I have practised as a solicitor in the Scottish Courts for 36 years. It is only in the last two that I have
felt anything approaching shame for my Profession. That shame arises from the way in which our
legal process has been abused.
It is a well-known idiom that justice must be done and be seen to be done. It’s also said that justice is
blind. There are those in my profession who have elected to don blinkers from the moment
allegations surfaced against Alex Salmond; allegations which ranged from the ludicrous to the
mendacious and which a first-year law student would have struggled to justify in a mock trial, far less
the highest court in the land. It was only the independence of a jury of ordinary citizens who
reminded us all what justice looks and feels like. It was the cumulative power of a government, a
police force, a prosecution system and a mainstream media which twisted the idea of justice beyond
all recognition; and which collectively combined to destroy the reputation of a man who just
happens to hold certain political views and was not shy in expressing them.
Entirely in keeping with a Crown Office which confesses its guilt to malicious prosecution (for which
no-one has been held accountable, far less disciplined), that same Crown Office selectively
interpreted its application of its fundamental duty of upholding the law. Despite every courtroom in
Scotland bearing the motto ‘Let no-one attack me with impunity’, the prosecution service in Scotland
has acted with impunity in pursuing individuals who did not merit investigation, while ignoring
others and their egregious contempt for the law.
There is one man who stood head and shoulders above us all in his attempt to expose the abuse
being heaped on Salmond by a powerful State. He strove to report in meticulous detail the truth, the
whole truth and nothing but the truth of Salmond’s trial. He was prevented from doing so by those
bit players of the State. That man was Craig Murray.
Such was Big Brother’s anger with Mr Murray, that it then visited upon him a charge of Contempt of
Court. Without the protection of a jury, he was duly convicted. Notwithstanding the court’s opinion
(and it’s only ever an opinion by a fallible human being who happens to bear the title ‘Judge’) that
Mr Murray revealed sufficient information which allowed the identification of anonymous
complainers in Salmond’s trial, I have yet to discover the identity of any of them from anything
written by Mr Murray; unlike other writers who have helpfully provided me their names in
There is something rotten in the State of Scotland:
- We have a Scottish Government that deliberately withholds or delays the publication of
information vital to an Inquiry into the handling of the harassment claims of the anonymous
women; which information is only released after the Inquiry has issued its findings.
- We have a prosecution system that is properly given a right to prosecute those considered
to have broken the law, but abdicates its responsibility by not applying the same law to us
all; and whose decisions are unimpeachable.
- We have a mainstream media which is considered by a court more responsible than those
lacking professional training, despite the same court having no evidence before it to justify
its discrimination. A right of appeal was then denied despite this conviction of jigsaw
identification being the first of its kind anywhere on the planet. It’s truly Orwellian.
- The anonymity of the complainers continues to be protected, despite Salmond’s acquittal
and despite the evidence of some of the complainers being so incredible (in all senses) that
it beggars belief that no one faces prosecution for perjury – and still the women’s original
complaints have not been investigated, far less resolved!
Craig Murray attempted to expose all of this hypocrisy. He is now languishing in a prison cell. With the deepest of regret, I must conclude but one thing: the law is an ass.
In all my years of practice in the courts, it’s always struck me as ironic that the word ‘justice’ is rarely spoken by judges or lawyers. I suspect it’s because those taking part know full well that the outcome of any court proceeding has very little to do with justice, but far more reliant on what can be proved or not proved. If a court is presented with an alleged example of contempt in a particular case, it has no benchmark against which to judge either the extent or effect of the alleged contempt beyond its own subjective opinion. Its decision might seemingly appear justified at the time, but with the passage of time, and the development of the law, either through other cases or legislation, the law evolves. At one time, homosexuality was a criminal offense but the idea that it would be regarded the same way today is risible; dare I say contemptible.
My experience has also taught me a mantra that pervades my professional life. There is a fundamental law of human nature which states that every human relationship, bar none, is an exercise in control. Successful relationships share control because they want to, and less successful relationships because they have to.
That law of nature can be applied to every player noted above; each of them in a struggle for control or power over the other; each of them deploying all the tools at their disposal in their efforts to impose or resist control.
On the face of it, Craig Murray had the least control over any other actor; which goes some way to explain his current accommodation.
However, the real power of people like Craig Murray is their ability to make us think; think about the world we live in, our roles in it, and the kind of society we would like to shape and develop. Fortunately, we’re not yet in a Dystopia that has the power to control our minds.
Craig Murray towers above all those who sought to bring him down. He has demonstrated to me in this sorry affair more than anyone else the real meaning of Justice. Too often we equate power with justice. The two however can only be linked by the application of principle, integrity and honour, all of which are sadly in short supply in Scotland these days among those who seek to control our lives.
I sincerely hope Mr Murray makes enough of us think about who has control in Scotland. Who has power, who is worthy of holding it and who controls the powerful?
Graham A Fordyce