justice

8 posts

UPDATE: COVID19 at HMP Edinburgh; Letter to Justice Minister calling for Craig Murray’s release on compassionate grounds

Following news that there is a COVID19 outbreak in Craig Murray’s immediate vicinity inside HMP Edinburgh (Saughton prison) the Craig Murray Justice committee has again written to Scotland’s Justice Minister Keith Brown calling on him to take immediate action and arrange for the release of Craig Murray on compassionate grounds.

15/10/2021, Edinburgh

Dear Keith Brown

Urgent Matter concerning Craig Murray (Follow-up from Case# 202100236984)

We write to you in your capacity as Justice Minister to again request your urgent intervention in relation to the ongoing imprisonment of former ambassador Craig Murray at HMP Edinburgh. We have today been notified of a COVID19 outbreak within Craig’s close vicinity which puts his vulnerable health at serious and immediate risk.

The Craig Murray Justice Committee wrote to you on the 1st of September 2021 to highlight a serious anomaly in the secondary legislation related to Home Detention Curfew. This omission means that the purpose of the legislation is not being met in the cases of civil prisoners.  We were twice assured of a full response by the Scottish government’s case handling service but have not received any.

While criminal prisoners can be released on tag, prior to the completion of their sentence, “non-offence” civil prisoners such as Craig are currently not eligible for early release under Scots law. As a result of this, “non-offence” civil prisoners are treated more punitively than criminal prisoners in relation to release on home detention curfew. In Craig’s case, this means that if he had been imprisoned for a criminal offence he would have been released from prison under the Home Detention Curfew provisions already.

This morning Craig’s imprisonment became even more critical with the discovery of four COVID19 cases on his corridor at HMP Edinburgh. We note that the Scottish Prison Service statistics on COVID cases within their facilities are no longer being publicised broken down by institution, as was the case until July, and now only display a daily figure of overall cases across all prisons in Scotland.

While the recent September peak in COVID cases was the highest recorded since the beginning of the pandemic in Scotland it also appears that an earlier provision aimed to safeguard vulnerable prisoners at home, which allowed those with preexisting health conditions to apply for ‘release on tag’ for the last 3 months of their sentence, is no longer available.

As you will be aware, Craig Murray’s chronic and life-threatening heart-, lung- and general health conditions mean that his life is at particular risk.

In order to both safeguard his life, alleviate pressure on the Scottish Prison Service and uphold Human Rights laws within the Scottish judiciary, we ask that you take immediate action to release Craig Murray from prison on compassionate grounds as a matter of urgency.

 

Given that Craig Murray’s case will be brought to the European Court of Human Rights in due course and has already attracted a significant amount of global attention and concern about Scotland’s judiciary we believe your intervention is of utmost importance at this stage.

Yours sincerely,

The Craig Murray Justice Committee

Luana Di Pasquale – Filmmaker
Donald M. Blair – International Government and Public Affairs Consultant
Catherine Brown – Academic (Associate Professor, New College of the Humanities)
Laurie Flynn – Rt. television producer, journalist and author
Ailsa Gray – Lawyer
Dave Llewellyn – Political Activist
Robin McAlpine – Activist and political commentator
Gillian Mair – NowScotland director, political activist
Hugh Kerr – former MEP, Editor Edinburgh Music Review
Nadira Murray – Director, film producer
Mark Hirst – Journalist, Broadcaster
Gareth Watson – Activist
Simon Boddy – Web developer
David Henry – Activist
Iain Orr – Retired UK diplomat
Dr Deepa Govindarajan Driver – Programme Director, Henley Business School, University of Reading

You can download a PDF copy of this letter here: Keith Brown Letter 2 – case 202100236984 (1)

Mohamed A. Elmaazi – Jailing the truth tellers: The shrinking space for independent journalism

   I have to admit when Craig Murray was found guilty of the rather nebulous charge of “jigsaw identification” in March of this year I was more than a little surprised.

As both a journalist and a former law practitioner I find Craig’s trial, let alone his conviction, to be part and parcel of the ongoing assault on the free press in the UK and the right of the wider public to know what is occurring within the halls of power.

That Craig’s case is occurring amidst the ongoing prosecution of award-winning journalist and publisher Julian Assange, who faces over 170 years in prison in the US for the crime of obtaining and publishing truthful information, should be lost on no one.

The message that I have been getting from cases such as these is that some journalists will be able to report on stories and remain relatively unscathed (for now) whilst others risk the full weight of the state crashing down upon their heads.

My reporting is generally quite critical of the foreign policy of countries like the UK and the US, the state of perpetual war that our governments keep us in, the shrinking of our public spaces and civil liberties, and the perpetual expansion of the national security state.

As it happens, these are the very topics that publishers and journalists like Julian Assange and Craig Murray tend to focus on. It is axiomatic that the negative attention they’ve received from various governmental authorities directly correlates to the intensity with which they speak truth to power as they see it, and reveal the secrets of the powerful.

I have interviewed numerous national security state whistle-blowers including former CIA officers John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling. Among the things they agreed upon was that “win or lose” the process (i.e. media smears, arrest, detention, prosecution) itself is often the punishment. Those targeted by the state often lose their jobs, their pensions, their savings, even their marriages, whether or not they spend an extended period of time in prison.

In the case of Craig, as in the case of Julian, there is a veneer of legality and common sense to the charges, especially from the perspective of those not really thinking about them in any great detail. But once one starts to pull at the threads, it becomes increasingly less clear that these prosecutions have anything to do with upholding the Rule of Law.

In short, three Scottish judges determined that while Craig did not actually identify any protected witnesses when covering Alex Salmond’s trial – Salmond was ultimately found not guilty on all of the charges in a trial marred with credible accusations of conspiracy and governmental misconduct – Craig was nonetheless found guilty of publishing information “likely to result” in their identification, either on its own or even in combination with other pieces of information that someone might already know or have obtained from elsewhere.

Perhaps I should not have been shocked when the same three judges sentenced Craig to an eight-month prison sentence. A prison sentence which ignored the amorphous nature of the offence and the lack of any clearly defined legal boundaries.

There is no universally agreed-upon test for determining whether one has engaged in “jigsaw identification”. He is the first person to ever have been convicted under the charge. In no small part, no doubt, because of the nebulous nature of the offence. On top of which, this will be the first example a court in Scotland has ordered the incarceration of a defendant convicted of “media contempt” in over 70 years.

Perhaps most perplexing of all was the UK Supreme Court’s recent decision to refuse permission for Craig to appeal his conviction. The highest court in the land appears to have been unswayed by the novel nature of the case nor the significance of its impact on press freedom, digital and media rights and the wider freedom to receive and impart information (as enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights).

That anybody might have identified a witness is entirely theoretical, of course. Nobody is actually alleged to have identified any of the witnesses from Alex Salmond’s trial, in whole or in part, from reading any of Craig’s articles. No witnesses were called to testify that they had been able to identify any of Salmond’s accusers from Craig’s blog.

There is a Kafkaesque feel to the whole matter since it is accepted by all of the parties that Salmond’s trial was not impacted upon in any way as a result of the articles.

The problem, which the UK Supreme Court refused to address, is that there is no clear legal standard to apply when attempting to decide whether a member of the public could piece together the identities of the protected witnesses like a jigsaw puzzle.

The three judges who decided the case – three of the most senior judges in Scotland – accepted that the test for jigsaw identification was not settled law. Who is the abstract person that they claim to be “likely” to be able to identify the witnesses? Someone who already knows the witnesses’ including where they work and their relationship to Alex Salmond? Or, someone who doesn’t know them and is an everyday member of the UK public?

The answer to this question matters greatly, because if the test is the latter one then Craig should have been found not guilty. If the test of jigsaw identification is the former one, then, to quote Craig’s appeal arguments, “no media organization could report the barest details of the case without risking identifying a complainant to someone who might know her or the accused”.

The very fact that the answer to this question wasn’t clear at the outset of the trial surely should have resulted in the court erring on the side of the defendant. In dubio pro reo  (“When in doubt, decide in favour of the accused”) is a centuries old legal maxim.

Alas, it did not seem to apply to Craig.

That Craig appears to have been singled out, (he was highly critical of the charges against Salmond for being “politically motivated” whilst other mainstream journos who arguably published more “jigsaw identification” information in their articles without being charged) adds to an increasingly claustrophobic environment for those who wish to challenge received wisdoms, speak truth to power and hold a mirror to society.

Just like Craig Murray, Julian Assange had his journalistic bona fides questioned by the judges in their cases as well as by the prosecutors and media commentators more broadly. A fact which the courts in both cases used against the defendants. Both defendants are accused of crossing the line from legitimate journalism to criminal activity. Yet in both cases it is quite difficult to see the charges as anything other than examples of selective prosecution against those whose views do not comport with those of the establishment.

As a journalist who publishes primarily among independent and alternative news sites, I find it difficult not to feel like the walls are closing in on those of us who seek to write about stories that are either poorly covered, not covered at all or simply from a perspective not generally seen through UK and US establishment press.

When even the courts are not clear about where the line is regarding what can or cannot be written about an ongoing trial (or even potentially after the trial has even been concluded and the verdict is out) how is anybody else expected to?

There is another thing that Kiriakou and Sterling both agreed on when I spoke to them. State overreach can often backfire by further radicalising those being targeted as well as members of the wider public who become increasingly incensed by what they see as disproportionate and unjust behaviour.

It is more often than not the actions of the powerful that end up discrediting the very institutions whose secrets they seek to defend.

A point very much worth remembering.

 

Mohamed A. Elmaazi

Graham A Fordyce: The Importance of Murray

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
national publications.

There is something rotten in the State of Scotland:

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Kenny MacAskill: Scotland, but not as I know it

 

There are so many things, both concerning and plain wrong, about Craig Murray’s conviction and imprisonment that it’s hard to know where to begin. The original Alex Salmond case with its unparalleled resource and hugely questionable prosecution, the distortion in reporting by a supine if not complicit mainstream media, and the victimization that followed of Craig, in particular, but others also.

 

It resulted in a sentence harsh in the extreme for a crime unprecedented in modern times and driving a coach and horses through a key government policy of opposing sentences of imprisonment of less than one year. Much has been written both by commentators and supporters of Craig in Scotland and abroad. I’ve also made my opposition to it clear and therefore I will turn instead to the decision-making and apparent jurisprudential basis of the court decision by Lady Dorrian.

She highlighted Craig’s position as a blogger, as opposed to being an accredited representative of the fourth estate. That appearing to be the basis for differentiation from other journalists who had reported and also breached court rules, sometimes far more flagrantly. Yet we’re not even called to the bar, let alone held to account or punished.

The supposed logic in itself poses the question of what is the fourth estate and who’s accredited to it? After all her logic seems that Craig and others like him aren’t regulated, responsible or whatever but somehow others of a certain ilk are. That at least afforded her an opportunity to play a “get out of jail” card for some but throw the proverbial book at him. That wasn’t explained by her and probably for good reason, as it would be impossible to answer.

Membership of the NUJ cannot be a criterion, as some bloggers are and equally many journalists and NUJ member’s blog. Craig himself has been an NUJ member although has had his issues with them. But it’s impossible to see how Lady Dorrian can use membership of the NUJ or the absence thereof, to use legalese, as a criterion.

Nor can training as such be a basis welcome as it may be by all, including myself, as a labouring writer doing his best but devoid of any formal education in the craft. For so too were so many outstanding journalists and writers throughout the years. Jimmy Reid, a hugely talented columnist, and gifted broadcaster, learned his trade in the shipyards not a college or university.  So, another potential criterion bites the dust.

As there’s no real basis for assessing the individual, so it is with the corporate publisher. For it does seem that Her Ladyship seemed to consider the individual as capable of being more reckless and the institutions as such of being far safer. None of that is of course based on fact or evidence, something you’d have thought would be fundamental to legal reasoning, especially where an individual’s liberty’s at stake.

Indeed, all the evidence without any extensive research being required is to the contrary. The most flagrant abuses over recent years have been perpetrated by the very institutions Lady Dorrian seemed to view as being honourable and vested with an innate ability to know what’s right and wrong. If that were so, why has the News of the World crashed and burned, journalists, editors, and newspapers been held in contempt by the public, as well as to account in the dock? Why have Parliamentary and Public Enquiries been held though to be fair action following upon from them has been limited?

It’s not simply that the evidence discloses it to be factually wrong but there’s no basis to the suggestion that the establishment press for want of a better phrase is somehow or other better regulated or more capable of behaving appropriately than an individual blogger. What has been stated doesn’t bear proofreading, never mind scrutiny.

The corporates may be members of organisations but not all are universal in coverage and the regulation is largely voluntary. Anyone with a complaint against the press can testify to the limited powers of IPSO. New players, some with huge financial backing, have refrained from joining the old establishment and hence fall outwith scope.

Both now as in past years papers and outlets have come and gone, and some have just chosen to go their own way. The Scottish Newspaper Society exists but membership is neither obligatory nor its powers substantial. Of course, media power has seeped south, and the power of Fleet Street now rests in the hands of a few billionaires. What Her Ladyship may think of as bodies to regulate standards, many of us see as a cartel to deliver right-wing policies.

Perhaps, most remarkable of all is the failure to look at historical precedent. The media is changing. Print is dying and online growing. Old titles may be falling by the wayside, but news outlets are growing. Some blogs in Scotland have a significantly greater readership than even daily papers.

What’s wrong with that? It’s what’s happened time and time again throughout history. Not simply is it the way of the world, it’s a good thing that the establishment is challenged, both the press barons and political and financial elites. Viewing the veracity or otherwise of writings in whatever medium, through a lens of those already in power or accepted by them, is not just wrong but dangerous.

Many in the Faculty of Advocates are fond of recalling the memory of Thomas Muir. But Lady Dorrian seems to forget that he was transported for writings viewed as seditious. Others joined him for espousing such heinous policies according to the state like supporting the universal franchise or workers’ rights.

By the logic being applied against Craig Murray you’re to discount or ignore the outlet of the Clyde Workers Committee during the 1919 dispute or that of the NUM or miners support groups in the 1980s. But who told the truth about Bloody Friday in George Square or what happened at Orgreave. It certainly wasn’t the mainstream press and instead, it relied on courageous people speaking out, that truth might be told, and injustice exposed.

Craig Murray’s imprisonment is wrong and his prosecution undermines the liberties we claim to cherish. It’s Scotland but not as I know it or as it should be. As a former Justice Secretary, I find this shameful, and that it should happen under the watch of those who claim to cherish our Nations’ liberty is disgraceful.

 

Craig’s Speech at the 2021 Alba conference (read by Nadira Murray)

11/09/2021  Greenock, Scotland

Today, Craig Murray‘s wife Nadira (and their son Cameron) delivered a powerful, moving, and thoughtful speech by Craig to the Alba Party conference membership:

“I had intended to speak in person, but have been unavoidably detained. It is really not very pleasant to be locked in a small cell for over 22 hours a day. However, I have this consolation: however many months they keep me in here, I am most unlikely to miss any progress on the SNP’s eleven-point plan for independence.I am proud to be a founder member of Alba. Alba is now the only mass membership party in Scotland which is an independence party and not a devolutionist party.The Scots are a people with the inalienable right of self-determination under the UN Charter. There is no Westminster law and no London-based court which can constrain that right. It is for us, and us alone, to decide how to assert our independence. The time for that is upon us.

I believe Alba will be a truly radical party. I hope it will return the land of Scotland to its common people. The current so-called “land reform” is a disgrace. It has paid millions of pounds to the Duke of Buccleuch for marginal land for which he had little use.

Real land reform will give land to the people without rewarding those whose ancestors stole it in the first place.

Now, we do not all agree on everything. I have a very different view to most Alba members on how to reconcile the social trend away from binary and rigid gender distinctions, with protection of women’s rights.

But if any two people agree on absolutely everything, one of them is not thinking. Good and well-motivated people may sincerely hold different policy views. The very notions of respect for dissident opinion and freedom of speech are under sustained attack.

No member of any political party should face insult, abuse and threats for holding a position different to the leader. That the SNP has forgotten this is what brings most of you here.

To move forward together to independence does not mean we have to march in goose step. The ability of the Scottish Government to employ the police and Crown Office to pursue political vendettas is a major constitutional flaw. Their willingness to do so is a black page in Scottish history.

How scared of ideas do you have to be before you start imprisoning writers? My being here is not a demonstration of the strength of the Scottish Establishment. It is a sign of its weakness.

Alba needs to be not just a breath of fresh air, but a strong blast. The attempt to hijack popular support for independence to quite other ends will be blown away.

It is for us to take up the banner of national freedom for Scotland’s people. We shall not fail.”

 

Mythbuster Summary I: Craig and the NUJ

Given the sheer volume of overinflated mis- and disinformation in the Craig Murray case, the Craig Murray Justice committee has decided to post a series of themed mythbuster summaries clarifying a certain topic, once a week.

Given both questions about Craig’s NUJ membership and the concerns around judges musings on the topic of more-equal-than-thou journalists and “journalists in new media” – here is a brief summary of Craig Murray’s history with the NUJ.

“Craig applied to renew his membership of the NUJ in January 2020. He had been a ‘temporary freelance member for 3 years and then went into a hiatus while he reached the qualification of more than 50% of his income coming from journalism.

After he reapplied he received no answer for about 6 months and was then told that there had been ‘objections’. The union had never sent his application to the local chapter as required by the organisation’s own rules, so the objections could only have been HQ generated.

Eight months after his application Craig received a letter asking him to prove that more than 50% of his income came from journalism. The letter containing this demand also stated he had a week to reply. At the time Craig was working 20 hour days at the Assange hearing and so did not even find the time to open the letter before the end of this deadline. Very soon after this Craig received a letter stating his application was closed.

In his application Craig had signed the declaration regarding 50% income from journalism and his personal income from journalism. He does not believe any applicant has ever before been ordered to hand over bank statements, which is what this situation amounted to.”

The Incarceration of Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray

UPDATED: 12th of August 2021 – First Visit to Craig in HMP Edinburgh

12th of August 2021 – First Visit to Craig in HMP Edinburgh

My husband was incarcerated 12 days ago and today was the first day I and our two sons were able to see him in person. Seeing him was a shock. While we had the reassurance of the HMP Edinburgh’s governor that Craig would be treated as a ‘civil’ prisoner, which ought to afford significant ‘privileges’ compared with the treatment of ‘criminal prisoners’ my husband was dressed in a prison tracksuit when we finally got to see him. He had asked the prison staff about why he had to wear it, given that in his cell he is able to wear his own clothes. He was told that it was to prevent him from potentially escaping in civilian clothes.

We tried to keep our visit light and cheerful, especially for the benefit of my 12-year-old son for whom, out of Craig’s four children this situation is undoubtedly the hardest to deal with. Up until now, he coped okay on the understanding that his dad was spending some time in a sort of two-star hostel arrangement. Today, he saw his father unshaven, slightly unsettled, and in a tracksuit. It upset him – a lot. While the prison officers seemed to think that Craig may be a flight risk if given civilian clothing, his 12-year-old son would be happy to reassure anyone that his dad, whom he has never seen in “sporty lad dad” clothes before today, has never once shown any signs of spontaneous running in any situation. Ever.

When Craig asked for the release-on-tag paperwork from the prison he was told he is not eligible for release on tag because he is not a criminal prisoner. We are still trying to verify that claim and I’m yet to find anyone that can give me a logical explanation for such a potentially absurd rule. Why should my ‘civil prisoner’ husband be deemed a greater danger to the public than a criminal prisoner and how would this fit with the Presumption against short sentences act the Scottish parliament passed in 2018? Why was he not given the paperwork?

Please keep writing to him, your letters and support mean the world to him and make time in prison pass faster than anything else. Thank you for your support and kindness, we all, family, the campaign team and Craig himself deeply appreciate it. And keep speaking out about the injustice of this case: If we don’t then the legal precedent set for the 21st century in Scotland and the UK will not be undone – and it will continue to affect all of us.

Nadira Murray


———————————————————

UPDATED: With contact information for Craig in prison at the end of the article.


Press release regarding the incarceration of former UK Ambassador Craig Murray.

[29/07/2021; 15:52 pm; Edinburgh]

Legal precedent will be set tomorrow as Craig Murray will be the first person to be imprisoned on the charge of jigsaw identification in the UK, and indeed in the entire world. Scotland’s second most senior judge, Lady Dorrian, sentenced Murray to 8 months of incarceration following a contempt of court charge for ‘jigsaw identification’ relating to the trial against Alex Salmond.

In May Lady Dorrian said that in her view Murray had intended to release identities of Salmond’s accusers. Mr Murray has always denied any intent to identify and that anybody was actually identified. Murray had not directly identified any of the accusers in the Salmond trial, but Dorrian argued identification may be possible if his reporting of the case was read in connection with other materials in the public domain.

No one aside from Murray was charged with jigsaw identification in connection with the Salmond case, despite the fact that 81% of respondents in a Panelbase survey who believed that they had learned identities, gave mainstream media as the source of their knowledge. Lady Dorrian specifically stated that bloggers and mainstream media should be treated differently, as mainstream media are self-regulated.

Murray is the first person to be imprisoned in the UK for a media contempt for over 50 years, and in Scotland for over 70 years.

Murray’s imprisonment comes after an announcement from the UK Supreme Court that it will not hear his appeal. Former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray will surrender himself to Police shortly and begin to serve the custodial sentence handed to him. A public protest against Murrays’ incarceration is planned. Murray’s wife and mother of their 5 month and 12 year old sons Nadira has written an open letter asking for “active and outspoken solidarity from anyone concerned about the loss of freedom of speech and equality before the law”.

Murray had recently been called as a witness in a case brought by Spanish state prosecutors against UC Global for allegedly acting on behalf of the CIA in covertly spying on Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy. Material before the Spanish court includes several hours of covert surveillance video of Murray in private conversation with Assange on the future of Assange and Wikileaks. The Scottish court removed Murray’s passport expressly to prevent him traveling to Spain to testify.

Craig Murray commented:

“I go to jail with a clean conscience after a Kafkaesque trial. I genuinely do not know who I am supposed to have identified or which phrases I published are said to have identified them, in combination with what other information in the public domain. This judgement will have a chilling effect on reporting of the defence case at trials, to the detriment of justice, and the different treatment of bloggers and approved media is sinister. I carefully protect the identities of the accusers in my reports. I believe this is actually the state’s long sought revenge for my whistleblowing on security service collusion with torture and my long term collaboration with Wikileaks and other whistleblowers. Unfortunately important free speech issues are collateral damage.”

Murray and the Craig Murray Justice committee have both signalled their intention to continue to resist the penalty handed to him by continuing to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights via all routes required. They are particularly concerned that in her opinion Lady Dorrian implied that bloggers and public commentators like Murray ought to be punished more severely than mainstream journalists for the same offense. Ellen Joelle Dalzell, coordinator of the Craig Murray Justice campaign group stated:

“The sentence handed to Craig Murray not only sets legal precedent in terms of a custodial sentence for the charge of jigsaw identification, it represents an attack on free speech in general, and a tangible threat to the free reporting of legal trials in particular. The judgement is excessively punitive, is likely to have severe implications for Murray’s poor health and represents a dangerous precedent for journalists and other writers who seek to fairly report or comment on matters of public law.”

Please Follow The Craig Murray Justice Campaign on Twitter @cmurrayjustice

To Contact Craig in Prison