The Decline of Western Power 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hating Peter Tatchell 97

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is my favourite Tatchell placard:

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

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

———————————————

 
 
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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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State Suppression 123

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

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

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There is of course a major difference in the finances of bloggers and mainstream media and it is an unfortunate truth that an appeal to the Supreme Court will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. Details of how to contribute to Craig Murray’s Defence Fund are here:




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Official: Lady Dorrian Rules Courts Should Apply Different Standards to Bloggers and Mainstream Media 241

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

BEGINS

This is an extraordinary passage of the Opinion:

“(4) The applicant describes himself as a “journalist in new media”. Whatever that may involve, it is relevant to distinguish his position from that of the mainstream press, which is regulated, and subject to codes of practice and ethics in a way in which those writing as the applicant does are not. To the extent that the submissions for the applicant make comparisons with other press contempts, and the role of mainstream journalists, this is a factor which should be recognised”.

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

1) Disproportionate sentencing compared to other press contempts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There is of course a major difference in the finances of bloggers and mainstream media and it is an unfortunate truth that an appeal to the Supreme Court will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. Details of how to contribute to Craig Murray’s Defence Fund are here:




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An Open Letter to Lady Dorrian 315

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely,

Nadira Murray
4 June 2021

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Craig Murray’s Trial: What Happens Next 184

Post By Kirsten MacDonald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Murray’s team have very little hope for Monday.

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Not Forgetting Palestine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———————————————

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

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

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Fighting On

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

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

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

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

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

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EU States Combined to Force Down Snowden Flight

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

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

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

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

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

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Chilling – Not In a Good Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What is Left for Palestine?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Pollokshields Shows How To Achieve Independence

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where it has hovered ever since.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Appeal For Defence Funds 532

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Dani Garavelli – by a country mile
Kirsty Wark
BBC

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

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

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

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

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

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




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Those Scottish Elections, and What Happens Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, we shall see who is right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personally I am extremely frustrated at the extraordinary alignment between

Never-never Independence supporters and trans rights,

versus

Independence Now supporters and trans exclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Left Must Take Back Labour

The hundreds of thousands of Corbyn supporters who carried him though multiple leadership challenges have not vanished from the face of the earth, even though many have vanished from the Labour Party.

If you believe that the Starmer project was a genuine belief that a right wing agenda would get Labour back into power, then the Starmer Project has totally failed on those terms.

If you believe that the Starmer project was a scheme to neutralise any threat from Labour to the vast disparity of wealth in the UK and internationally, then it has spectacularly succeeded.

Firstly, it seems to me that anybody who believes the Starmer project was ever the former is a fool. It was at best an insurance policy, so that in the improbable event of a Labour victory nothing radical would happen to discomfit the rich. The Labour victory was in itself seen by Starmer’s backers as an event to be avoided, and Starmer’s job was to mitigate any Labour victory.

Corbyn never returned any election result remotely as bad as Labour suffered on Thursday. At previous council elections, we were told by Blairite after Blairite that Corbyn would have to resign if he achieved a result even 10% better than Starmer just achieved. Does anybody remember all those Guardian front page articles featuring focus groups led by right wing charlatan Professor Rob Ford of Manchester University, at which small groups of denizens of the M4 corridor or Northern England were led to repeat unbecoming things they had read in the papers about Corbyn, and it was claimed disaster loomed were he and his policies not immediately removed?

It was not becoming of Jess Phillips, Ian Austin and others to display openly their delight at Labour defeat in the last general election. But I cannot understand the passivity of the left now. Get off your backsides, you lazy defeatists, and start to lay into Starmer very heavily indeed. You owe him no loyalty – he lied through his teeth in the leadership campaign about willingness to maintain left wing values, then went straight into ditch and purge the left wing, and supercharge the witch-hunt, once he had won.

Starmer is down now. To quote a left winger who did know how to grasp the moment, I beseech you in the bowels of Christ. It is time now to announce a leadership challenge. It has to come from John McDonnell. Get people back into the Labour Party. Give the people of England some hope and inspiration again, and at least a chance to hear about, and vote for, the possibility of a truly fairer society.

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Channel Islands Fisheries and Abuse by Tory Jingoism

Exactly thirty years ago I was Head of Maritime Section at the FCO and negotiating the voisinage agreement on mutual fishing rights in territorial waters between France and the Channel Islands. Memory dims with age, but it is hard to forget the evening in Cherbourg where a meeting with French fishermen became so heated we found ourselves diving into an alley to escape a pursuing group who wished to remonstrate further. In fact, the same fishermen in the same town three years later took hostage, for a day or so, British fisheries enforcement officers, which helped obtain some changes to the agreement in France’s favour in 1994. In 1991, the ire was directed not so much at me, as at the head of the French government delegation, an Enarque from the Quai D’Orsay of superb aristocratic demeanour and French Vietnamese ancestry, who was perhaps not the best choice to explain things to the fleet.

It should be noted that the later British “hostages” said they were fed and wined superbly and had rather a nice time of it.

It is hard to understand whether today the British media or the British government have the worse grasp of the issues at stake in this fisheries dispute. Let me make a few basic points.

Firstly, the Channel Islands were never in the EU and their waters were never part of the Common Fisheries Policy – the more so as both the French and the Channel Islands waters involved are all twelve mile territorial sea and not 200 mile exclusive economic zone. The extent to which this relates to Brexit is therefore much exaggerated.

Secondly, the issue dates back hundreds of years and is concerned with the maintenance of traditional fishing rights within each other’s waters by the French and Channel Islands fishermen. Both sides have always acknowledged these time hallowed rights of access.

Thirdly, the French and Channel Islands fishing communities concerned are inextricably interlinked and indeed intermarried. Certainly thirty years ago French was the first language among the fishermen on both sides (though I am told this is less true now).

To try to explain further, fishermen are taking specific types of catch in specific areas, and their boats are equipped for this. They cannot simply be told to go and catch something different in their state’s “own” area without changing equipment and indeed sometimes boat. To state the obvious, if you are putting down your lobster pots it is not easy to be told to go fish for mackerel somewhere else instead. That is the principle, though I don’t pretend to remember the catches now.

It is not just a technical and financial matter. It is a question of personal identity and survival of communities. Fishing families have been taking the same catch in the same areas for many generations. The boats are inherited, the community set up for the appropriate processing and sales.

In making the voisinage agreement we took care to interact very closely with the fishing communities on each side and learn their stories and history. We heard tales of catches going back centuries, and fishermen viewed access to the sea their fathers had fished as a right that was nothing to do with governments; this was very even. Some Channel Islands fishermen fished certain French waters, and some French fishermen fished certain Channel Island waters. We also heard of bitter disputes between families. Tales of nets cut or pots lifted were recounted with vivid detail, only for it to be subsequently revealed the incident was in 1905 and it was somebody’s great grandfather who did it. These are complex and intermixed communities, and there is rivalry between islands as much as with the French communities. There are cross-cutting community alliances too.

Above all, as in all fishing communities, there was mutual support in the face of the sea, tales of drownings, disasters and long remembered community grief, and of course tales of rescues – of French boats rescuing Channel Island boats, and Channel Island boats rescuing French boats.

These are proud communities. The monumental stupidity of the Tory government in not seeking to understand and talk through the issues, but rather sending in intimidatory gunboats and wildly exacerbating the dispute, is heartbreaking. Of course I understand the Tories don’t actually care about the issue at all and are using anti-French jingoism for electoral purposes, but the poison they have injected will have effects for many decades.

The voisinage agreement that was drawn up and signed off by Exchange of Note between ministers in 1992 (which really did involve me doing stuff with ribbons and sealing wax) was therefore perhaps not what you would expect to see, and bore no relation to the simplistic nostrums being discussed about the dispute this morning. It named specific individual fishing boats, it named individual captains, and detailed exactly where they could exercise their family’s traditional rights to fish. There were “grandfather rights” – inherited, traditional rights that could not be achieved by newcomers. There was the right to replace a boat, but specific and individually tailored limits of the size and type of boat it could be replaced with. There were sunset clauses – I have a recollection many of the rights expired to be renegotiated in 2010, which seemed a long way away in those days. I believe that much of “my” voisinage agreement was replaced by the Granville Bay Agreement of 2000, which sounds to me unwise in decoupling French rights in Channel Island waters from Channel Island rights in French waters, but I was Deputy High Commissioner in Ghana by then and I confess I have not studied the Granville Bay agreement.

The political right today misinterpret this as some kind of English/French territorial dispute. As I hope I have explained, it is nothing of the sort, and none of the fishermen involved would ever call themselves English. The political left must not confuse the fishermen with the beneficiaries of the Channel Islands status as a great international centre for tax evasion and the laundering of illegal money. The beneficiaries of that activity are overwhelmingly not in the Channel Islands at all, but spivs in the lap dancing clubs and penthouses of the City of London. There are few beneficiaries in the Channel Islands beyond the sleazy lawyers who host thousands of paper companies, the political crooks and the token bank facades fronting for London. The fishermen are nothing to do with that world.

I should make very plain that my own negotiations were guided and in reality led by David Anderson, FCO legal adviser and a major influence in the development of the Law of the Sea. But empathy is an essential negotiating skill, and I was much helped by the fact that I grew up myself in an inshore fishing community and from a fishing family. As you may know, my mother was English and I was born in West Runton and grew up in neighbouring Sheringham. My great grandfather John Johnson had been one the last builders of traditional Sheringham fishing boats, and many relatives were still fishing in my childhood. To give you an idea, I have four direct ancestors in this photo of the Augusta lifeboat, including the cox’n at the stern, who is my great, great grandfather John Long. My grandmother had a copy of this postcard and used to tell me we were related to every single man in the photo (which is what is known as NfN, Normal for Norfolk). She could name them all. I believe six generations later my cousin Nick Grice is today still cox of the Sheringham lifeboat.

I shall allow myself to be a bit morbid today. The UK used to have an envied foreign service which valued expertise, diligence and negotiation. It now prizes bluff, jingoism and cheap popularity. We are sending gunboats, not negotiators, to the Channel Islands. Meantime I am being sentenced, probably to prison, this morning for Contempt of Court, for the crime of diligent journalism. O Tempora! O Mores!

You can read something of my case and contribute to my defence fund for an appeal to the Supreme Court here.

UPDATE: The court has been adjourned until Tuesday 11 May at 9:45am, (ostensibly) to enable consideration of mitigating factors submitted this morning. Read Taylor Hudak’s summary of the court hearing here and consult her timeline for a record of her live tweeting as it happened.

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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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Human Rights Watch Confirms Israel is an Apartheid State

The forthright branding of Israel as an apartheid state by Human Rights Watch could be a watershed moment in mainstream acceptance of what Israel has become. Human Rights Watch is not an outlier or left wing organisation. It is very much a part of the establishment in the United States and is not generally associated with hard hitting criticism that conflicts with the promoted interests of the American state. Kenneth Roth, the Human Rights Watch CEO who has been in power longer than Putin, is a darling of the New York liberal and Democratic Party Establishment. That is an important financial source for HRW and includes many members of New York’s highly altruistic liberal Jewish community (who I should declare have frequently hosted me).

Shortly before I formally left the FCO in 2005, I was shortlisted for a position as Global Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch and flown to New York to be interviewed by Kenneth Roth in their offices – which if memory serves were very plush and actually in the Empire State Building. Having worked closely with Human Rights Watch in Uzbekistan and elsewhere, I was reasonably confident, and I was surprised when the interview was cold and almost hostile. Kenneth Roth asked me questions exclusively about Israel. I very distinctly recall that he said that I had been describing human rights abuses as perpetrated by governments, but did terrorist offences not also grossly violate the human rights of their victims? He specifically referenced Palestinian terror attacks as being detrimental to the human rights of Israelis.

I replied to the effect that terrorist offences were to me a matter of criminal law as any other assault or murder, whereas human rights abuses were perpetrated by governments or sometimes, in conflict situations, others wielding control and authority. I also referenced the need to bear in mind the imbalance in Israeli/Palestinian infliction of violence. A number of other Israel specific questions followed, which were increasingly unfriendly, and it was plain that Roth was looking for an expression of firm condemnation of the Palestinians, which I did not give, while I did state that violence against innocent civilian targets was never legitimate.

Anyway, I did not get the job which went, perhaps significantly, to an ex US State Department employee with no visible record of dissent. I remember pondering, on the flight back across the Atlantic, that I had been a civil servant for 22 years and forbidden from expressing political opinions. I had said nothing which was not British government policy on Israel since 1984. You would have to go back to my student days and membership of Friends of Palestine to find in public any private views of mine on the Middle East (which from pre-internet days would not be readily discovered). I was wondering who had briefed Roth, and my thoughts turned in obvious directions.

I give that background so you understand how much it has taken for Human Rights Watch to conclude that Israel is now an apartheid state and how far they have come. This cannot be dismissed as “the usual suspects”. Furthermore, the report is a formal legal analysis of what constitutes the crime of apartheid and whether Israeli actions and statutes meet that bar, and it concludes that Israel is an apartheid state not as a matter of political categorisation, but in a formal, legal sense. Roth is respected as a lawyer and Human Rights Watch is an organisation to which people, not just in State Department but at senior levels of the Biden Administration, genuinely listen if not always taking heed.

It is worth reproducing the Human Rights Watch Press Release in full:

BEGINS

Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The finding is based on an overarching Israeli government policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians and grave abuses committed against Palestinians living in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem.

The 213-page report, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” examines Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. It presents the present-day reality of a single authority, the Israeli government, ruling primarily over the area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, populated by two groups of roughly equal size, and methodologically privileging Jewish Israelis while repressing Palestinians, most severely in the occupied territory.

“Prominent voices have warned for years that apartheid lurks just around the corner if the trajectory of Israel’s rule over Palestinians does not change,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “This detailed study shows that Israeli authorities have already turned that corner and today are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

The finding of apartheid and persecution does not change the legal status of the occupied territory, made up of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, or the factual reality of occupation.

Originally coined in relation to South Africa, apartheid today is a universal legal term. The prohibition against particularly severe institutional discrimination and oppression or apartheid constitutes a core principle of international law. The 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the 1998 Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court (ICC) define apartheid as a crime against humanity consisting of three primary elements:

An intent to maintain domination by one racial group over another.
A context of systematic oppression by the dominant group over the marginalized group.
Inhumane acts.
The reference to a racial group is understood today to address not only treatment on the basis of genetic traits but also treatment on the basis of descent and national or ethnic origin, as defined in the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Human Rights Watch applies this broader understanding of race.

The crime against humanity of persecution, as defined under the Rome Statute and customary international law, consists of severe deprivation of fundamental rights of a racial, ethnic, or other group with discriminatory intent.

Human Rights Watch found that the elements of the crimes come together in the occupied territory, as part of a single Israeli government policy. That policy is to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territory. It is coupled in the occupied territory with systematic oppression and inhumane acts against Palestinians living there.

Drawing on years of human rights documentation, case studies, and a review of government planning documents, statements by officials, and other sources, Human Rights Watch compared policies and practices toward Palestinians in the occupied territory and Israel with those concerning Jewish Israelis living in the same areas. Human Rights Watch wrote to the Israeli government in July 2020, soliciting its perspectives on these issues, but has received no response.

Across Israel and the occupied territory, Israeli authorities have sought to maximize the land available for Jewish communities and to concentrate most Palestinians in dense population centers. The authorities have adopted policies to mitigate what they have openly described as a “demographic threat” from Palestinians. In Jerusalem, for example, the government’s plan for the municipality, including both the west and occupied east parts of the city, sets the goal of “maintaining a solid Jewish majority in the city” and even specifies the demographic ratios it hopes to maintain.

To maintain domination, Israeli authorities systematically discriminate against Palestinians. The institutional discrimination that Palestinian citizens of Israel face includes laws that allow hundreds of small Jewish towns to effectively exclude Palestinians and budgets that allocate only a fraction of resources to Palestinian schools as compared to those that serve Jewish Israeli children. In the occupied territory, the severity of the repression, including the imposition of draconian military rule on Palestinians while affording Jewish Israelis living in a segregated manner in the same territory their full rights under Israel’s rights-respecting civil law, amounts to the systematic oppression required for apartheid.

Israeli authorities have committed a range of abuses against Palestinians. Many of those in the occupied territory constitute severe abuses of fundamental rights and the inhumane acts again required for apartheid, including: sweeping movement restrictions in the form of the Gaza closure and a permit regime, confiscation of more than a third of the land in the West Bank, harsh conditions in parts of the West Bank that led to the forcible transfer of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, denial of residency rights to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and their relatives, and the suspension of basic civil rights to millions of Palestinians.

Many of the abuses at the core of the commission of these crimes, such as near-categorical denial of building permits to Palestinians and demolition of thousands of homes on the pretext of lacking permits, have no security justification. Others, such as Israel’s effective freeze on the population registry it manages in the occupied territory, which all but blocks family reunification for Palestinians living there and bars Gaza residents from living in the West Bank, use security as a pretext to further demographic goals. Even when security forms part of the motivation, it no more justifies apartheid and persecution than it would excessive force or torture, Human Rights Watch said.

“Denying millions of Palestinians their fundamental rights, without any legitimate security justification and solely because they are Palestinian and not Jewish, is not simply a matter of an abusive occupation,” Roth said. “These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another.”

Statements and actions by Israeli authorities in recent years, including the passage of a law with constitutional status in 2018 establishing Israel as the “nation-state of the Jewish people,” the growing body of laws that further privilege Israeli settlers in the West Bank and do not apply to Palestinians living in the same territory, as well as the massive expansion in recent years of settlements and accompanying infrastructure connecting settlements to Israel, have clarified their intent to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis. The possibility that a future Israeli leader might someday forge a deal with Palestinians that dismantles the discriminatory system does not negate that reality today.

Israeli authorities should dismantle all forms of repression and discrimination that privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians, including with regards to freedom of movement, allocation of land and resources, access to water, electricity, and other services, and the granting of building permits.

The ICC Office of the Prosecutor should investigate and prosecute those credibly implicated in the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. Countries should do so as well in accordance with their national laws under the principle of universal jurisdiction, and impose individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on officials responsible for committing these crimes.

The findings of crimes against humanity should prompt the international community to reevaluate the nature of its engagement in Israel and Palestine and adopt an approach centered on human rights and accountability rather than solely on the stalled “peace process.” Countries should establish a UN commission of inquiry to investigate systematic discrimination and repression in Israel and Palestine and a UN global envoy for the crimes of persecution and apartheid with a mandate to mobilize international action to end persecution and apartheid worldwide.

Countries should condition arms sales and military and security assistance to Israel on Israeli authorities taking concrete and verifiable steps toward ending their commission of these crimes. Countries should vet agreements, cooperation schemes, and all forms of trade and dealing with Israel to screen for those directly contributing to committing the crimes, mitigate the human rights impacts and, where not possible, end activities and funding found to facilitate these serious crimes.

“While much of the world treats Israel’s half-century occupation as a temporary situation that a decades-long ‘peace process’ will soon cure, the oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution,” Roth said. “Those who strive for Israeli-Palestinian peace, whether a one or two-state solution or a confederation, should in the meantime recognize this reality for what it is and bring to bear the sorts of human rights tools needed to end it.”

ENDS

I regret to say that because I am extremely preoccupied with my own legal case (which is of course largely its purpose) I have quickly read through the 223 page full report but not had time fully to study and analyse. It contains some very powerful graphics.




The strength of the report lies in its systematic comparison of the structural system of Israeli rule with the formal definition of the crime of Apartheid in the Statute of Rome and the Apartheid Convention, both widely ratified and important documents of international law. This perforce leads to less concentration than is possible on the outrageous acts of individual cruelty, but shows them to be systemic and part of a much wider design.

The Statute of Rome defines the international crime of apartheid as:

inhumane acts… committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.

The Apartheid Convention defines apartheid as:

inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.

I do not believe anybody can sincerely deny that the situation in Palestine meets these criteria, even if attempts are made to justify how we got here. If you have not done so, you may like to read my previous personal article on why Israel is an apartheid state, which draws on my experience as FCO Desk Officer for South Africa when it was the original apartheid state.

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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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The CIA’s Chinese Walls

It is not in dispute that the CIA is in possession of Julian Assange’s legal and medical files seized from the Ecuadorean Embassy, including correspondence and drafting by his lawyers on his defence against extradition to the USA on Espionage charges. The defence submitted evidence of this in court. After Julian was arrested in the Ecuadorean Embassy and removed, all of his personal possessions were illegally seized by the Ecuadorean authorities, including his files and his IT equipment. These were then shipped back to Ecuador by diplomatic bag. There, they were handed over to the CIA.

These facts were agreed in court in Assange’s extradition hearing by the US authorities. However, they claimed that the proceedings were not tainted by the fact that the prosecuting state had seized all the defendant’s legal papers, because “Chinese walls” within the US government meant that the CIA would not pass any of the information on to the Justice Department.

Frankly, if anybody believes that, then I have a bridge to sell you. In any court in any Western jurisdiction against any other defendant but Assange, the seizure of the defence’s legal files by the state seeking extradition would in itself be sufficient for the case immediately to be thrown out as hopelessly tainted. That is without adding the fact that the CIA was also secretly video recording Assange – through the UC Global security firm – and was specifically recording his meetings with his lawyers.

As it happens, UC Global also recorded for the CIA several of my own meetings with Julian, and I shall next month be travelling to Madrid to give evidence in the criminal trial of David Morales, CEO of UC Global, for illegal spying (UC Global is a Spanish company). At least, I shall be if I am not in prison myself as a result of the suppression of my own reporting of the defence in the Alex Salmond case.

I ask one simple question. The CIA put substantial effort into recording Assange’s meetings with his legal team, and UC Global employees also gave evidence they were instructed physically to follow his lawyers, who in addition suffered burglaries and other intrusions. The CIA put effort into collecting specifically his legal papers from Quito. If there are effective “Chinese walls” preventing the stolen and eavesdropped material on his legal defence being given or explained to the American government prosecutors, then who is the market for these legal papers? Who is the CIA providing them to? What other purpose are the CIA supposed to be seizing his legal papers for?

There is no legitimate answer to these questions. I find breathtaking the UK court’s insouciance about the most gross and deliberate violation of attorney/client privilege of which the human imagination is able to conceive. Yet this is just one of the numerous breaches of procedure in the Assange case.

I am frequently asked about the current legal situation. The USA has submitted its appeal to the English and Welsh High Court against the decision not to extradite. The defence have submitted their response to the appeal. In doing so they have also submitted a counter-appeal against the many deeply concerning points on which Baraitser ruled extradition was possible, before ruling it out on the sole grounds of medical history and conditions of custody.

The situation now is complex. The first thing to be said is that the High Court has not yet ruled that the United States government’s grounds for appeal have sufficient legal merit to be considered, and thus accepted the case and set a hearing date. This is taking much longer than usual, and hope is growing that the High Court may rule that the United States’ grounds for appeal are too legally weak to meet the bar of a hearing. If that is the case, Julian could suddenly be released very quickly.

If the appeal is accepted, a hearing date will be set and the legal grapevine thinks that could be as early as July – much quicker than usual. We then have the further complication that the counter-appeal by the defence is not an automatic process, indeed it is exceptional. The normal procedure would be that the High Court would hear the US appeal on the medical and conditions of imprisonment points and the defence response, and rule on that. Should the US appeal succeed, the High Court would send that judgement back down to judge Baraitser, who would reconvene Westminster Magistrates Court and order the extradition. The defence could then appeal to the High Court against the extradition on all the other grounds, which are numerous but headed by breach of the provision on no political extradition of the Treaty under which the extradition is taking place.

The whole process would then start again, which would take us well into 2022 with Julian still in jail. The defence hope the High Court would instead take the counter-appeal at the same time and hear all the arguments together, but it is by no means a given the High Court will agree. If the High Court considers the US appeal weak there is a danger that the High Court would also think a hearing on all the other points – which would last weeks – would be an unnecessary waste of its time. Which leads us to the paradox that a quick victory for Julian on health grounds that sees him released, would leave in place as a precedent the awful aspects of Baraitser’s ruling on extradition for political offence being lawful, and on the dismissal of Article X freedom of speech arguments, and the acceptance of US universal jurisdiction over publishing of US classified information worldwide.

A further paradox which may trouble us in future is that if released, and if Biden as now is determined to continue the persecution of whistleblowers and of Wikileaks, Julian Assange could find himself trapped in England. Anywhere else he goes, including his native Australia, he could be the subject of a further US extradition request leading to imprisonment. This is the dilemma of my friend Lauri Love, whose lawyers advised him against even accepting my invitation to visit Scotland, in case a new US extradition request is issued in any other jurisdiction he visits. Lauri is only safe from extradition in England and Wales.

There is a further danger that the British Home Office might immediately on release seek to deport Julian to Australia on the grounds his UK visa has expired, and that the Australian government may imprison him there in pursuit of a further US extradition request. So in aiming for a situation where Julian can work, run Wikileaks, and contribute his remarkable talent and intelligence to further expansion of freedom of speech and the internet and empowering of ordinary citizens, we still all have work to do.

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Bypassing the Road Block

I almost never write about somebody else’s article, but this from Barrhead Boy sums up exactly how I feel today. 80% by readership of the pro-Independence new media has been disillusioned by the current SNP leadership to the point of turning against it. Peter Bell, Barrhead Boy, Robin McAlpine, James Kelly, Jeggit, Stuart Campbell, Iain Lawson, and me – I could go on with a dozen more – these were the writers to whom pro-Independence people turned in their hundreds of thousands to escape from the diet of unionist propaganda they were fed from the BBC and papers. These bloggers and independent journalists were, along with the All Under One Banner marches, the heartbeat of Independence. The SNP notably was not that – it had effectively banned discussion of Independence. Long term readers will recall I was even blocked by Murrell from holding a fringe meeting on Independence – when a delegate – at SNP conference, but told I could hold one on another subject.

The bloggers I name are all people who have dedicated their recent lives almost entirely to the cause of Scottish Independence. The 2014 Yes campaign was primarily a street movement, reinforced by bloggers and with real public meetings all over Scotland. I believe only Robin McAlpine spoke at more meetings during the Indyref campaign than I did, and I believe since 2014 nobody has given more speeches and talks on Independence than I. To alienate such dedicated people is astonishing.

How has it happened? Well, the fact that the SNP leadership has won the adoration of the Guardian while losing the support of pro-Independence new media says it all. That is sufficient explanation. There are differences between the pro-Independence bloggers I name, in the extent to which they were SNP members or not, but they have one thing in common. Everybody on that list – along with the leadership of AUOB – has come to doubt the genuine intent of the current SNP leadership to achieve Independence.

A SNP MP told me very recently that they had no doubt Nicola had no intention at all of holding Indyref2. I think it is not unfair also to say that every person on that list is also alarmed by the SNP leadership’s broad adoption of what I might call Britnat values – uncritical support for most British security and defence policies. The strong impression that Sturgeon is much more interested in identity politics than Independence also I think troubles more or less every one of them.

But we are apparently getting a harsh lesson in the limits of new media, in that the strong advocacy of the pro-Independence new media of a vote for the more radically pro-Independence party Alba on the second, list, ballot is showing very little sign of cutting through in opinion polls. The continuing demonisation of Alex Salmond by the mainstream media – taking their cue from Nicola Sturgeon and her constant intimation that the jury in his trial and the judge in the Court of Session both got it wrong – appears so far powerfully effective in electoral terms. The exclusion of Alba from leadership debates, and the virtual exclusion of Alba from news coverage, appears to work.

It is a strong reminder that you cannot judge balance in news reporting by time devoted. Where other parties are asked about their policies, Alba’s rare appearances are dominated by aggressive suggestions that Alex Salmond should be banned from public life. If Salmond featured in media debates, he would answer the same policy questions as other leaders and would be seen to answer them better. The “compensating” interviews he is offered instead are simply an excuse for more personal attacks on him.

I have this message for everybody who believes in Independence. Vote for Alba, who are the only party who will try to gain Independence with you. The SNP manifesto says there should be an Indyref after Covid has passed – a delightfully vague date – and is utterly silent on what happens when both the Westminster Government and the UK Supreme Court refuse the referendum – both of which absolutely will happen. If necessary, the Tories will amend the Scotland Act specifically to ban a referendum without Westminster consent, and the UK Supreme Court, which has always upheld the sovereignty of (Westminster) parliament, will do so again. Nicola will pretend to be disappointed, and make yet another speech against what she herself has labeled “wildcat” or “illegal” referenda and will repeat there are “no short-cuts” to Independence.

I have news for Nicola. Self-determination is not a short-cut. It is an inalienable right guaranteed in the UN Charter.

So vote Alba. I have no responsibility in Alba, I am just an ordinary member. The policy of Alba is to advocate a constituency vote for the SNP everywhere, and a list vote for Alba. You must follow your own conscience, but there are places I could never vote SNP, Edinburgh Central being a good example, though a court order prevents me from telling you why. I shall however be voting for my local SNP candidate in the constituency vote as he has stressed Independence in his election literature.

I regard this election as just the start for Alba. I look forward to participating in democratic debate that shapes its policies. I will be arguing Alba should be against Scottish membership of NATO and for Scotland being neutral and non-aligned, and should be for Scotland becoming a republic. I will also argue very strongly that, should as I strongly expect the SNP break their promises and fail to deliver an Independence referendum by the Westminster elections of 2024, Alba should stand against the SNP in every Westminster constituency. Scotland should be Independent before then and Scotland should not be participating in those elections; if we are, it is a sure sign the SNP have “settled in”.

The SNP contingent at Tory Westminster frankly can do little or no good anyway. I think Sinn Fein have this right. But as long as there are so many well-paid jobs and so much Short money available, the SNP leadership grouping are very comfy indeed with the status quo. Threatening their income and their personal comfort is the only language they understand. Watching the SNP MP’s seduced by lifestyle and effectively forgetting Independence has been gruesome.

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

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

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Pure: Ten Points I Just Can’t Believe About the Official Skripal Narrative 1237

A lie repeated often enough enters the public consciousness, so I am republishing this in the hope of stimulating the honest and the intellectually awake.

I still do not know what happened in the Skripal saga, which perhaps might more respectfully be termed the Sturgess saga. I cannot believe the Russian account of Boshirov and Petrov, because if those were their real identities, those identities would have been firmly established and displayed by now. But that does not mean they attempted to kill the Skripals, and there are many key elements to the official British account which are also simply incredible.

Governments play dark games, and a dark game was played out in Salisbury which involved at least the British state, Russian agents (possibly on behalf of the state), Orbis Intelligence and the BBC. Anybody who believes it is simple to identify the “good guys” and the “bad guys” in this situation is a fool. When it comes to state actors and the intelligence services, frequently there are no “good guys”, as I personally witnessed from the inside over torture, extraordinary rendition and the illegal invasion of Iraq. But in the face of a massive media campaign to validate the British government story about the Skripals, here are ten of the things I do not believe in the official account:

1) PURE

This was the point that led me to return to the subject of the Skripals, even though it has brought me more abuse than I had received in my 15 year career as a whistleblower.

A few months ago, I was in truth demoralised by the amount of abuse I was receiving about the collapse of the Russian identity story of Boshirov and Petrov. I had never claimed the poisoning, if any, was not carried out by Russians, only that there were many other possibilities. I understood the case against the Russian state is still far from established, whoever Boshirov and Petrov really are, and I did not (and do not) accept Bellingcat’s conjectures and dodgy evidence as conclusive identification. But I did not enjoy at all the constant online taunts, and therefore was not inclined to take the subject further.

It is in this mood that I received more information from my original FCO source, who had told me, correctly, that Porton Down could not and would not attest that the “novichok” sample was made in Russia, and explained that the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” was an agreed Whitehall line to cover this up.

She wanted to explain to me that the British government was pulling a similar trick over the use of the word “pure”. The OPCW report had concluded that the sample provided to them by the British government was “of high purity” with an “almost complete absence of impurities”. This had been spun by the British government as evidence that the novichok was “military grade” and could only be produced by a state.

But actually that is not what the OPCW technical experts were attempting to signal. The sample provided to the OPCW had allegedly been swabbed from the Skripals’ door handle. It had been on that door handle for several days before it was allegedly discovered there. In that time it had been contacted allegedly by the hands of the Skripals and of DC Bailey, and the gloves of numerous investigators. It had of course been exposed to whatever film of dirt or dust was on the door handle. It had been exposed to whatever pollution was in the rain and whatever dust and pollen was blowing around. In these circumstances, it is incredible that the sample provided “had an almost complete absence of impurities”.

A sample cannot have a complete absence of impurities after being on a used doorknob, outdoors, for several days. The sample provided was, on the contrary, straight out of a laboratory.

The government’s contention that “almost complete absence of impurities” meant “military grade” was complete nonsense. There is no such thing as “military grade” novichok. It has never been issued to any military, anywhere. The novichok programme was designed to produce an organo-phosphate poison which could quickly be knocked up from readily available commercial ingredients. It was not part of an actual defence industry manufacturing programme.

There is a final problem with the “of high purity” angle. First we had the Theresa May story that the “novichok” was extremely deadly, many times more deadly than VX, in minute traces. Then, when the Skripals did not die, it was explained to us that this was because it had degraded in the rain. This was famously put forward by Dan Kaszeta, formerly of US Intelligence and the White House and self-proclaimed chemical weapons expert – which expertise has been strenuously denied by real experts.

What we did not know then, but we do know now, is that Kaszeta was secretly being paid to produce this propaganda by the British government via the Integrity Initiative.

So the first thing I cannot believe is that the British government produced a sample with an “almost complete absence of impurities” from several days on the Skripals’ doorknob. Nor can I believe that if “extremely pure” the substance therefore was not fatal to the Skripals.

2) Raising the Roof

Three days ago Sky News had an outside broadcast from the front of the Skripals’ house in Salisbury, where they explained that the roof had been removed and replaced due to contamination with “novichok”.

I cannot believe that a gel, allegedly smeared or painted onto the doorknob, migrated upwards to get into the roof of a two storey house, in such a manner that the roof had to be destroyed, but the house inbetween did not. As the MSM never questions the official narrative, there has never been an official answer as to how the gel got from the doorknob to the roof. Remember that traces of the “novichok” were allegedly found in a hotel room in Poplar, which is still in use as a hotel room and did not have to be destroyed, and an entire bottle of it was allegedly found in Charlie Rowley’s house, which has not had to be destroyed. Novichok was found in Zizzi’s restaurant, which did not have to be destroyed.

So we are talking about novichok in threatening quantities – more than the traces allegedly found in the hotel in Poplar – being in the Skripals’ roof. How could this happen?

As I said in the onset, I do not know what happened, I only know what I do not believe. There are theories that Skripal and his daughter might themselves have been involved with novichok in some way. On the face of it, its presence in their roof might support that theory.

The second thing I do not believe is that the Skripals’ roof became contaminated by gel on their doorknob so that the roof had to be destroyed, whereas no other affected properties, nor the rest of the Skripals’ house, had to be destroyed.

3) Nursing Care

The very first person to discover the Skripals ill on a park bench in Salisbury just happened to be the Chief Nurse of the British Army, who chanced to be walking past them on her way back from a birthday party. How lucky was that? The odds are about the same as the chance of my vacuum cleaner breaking down just before James Dyson knocks at my door to ask for directions. There are very few people indeed in the UK trained to give nursing care to victims of chemical weapon attack, and of all the people who might have walked past, it just happened to be the most senior of them!

The government is always trying to get good publicity for its armed forces, and you would think that the heroic role of its off-duty personnel in saving random poisoned Russian double agents they just happened to chance across, would have been proclaimed as a triumph for the British military. Yet it was kept secret for ten months. We were not told about the involvement of Colonel Alison McCourt until January of this year, when it came out by accident. Swollen with maternal pride, Col. McCourt nominated her daughter for an award from the local radio station for her role in helping give first aid to the Skripals, and young Abigail revealed her mother’s identity on local radio – and the fact her mother was there “with her” administering first aid.

Even then, the compliant MSM played along, with the Guardian and Sky News both among those running stories emphasising entirely the Enid Blyton narrative of “plucky teenager saves the Skripals”, and scarcely mentioning the Army’s Chief Nurse who was looking after the Skripals “with little Abigail”.

I want to emphasise again that Col. Alison McCourt is not the chief nurse of a particular unit or hospital, she is the Chief Nurse of the entire British Army. Her presence was kept entirely quiet by the media for ten months, when all sorts of stories were run in the MSM about who the first responders were – various doctors and police officers being mentioned.

If you believe that it is coincidence that the Chief Nurse of the British Army was the first person to discover the Skripals ill, you are a credulous fool. And why was it kept quiet?

4) Remarkable Metabolisms

This has been noted many times, but no satisfactory answer has ever been given. The official story is that the Skripals were poisoned by their door handle, but then well enough to go out to a pub, feed some ducks, and have a big lunch in Zizzi’s, before being instantly stricken and disabled, both at precisely the same time.

The Skripals were of very different ages, genders and weights. That an agent which took hours to act but then kicks in with immediate disabling effect, so they could not call for help, would affect two such entirely different metabolisms at precisely the same time, has never been satisfactorily explained. Dosage would have an effect and of course the doorknob method would give an uncontrolled dosage.

But that the two different random dosages were such that they affected each of these two very different people at just the same moment, so that neither could call for help, is an extreme coincidence. It is almost as unlikely as the person who walks by next being the Chief Nurse of the British Army.

5) 11 Days

After the poisoning of Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, the Police cordoned off Charlie Rowley’s home and began a search for “Novichok”, in an attitude of extreme urgency because it was believed this poison was out amidst the public. They were specifically searching for a small phial of liquid. Yet it took 11 days of the search before they allegedly discovered the “novichok” in a perfume bottle sitting in plain sight on the kitchen counter – and only after they had discovered the clue of the perfume bottle package in the bin the day before, after ten days of search.

The bottle was out of its packaging and “novichok”, of which the tiniest amount is deadly, had been squirted out of its nozzle at least twice, by both Rowley and Sturgess, and possibly more often. The exterior of the bottle/nozzle was therefore contaminated. Yet the house, unlike the Skripals’ roof space, has not had to be destroyed.

I do not believe it took the Police eleven days to find the very thing they were looking for, in plain sight as exactly the small bottle of liquid sought, on a kitchen bench. What else was happening?

6) Mark Urban/Pablo Miller

The BBC’s “Diplomatic Editor” is a regular conduit for the security services. He fronted much of the BBC’s original coverage of the Skripal story. Yet he concealed from the viewers the fact that he had been in regular contact with Sergei Skripal for months before the alleged poisoning, and had held several meetings with Skripal.

This is extraordinary behaviour. It was the biggest news story in the world, and news organisations, including the BBC, were scrambling to fill in the Skripals’ back story. Yet the journalist who had the inside info on the world’s biggest news story, and was actually reporting on it, kept that knowledge to himself. Why? Urban was not only passing up a career defining opportunity, it was unethical of him to continually report on the story without revealing to the viewers his extensive contacts with Skripal.

The British government had two immediate reactions to the Skripal incident. Within the first 48 hours, it blamed Russia, and it slapped a D(SMA) notice banning all media mention of Skripal’s MI6 handler, Pablo Miller. By yet another one of those extraordinary coincidences, Miller and Urban know each other well, having both been officers together in the Royal Tank Regiment, of the same rank and joining the Regiment the same year.

I have sent the following questions to Mark Urban, repeatedly. There has been no response:

To: [email protected]

Dear Mark,

As you may know, I am a journalist working in alternative media, a member of the NUJ, as well as a former British Ambassador. I am researching the Skripal case.

I wish to ask you the following questions.

1) When the Skripals were first poisoned, it was the largest news story in the entire World and you were uniquely positioned having held several meetings with Sergei Skripal the previous year. Yet faced with what should have been a massive career break, you withheld that unique information on a major story from the public for four months. Why?
2) You were an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment together with Skripal’s MI6 handler, Pablo Miller, who also lived in Salisbury. Have you maintained friendship with Miller over the years and how often do you communicate?
3) When you met Skripal in Salisbury, was Miller present all or part of the time, or did you meet Miller separately?
4) Was the BBC aware of your meetings with Miller and/or Skripal at the time?
5) When, four months later, you told the world about your meetings with Skripal after the Rowley/Sturgess incident, you said you had met him to research a book. Yet the only forthcoming book by you advertised is on the Skripal attack. What was the subject of your discussions with Skripal?
6) Pablo Miller worked for Orbis Intelligence. Do you know if Miller contributed to the Christopher Steele dossier on Trump/Russia?
7) Did you discuss the Trump dossier with Skripal and/or Miller?
8) Do you know whether Skripal contributed to the Trump dossier?
9) In your Newsnight piece following the Rowley/Sturgess incident, you stated that security service sources had told you that Yulia Skripal’s telephone may have been bugged. Since January 2017, how many security service briefings or discussions have you had on any of the matter above.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Craig Murray

The lack of openness of Urban in refusing to answer these questions, and the role played by the BBC and the MSM in general in marching in unquestioning lockstep with the British government narrative, plus the “coincidence” of Urban’s relationship with Pablo Miller, give further reason for scepticism of the official narrative.

7 Four Months

The official narrative insists that Boshirov and Petrov brought “novichok” into the country; that minute quantities could kill; that they disposed of the novichok that did kill Dawn Sturgess. It must therefore have been of the highest priority to inform the public of the movements of the suspects and the possible locations where deadly traces of “novichok” must be lurking.

Yet there was at least a four month gap between the police searching the Poplar hotel where Boshirov and Petrov were staying, allegedly discovering traces of novichok in the hotel room, and the police informing the hotel management, let alone the public, of the discovery. That is four months in which a cleaner might have fatally stumbled across more novichok in the hotel. Four months in which another guest in the same hotel might have had something lurking in their bag which they had picked up. Four months in which there might have been a container of novichok sitting in a hedge near the hotel. Yet for four months the police did not think any of this was urgent enough to tell anybody.

The astonishing thing is that it was a full three months after the death of Dawn Sturgess before the hotel were informed, the public were informed, or the pictures of “Boshirov” and “Petrov” in Salisbury released. There could be no clearer indication that the authorities did not actually believe that any threat from residual novichok was connected to the movements of Boshirov and Petrov.

Similarly the metadata on the famous CCTV images of Boshirov and Petrov in Salisbury, published in September by the Met Police, showed that all the stills were prepared by the Met on the morning of 9 May – a full four months before they were released to the public. But this makes no sense at all. Why wait a full four months for people’s memories to fade before issuing an appeal to the public for information? This makes no sense at all from an investigation viewpoint. It makes even less sense from a public health viewpoint.

If the authorities were genuinely worried about the possible presence of deadly novichok, and wished to track it down, why one earth would you wait for four months before you published the images showing the faces and clothing and the whereabouts of the people you believe were distributing it?

The only possible conclusion from the amazing four month delays both in informing the hotel, and in revealing the Boshirov and Petrov CCTV footage to the public, is that the Metropolitan Police did not actually believe there was a public health danger that the two had left a trail of novichok. Were the official story true, this extraordinary failure to take timely action in a public health emergency may have contributed to the death of Dawn Sturgess.

The metadat shows Police processed all the Salisbury CCTV images of Boshirov and Petrov a month before Charlie Rowley picked up the perfume. The authorities claim the CCTV images show they could have been to the charity bin to dump the novichok. Which begs the question, if the Police really believed they had CCTV of the movements of the men with the novichok, why did they not subsequently exhaustively search everywhere the CCTV shows they could have been, including that charity bin?

The far more probable conclusion appears to be that the lack of urgency is explained by the fact that the link between Boshirov and Petrov and “novichok” is a narrative those involved in the investigation do not take seriously.

8 The Bungling Spies

There are elements of the accepted narrative of Boshirov and Petrov’s movements that do not make sense. As the excellent local Salisbury blog the Blogmire points out, the CCTV footage shows Boshirov and Petrov, after they had allegedly coated the door handle with novichok, returning towards the railway station but walking straight past it, into the centre of Salisbury (and missing their first getaway train in the process). They then wander around Salisbury apparently aimlessly, famously window shopping which is caught on CCTV, and according to the official narrative disposing of the used but inexplicably still cellophane-sealed perfume/novichok in a charity donation bin, having walked past numerous potential disposal sites en route including the railway embankment and the bins at the Shell garage.

But the really interesting thing, highlighted by the blogmire, is that the closest CCTV ever caught them to the Skripals’ house is fully 500 metres, at the Shell garage, walking along the opposite side of the road from the turning to the Skripals. There is a second CCTV camera at the garage which would have caught them crossing the road and turning down towards the Skripals’ house, but no such video or still image – potentially the most important of all the CCTV footage – has ever been released.

However the 500 metres is not the closest the CCTV places the agents to the Skripals. From 13.45 to 13.48, on their saunter into town, Boshirov and Petrov were caught on CCTV at Dawaulders coinshop a maximum of 200 metres away from the Skripals, who at the same time were at Avon Playground. The bin at Avon playground became, over two days in the immediate aftermath of the Skripal “attack”, the scene of extremely intensive investigation. Yet the Boshirov and Petrov excursion – during their getaway from attempted murder – into Salisbury town centre has been treated as entirely pointless and unimportant by the official story.

Finally, the behaviour of Boshirov and Petrov in the early hours before the attack makes no sense whatsoever. On the one hand we are told these are highly trained, experienced and senior GRU agents; on the other hand, we are told they were partying in their room all night, drawing attention to themselves with loud noise, smoking weed and entertaining a prostitute in the room in which they were storing, and perhaps creating, the “novichok”.

The idea that, before an extremely delicate murder operation involving handling a poison, a tiny accident with which would kill them, professionals would stay up all night and drink heavily and take drugs is a nonsense. Apart from the obvious effect on their own metabolisms, they were risking authorities being called because of the noise and a search being instituted because of the drugs.

That they did this while in possession of the novichok and hours before they made the attack, is something I simply do not believe.

9 The Skripals’ Movements

Until the narrative changed to Boshirov and Petrov arriving in Salisbury just before lunchtime and painting the doorknob, the official story had been that the Skripals left home around 9am and had not returned. They had both switched off their mobile phones, an interesting and still unexplained point. As you would expect in a city as covered in CCTV as Salisbury, their early morning journey was easily traced and the position of their car at various times was given by the police.

Yet no evidence of their return journey has ever been offered. There is now a tiny window between Boshirov and Petrov arriving, painting the doorknob apparently with the Skripals now inexplicably back inside their home, and the Skripals leaving again by car, so quickly after the doorknob painting that they catch up with Boshirov and Petrov – or certainly being no more than 200 metres from them in Salisbury City Centre. There is undoubtedly a huge amount of CCTV video of the Skripals’ movements which has never been released. For example, the parents of one of the boys who Sergei was chatting with while feeding the ducks, was shown “clear” footage by the Police of the Skripals at the pond, yet this has never been released. This however is the moment at which the evidence puts Boshirov and Petrov at the closest to them. What does the concealed CCTV of the Skripals with the ducks show?

Why has so little detail of the Skripals’ movements that day been released? What do all the withheld CCTV images of the Skripals in Salisbury show?

10 The Sealed Bottle

Only in the last couple of days have the police finally admitted there is a real problem with the fact that Charlie Rowley insists that the perfume bottle was fully sealed, and the cellophane difficult to remove, when he discovered it. Why the charity collection bin had not been emptied for three months has never been explained either. Rowley’s recollection is supported by the fact that the entire packaging was discovered by the police in his bin – why would Boshirov and Petrov have been carrying the cellophane around with them if they had opened the package? Why – and how – would they reseal it outdoors in Salisbury before dumping it?

Furthermore, there was a gap of three months between the police finding the perfume bottle, and the police releasing details of the brand and photos of it, despite the fact the police believed there could be more out there. Again the news management agenda totally belies the official narrative of the need to protect the public in a public health emergency.

This part of the narrative is plainly nonsense.

Bonus Point – The Integrity Initiative

The Integrity Initiative specifically paid Dan Kaszeta to publish articles on the Skripal case. In the weekly collections of social media postings the Integrity Initiative sent to the FCO to show its activity, over 80% were about the Skripals.

Governments do not institute secret campaigns to put out covert propaganda in order to tell the truth. The Integrity Initiative, with secret FCO and MOD sourced subsidies to MSM figures to put out the government narrative, is very plainly a disinformation exercise. More bluntly, if the Integrity Initiative is promoting it, you know it is not true.

Most sinister of all is the Skripal Group convened by the Integrity Initiative. This group includes Pablo Miller, Skripal’s MI6 handler, and senior representatives of Porton Down, the BBC, the CIA, the FCO and the MOD. Even if all the other ludicrously weak points in the government narrative did not exist, the Integrity Initiative activity in itself would lead me to understand the British government is concealing something important.

Conclusion

I do not know what happened in Salisbury. Plainly spy games were being played between Russia and the UK, quite likely linked to the Skripals and/or the NATO chemical weapons exercise then taking place on Salisbury Plain yet another one of those astonishing coincidences.

What I do know is that major planks of the UK government narrative simply do not stand up to scrutiny.

Plainly the Russian authorities have lied about the identity of Boshirov and Petrov. What is astonishing is the alacrity with which the MSM and the political elite have rallied around the childish logical fallacy that because the Russian Government has lied, therefore the British Government must be telling the truth. It is abundantly plain to me that both governments are lying, and the spy games being played out that day were very much more complicated than a pointless revenge attack on the Skripals.

I do not believe the British Government. I have given you the key points where the official narrative completely fails to stand up. These are by no means exhaustive, and I much look forward to reading your own views.

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