Yves here. Because we are a tiny website, we concentrate our limited resources on topics where we have or can develop an information advantage. The perverse prosecution of Craig Murray, where the real offense seems to be that Murray is a vocal friend of Julian Assange might normally seem to best covered in Links. However, this case shows how little the officialdom in the UK cares about respecting due process when they want to get their man, even when “their man” has some stature.
Since political keelhauling techniques, like whipping up charges of anti-Semitism, have a funny way of crossing the pond, this situation bears watching. And Craig Murray needs help with his legal defense, so if you could chip in a few bucks, that would help too. You can find instructions on how to do so at the bottom of this page.
By Craig Murray, author, broadcaster, human rights activist, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan and former Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. Originally published at his website
Well, it is really happening. It is something of a shock to see yourself listed as a criminal for writing the truth. I have a tiny extra glimpse now into the way my friend Julian has been feeling.
Three appeal court judges even at the procedural hearing – though not unheard of, that is not normal. The state is sparing no resources on this; in a sense I am flattered.
There will be no jury at the eventual trial, and this worries me. Not least because the indictment (called a “petition”) contains within itself evidence that this process is a stitch up. Please help me here, and read paras 49 to 56 of the indictment after reading this explanation.
Para 49 of the indictment is an utter garble. It states that I sent a twitter message beginning “It is respectfully submitted…”.
I sent no such twitter message. Para 50 is missing. This is not a misnumbering, para 50 really is missing. I assume my twitter message, intended to be quoted at para 49, and whatever led in to the Crown’s argument beginning “it is respectively submitted” were in the missing section.
At para 53 the same thing happens again. It explicitly states that I published another tweet starting: “it is respectfully submitted that”.
I published no such tweet. Again the indictment does not give the actual text of the tweet complained of, even though it claims to do so. This time two paragraphs are clearly missing, and again this is not just a misnumbering, because of the missing material. It jumps from 53 to 56.
In short, the indictment from paras 49 to 56 is an inoperable jumble, with three paras missing from two different locations and which does not even contain – though it states it does – the very tweets which form part of the alleged offence with which I am charged.
You may argue this does not matter, and clerical errors are easily corrected. But that is to miss the point. I used to prepare official documents in my 20 year diplomatic career, from ministerial replies to members of the public to fully fledged international treaties.
A Diplomatic Note to a foreign government, which has a legal status, might be the best comparator from my work to this indictment or petition. I always scrupulously proof read every one I sent before signing. It is unthinkable that a Diplomatic Note would be sent containing not one but a series of major, material errors.
Is this document any less solemn? It is an indictment on which they are attempting to brand me a criminal and potentially send me to prison for up to two years. It is signed by Alex Prentice, Depute Advocate General on behalf of the Lord Advocate, and by the senior judge, Lord Turnbull.
But one thing is abundantly clear. Neither Alex Prentice nor Lord Turnbull can have carefully read through the document before they signed it. I do not believe for one moment that they would knowingly sign off a document containing such major errors. The judge, in particular, is meant to weigh carefully the matter to see if there really is a case to answer before he signs the Crown’s “petition”. But, I say it again, plainly Lord Turnbull has not actually read through it; or he would never have signed this garbled mess.
I am advised that it may be “contempt of court” for me to point out that Lord Turnbull signed this without reading it. But when a law makes it illegal to point out a blindingly obvious fact, then the law is an ass.
If Lord Turnbull does not wish to be criticised, he should try doing his job properly and actually paying attention to what he signs.
Contempt is the right word. I have a great deal of contempt for anybody who would send me such a portentous legal document rotten through with utterly careless error which would have been spotted by even a cursory reading of the document.
They did not read it. The judge who approved it did not read it.
Neither of them bothered to read the indictment or petition because it had already been decided to “get” Craig Murray and it therefore did not matter what the document actually said. The content of the charges is immaterial to them. Otherwise, they would have read them before signing. There can only be two reasons for that failure. The first is incompetence. The second is corruption. In a sense, it does not matter which it is in this case.
A state which is turning to authoritarianism to crush dissent does not need to be very careful about matters of process.
The failure of both Prentice and Turnbull to read before signing is not important for the mistakes in the document, which can be remedied by a new document. It is important because of the clear indication of attitude. This prosecution is abuse of process, a clear Article Six violation under the European Convention on Human Rights.
A series of facts make this abundantly plain. The abuse of process lies in this combined with the extraordinary selectivity in prosecuting me, when others who can be objectively proven to have much more effectively produced “jigsaw identification” are not prosecuted. There is a very clear political motivation behind the selection of who to prosecute and who not to prosecute.
When you put together the facts that there is overwhelming evidence that mainstream media journalists were more guilty of “jigsaw identification” than I, that systematic police action is being taken to harass only supporters of Alex Salmond, and that they don’t even care what the indictment to be used against me actually says, the overall picture becomes very, very clear.
Authoritarianism doesn’t have to worry about mistakes in the indictment, because it can just smash you in the face with the jackboot. That is what is happening here.
My own view is that they were so keen to “get” Craig Murray they just signed without any proper scrutiny whatsoever. I don’t see any other conclusion. Do you?
They do not have the excuse that this is routine. Major prosecutions for contempt in Scotland are extremely rare – the last one was Aamer Anwar about a decade ago (it failed).
So why could the state be so keen to prosecute Craig Murray, that is doesn’t even care what is in the indictment, or even if it is drawn up with the most basic level of competence? Well, I refer you to this excellent letter setting out the fact that the state is only acting against those who defended the innocent Alex Salmond, even though his detractors were much more in contempt of court. And I refer you to the Panelbase opinion poll which showed that very substantially more people who know the identities of the accusers, learnt them from the mainstream media.
I remain clear that I identified nobody. If I had wanted to, I would have done so openly. I have never been noted for cowardice.
The other accusation, that I wrote articles stating that the prosecution of Alex Salmond was a fit-up, is something I state again here. It is a proper exercise of my freedom of speech under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Actually, you don’t have to go past the very first sentence of the indictment to understand what is happening here. It reads “On 23 January 2019, Alexander Elliott Anderson Salmond was arrested by police officers in relation to a number of incidents that had taken place in Scotland.”
“That had taken place”.
Not “alleged to have taken place”.
“That had taken place”.
And Prentice wrote this, and Turnbull signed it off, after the acquittal.
After independent witnesses gave eye witness accounts that several of the incidents had not taken place at all. After it was demonstrated in court that the accuser of the most serious offence was not even present when she claimed the offence took place.
After the jury threw out the pile of ordure that the very same Alex Prentice as prosecuting counsel presented to them.
“That had taken place”. No, most of the incidents had not taken place at all, and none in the form alleged.
Right at the start, this wording gives away the motivation. The conspirators have still not psychologically processed the fact their attack on Alex Salmond was foiled by the jury. The Crown is now coming at Mark Hirst and at me in an effort to get some kind of victory from this massive waste of public resources. The conspirators seek to assuage their massive humiliation in the failure of a prosecution that stank and quite obviously ought never to have been brought.
I am not going to pipe down under this abuse of process and attack on freedom of speech. On the contrary, this will be a reasoned, forceful and very public resistance.
TWO WAYS YOU CAN HELP
The hearing on 10 June is supposed to be public, but it will be virtual because of coronavirus. While it is a case management hearing, I shall nevertheless be grateful if you are able to “attend” virtually, as I am very keen indeed that I am not stitched up out of the public eye. Please send an email requesting access to the virtual hearing on 10 June to email@example.com. I am very keen as many people do this as possible. Journalists please in addition copy in firstname.lastname@example.org for accreditation.
Secondly, many people come to this blog through social media and I am currently suffering a very high level of suppression, on Facebook and especially on Twitter. Rather than just retweet and share any soical media post that brought you here, (which may appear on the face to have worked but the dissemination will be suppressed), I would be very grateful if you could also write your own new posting and put a link. If you have your own blog or access to one, a commendation of this post with a link would be very welcome, even if it is not your normal policy. And finally of course, the entire post is free as always to copy, republish and translate as you wish.