A report in this weekend’s Yorkshire Post drew my attention to the fact that Craig Murray, a former British diplomat, now journalist and human rights campaigner, has been charged with contempt of court after writing blogs about the recent trial of Alex Salmond which had appeared on his web site. The story also appeared in The Times on Friday 24 April.
Craig, a former ambassador to Uzbekistan, also attended and reported on the Julian Assange hearings at Westminster Magistrates Court in March. On 7 April Judge Vanessa Baraitser refused to delay Assange’s extradition hearing over coronavirus pandemic (see: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/04/beyond-words/) and my blog of 30 March ‘Assange bail denied’.
Murray says that he is charged with contempt of court and that the contempt charge falls in two categories:
i) Material published before the trial liable to prejudice a jury
ii) Material published which could assist “jigsaw identification” of the failed accusers.
The hearing is on 7 July at the High Court in Edinburgh. Details of the contempt of court charges may be found at: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/caseagainstcraigmurray230420.pdf
Writing in his blog on 24 April (see: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/04/craig-murray-defence-fund-launched/ ) Murray, who has launched a crowdfunding appeal to fight the case said that he knew of “four pro-Independence folk who were last week phoned or visited by Police Scotland and threatened with contempt of court proceedings over social media postings they had made weeks back on the Alex Salmond case. Then on Monday, a Scottish journalist I know had his home raided by five policemen, who confiscated (and still have) all his computers and phones. They said they were from the “Alex Salmond team” and investigating his postings on the Alex Salmond case. He has not to date been charged, and his lawyer is advising him at present to say nothing, so I am not revealing his name.”
Murray continues; “Then on Tuesday morning, a large Police van full of police pulled up onto the pavement right outside my front gate, actually while I was talking on the phone to a senior political figure about the raid on my friend. The police just sat in the van staring at my house. I contacted my lawyers who contacted the Crown Office. The police van pulled away and my lawyers contacted me back to say that the Crown Office had told them I would be charged, or officially “cited”, with Contempt of Court, but they agreed there was no need for a search of my home or to remove my devices, or for vans full of police.
On Thursday two plain clothes police arrived and handed me the indictment. Shortly thereafter, an email arrived from The Times newspaper, saying that the Crown Office had “confirmed” that I had been charged with contempt of court. In the case of my friend whose house was raided, he was contacted by the Daily Record just before the raid even happened!”
Murray believes that the purpose of this legal action and operation against free speech is a desperate attempt to keep the lid on the nature of what he sees as the state conspiracy to ‘fit up’ Alex Salmond. That said, accusations of alleged rape, sexual harassment and bullying should always be taken seriously.
As at 24 April the Defence Fund stood at £46,002, well on the way towards its target of £60,000, thanks to the 2,205 donors. Details of how to donate may be found on his web site detailed above.