Former British diplomat Craig Murray has released affidavits submitted to the High Court of Edinburgh, Scotland, as part of his defense against contempt of court charges.
The case arose from his reporting on the trial last year of former Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. Salmond was acquitted in March of sexual assault charges by SNP and Scottish government officials.
Murray’s statements offer further evidence in support of his allegation of a political plot to smear, convict and potentially imprison Salmond, organized by his former protege and successor as SNP leader and Prime Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, his aides and allies.
Murray produced the affidavits to defend himself against charges that his comment sought to influence the jury at Salmond’s trial and that his articles may have identified some of the anonymous accusers.
Murray is a Scottish nationalist and longtime supporter of the SNP. Politically, his criticism of Sturgeon et al is that they are not moving fast enough towards independence. Nonetheless, his exposure of the SNP leadership’s maneuvers against Salmond is devastating.
In his court submission, Murray reported, “with a high degree of certainty”, that Nicola Sturgeon’s chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, was behind grim reports that suddenly appeared in the Scottish press in August 2018 on an alleged sexual assault by Salmond.
Murray also wrote at the time about the role of Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government, Leslie Evans and Judith Mackinnon, the former head of human resources for Police Scotland, brought in to investigate allegations of harassment against Salmond. He noted that none of those people had been sacked after a judicial review accused the Scottish Government‘s investigation of being “tainted by apparent bias”, suggesting Sturgeon’s continued support for them.
Murray recounted a 2019 encounter Salmond sought with him, the first time the two met. Salmond told Murray: “Nicola Sturgeon was behind the process designed to generate false accusations against him.” He said that, like Mackinnon and Evans, Liz Lloyd was responsible for the actual orchestration.
Salmond spoke of a “massive police operation underway to try to get the accusers to come forward against him”. 400 people were interviewed. He recounted the view of a retired police officer “that the fact that it was a seam was evidenced by the fact that all the charges came from the same little coterie, he n There wasn’t a single accusation from an outside or independent source.”
Asked about the motive for the attacks on him, Salmond replied that he intended to leave politics and take over as chairman of Edinburgh-based Johnston Press, which then owned the Scottish newspapers and local titles in Great Britain and Ireland. Salmond said, however, that he “clearly had [Sturgeon] that he was unhappy with his lack of progress towards an independence referendum following the Brexit vote.
In June 2019, Murray claimed: “Sturgeon and key members of his inner circle, including ministers…played on the possible outcome of the Salmond case”. Those present concluded that if Salmond could be convicted on a single charge, he would be politically destroyed. “He would be on the sex offenders register and branded a rapist in the public mind, even if the actual offense convicted was knee contact.” I was also told that the court officers were convinced of a conviction for something, hence the multiplicity of charges.
Murray claims this would be impossible without “corrupt collusion between Nicola Sturgeon’s ministers and aides and the Crown Office”. [Scotland’s public prosecution service] on the handling of the Salmond case and the charges laid.
He cited as a source someone close to Sturgeon who was ‘unhappy with the ‘layout’ of Alex Salmond, which they described as ‘unnecessary’. Murray considered his contact a ‘highly credible source with good access”, which seemed “simple and no inconsistencies had arisen under the question”. He believed their account.
Murray noted that he was briefly able to see a message between Peter Murrell, the SNP’s chief executive, Sturgeon’s husband, and Sue Ruddick, the SNP’s director of operations, proposing “now was a good time to push on Police Scotland to move forward”. against Alex Salmond’ (Murray’s words).
Another post from Ruddick suggested that if the police explained what evidence they wanted, Ruddick et al would get it. Another explained that the plan had a “strongly detrimental effect” (in Murray’s words) on Salmond while maintaining anonymity.
These messages remain subject to intense disputes between a toothless Scottish Parliamentary Inquiry set up to investigate the Salmond case and the Crown Office, the Scottish Government and the Lord Advocate. Salmond is due to testify in February, Sturgeon soon after. Peter Murrell declined to return to the inquest to explain the contradictions in his own testimony.
By November 2019, Murray had become aware of the identities of everyone who accused Salmond of sexual offences. He commented, “I realized something extraordinary and morally disgusting was going on. If the public knew the identities of those accused of making the allegations and how close they were to Nicola Sturgeon, they would immediately understand what was going on. But the convention protecting the identity of those who allege sexual assault made those allegations the perfect vehicle for a positive campaign to frame false accusations, while the perpetrators of this plot to pervert the course of justice benefited from protection of courts from exposure. ‘
That same month, a deluge of grim news and television headlines accompanied the news that Salmond had been charged with attempted rape, intent to rape, indecent assault and a series of more charges. minors. Murray noted: “The Crown can release salacious details of an attempted rape while lying naked on top of someone in their bed, and the media can echo that in heaven. But from then on, no one can publish anything to contradict the Crown without being in contempt of court.
Murray resorted to satire, coming up with a script for the famous BBC TV comedy, Yes Ministerwhich described “the tactics employed by the prosecution and sought to impress upon Sturgeon’s circle that I knew precisely how their scheme was supposed to work”.
He continued: “The idea that this cryptic and satirical article, labeled as fiction, on a personal blog would influence a jury is fanciful. Compared to the absolute torrent of hostile mainstream media material fed by the Crown Office, as detailed above, and the vicious social media comments, aimed at Alex Salmond, the fact that the Crown Office is only pursuing an extremely rare sympathetic to Salmond is, in my opinion, profoundly sinister…’
The rest of Murray’s submission compares his writings and comments with other reporters, hostile to Salmond, offering much more explicit clues as to the identity of the accusers and none of whom were held in contempt of court. These include pieces by Dani Garavelli for Scotland Sunday and news presenter Kirsty Wark’s ‘The Trial of Alex Salmond’ for the BBC, both of which sought to relaunch the trial, missing defense witnesses whose evidence led to Salmond’s acquittal on all charges, and giving the impression that the jury’s verdict was perverse.
The WSWS’s defense of Murray’s right to comment on and report on a blatant political plot to destroy a major public figure does not imply the slightest support for Murray’s or Salmond’s nationalist political agenda, which, like that of Sturgeon, sows division in the working class in pursuit of the commercial ambitions of the Scottish bourgeoisie and its upper-middle-class periphery. Indeed, the methods used by the SNP leadership against Salmond, one of their own and the main architect of the SNP’s internal regime, should serve as the starkest warning of the methods that all SNP factions are prepared to use. against the working class.