outside. Tourists generally rub his right foot for luck, but today they were focused on the press pack jostling for the best position from which to catch Salmond and his entourage. He didn’t disappoint, smiling as he walked in, with his sister, Gail, and former constituency office worker, Isobel Zambonini.

Inside, the reporters were jittery. They knew the trial would be a legal minefield and that the demand for seats was likely to outstrip capacity.

At around 11am, the dramatis personae began to assemble. In the dock, flanked by security officers, was Salmond, his face now rictus as the 15 members of the jury filed in. Presiding over the case was Lady Dorrian, Scotland’s second most senior judge.

Dramatis personae

The others you have met already: Prentice – a quietly-spoken schoolmaster, who derives his power from the belt you suspect he has hidden beneath his advocate’s gown; Jackson – a Toby jug of a man, who has perfected the role of bumbling old fogey; and McCall, who is too senior to be a junior, and was presumably there to provide a female foil to Jackson’s performative blokey-ness.

The prosecution case was straight-forward. The women could be divided into roughly two categories: Woman A, Woman C, Woman D and Woman K, who claimed to have been sexually assaulted in public, and Woman B, Woman F, Woman H and Woman J, who claimed to have been assaulted while working late at Bute House. Woman G fell into both categories. Woman E did not appear in court and the charge relating to her was dropped.

Four of the women – Woman B, Woman D, Woman F and Woman K – were civil servants. All the civil servants told the court they reported their experiences to colleagues or line managers at the time of the alleged incidents, which took place between 2010 and 2014.

This is true. But yet again Ms Garavelli ignores totally the evidence of the defence witnesses. You won’t find it below either. NAME REMOVED PENDING CONTEMPT OF COURT TRIAL, categorically refuted the claims that they had complained to her at the time. It is simply appalling of Garavelli to state the accusations of the Nameless 9, but not mention the refutations.

What does Ms Garavelli have against Karen Watt? It is Karen Watt, not the Nameless 9, who is voiceless. You won’t find Karen Watt’s voice on the BBC or in the newspapers. Because a slogan-programmed moral vacuum like Dani Garavelli may have been in the courtroom when Karen Watt gave her evidence, but Garavelli did not hear her. Because Karen Watt does not fit the programme. Karen Watt is the Wrong Kind of Woman.

Ms Garavelli did not speak to Karen Watt. She is proud she spoke to five of the Nameless 9, but she found no time to speak to any of the seven women who were defence witnesses. Who unlike the Nameless 9 do not cower behind state-enforced anonymity, but stood brave and strong and gave their evidence in the open, risking the ridicule and contempt of liars like Garavelli for being the Wrong Kind of Women – or perhaps worse, risking that their voices really would not be heard, because people like Garavelli would decide that women who do not pile in behind the great #Weinstein #MeToo crusade do not deserve to exist. And that women who do pile in behind the great #Weinstein #MeToo crusade, even if that be by telling evil lies against some patriarchy figure, have greater moral worth and right to a hearing.

That must be what Garavelli believes. Or she could never have written this article.

Prentice set about establishing a course of conduct. As he questioned them one by one, he drew out the patterns: the alleged public assaults – from the repeated stroking of Woman D’s face to the running of hands down the curves of Woman A’s body – had a proprietorial quality. “I think the First Minister did it because he could,” Woman K told the court.

With the women who claimed to have been assaulted in Bute House, the links were even clearer. In each case, they had been working in the evening. Several were offered alcohol – Maotai, Limoncello or whisky – and there was often some pretext for the initial touching: the re-enactment of a scene from a Jack Vettriano Christmas card (Woman B), for example, or an impression of a zombie from a film (Woman J).

All of the women spoke of feeling demeaned. They explained, too, the conflict they felt over making a formal complaint or going to the police. Salmond was the most powerful man in the country. They loved their jobs, had worked hard to gain them, and believed they would lose them if they made a fuss.

“If I had complained it would have been swept under the carpet and I would have suffered in my career,” said Woman B. “I never saw anyone in a senior position in the Scottish government tackle the First Minister on his behaviour.”

The problem here is yet again Garavelli ignores all of the evidence that the incidents as described did not happen. Woman B had claimed that Salmond was grasping her wrists and seeking to kiss her (the Jack Vettriano reenactment) when Alex Bell walked in and witnessed it. Alex Bell – who it must be said detests Salmond, who very sensibly sacked him – gave evidence that they were apart when he walked in and he saw nothing wrong. Her line manager also contradicted her statement that she reported it at the time. Again Garavelli simply ignores the contrary evidence as though it did not exist. The jury did not ignore it.

The fact that the alleged incidents took place in the run-up to the Independence Referendum in 2014 added extra pressure, the women said. Not only was it their job to protect the First Minister’s reputation, but the whole democratic process was at stake. “Everything we did which was outward facing had potential ramifications which went beyond personal experience,” said Woman F, who talked of a “real loyalty” to Salmond.

Some online commentators have suggested there was no corroboration of the women’s testimony. This is untrue. One civil servant colleague told the court he had witnessed the First Minister reaching out to touch the hair and face of Woman D in a lift. He had instinctively brushed Salmond’s hand away, saying something like: “Behave yourself.”

Some online commentators may indeed have suggested that. I myself did report the incident of the attempted touch of the hair in a lift, in almost exactly the terms that Ms Garavelli reported it, because it is indeed what was said in court. You see, unlike Ms Garavelli, I took the novel approach of reporting both the prosecution and the defence evidence. Because I also reported, which Ms Garavelli does not, the evidence of Lorraine Kaye.

Lorraine Kaye is another of those Wrong Type of Women who Garavelli  finds beneath her notice. Kaye gave evidence that she herself had pulled at Woman D’s hair because it was a standing joke in the office to CENSORED PENDING CONTEMPTOF COURT TRIAL, a joke Ms D enjoyed. Here again, we honest people have to take into account the evidence of Karen Watt.

Karen Watt said that the “civil servant colleague” Garavelli coyly refers to, Donald Cameron, told her about the incident of nearly touching the hair in the lift. She accordingly asked Woman D if she wished to make a complaint. Woman D had responded definitely not, she thought nothing of it. Which given it was the hair on her head in question and not her pubic hair, many of us might find a rational response. How we all came to be listening to this utter nonsense in the High Court of Edinburgh many years later is something you will have to ask our corrupt police and law officers.

The one clue is that Donald Cameron, the man who had tried to make a mountain out of this molehill, was the head of Leslie Evans private office. But even Cameron was forced to admit under cross-examination that there was no policy that Salmond should not work alone with women in Bute House. Which brings us to Garavelli’s next paragraph…

Three other civil servants testified that – after woman F and woman G’s experiences – staff rotas were changed so no woman would be alone in Bute House with the First Minister after 9pm (although others denied this was the case). Colleagues and relatives also testified to Women F and Women G’s state of mind immediately afterwards, describing them variously as “traumatised”, “pale” and “upset.”

I am slightly confused by this claim. The court saw evidence that Woman F went and did some more work down in the office at Bute House after the alleged attempted rape, and then filed her overtime claim before going home. Woman G had indeed been upset. She had joined the civil service from the SNP,  using what seemed to me throughout the trial a rather dubious revolving door behind the two. She had then been upset to be seen at a function she viewed as blurring that line, possibly to the detriment of her career. Salmond testified it was because she was upset he had put his arm round her to comfort her (he had known her for years).

The staff rotas claim was demolished by Donald Cameron, Lorraine Kaye, Karen Watt and others who stated there never was any such policy. Kaye and Watt were the principal civil servants who were very frequently with Salmond at Bute house working late at night throughout this period. Neither had ever heard of any such policy and the fact of their actual working there belied its existence.

Salmond’s defence was pick and mix. Some of the encounters he admitted, but insisted they were consensual; others, he insisted, were complete fabrications.

Like many trials, much of the evidence was He said, She said. Or rather He said, She said, She said, She said.

A rehearsed bit of writing to reinforce the meme that this trial was Salmond’s word against a succession of women. “He said, She said, She said, She said.”  Garavelli does this precisely to preserve this entirely false idea of the trial. This is why the mainstream media have universally ignored or massively under-reported the factual defence evidence. In fact, in the large majority of instances, it was evidence from a variety of defence witnesses, mainly female, against the uncorroborated word of the accuser.

Woman F – the civil servant to whom Salmond apologised – said she had to fight him off as he forced his hands under her clothing. He described the encounter as a “sleepy cuddle”.

Again and again the article returns to this one incident as it is the only one of any substance, the one on which the whole creaky structure was based. As stated, the bit about forcing his hands under her clothing was an addition years later. There was a cuddle, for which he apologised. The jury believed his account backed by the actual treatment of the incident at the time.

Woman B said he seized her wrists and tried to kiss her while attempting to re-enact the Vettriano Christmas card. He said it was just high-jinks. “At the time it wasn’t regarded as it is being presented now,” he said.

Woman B also said Alex Bell entered during the incident, which Alex Bell said did not happen. And said she reported it to her line manager, which her line manager said did not happen. Alex did state he had indeed grabbed her wrists and suggested they re-enact the Vettriano painting, that she said “Don’t be daft” and he immediately let go. Context is everything here. It was Christmas. The Vettriano painting, which was in the room, showed a kiss under the mistletoe.

Woman G said he had put his arm around her and tried to kiss her. He said he was comforting her because she had been upset.

Fair description.

Woman A said he had touched her buttocks and her breasts. He said to have done so in a public space would have been “insane.” He said she was at the centre of the plot to bring him down.

Woman A is indeed at the centre of the plot, CENSORED PENDING OUTCOME OF CONTEMPT OF COURT TRIAL.

Her claims of assault in very public situations were outlandish. Including on the dance floor of a Christmas Party, when everyone was sat around the dance floor at tables eating; and in the Glasgow East by-election, where Salmond was constantly accompanied by minders. The jury dismissed them.

Woman H said Salmond assaulted her twice in Bute House. The first time, she said, he kissed her and put his hands under her clothes; the second, he restrained her, removed both their clothes and climbed on top of her naked and aroused.

Woman H said the first incident had taken place in May 2014. He said there was no date in May 2014 for which he didn’t have an alibi, and used a combination of a diary and a calendar in an attempt to prove it. She said the attempted rape took place on June 13 after an IndyRef dinner; he said she hadn’t been at that dinner.

Jackson also suggested she was seeking revenge for the former First Minister’s refusal to back her in a political project. Weirdly, Salmond admitted a consensual encounter with Woman H – a “footer”, a bit of “how’s your father,” as Jackson put it – on an occasion which did not appear on the indictment.

It is interesting that only now does Garavelli introduce Woman H, the weakest link in her  chain. Yet Ms H was longer on the witness stand at the trial than anybody, including Alex Salmond. Woman H was the woman who texted that she had a plan to bring down Salmond and remain anonymous. And of all the accusers, Woman H was the one most categorically shown to be an absolute, inescapable liar. Garavelli gives you no detail of that at all.

Here is what Garavelli dishonestly hides from you.

Woman H claimed that Salmond attempted to rape her after a small dinner with Alex Salmond, an actor (the publication of whose name the court banned), and Ms Samantha Barber, a company director. Salmond gave evidence that the entire story was completely untrue and the woman had not even been there that evening. Samantha Barber gave evidence that she knows woman H well, had been a guest at her wedding reception, and that woman H had phoned and asked her to attend the dinner with the specific explanation she could not be there herself. Indeed, affirmed Ms Barber, woman H definitely was not there. She had given that firm evidence to the police.

Against that, there was a vague statement by the actor that he believed a fourth person had been present, but he described her hair colour as different to woman H, described her as wearing jeans when woman H said she was wearing a dress, and did not say the woman had her arm in a sling – which it was established woman H’s arm was at that time. One arm in a sling would be pretty debilitating in eating and the sort of detail about a fellow diner at a very small dinner party you would likely remember.

There was more. Woman H had claimed to have had communications on that night with Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh on the subject of attending an international football match with Alex Salmond the next day. Never has a claim been so utterly demolished in court. Tasmina testified thhat her father had died that very day and she was dashing down to London organising the funeral. Tasmina was in tears in the witness box. Garavelli is big on emotion. But she does not report this. Because it was the Wrong kind of Emotion from the Wrong Kind of Woman.

Given the very firm statement from Samantha Barber, her friend, that woman H was definitely not there, a number of lawyers and police officers with whom I have discussed this have all been perplexed that the charge was brought at all, with such a strong witness to rebut it, given that the police were relying on an extremely tentative identification from the actor (who did not appear in court to be cross-examined). The truth is, as the jury found, that woman H was not physically there when she said the incident took place. Woman H had lied. More importantly, the evidence available to the police and prosecutor fiscal showed that there was never any realistic prospect of conviction.

So why was the charge brought?

This ribald tone was the one Jackson used a lot. To watch him, to listen to him, you would think he had wandered into the courtroom from the 1950s. His defence veered in all directions. One minute Salmond was a touchy feely guy whose hugs and kisses were being misunderstood, the next the victim of some grand, yet intangible, plot.

Do you see what Garavelli has done here? She has written that Salmond’s defence to the allegations of Woman H was nothing but “Cor Blimey Squire, OK he copped a feel but ‘aven’t we all, know what I mean, nudge nudge, wink wink?”

Whereas Woman H was in real life comprehensively demolished by a whole succession of witnesses, mostly female, and shown not even to have been present on the occasion when she claimed attempted rape. If Jackson’s defence was as hopeless as Garavelli portrays, how on earth would it have succeeded? And never forget, the jury are two thirds female.

But it was Jackson’s trivialisation of some of the alleged offences that raised most eyebrows. It is one thing to insist the former First Minister is innocent of the offences with which he has been charged. It is another to treat some of those offences as inconsequential.

In defiance of what we know about power dynamics, Jackson equated the tactile way Salmond dealt with members of the public with the way he interacted with much younger female workers. And he peddled all the old tropes. If woman F had believed Salmond had intended to rape her she would surely have considered it important enough to report to the police. If woman H had been distressed after her ordeal, then what was she doing on Twitter?

There is a certain amount of justice in Garavelli’s claim here. There are of course plenty of examples of women continuing to appear to interact normally with their abuser after the most shocking abuse. More often in domestic than work situations. But she is playing on the Weinstein theme here. Not all men are the same. There may be a general way that powerful men act with junior female staff. But that does not mean that Salmond did, nor that he is Weinstein.

Garavelli wants to convict Salmond because in general men do that kind of thing. This is why she ignores witness after witness who said that in Salmond’s case, he did not.

Ms F did indeed complain, and received an apology.

The other eight did not complain at the time, as witnesses showed. Garavelli tries to have it both ways. You cannot both argue that there is “no smoke without fire” and claim that the fact that nine women now complain about Salmond means he must be bad, and at the same time claim that the fact that eight women all continued to work perfectly happily around Salmond, often for years after an alleged incident, and showed no sign of anything having happened in their tweets and emails at the time, is an irrelevance.

At times he seemed to regard the process as high jinks. He engaged in casual banter with a Glasgow councillor, as if they were old chums sharing a pint, not witness and QC facing each other across a courtroom.

At breaks and lunchtimes, he could be found laughing and gossiping with the (mostly male) reporters. In the afternoon the jury retired to consider its verdict, he grabbed hold of a well-known TV journalist and posed for a selfie.

Where are we going here? Jackson is blokey therefore evil? In what way does this relate to the evidence?

Jackson’s closing submission appeared to play to male fears about past behaviour. How did things that people thought nothing of later find themselves on a charge sheet, he wondered. “It’s scary, scary stuff.” A couple of jurors nodded along.

I had been thrown out. I have asked people in court, including employed jury watchers (they do exist, not just in The Good Wife). Nobody saw this “nodding”. The jury was 9-6 majority female. Garavelli’s attempt to portray Salmond’s acquittal as the result of evil male potential sexual predators on the jury is despicable. Personally, I looked hard at the jury for two days and found the jury impressively stone-faced and very careful to appear impartial and do their duty properly.

The fact the trial was unfolding alongside the sentencing of Weinstein was significant. At almost precisely the moment the film producer was being jailed for 23 years, Jackson was asking Woman A: “Do you call that groping?” Scotland’s #MeToo moment this was not.

The repeated Weinstein references reach their climax. I have lost count of the deluge of Weinsteins in this article.  Weinstein was convicted. Salmond was not. Scotland failed, says Garavelli. The fact that Weinstein is a monster and Salmond is not never seems to cross her mind. Powerful men are all the same, aren’t they?

In comparison with Jackson, Salmond came across as dignified. The consensus amongst the journalists beforehand was that it would be disastrous for him to testify; but we were wrong.

I found the smirking of journalists, forty of whom I was sitting behind while in the public gallery, appalling. The conversations I overheard between them in the queue and in the toilets revealed extreme bias. Most tellingly, when the defence witnesses were giving evidence, I am an eye witness to forty MSM journalists all folding their notebooks and stopping taking notes. As plainly Garavelli did.

Some of his charisma revived in front of an audience. He spoke and moved his hands like the accomplished politician he is, and had dates and facts at his fingertips.

When Prentice opened his cross-examination with the words: “Did you consider [woman B]’s feelings for one moment when you took hold of her hands and said let’s reenact the Christmas card?” repeating it four times, he seemed briefly rattled. But overall, he came over as meticulous and polished.

Asked if he regretted his behaviour, he said he wished he’d been more careful with people’s personal space, but “I’m of the opinion events are being reinterpreted and exaggerated out of any possible proportion.”

The jury took six hours to deliver its verdict which meant its deliberations spanned a weekend. By Monday, it had lost two of its 15 members. In Scottish courts, verdicts can be decided on a straight eight/seven majority. But when two jurors drop out like this the required ratio changes to eight out of 13.

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

Garavelli has no idea how that youngish juror voted. Here again is a blatant attempt to convey that this was a perverse verdict. Only old people and male sexual predators could have failed to see Salmond’s guilt, Garavelli insinuates. The young are with #Metoo, are with #Weinstein. The young could see the guilt, she implies. Actually, when I first saw the jury I was very surprised by how young they were overall. Much younger than a representative sample of 15 of the population. Garavelli is incidentally in very grave contempt of court in clearly identifying an individual juror and how she thinks he voted. Garavelli of course will be protected by the Establishment from any consequences of this.

As Garavelli says, Not Proven is also an acquittal. But I do believe there is something very specific in the jury finding all of the other verdicts Not Guilty but the Miss F case Not Proven. I have said above, and I was convinced during the trial, Ms F is in a different category.  I do not believe she was knowingly lying. All the others I believe to be brazen, barefaced and conspiring liars who tried to orchestrate a terrible miscarriage of justice.  I believe that is why their cases resulted in Not Guilty, but Miss F in Not Proven.

The jury were distinguishing who was, and who was not, a perjurer.

Of course I cannot prove that. It is an interpretation. But if Ms Garavelli can speculate so wildly on what the jury thought – without in her case labeling it as speculation – then so might I, more honestly.

Woman F was gutted. “I suppose I had hoped and expected that my case would be one that would help give weight and establish that pattern for others because there was quite a lot of evidence around it and I ended up feeling crushed,” she told me later.

Again go for Woman F, Dani; whatever you do avoid the more brazen liars when trying to milk sympathy.

Outside, Salmond made his statement while Jackson looked on, wigless and swigging from a Coke bottle. “God help us all,” the former First Minister said in reference to Covid-19. Then he elbow-bumped with Jackson in celebration.

Dani is a skilled journalist. She gave an interview on Bella Caledonia where she explained at length that mere bloggers have not had the real training to learn the tricks of the trade. Every time she turns to Salmond and his supporters, the level of her language drops to reflect those common people’s gross and uncouth qualities: Jackson does not “drink”. He “swigs”

Throughout the trial, there were two women notable for their absence. The first was Moira, Salmond’s wife of 39 years. Sixteen years his senior, she has always shunned the limelight. She accompanied him to court on the second last day, prompting speculation she might testify, but the rumours came to nothing; and she wasn’t by his side as he walked free.

Why should she? There was no need for her to testify. The prosecution case had been comprehensively destroyed. Alex and Moira are happily together back at home ever since the trial. Garavelli’s petty insinuation of – what, exactly – about a lady who is around eighty years old is uncalled for.

The second woman was Nicola Sturgeon. She too was said to be on the witness list though never called. And yet, she was omni-present. Every time her name was mentioned, political journalists pricked up their ears. When Salmond’s former Chief of Staff Geoff Aberdein told the court he and one of the complainers had first met with her on 29 March, 2018 – four days earlier than the date she previously gave the Scottish Parliament – several of them almost spontaneously combusted.

This paragraph wins the all time prize for easy identification of one of the busted accusers: again, contempt of court by Garavelli. Again there is no chance anything will happen as the Establishment will protect her.

Sturgeon had been cited by the defence as an unwilling witness. She then asked to be excused as a result of the covid-19 crisis. The defence had agreed to this – they did not have to.

Sturgeon’s role in the botched internal process will be explored in a forthcoming parliamentary inquiry, while a standards panel will look into the meetings and phone calls she had with Salmond while the investigation was ongoing. If she is found to have breached the ministerial code then her position will be challenged.

Lied to parliament is also something of a problem.

For now, the coronavirus crisis is all that matters, but Salmond is not going anywhere, and there will come a time when these issues must be addressed.

What happens to Sturgeon has implications both for the nationalist project. While Salmond was a guerilla fighter – the perfect leader for an insurgency – Sturgeon is a stateswoman respected on the international stage. To those who dream of an independent Scotland within Europe, her resignation would be a disaster.

Really? I think Joanna Cherry might pick up that mantle and do rather better. So do a great many folk.

The SNP which once saw itself as a united force – an us-again-the-world kind of party – is divided as never before. The faultlines began to appear shortly after the IndyRef as its tight ranks were swelled by thousands of new members. Left vs right; veterans vs newbies.

For a while Sturgeon pacified her squabbling brood, supporting, mollifying, giving an occasional ticking off, but mostly just telling everyone what they needed to hear. When the Salmond allegations exploded into the public domain, however, there was little she could do to keep tempers in check.

By the time he launched his crowd-funder, two distinct camps had formed and #IstandwithSalmond and #IstandwithSturgeon hashtags were circulating on Twitter. These camps have become more entrenched with time, compounded by acrimonious debate around the Scottish government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which is part real, part proxy for the wider power struggle.

This SNP civil war stuff is a nonsense. The group that tried to bring down Salmond controls many levers of party power, but ultimately 99.9% of the membership are focused on Independence not on fourth wave feminism, and that cannot be held back.

The claim this is anything to do with the Gender Reform Act is a nonsense. There are different views on the GRA. I am a strong supporter of Alex Salmond and a sceptic about Sturgeon’s commitment to Independence, but I support the GRA. There is no such clear fault line. The vast majority of members just want Independence.

This power struggle is about to be played out in miniature as Angus Robertson (Team Nicola) and Joanna Cherry (Team Alex) battle it out to be selected as the party’s candidate for Edinburgh Central in next year’s Holyrood elections. This is destined to be a dirty fight. At the same time, the SNP is struggling with its domestic agenda. Thirteen years is a long time for any party to be in power and there is a growing frustration with its lack of fresh ideas.

There is no sense in which Joanna Cherry is a cypher for Alex Salmond, nor for anybody else. Her very strong feminism, of the sensible, grounded kind (which I 100% support) is also a factor here. Garavelli cannot pitch this as a split between Salmond and feminism, and then say Cherry is Team Alex. (I am not sure Angus Robertson is still going to be a candidate. Somebody told me the other day he might be held back by some family issues.)

All this is being played out against a backdrop of national turmoil: Brexit, for example, and now the coronavirus, which may have raised Sturgeon’s credibility, but also impacted on the prospects of a second referendum.

One recent poll put support for Scottish independence at 52%, but Johnson has consistently said he will refuse Sturgeon a Section 30 order granting powers to hold a fresh vote, so things are at an impasse. Few in Scottish politics now believe there will be a second referendum before next year’s Holyrood elections and possibly not for quite some time after that.

And now this. Salmond’s acquittal is a grenade. When he lost his Westminster seat, he quoted from a Jacobite song, ‘Bonnie Dundee’. “You have not seen the last of my bonnets and me,” he said. But will he really stage a comeback?

Though his supporters would relish it, it is hard to see how he could shrug off the reputational damage the trial has done. More likely he will wield his power from the shadows, manipulating, undermining, bringing his influence to bear. And trying to destroy his former ally. There seems no doubt if he can bring Sturgeon down he will, and to hell with what that does to the cause.

I doubt he has to do anything. Knowingly lying to parliament is hard to survive. I am however picking up one interesting undercurrent. Sturgeon supporters and the Unionist establishment have united against Alex Salmond, because they both want to stop any move towards early Independence,  as Garavelli quite rightly notes. The buzz at Holyrood is that the unionist parties may drop or hobble the parliamentary inquiry into the Salmond affair, in order to help Sturgeon survive and prevent any prospect of a renewed push for Independence. An interesting possibility worth watching closely.

What cultural message would it send out, though, if the chief casualty of this sorry affair turned out to be a progressive female leader?

I think it would send the message that she was elected by people who expected her to use the mandate for a new Independence Referendum, and she bowed her head to Westminster rather than do that. SNP members are focused on Independence, which Dan seems unable to grasp.

For all the political questions that are being asked in the aftermath of the trial, there are many gender-related ones which are not.

For example: why did special advisers, such as Geoff Aberdein – who knew of the concerns over Salmond’s behaviour – fail to act? Ditto those at the top of the Civil Service?

Actually Mr Aberdein testified that he did not know, other than of Woman F, where action was taken under civil service procedure (before her account became exaggerated).

What can be done to stop online bloggers and tweeters, with no understanding of the law, peddling inaccuracies about the trial, the verdict and the women who made the allegations?

I don’t know the answer to your question,  but this sounds like a worrying call for censorship to me.

But then, what can be done to stop a  “journalist” like Dani Garavelli writing lie after lie after lie about the case and ignoring totally all the evidence of defence witnesses,  with the entire establishment, both unionist and Sturgeon supporting, lining up behind her to amplify her lies?

What lessons can be learned about the handling of sexual offences from a case in which the unwanted touching of women in the course of carrying out their professional duties has been down-played?

I can offer one suggestion. When you have clear evidence of a conspiracy to fit somebody up, instead of a corrupt Crown Office and Police, you have honest ones who prosecute the conspirators and not the person being fitted up?

What impact will hearing a Defence QC ask: “Do you call that groping?” have on other women uncertain about whether or not to come forward? And whither #MeToo – a movement built on female solidarity – in a world where communicating with other women can be presented as collusion?

There were very genuine questions here in a case which, whether Garavelli likes it or not, pushed at the boundaries of what has hitherto been accepted as “sexual assault”. Putting your hands on someones arms over their sleeves is not generally construed as sexual assault, but it was so charged here. The account by Witness J of having a hand put on her leg immediately above her knee during a very brief car ride is also genuinely interesting.

This trial does not give an answer, because the defence was that it did not happen, and that a fixed armrest containing an installed phone in the particular car would have prevented it, as testified by the driver and Alex Salmond. But is a hand on a clothed leg just above the knee actually sexual assault, when the recipient says, as in this case, they did not indicate disapproval? I am not asking that as a rhetorical question. I genuinely do not know where the law now stands. “Do you call that groping?” is not an illegitimate question.

When does collusion count as conspiracy? The difficulty here is that when people concert their actions, they cannot at the same time claim to be independent and corroborative.  But I think if Ms Garavelli may show a little patience, it is going to become very plain indeed this was conspiracy as the debarred evidence comes out.

These are the issues preoccupying the complainants as they try to pick up the pieces of their lives amid a torrent of abuse.

“I worry that some of the commentary in the aftermath of the trial has been damaging, not only for the public discourse, but for our own safety and welfare,” says one.

Woman K wants her experience to be a catalyst for change. “I don’t want it to end like this – something good has to come of it,” she says. “We are privileged women in so many ways. We are all highly educated, we all know the ins and outs of government, the language of bureaucracy, and even we feel helpless and voiceless.

“If we can help make the system work better for women in the future then that, at least, would be something.”

Do you remember that two direct eyewitnesses who were watching said that Ms K’s allegation simply did not happen? Ms Garavelli seems not to have noticed. Again, the article relies on emotional solidarity for the nameless 9 and simply accepts their claim of victimhood, even though the jury did not.

The experience has been traumatic, but most of the women I have spoken to say they would do it again.

“Though it has been awful, at least I know I did what I could,” says one. Another agrees she felt a responsibility to her fellow complainers.

“I have been a feminist all my life,” she says. “I have talked about how women should speak out – so then, when it’s my turn, I couldn’t say: ‘Someone else needs to do that, not me.’ If things are going to change, I have to help change them.”

I have no doubt they would do it again. They have got away with it very well. They have damaged both Salmond and Independence – though they will come to see just how superficially – and are all able to keep churning out interviews and statements under the cloak of anonymity. I am quite sure some of the Nameless 9 actually believe that there actions were justified in a wider cause #metoo #Weinstein.

I can tell you what happens next. Dani Garavelli will tell us how dreadfully upset she was by my article. She will claim to have received anonymous threats from “cybernats”, using of course Scots phrases, and to have needed to ask the police for protection. The Integrity Initiative might even burn some “cybernat” identities to send her threats. She will hide or delete the twitter and other social media accounts because f “harassment”, if which there will be no useful proof.

Because Garavelli is part of a one trick pony club. Their one weapon is the claim of victimhood. Even though they are, by any standards, powerful and influential people and much more wealthy than most of us.

These establishment figures conspired to put an innocent man in jail for the rest of his life. To ruin a great reputation. To tear him and his loving wife apart. To damage the chances of Scottish Independence.

The establishment have lost in the highest civil court in the land and in the highest criminal court in the land. Their take is amazing. Now, as Kenny Farquharson of the Times has been tweeting out, anybody who accepts the decision of the High Court and of the Court of Session is a “zoomer”.

The establishment thing to do is now to deride those courts, to portray the jury as stupid, the judges as fossilised, the law as wrong. We are to decry thinking. Logic, reason, evidence, inconvenient defence witnesses are to be discarded.

Instead we are to feel pain. Not Alex Salmond’s pain, he is a man so his does not count. Nor his wife’s, nor the seven female witnesses for the defence. They are the “Wrong Kind of Women” so their pain does not count either. No, please cover your ears like Woman K in her kitchen. Cover your ears to logic and reason. Feel the pain of this woman, shown to have lied in court to try to destroy a man and his family. Feel the pain of Dani Garavelli, attacked for publishing her farrago of lies to the same end. Feel the pain of all women who have been mistreated through the centuries – as indeed I do not for one moment deny in general they have.

Because the truth of this individual case does not matter, you see. OK, in this individual case the evidence showed he was innocent and the jury went with that. But that does not have to stop you. You do not have to hear or see that evidence. You just have to feel the pain. Then you can crush and destroy this human being completely without remorse or concern for truth. Because he was only human anyway. He was a powerful man. That made him by definition evil, and the women in the right. Even if they lied.

In the final analysis, the question Garavelli’s article raises is whether the wider sweep of the feminist movement against historic injustice, justifies ignoring the actual facts and evidence, in a particular case of one powerful but innocent man.

I believe I know the answer.

Do you?

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

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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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How It Starts

The brevity of this post is out of proportion to the enormous importance of the subject. But I want to let you know I am thinking and working on it.

It is a recognised pattern for dictatorship to commence with emergency measures designed to combat a threat. Those emergency measures then become normalised and people exercising arbitrary power find it addictive. A new threat is then found to justify the continuation

It is by no means clear to me that it is a rational response to covid-19 to tear up all of the civil liberties which were won by the people against authority through centuries of struggle, and for which people died. To say that is not to minimise the threat of covid-19. It is also worth pointing out that a coronavirus pandemic was a widely foreseen eventuality. People keep sending me links to various TV shows or movies based on a coronavirus pandemic, generally claiming this proves it is a man-made event. No, that just proves it is a widely foreseen event. Which it is.

The lack of contingency preparedness is completely indefensible. It is partly a result of the stupidity of Tory austerity that has the NHS permanently operating at 100% capacity with no contingency, and partly the result of the crazed just-in time thinking that permeates management in all spheres and eliminates the holding of stock.

It is incredible to me that the UK is willing to throw away some £220 billion and rising on Trident against a war scenario nobody can sensibly define, but was not willing to spend a few million on holding stock of protective clothing for the NHS against the much more likely contingency of a pandemic. What does that say about our society?

Anyway, we are where we are. Nobody knows how deadly this virus is. There have not been, anywhere, sufficient reliable large general population samples to know what percentage of people who get the virus will die. We just do not know how many people in the UK have had it and not got seriously ill. My suspicion is that in a couple of years time it will be discovered the mortality rate was under 1%. But I do not know, and I do not blame the government for making worst assumptions in the absence of reliable scientific evidence. Personally, I am obeying lockdown and would advise others to do so too until the situation is clearer. But I do not want to see the police harassing people for going on a long walk or posting a letter. It really is a problem to have police empowered to stop and question a citizen for just walking in the street. It is also a problem that Peter Hitchens is being reviled for saying, in essence, little more than that. When you can’t criticise restrictions on liberty, you know society has entered a very dark phase indeed.

I would feel much more comfortable if they were open about what they do not know. All the excuses for not testing people rather than admit they did not have the tests rather rattles trust. The ability of the rich and well-connected to access tests also rattles trust.

But none of this justifies rule by fiat – if Parliament cannot sit, I personally believe it would benefit the nations of the UK to have no new laws for a while. There are too many laws already. It does not justify banning political gathering. I don’t recommend anyone to gather, and I don’t imagine they would gather, but the evil of banning political activity is much more serious than the danger of four lonely people in Solihull getting together to talk about coronavirus restrictions.

It certainly does not justify banning jury trials, which the Scottish government has just dropped from today’s Bill after a revolt led by Joanna Cherry. The bill still weakens the defence in trials by allowing pre-taped video evidence and dispensing with the right to cross-examine. If the accusers had been allowed to get away with their lies in the Alex Salmond trial without cross-examination, the result might have been very different. For God’s sake, if you cannot do justice, suspend it. Do not dispense rough justice.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

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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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Daily Record Investigates My Home and Finances

The day after I publish my article accusing the corporate media of being an active part of the conspiracy against Alex Salmond, and of giving disgracefully selective, slanted and biased coverage of the evidence of his trial, the Daily Record has decided to investigate my home and personal finances. Is not life full of little coincidences?

I received this email from the Daily Record’s political editor.

I replied to him politely. This was probably a mistake – I should have just told him where to go.

But I cannot get over the idea that this is absolutely illegitimate. It is a plain attempt to bully and harass me for having published the truth about what really lay behind the Alex Salmond case. Who put up the Daily Record up to launching an investigation into my personal circumstances? It is of course the paper to which was leaked the very detailed and most salacious of the false accusations against Salmond. Who trawled the land register to find my home purchase?

The key point is not one mainstream media journalist has even attempted to refute the facts of my article J’accuse. It is packed with facts. Might not the political editor of the Daily Record better spend his time researching the conspiracy against Alex Salmond, rather than threatening an independent journalist for the crime of doing journalism?

I greatly dislike bullies. I do hope you feel the same. Mr Hutcheon’s contact details are there. If any of you feel like phoning, texting or emailing Mr Hutcheon to suggest he might be better employed investigating the facts of my article about the Salmond fit-up, rather than pursuing a journalist, you would earn my eternal gratitude.

It goes without saying that this blog is free to read. I have always stated that I do not wish anybody to support my work if it costs them the slightest personal hardship. If anybody wishes to cancel their subscription because I am doing up a house to run as a b & b, I shall not be in the slightest upset.

UPDATE the Daily Record have now published their stunning investigative article, together with a large picture of my house. My wife and family are very upset by this.

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/alex-salmond-blogger-trial-high-21789285

What I am now waiting for is all these people to step in and condemn the publishing of my home and the subsequent risk to the security of my wife and family, with as much vigour as they today defended the privacy of the Edinburgh third house of the Head of MI6.

Tumbleweed rolls by.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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

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J’Accuse

A 22 person team from Police Scotland worked for over a year identifying and interviewing almost 400 hoped-for complainants and witnesses against Alex Salmond. This resulted in nil charges and nil witnesses. Nil. The accusations in court were all fabricated and presented on a government platter to the police by a two prong process. The first prong was the civil service witch hunt presided over by Leslie Evans and already condemned by Scotland’s highest civil court as “unlawful, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”. The second prong was the internal SNP process orchestrated by a group at the very top in SNP HQ and the First Minister’s Private Office. A key figure in the latter was directly accused in court by Alex Salmond himself of having encouraged a significant number of the accusers to fabricate incidents.

The only accusations Police Scotland could take forward were given to them by this process. Their long and expensive trawl outside the tiny closed group of accusers revealed nothing. Let me say that again. Police Scotland’s long and expensive trawl outside the tiny closed group of accusers revealed nothing at all.

Let me give you an example. I have personally read an account by a woman who was contacted by the police and asked to give evidence. She was called in for formal interview by the police. The massive police fishing expedition had turned up the fact that, years ago, Alex Salmond had been seen to kiss this woman in the foyer of a theatre. She was asked if she wished to make a complaint of sexual assault against Alex Salmond. The woman was astonished. She told them she remembered the occasion and Alex, who was a friend, had simply kissed her on the cheeks in greeting. No, of course she did not wish to complain. She felt they were trying to push her to do so.

That is typical of hundreds of interviews in the most extensive and expensive fishing expedition in Scottish police history. That turned up nothing. Zilch. Nada.

What the police did get was eye witness evidence that several of the allegations they had been handed by the closed group were fabricated. Two eye witnesses, for example, appeared in court who had been within six feet of the alleged buttock grab during a Stirling Castle photocall. Both had been watching the photo being taken. Both testified nothing had happened. The police had that evidence. But they ignored it. A more startling example is below.

You may be interested to know the police also spent a great deal of time attempting to substantiate the “incident” at Edinburgh airport that has been so frequently recycled by the mainstream media over years. MI5 also hired a London security consultancy to work on this story. The reason so many resouces were expended is that they were desperate to stand up this claim as the only incident from outside the tiny cabal of Scottish government insiders.

They discovered the actual Edinburgh airport “incident” was that Alex Salmond had made a rather excruciating pun about “killer heels” when the footwear of a female member of staff had set off the security scanner gate. This had been reported as a sexist comment in the context of a much wider dispute about staff conditions. That is it. “Killer heels”. A joke. No charge arose from this particular substantial waste of police time, in which the involvement of MI5 is highly noteworthy.

You will probably know that I too faced politically motivated accusations of sexual misconduct from the state, in my case the FCO, when I blew the whistle on British government collusion in torture and extraordinary rendition. I too was eventually cleared of all charges. When you are facing such charges, there comes a moment when you reveal the evidence to those defending you. They, of course, will not necessarily have presumed your innocence. I recount in Murder in Samarkand this moment in my own case, when after going through all the evidence my representative turned to me and said in some astonishment “You really didn’t do any of this, did you?”. He had been disinclined to believe the British government really was trying to fit me up, until he saw the evidence.

In Alex Salmond’s case, after going through all the evidence, his legal team were utterly bemused as to why it was Alex Salmond who was being prosecuted; rather than the members of the WhatsApp group and senders of the other messages, texts and emails being prosecuted for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. There could not be a plainer conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Not only were members of this very small political grouping orchestrating complaints in the documented communications, they were encouraging their creation.

It is much worse than that. There is plain reference to active and incorrect communication from the SNP hierarchy to Police Scotland and the Crown Office.The reason that Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal’s office prosecuted the victim of the conspiracy rather than the conspirators, is that they had themselves been politically hijacked to be part of the fit-up. I fully realise the implications of that statement and I make it with the greatest care. Let me say it again. The reason that Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal’s office prosecuted the victim of the conspiracy rather than the conspirators, is that they had themselves been politically hijacked to be part of the fit-up. Just how profound are the ramifications of this case for the Scottish establishment has so far been appreciated by very few people.

Alex Salmond’s counsel, in his summing up for the defence, said that the evidence of collusion and conspiracy in the case “stinks”. It certainly does; and the stench goes an awful long way. A new unionist online meme today is to ask why the accusers would put themselves at risk of prosecution for perjury. The answer is that there is no such risk; the police and prosecutors, the Scottish government including, but not only, as represented by the accusers, have all been part of the same joint enterprise to stitch up Alex Salmond. That is why there is still no investigation into perjury or conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, despite the evidence not just of the trial but of the documents and texts which the judge prevented from being led as “collateral”.

I cannot begin to imagine how evil you have to be to attempt falsely to convict someone of that most vicious, most unforgivable of crimes – rape. But it is impossible to have followed the trial, still more impossible to know the evidence that the judge ruled inadmissible as collateral, without forming the view that this was a deliberate, a most wicked, conspiracy to fit him up on these charges. Furthermore it was a conspiracy that incorporated almost the entire Establishment – a conspiracy that included a corrupt Scottish Government, a corrupt Crown Office, a corrupt Scottish Police and an uniformly corrupt media.

Coverage of the trial was a disgrace. The most salacious accusations of the odious prosecutor were selected and magnified into massive headlines. The defence witnesses were almost totally ignored and unreported. The entire stream of evidence from credible witnesses that disproved the prosecution case in its entirety was simply never presented in the papers, still less on radio and TV. A great deal of that evidence proved that prosecution witnesses were not merely mistaken, but had been deliberately and coldly lying.

Let us consider the lead accusation, that of attempted rape. I want you honestly to consider whether or not this should have been brought before the court.

Woman H claimed that Salmond attempted to rape her after a small dinner with Alex Salmond, an actor (the publication of whose name the court banned), and Ms Samantha Barber, a company director. Salmond gave evidence that the entire story was completely untrue and the woman had not even been there that evening. Samantha Barber gave evidence that she knows woman H well, had been a guest at her wedding reception, and that woman H had phoned and asked her to attend the dinner with the specific explanation she could not be there herself. Indeed, affirmed Ms Barber, woman H definitely was not there. She had given that firm evidence to the police.

Against that, there was a vague statement by the actor that he believed a fourth person had been present, but he described her hair colour as different to woman H, described her as wearing jeans when woman H said she was wearing a dress, and did not say the woman had her arm in a sling – which it was established woman H’s arm was at that time. One arm in a sling would be pretty debilitating in eating and the sort of detail about a fellow diner at a very small dinner party you would likely remember.

Given the very firm statement from Samantha Barber, her friend, that woman H was definitely not there, a number of lawyers and police officers with whom I have discussed this have all been perplexed that the charge was brought at all, with such a strong witness to rebut it, given that the police were relying on an extremely tentative identification from the actor (who did not appear in court to be cross-examined). The truth is, as the jury found, that woman H was not physically there when she said the incident took place. Woman H had lied. More importantly, the evidence available to the police and prosecutor fiscal showed that there was never any realistic prospect of conviction.

So why was the charge brought?

You might also wish to consider this. While the jury was considering its verdict, two members of the jury were removed. Here I know more than I can legally say at present. That might be put together with the chance that somebody was tailing Alex Salmond’s defence counsel and video recording his conversation on a train. If you look at the recording, it is obvious that if it were being taken with a mobile phone, that act of recording would have been very plainly visible to Mr Jackson. It appears far more likely this was done with a concealed device, possibly routed through a mobile phone for purposes of metadata.

I only have definite good source information on MI5 involvement in the attempt to dredge up charges at Edinburgh airport. While I have no direct evidence the juror expulsion or the Jackson tape were underlain by security service surveillance, I am very suspicious given the knowledge that MI5 were engaged in the witch-hunt. Which of course also begs the question that if any of the alleged incidents inside Bute House were true, the state would by now have produced the MI5 or GCHQ/NSA recordings to prove it (claiming they were sourced from elsewhere). Salmond has been considered by them a threat to the UK state for decades, and not only over Scottish Independence.

I also ask you to consider who has been, and who has not been, persecuted. Alex Salmond stood in the dock facing total ruin. The conspirators have faced not even questioning about their collusion.

I have published the only detailed account of the defence case. In consequence not only was I slung out of court by the judge on a motion of the prosecution, and threatened with jail by the Crown Office for contempt of court, the judge also made an order making it illegal to publish the fact that I had been barred from the court, in effect a super injunction. Yet the mainstream media, who published ludicrously selective and salacious extracts from the proceedings designed deliberately to make Salmond appear guilty, have received no threats from the Crown Office. They continue to churn out article after article effectively claiming Salmond is guilty and massively distorting the facts of the case.

One consequence of the extreme media bias is that lies which were told by the prosecution are still being repeated as fact. The lie that a policy and/or practice was put into place to prevent women working alone in the evenings with Alex Salmond, was comprehensively demolished by four separate senior civil service witnesses, one of them a prosecution witness. That was never media reported and the lie is still continually repeated.

It is only the person who published the truth, as agreed by the jury, who faces hostile action from the state.

Because the only thing that was not fixed about this entire affair was the jury. And they may well have contrived to nobble even that with jury expulsion.

We should be very grateful to that jury of solid Edinburgh citizens, two thirds of them female. They were diligent, they did their duty, and they thwarted a great injustice in the midst of a media hanging frenzy that has to have impacted upon them, and probably still does.

I would however state that, up until she inexplicably expelled me from the court, I had found Lady Dorrian’s handling of the trial entirely fair and reasonable. Equally it was a judicial decision in the Court of Session that had found the Scottish Government process against Salmond to be “unlawful, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”.

Which brings me on to the role of the Head of the Scottish Civil Service, Leslie Evans. “We may have lost a battle, but we will win the war”. That is how, in January 2019, Leslie Evans had messaged a colleague the day they lost in the Court of Session. It is an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle of these people that the colleague she messaged was in the Maldives at the time.

It is incredible that after a process Evans claimed in court to have “established” was described as unlawful and unfair by a very senior judge, her first thought was on “winning the war”. That message alone is sufficient to sack Leslie Evans. Is shows that rather than being a civil servant engaged in an effort to administer justly, she was engaged as parti pris in a bitter battle to take down Alex Salmond. She would not even accept the verdict of the Court of Session. It astonishes me, as a former member for six years of the senior civil service myself, that any civil servant could commit themselves in that way to try ruthlessly to take down a former First Minister, with no heed whatsoever either to fair process or to the decision of the courts.

It is quite simply astonishing that Ms Evans has not been sacked.

Well, Leslie Evans did carry on her war. At the cost of many millions to the Scottish taxpayer, she has now lost the battle in both Scotland’s highest civil court and in Scotland’s highest criminal court. The campaign to destroy Salmond has been trounced in both the Court of Session and the High Court. That Leslie Evans is still in post is a national scandal. That Nicola Sturgeon a few weeks ago extended Evans’ tenure by a further two years is an appalling misjudgment.

Evans has a particularly unionist outlook and regards her role as head of the Scottish civil service as equivalent to a departmental permanent secretary of the United Kingdom. Evans spends a great deal of time in London. Unlike her predecessor, who regarded Scotland as separate, Evans regularly attends the weekly “Wednesday Morning Colleagues” (WMC) meeting of Whitehall permanent secretaries, chaired by the Westminster Cabinet Secretary. She much values her position in the UK establishment. What kind of Head of the Scottish Civil Service spends the middle of the week in London?

Rather than any action being taken against the perpetrators of this disgraceful attempt to pervert the course of justice, even after their plot has been roundly rejected in the High Court, the Scottish Government appears to be doubling down in its accusations against Alex Salmond through the medium of the state and corporate media, which is acting in complete unison. It has now been widely briefed against Salmond that Police Scotland has passed a dossier to the Metropolitan Police on four other accusations, set at Westminster.

What the media has not told you is that these accusations are from exactly the same group of conspirators; indeed from some of the actual same accusers. They also do not tell you that these accusations are even weaker than those pursued in Scotland.

In the massive effort to prove “pattern of behaviour” in Alex Salmond’s recent trial, incidents which happened outwith Scottish jurisdiction could be presented as evidence in a separate “docket”. Thus the defence heard evidence from the “Chinese docket” of Salmond “attempting to touch” a colleague’s hair in a hotel lift in China. Well, the London “docket” was considered even weaker than that, so it was not led in the Edinburgh trial. The idea that Leslie Evans’ “war” against Salmond will be won in an English court, having failed in both the civil and criminal Scottish courts, is just black propaganda.

As is the continued campaign to claim that Salmond is really guilty, carried on by Rape Crisis Scotland. They yesterday published a statement by the nine anonymous accusers attacking Salmond further, and rather amusingly the nine wrote together to deny they were associated with each other. It seems to me entirely illegitimate for this group to be able to conduct a continued campaign of political harassment of Alex Salmond from behind the cloak of state-enforced anonymity, after he has been acquitted of all charges. I understand the reasoning behind anonymity for accusers in sex allegations. But surely state backed anonymity should not be used to enable the continued repetition of false accusations without fear of defamation law, after the jury has acquitted? That is perverse.

It is also a fact that Rape Crisis Scotland is just another instrument of the Scottish government, being almost entirely funded by the Scottish government. There is a very serious infringement of public conduct here. One of the nine conspirators, whose statement is being amplified by Rape Crisis Scotland, is personally very directly involved in the channeling of government money to Rape Crisis Scotland. That is a gross abuse of office and conflict of interest and should be a resignation matter. Here again, direct wrongdoing is being carried out from behind the screen of state-backed anonymity.

Let me give you this thought. Alex Salmond having been acquitted, you would think that the unionist media would seek to capitalise by training its guns on those at the head of the SNP who sought to frame him, who after all are still in power. But instead, the unionist media is entirely committed to attacking Salmond, in defiance of all the facts of the case. That shows you who it is the British establishment are really afraid of. It also confirms what I have been saying for years, that the SNP careerist establishment have no genuine interest in Scottish Independence and are not perceived by Whitehall as a threat to the union. And in that judgement at least, Whitehall is right.

I should state that in this article I have, absolutely against my own instincts, deferred to Alex Salmond’s noble but in my view over-generous wish to wait until the Covid-19 virus has passed before giving all the names of those involved and presenting the supporting documents. I have therefore removed several names from this article. Alex Salmond believes that it is wrong to move on this at a time when many people are suffering and grieving, and he has stated that it would indeed be narcissistic to think of his own troubles at this time of wider calamity. I find this extremely upsetting when his enemies are showing absolutely no respect nor restraint whatsoever and are engaged in full-on attack on his reputation. I can assure you this is even more frustrating for me than for you. But while the mills of God grind slowly, they grind exceedingly small.

Those who do not know Scotland are astonished that the Alex Salmond trial and its fallout have not damaged support in the polls for Independence nor even for the SNP. I am not in the least surprised – the reawakening of the national consciousness of the Scottish people is an unstoppable process. If you want to see it, look not at any single politician but at the mass enthusiasm of one of the great, self-organised AUOB marches. The spirit of Independence rides the SNP as the available vehicle to achieve its ends. It is no longer primarily inspired nor controlled by the SNP – indeed the SNP leadership is blatantly trying to dampen it down, with only marginal success. This great movement of a nation is not to be disturbed by fleeting events.

That is not to underplay the importance of events for those caught up in them. As Alex Salmond stood in the dock, he was very probably staring at the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison, of never being with his wife Moira again, and of having his reputation as Scotland’s greatest national leader for centuries erased. The party hierarchy had already overseen the Stalinesque scrubbing of his image and name from all online content under the SNP’s control. The future now looks very different, and I am cheered by the brighter horizon.

Let me finish this article by observing that the British state continues to keep the unconvicted Julian Assange in conditions of appalling detention and receiving brutal personal treatment reserved normally for the most dangerous terrorists. The British state has refused to let Assange out of jail to avert the danger of Covid-19. By contrast the government of Iran has allowed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe out of prison to reduce her danger from the epidemic. Which of these governments is portrayed as evil by the state and corporate media?

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

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