A political blogger and former diplomat has been sentenced to eight months in prison for contempt of court.
Craig Murray watched two days of Alex Salmond’s trial in March 2020 from the Edinburgh High Court Public Gallery and wrote about it on his website.
Judges later ruled Murray, 62, was in contempt of court over material capable of identifying four of the women accusing the former SNP chief of sexual abuse.
He has since appealed the conviction.
Condemning the former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Lady Dorrian said Murray knew there were court orders giving women anonymity and that he “relished” the potential disclosure of their identity.
During the virtual conviction, Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian explained that Murray had deliberately risked a puzzle identification and that revealing the identity of the plaintiffs was “heinous”.
She said this was “particularly the case, given the enormous publicity the case in question has generated and continues to generate.”
Murray’s offending blog posts and tweets were written over a period of one month and remained in effect, unredacted, although the blogger was told they could potentially lead to the identification of women who had filed complaints against Mr Salmond, who was ultimately acquitted of all 13 charges. .
Lady Dorrian said: “From the messages and articles it appears that he actually relished the task he set for himself, which was essentially to discern the identity of the complainants – what he believed to be in the process. ‘public interest – in a way that did not attract the sanction.
She added: “These actions create a real risk that complainants will be reluctant to come forward in future cases, especially when the case may be high profile or likely to attract significant publicity.
“Actions strike at the heart of the equitable administration of justice.
“Notwithstanding the Respondent’s prior character and his health issues, we do not believe we can resolve this matter other than with a jail term. “
Murray initially had 48 hours to get to a police station, but after a challenge from his lawyer Roddy Dunlop QC, this was extended to three weeks so Murray could appeal the sentence, although he must surrender his passport .
In his previous mitigation submission, Mr Dunlop said Murray was a man of “impeccable character” and “untarnished reputation”, and said it was no exaggeration to say that the diplomat at the retirement was already undergoing “significant punishment” because of the impact of the case.
Mr Dunlop said sending Murray to jail would be “disproportionately hard”, and urged judges to settle the case with a fine.
He said: “Assuming that the verdict of contempt was found to be justified by this court, the question is whether, in all the circumstances, this justification still extends to the acceptance of imprisonment, the estrangement of a retired diplomat with an exemplary track record. his wife, 11 year old son and baby.
“For what purpose? The answer may well be to discourage others. If that is the purpose, job done. Mr. Murray’s blog is inevitably crippled by the decision itself, the decision is and has been widely publicized.
“If anyone thinks that playing with fire in the area of puzzle identification is a zero-sum game, their point of view has been disillusioned by the ruling this court has already made.”