Former diplomat and blogger from Norfolk jailed for contempt of court

Craig Murray is due to start prison time imminently after judges ruled him in contempt of court.

Craig Murray is due to start prison time imminently after judges ruled his blog coverage of former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond's trial as contempt of court. - Credit: Archant © 2009

A former diplomat and blogger from Norfolk said he will "go to jail with a clean conscience" ahead of his eight-month jail term for contempt of court. 

Craig Murray, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan, is due to start prison time imminently after judges ruled his blog coverage of former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond's trial could identify four complainers. 

Protesters gathered outside St Leonard's Police Station in Edinburgh on Friday afternoon, with the Craig Murray Justice campaign group saying his conviction "sets a dangerous legal precedent for freedom of speech and equality before the law". 

The 62-year-old's offending blog posts contained details which, if pieced together, could lead readers to identify women who made allegations against Mr Salmond, who was acquitted of all 13 charges including sexual assault and attempted rape in May last year. 

At a virtual sentencing in May, Lady Dorrian said Murray, who was born and raised in North Norfolk and also unsuccessfully stood in the 2009 North Norwich by-election, knew there were court orders giving the women anonymity and he was "relishing" the potential disclosure of their identities. 

Lady Dorrian said that Murray deliberately risked what is known as "jigsaw identification", saying: "It appears from the posts and articles that he was in fact relishing the task he set himself, which was essentially to allow the identities of complainers to be discerned - which he thought was in the public interest - in a way which did not attract sanction." 

On Friday, Murray tweeted that "in my absence the Craig Murray Justice Campaign will be continuing the fight", linking to a statement which suggested he would start his jail term "with a clean conscience" on Friday. 

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Neale Hanvey, the Alba MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said on Twitter he was "devastated and sickened by this development", adding: "Scotland is no longer a safe, tolerant or free country. 

"The vindictiveness of those who wield power is on naked display." 

Last month, Murray was refused in his bid to appeal the contempt finding against him at the UK Supreme Court, in a decision made by the High Court in Edinburgh 

In February, Clive Thomson, who tweeted the names of women who gave evidence against Mr Salmond at his trial, was jailed for six months. 

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