25 March 2022

Craig Murray loses contempt challenge over Alex Salmond trial blog

25 March 2022

A former British ambassador who was jailed over blog posts that could have identified Alex Salmond’s accusers has lost a legal challenge against his prison sentence.

Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, had become a blogger and pro-independence campaigner and wrote a series of articles on the former first minister’s high court trial in 2020.

The 63-year-old was jailed for eight months for contempt of court after prosecutors said his articles contained details which, if pieced together, could lead readers to identify the women who made allegations against Mr Salmond, who was acquitted of all 13 charges including sexual assault and attempted rape in March last year.

Mr Murray wanted the finding of contempt and the jail sentence quashed.

They clearly showed contempt for the court's order and for the rule of law

But in a written judgement on Friday, five judges at the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh rejected the blogger’s challenge.

Scotland’s senior judge, the Lord Justice General Lord Carloway, said: “The petitioner (Murray) is an intelligent person whose actions were deliberate and calculated.

“They clearly showed contempt for the court’s order and for the rule of law.

“They created serious risks for the complainers’ mental and physical health.”

The judge said Mr Murray showed “a substantial degree of arrogance” and said the contempt committed by the Scots blogger was of “very great gravity”.

He said: “The petitioner deliberately set out to publish information likely to lead to the identification of the complainers and did so.

“The revelation of the identities of the complainers would be likely to result in considerable abuse and harassment (particularly on social media) against them. There was a real danger that they would be physically harmed.”

Lord Calloway added Mr Murray showed “a total lack of remorse” about his actions, “and perhaps insight into the consequences of his actions”.

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