Craig Murray

Craig Murray — Parliament Notes 2

Craig Murray is now in prison – see Craig Murray’s appeal bid fails over Alex Salmond trial blogs (BBC, 29 July 2021).

His last blog before going into prison is Keeping Freedom alive
He will not be able to post any while in prison.

There is a Justice for Craig Murray Campaign and a Craig Murray Defence Fund, to which you can donate at https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=4PX8JT72Y73S4&source=url

He intends to take a case to the European Court of Human Rights, so he needs money.

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House of Commons debate on 20 July 2021 led by former SNP (now Alba) MP Kenny MacAskill

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-07-20/debates/0C27E38D-6942-4782-B9A7-ADDA16DDA2C2/ScotlandAct1998RoleOfTheLordAdvocate

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeWrE2ghe-I

This debate was about the conflicts of interest arising from the dual role of the Lord Advocate of Scotland, which is enshrined in the Scotland Act 1998, which established the Scottish Parliament..   He is both the chief prosecutor (the equivalent of the Director of Public Prosecutions in England) and also the chief legal adviser to the Scottish Government (the equivalent of the Attorney General in England).

 (Apparently, the Lord Advocate also has a role in the appointment of members of the judiciary, which surely should have provoked interest in Brussels).

MacAskill made the following remarks about how the dual role affected in the cases of Alex Salmond and Craig Murray:

“Under Alex Salmond’s Administration a convention was invoked that the Lord Advocate appeared at Cabinet only when legal advice was to be given and did not participate in wider political debate. But the anachronism still lingered. Under Nicola Sturgeon’s Administration it has been brutally exposed by both Scottish Government and Crown Office actions, with the Lord Advocate straddling both. Change is now needed, and fast. …

“Secondly, and just as alarming, has been the role of the Lord Advocate and a coterie around him within the Crown Office in the Alex Salmond case, and the fallout from it. It is another instance of the public having to pay the price of Government incompetence, with the legal expenses bill in the civil case amounting to £500,000, but where the issue of impartiality as well as competence was raised. In the civil case, the presiding judge described the Scottish Government’s actions as “unlawful”, “unfair” and “tainted by apparent bias”. During proceedings, senior external counsel, Roddy Dunlop QC, dean of the Faculty of Advocates, expressed horror at the situation he and his colleague had been put in by their client. They could no longer rest on pleadings they knew to be untrue. The client was the Government, and their senior legal adviser was the Lord Advocate. A criminal case followed the failed civil case and was prosecuted by the Crown Office, where the same Lord Advocate remained in office.

“Despite growing pressures on police and prosecution, nothing has been spared—nothing has been too trivial—but the targets always seem selective. The Alex Salmond case saw resources deployed that are normally reserved for serious organised crime figures or serial killers, for charges that, were it not for who was being prosecuted, would either never have seen the light of day or appeared only in the lowest courts, not the High Court. I say that as someone who was Justice Secretary for seven and a half years but also a defence agent for 20 years. As it was, Mr Salmond was acquitted on all charges, by a majority female jury.

“It is standard practice in cases involving politicians that the Lord Advocate recuses himself from involvement in the consideration or prosecution of the case, and that was done here, with no direct involvement in the prosecution. However, at the same time, the Lord Advocate had been, and was, sitting on Scottish Government committees dealing with the civil case, where referral or prosecution was being actively sought and advised by the Administration.

“Let us recall that a prosecution was sought by the Scottish Government, as the actions of the director of human resources in contacting the police confirm. Many—indeed, most—complainers were and remain at the heart of Government, or are officials or otherwise closely linked with the governing party. Prosecution was encouraged and pressed for by the chief executive of the governing party, who is the First Minister’s husband.

“Chinese walls and recusal are entirely inadequate. In one role, the Lord Advocate was supporting a Government pursuing prosecution; in another, he was denying that it was anything to do with him. A separation of powers this certainly was not. When James Wolffe [the Lord Advocate] appeared before the Holyrood Committee considering the Salmond prosecution, he was frankly evasive and obfuscating, mirroring the actions of the Crown and the Government in a lack of openness and transparency. There was neither contrition nor candour. Open government this certainly was not.

“The fallout and failures continue to reverberate. Following on from the Alex Salmond case has been that of Craig Murray, a writer and former diplomat. His conviction is under appeal at the Supreme Court; accordingly, I refrain from commenting on specifics of the case. Instead, I restrict my remarks to the decision by the Crown to prosecute Mr Murray for jigsaw identification of complainers in the case. Why was he prosecuted when others who did so—in one case certainly overtly, and in many others much more flagrantly than by Mr Murray—were not? No action was taken against them.

“Moreover, publications that in any other case would have constituted a clear contempt of court went without censure by the Crown. They included newspaper articles as prejudicial as I have ever seen, but they were supporting prosecution, whereas Mr Murray, though seeking to report factually, was not. It seems that the Crown has one law for those supporting the Government line and another for those who challenge it.”

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