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AFP
May 12, 2021

Murray jailed over Salmond trial blogs

AFP
May 12, 2021

EDINBURGH: A British former ambassador was sentenced to eight months in jail on Tuesday over online posts about the sexual assault trial of Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond.

Craig Murray, Britain’s 62-year-old former ambassador to Uzbekistan, was found in contempt of court over blogs and tweets about last year’s trial, which found Salmond acquitted of all 13 charges of sexual assault.

Judge Leeona Dorrian told Murray he had published material capable of identifying four complainants in the case. Under Scottish law, the names of alleged victims of sexual offences cannot be published, or any other information that might lead to their identification.

"These actions create a real risk that complainers may be reluctant to come forward in future cases, particularly where the case may be high profile or likely to attract significant publicity," Dorrian told a virtual hearing.

The blog posts and tweets had remained online despite Murray having been warned of the risk of the women being identified. Murray was initially given 48 hours to hand himself in to a police station, but this was extended to three weeks to allow him to appeal the sentence.

Salmond, 66, recently sought a return to frontline Scottish politics, launching a new pro-independence party to push for an immediate referendum on Scotland leaving the UK. But he was unsuccessful in Scottish parliament polls last week.

The Sunday Times once called Murray "the world’s most undiplomatic diplomat". He was withdrawn as Britain’s envoy to Tashkent in 2004 after accusing London of using information obtained under torture in the former Soviet republic as part of the US-led "war on terror". He stood unsuccessfully on an anti-Iraq War ticket against Britain’s then-foreign secretary Jack Straw at the 2005 general election.