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08 June 2021

Ex-diplomat Murray refused leave to appeal over Salmond contempt conviction

08 June 2021

Former diplomat Craig Murray has been refused leave to appeal the contempt of court finding made against him to the UK Supreme Court, in a decision made by the High Court in Edinburgh.

However, he has been granted a further four weeks’ suspension of the warrant for his imprisonment in order for him to appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

Murray, 62, was sentenced to eight months in jail following his coverage of Alex Salmond’s trial.

The former ambassador to Uzbekistan watched two days of Mr Salmond’s trial in March 2020 from the public gallery of the court, writing about the case on his blog.

Judges subsequently ruled that he was in contempt of court due to the risk of jigsaw identification relating to four complainers.

At a hearing of the High Court on Monday, Murray’s lawyer argued he should be granted permission to appeal to the UK’s highest court against both the verdict of contempt of court and his sentence.

Lady Dorrian, along with Lord Menzies and Lord Turnbull, issued a written decision on Tuesday.

It said that Murray had a “genuinely held belief that the prosecution of the former first minister was unwarranted” and he inferred that the sanction made against him prevented discussion of this.

Alex Salmond court case (PA Archive)

Lady Dorrian said this was not a “tenable argument”, adding: “It is the repeated publication of material likely to lead to identification of complainers in the face of a clear order of the court prohibiting that which drew the sanction.

“The order did not prevent discussion of whether the prosecution was objectively justified.

“The applicant remains free to pursue discussion of that issue, as long as the anonymity of the complainers is respected.”

The High Court would refuse his application to appeal the finding of contempt of court, she said.

The decision concluded: “We understand that it is the applicant’s intention to seek to apply for leave directly to the UKSC (UK Supreme Court).

“In the circumstances we will suspend the warrant for a further four weeks.”

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