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Hier — 8 avril 2020Craig Murray

#SingalongaVanessa

Par craig

I have been sent footage of judge Vanessa Baraitser appearing in a school musical. Even though this is a remarkable survival of the scrubbing of her existence from the internet, I saw no public interest in publishing it until yesterday, when she ruled that in the interests of “open justice” the identities of Julian Assange’s partner and small children should be made public. So in the interests of “open justice”, here is Vanessa singing.

In these difficult times we must all find what pleasures we can. So rather than #clapforBoris, I invite you to give it full voice, belt it out and #Singalongavanessa. With grateful thanks to Joe M for adding my subtitles.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post #SingalongaVanessa appeared first on Craig Murray.

Beyond Words

Par craig

Yesterday Mark Sommers QC, the extremely erudite and bookish second counsel for Julian Assange in his extradition hearing, trembled with anger in court. Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser had just made a ruling that the names of Julian Assange’s partner and young children could be published, which she stated was in the interests of “open justice”. His partner had submitted a letter in support of his Covid 19 related bail application (which Baraitser had summarily dismissed) to state he had a family to live with in London. Baraitser said that it was therefore in the interests of open justice that the family’s names be made public, and said that the defence had not convincingly shown this would cause any threat to their security or well-being. It was at this point Sommers barely kept control. He leapt to his feet and gave notice of an appeal to the High Court, asking for a 14 day stay. Baraitser granted four days, until 4pm on Friday.

I am in lockdown in Edinburgh, but received three separate eye witness reports. They are unanimous that yet again Baraitser entered the court carrying pre-written judgements before hearing oral argument; pre-written judgements she gave no appearance of amending.

There have been two Covid-19 deaths in Belmarsh prison so far. For obvious reasons the disease is ripping through the jail like wildfire. The Department of Justice is admitting to one death, and refuses to give statistics for the number of cases. As even very sick prisoners are not being tested, the figures would arguably not mean much anyway. As the court heard at the bail application, over 150 Belmarsh prison staff are off work self-isolating and the prison is scarcely functioning. It is the most complete definition of lockdown.

The Prison Governors’ Association submitted to the House of Commons Justice Committee (which yesterday morning considered prisoner releases in closed session) that 15,000 non-violent prisoners need to be released to give the jails any chance of managing COVID-19. The Department of Justice has suggested releasing 4,000 of whom just 2,000 have been identified. As of a couple of days ago, only about 100 had actually been released.

The prisons are now practising “cohorting” across the estate, although decisions currently lie with individual governors. Prisoners who have a cough – any cough – are being put together in segregated blocks. The consequences of this are of course potentially unthinkable. Julian has a cough and chronic lung condition for which he has been treated for years – a fact which is not in dispute.

Yesterday Baraitser again followed her usual path of refusing every single defence motion, following pre-written rulings (whether written or merely copied out by herself I know not), even when the prosecution did not object. You will recall that at the first week of extradition hearing proper, she insisted that Julian be kept in a glass cage, although counsel for the US government made no objection to his sitting in the body of the court, and she refused to intervene to stop his strip searching, handcuffing and the removal of his court papers, even though the US government joined the defence in querying her claim she had no power to do this (for which she was later roundly rebuked by the International Bar Association).

Yesterday the US government did not object to a defence motion to postpone the resumption of the extradition hearing. The defence put forward four grounds:

1) Julian is currently too ill to prepare his defence
2) Due to Covid-19 lockdown, access to his lawyers is virtually impossible
3) Vital defence witnesses, including from abroad, would not be able to be present to testify
4) Treatment for Julian’s mental health conditions had been stopped due to the Covid-19 situation.

Baraitser airily dismissed all these grounds – despite James Lewis QC saying the prosecution was neutral on the postponement – and insisted that the May 18 date remains. She stated that he could be brought to the cells in Westminster Magistrates Court for consultations with his lawyers. (Firstly, in practice that is not the case, and secondly these holding cells have a constant thoughput of prisoners which is very obviously undesirable with Covid19).

It is worth noting that the prosecution stated that the US government’s own psychiatrist, appointed to do an assessment of Julian, had been unable to access him in Belmarsh due to Covid 19 restrictions.

This is getting beyond me as it is getting beyond Mark Sommers and the defence team. Even before Covid 19 became such a threat, I stated that I had been forced to the conclusion the British Government is seeking Assange’s death in jail. The evidence for that is now overwhelming.

Here are three measures of hypocrisy.

Firstly, the UK insists on keeping this political prisoner – accused of nothing but publishing – in a Covid 19 infested maximum security jail while the much-derided Iranian government lets Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe out and hopefully will release her altogether.
Which is the inhumane regime?

Secondly, “open justice” allegedly justifies the release of the identities of Julian’s partner and kids, while the state enforces the secrecy of Alex Salmond’s busted accusers, even though the court heard evidence that they specifically colluded to destroy him using, as a deliberate tool, the anonymity afforded to people making sexual accusations.

Thirdly, nobody cultivates her own anonymity more than Vanessa Baraitser who has her existence carefully removed from the internet almost entirely. Yet she seeks to destroy the peace and young lives of Julian’s family.

Keep fighting for Julian’s life and for freedom.

Pieter Evert sent me this rather good cartoon, for which many thanks:

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Beyond Words appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Declaration of Arbroath, and the Way Forward Now

Par craig

This is my first ever attempt at a podcast. The family think it is hilariously boring, like a TV lecture from the 1950’s. I try to persuade them that being hilariously inept is vital to my charm, but that makes them laugh even more.

It is a day late due to technical incompetence on my part. There are a couple of weird cuts where the kittens knocked the camera over. Consensus here is that next time I should just film the kittens. Nadira has offered to help with my next effort, so maybe things will look up.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post The Declaration of Arbroath, and the Way Forward Now appeared first on Craig Murray.

À partir d’avant-hierCraig Murray

Who Paid Dani Garavelli?

Par craig

Tortoise was sponsored to produce the Dani Garavelli attempted assassination of Alex Salmond by Tulchan Communications, the same firm that employed Ruth Davidson on £50,000 a year for 24 days of corporate lobbying – until banned by the Scottish Parliament.

Tulchan Communications is an openly Tory body. Its Chief Executive is Lord Feldman, former Chairman of the Tory Party. Its directors include Lisa Kerr, former SPAD to George Osborne. It is a part of the UK’s suave system of corruption, whereby political hacks with the inside track get paid huge bungs by firms to influence ministers in their favour on tax, contracts, regulations etc.

It is genuinely not my normal style to judge an argument by who said it or by who paid for it. Nobody can possibly accuse me of not having judged and critiqued Garavelli’s article on its own merits.  But the reaction to my critique, both from the mainstream media and from a whole slew of paid SNP staff, was to attack me for receiving subscriptions for my blog.

That led me to the train of thought that the source of funding for this blog is open – it is you, the readers, voluntarily – but why were those same people not asking who funded Ms Garavelli and why?  I might not have done anything about it until I saw a tweet from Ms Garavelli stating that her piece had been “legaled” several times. Which is expensive.

By the fine art of provocation I got more details from Ms Garavelli of just how extensive her involvement had been.

Indeed, when you think about it, that makes it even more remarkable that she managed to speak to not a single person from the defence nor reflect any of the evidence of the defence witnesses. All that work yet meeting only one side? But it also makes this very expensive. Why would a magazine nobody reads pay so very much for a completely one-sided hit-job on Alex Salmond?

Tortoise claims to have an entirely new model for “slow” journalism, hence the name, putting in the research. That fits with what Garavelli has done here, although when you have made not the slightest effort to get more than one side of a story I am not sure why that is called “journalism” as opposed to “propaganda”.

Tortoise accepts subscriptions of £100 per year, but that is a minor part of their income. Most of their income comes from corporate sponsorship, and though they do admit this on their website, they are coy about which company is behind which article. BP are among the major actors. In the case of Dani Garavelli being employed to try and destroy Alex Salmond, the initiative to commission it from Tortoise came from Tulchan Communications. Garavelli was a very safe bet for this. Her normal employer is the independence hating “Scotland on Sunday”.

Garavelli had described the massive All Under One Banner marches as “the flag-fixated organisation beloved of the Trumpian tendency” and claimed they are disliked by the “mainstream” SNP. It seems to me highly improbable that Tulchan Communications would have expended so much money without giving Tortoise a pretty strong steer that they wanted an entirely one-sided account. The propaganda purpose is of course revealed immediately by the fact that Tortoise’s pretend subscription model operates from behind a paywall, but the Salmond attack article was pushed out for free everywhere. But I do not know what Garavelli’s brief was, and Tortoise could be pretty sure what they would get from Garavelli. I must add in fairness that I have no information whether Garavelli knew that Tulchan Communications were funding Tortoise for her article. It would be nost interesting to know whether she spoke to Ruth Davison at any stage.

Tortoise is what is politely known as an “Atlanticist” organisation, like a media equivalent of the Henry Jackson Society. It was co-founded by James Harding, Cameron appointed former Head of News at the BBC, by the ex United States Ambassador to the UK and by a Jack Daniels whisky heiress. Its corporate sponsors include the Bill Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Capita and BP. Radical it ain’t.

James Harding was of course the former Murdoch editor of the Times and Head of News at the BBC, who claimed that it had been his mission to make BBC News more pro-Israel, and later claimed that he had succeeded. I think we can say he was telling the truth.

All the people at Tortoise and all the forces they represent are firmly opposed to Scottish Independence. Tulchan Communications are extremely firmly opposed to Scottish Independence. Scotland on Sunday are fanatically opposed to Scottish Independence. Dani Garavelli makes a living from ridiculing Independence supporters.

So when Alex Salmond, who lifted the SNP into government and political dominance from small beginnings, was found innocent at trial, and these ultra anti-Independence forces combined to do a hatchet job on him effectively disputing the verdict of the court, the SNP needs to unite in congratulation and stop the self-interested sniping. Now.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Who Paid Dani Garavelli? appeared first on Craig Murray.

Here’s Two I Did Earlier

Par craig

In the light of recent events, I thought I might revisit my appearances a few months ago on the Alex Salmond Show. In current circumstances people might have more time to watch.  It also helps explain why the state hates Alex Salmond.

https://youtu.be/-3dx3x05gYg

https://youtu.be/Wa1KQHmLPs8

The establishment have tried to “get” Alex SaImond in three courts.

The first was Scotland’s highest civil court, the Court of Session. They failed.

The second was Scotland’s highest criminal court, the High Court. They failed.

The third is the court of public opinion, and they are failing.

I am working on the question of who paid for Dani Garavelli’s much boosted hit piece. The answer proves to be much more interesting than I expected – by the time you watch the videos and have a bite to eat I will be close to publishing.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Here’s Two I Did Earlier appeared first on Craig Murray.

“I Have a Plan So That We Can Remain Anonymous But Have Maximum Effect”

Par craig

These were the words, shown in court, in a text of Ms H to a co-conspirator as they launched their infamous effort to destroy Alex Salmond. The plan was to make false sexual allegations against Salmond, which would ensure the conspirators lifelong anonymity as “victims” and thus protect them against any backlash should the plan fail. They were all very powerful women, so insuring themselves was paramount. The “plan” turns out to have the added advantage that the collapse of their efforts in court in no way diminished their ability to continue their anonymous campaign to destroy Salmond.

[UPDATE: James Doleman noted down a slightly different version of this quote in court. He has “I have a plan so that we can remain anonymous but see strong repercussions”. The meaning is effectively identical, but online trolls are trying to seize on the difference as evidence of subterfuge on my part.]

The Nameless 9 have been able to issue joint statement after joint statement seeking to cast doubt upon the verdict and even to deploy the jury’s verdict as merely another instrument of their own oppression, a further example of their own martyrdom. There have been no shortage of mainsteam media journalists and of Scottish Government funded institutions, most notably Rape Crisis Scotland, willing to amplify that “Salmond is guilty really” message. It reaches its apogee in an article from Dani Garavelli.

The establishment has united in relief behind Garavelli’s article, claiming it proves that Salmond is unfit for political office. The most fascinating thing is to see unionists and Sturgeon supporters join together in lockstep in their applause. Mhairi Hunter, Kirsty Strickland, Gerry Hassan and Bella Caledonia unite in retweeting with cries of admiration alongside Paul Hutcheon, Severin Carrell, Alex Massie and Kenny Farquharson of Scotland’s laughably biased corporate media, and everybody who is anybody at the BBC.

It is particularly telling that senior SNP figures are all retweeting rapturously an article that states explicitly that Sturgeon prioritises feminism over Independence, and has no intention of moving for Independence soon, and contrasts this with the views of Alex Salmond. It is also interesting that SNP figures are retweeting an article that casually labels Independence supporters “cybernats” and indulges in lazy anti-Scots caricatures of Salmond’s supporters and the way that they speak. I realise Garavelli is herself Scots; with a serious infection of cringe.

When I published my article on the trial setting out all the facts the mainstream media has withheld, I challenged any establishment hack to publish a critique of it and show where my facts were untrue. Of course they could not even attempt to do that. What they did instead was to publish a large photo of my home in the Daily Record with an article inciting against me, endangering the safety of my wife and children.

However once the Establishment decided to rally round Ms Garavelli’s article as the “intellectual” response to the Salmond verdict, I decided it would be hypocritical of me not to subject it to the detailed critique I had challenged them to make to my own article. It is not easy to challenge the facts in Garavelli’s article, because there are virtually none. It is an exercise in emoting. It does reproduce some prosecution accusations, and simply ignores the defence evidence as though it did not exist.

One result of the exercise is that I am absolutely convinced that nobody with an elementary education can claim in good faith that they find Ms Garavelli’s arguments convincing. If I believed that any significant number of people in public life genuinely believed that Ms Garavelli is right, I would quit for ever. I would never write again, on the grounds that logic and reason have been abandoned in favour of  tribal fetish that worships maxims like “the woman must always be believed”.

I am doing this because actual truth, actual fact matters. If we allow people like Garavelli and her influential backers to subordinate truth to slogan and emotion, we are back in the Middle Ages.

No.  Those who are lauding Ms Garavelli are doing so because they wish to destroy Alex Salmond and wish to destroy Scottish Independence, and to triumphantly proclaim the victory of their narrow  brand of intolerance disguised as feminism.

The most interesting feature of the current political scene in Scotland is this conjunction of fourth wave feminism in the SNP inner circle with the desire to put off indefinitely any real attempt at Independence. On that point at least, Garavelli’s article and I are in absolute agreement. To which it is worth adding, that you would have to be living with no internet not to have noticed the lockstep of unionists  with the Sturgeon fourth wave feminist inner circle in their efforts to destroy Alex Salmond.

So let us start to analyse Garavelli’s article. Please do at least go to the original on Tortoise for a minute. You can get the sense of her article better there before seeing my critique, and I want to be fair.  Plus I do not wish to deprive them of traffic. From my initial reading, if you are a Blairite you will feel right at home on Tortoise.

Garavelli’s article in blue.

It is 3.09pm, Monday, March 23, 2020. The year of the Coronavirus, Edinburgh. The Royal Mile – the stretch of road that runs between Holyrood Palace and the Castle – is eerily quiet. Gone are the workers with their carry-out coffees. Gone, the tour groups who gaze up at the cathedral, dedicated to St Giles, the patron saint of lepers.

St Giles is patron saint of Edinburgh. He is more generally referred to as patron saint of the disabled. His full official patronages are “cripples, beggars, lepers and Edinburgh”. Dani has of course selected “leper” and then “Alex Salmond” follows in the next sentence. Subtle, eh?

The trial of Alex Salmond was about power and sex, about the future of the political party he took from the margins to centre stage, and about Scotland’s status as a nation.

The small patch of pavement in front of the city’s High Court, however, is thronged with reporters and photographers, joined by a bunch of cybernats who shout out “on yerself, Alex,” as the former First Minister, former leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), former champion of the campaign for Scottish independence thanks a jury of eight women and five men for acquitting him of 13 charges of sexual assault from nine complainants.

The term “bunch of cybernats” is a pejorative with no justification. I know a few of the small number of people referred to and they are friends of Alex and not particularly active online. Why this use of the derogatory term “cybernats”? This is simply an attempt with no basis to dismiss the right to an opinion of those who supported Alex Salmond. Note also that in contrast to Ms Garavelli’s fine English prose, the “cybernats” are the rough uncouth other, who speak Scots: “on yerself”. Ms Garavelli could not possibly look further down her nose.

To those who have witnessed him in his pomp, Salmond cuts a diminished figure. The familiar dark overcoat, tartan scarf and saltire-dotted tie are still present and correct, but the triumphalist bluster and Tigger bounce have vanished.

“Triumphalist bluster”. Again, a highly derogatory description of Salmond with no attempt to establish it in fact. Indeed it is a quality that she says was not currently on display. So why make this insulting description?

And yet, he hints at their return. “There is certain evidence I would have liked to have seen led in this trial, but for a variety of reasons, this was not possible,” he says. “Those facts will see the light.” Everyone outside the court understands what this means. It’s a threat. It’s a promise. He is saying: “This is not over. Not by a long shot.”

Alex Salmond was prevented from leading in court evidence that the accusers with others conspired against him to bring false allegations. This debar was established both at two public pre-trial hearings and on two occasions during the trial when the judge intervened to prevent defence witnesses from giving evidence.

That evidence however will be central to the judicial review hearing of the Scottish Government’s handling of the case against him. It will also be available to the parliamentary inquiry at Holyrood into the same thing. It may also be used in any civil litigation Alex Salmond may bring.

To describe Alex Salmond’s plain statement that “those facts will see the light” as a threat is ludicrous. He could not prevent them from seeing the light in the judicial review and the parliamentary inquiry even if he wished to do so. To describe this as a threat is in no sense factual and is just a blatant display of the extraordinary bias with which Ms Garavelli views events.

In another part of the country, Woman K – former civil servant and one of the complainants – is working from home when Salmond’s voice suddenly cuts into her kitchen. Instinctively, she covers her ears. “I couldn’t move, I couldn’t hear him gloating. It was a visceral reaction,” she says.

Note the complete absence of the kind of pejorative framing of Salmond – cybernats, lepers, triumphalism – when it comes to Woman K, who is immediately established as a homely person in her kitchen. Unlike Salmond’s uncouth supporters, she speaks perfect English, not Scots.  Note that unlike Salmond, Garavelli does not try to judge or negatively categorise her words, but merely accepts her description of Salmond “gloating”.

Woman K is one of two women whose complaints about Salmond prompted the original Scottish government inquiry back in early 2018, just months after the Harvey Weinstein story broke. Ever since those allegations were leaked to the Daily Record newspaper, she has been unable to stop herself trawling Twitter and Facebook to read the insults written about her and the other women. “I can’t not look for stuff. I am always there, constantly refreshing. It’s an act of self-harm,” she says.

The effort to link Salmond to Weinstein is a constant tactic of those who wish us to judge the case without any consideration of the actual evidence. Woman K may be in emotional distress about the trial if she is telling the truth about events, or possibly even greater emotional distress if she is not telling the truth. Ms Garavelli is using the alleged emotional state to arouse sympathy; it is not evidence.

This tweet, on an anonymous account, is typical. “Whore A. #Liar. Whore B. #Liar. Whore C. #Liar,” it says. “Dettol and steel wool time at the SNP,” reads another. Some online warriors have come close to breaching the women’s anonymity.

The problem with claimed tweets from anonymous accounts is that there is, by definition, no means of telling who sent them, nor why. This is an attempt to link with the meme of Salmond’s friends branded as “cybernats” at the start of the article. In fact this is not evidence at all. The anonymous tweet could very well be sent by somebody as determined as Ms Garavelli to denigrate support for the jury’s verdict. Again, zero evidential value.

Since the verdict, I have spoken to five of the nine women, all of whom were offered extra security to keep them safe. They are devastated to find themselves cast as orchestrators of a grand plot to bring down the greatest Scottish politician of his generation.

Here is an attempt to dismiss the central claim of the defence, by ridicule. Dani does not mention any facts. One fact shown in court is that five of the nine were members of the WhatsApp group concerting the allegations. That fact makes the ridicule by Gavarelli entirely inappropriate.

We can note here for the first time that she spoke to five of the accusers, but spoke to zero of the defence witnesses who refuted them. This piece fails the very first rule on fairness of Journalism 101.

“It is so hard to see people take the jury’s finding and then say that means we were all conspiring or lying,” Woman K says. “Throughout this whole thing, we’ve not been able to have a voice and now there is no way any of us can counter the terrible things that are being said about us.”

Here we come to the key flaw in Ms Garavelli’s approach. She takes it as read the women were not lying – and she makes no effort at all to look at what they alleged, and why the jury did not believe them. There were two eye witnesses, in addition to Alex Salmond, who contradicted Woman K’s allegation.

The allegation from Woman K was that, after a dinner at Stirling castle, Alex Salmond grabbed her buttock while they were having their photo taken together. The circumstance was that everybody at the dinner had their photo taken with Alex Salmond one by one, by a professional photographer, on the rampart of Stirling Castle with the Lion Rampant flying behind them.

Two witnesses, Alexander Anderson and Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh, had both been in the same small group as Woman K on the ramparts with Alex Salmond. Both had also had their photos taken, and both testified they had watched Woman K have her photo taken with Alex Salmond from just a few feet away. Neither had seen anything happen as Woman K described. They did not see Alex Salmond grab her buttock, they did not see any strange reaction or sense of discomfort in Woman K nor any change in her attitude or behaviour.  In other words, Woman K’s account was not only denied by Alex Salmond, it was refuted by two close eye witnesses.

The extraordinary thing is, that Garavelli knows all of that. She sat through the evidence of Alexander Anderson and Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh. But she hides it. She blanks it out. She keeps it secret from her readers. She censors out all facts which do not fit her narrative. Because Ms Garavelli wrote this article with the sole purpose of presenting a sympathetic account of the discredited accusers while omitting all trace of the defence evidence. Garavelli’s only intent was to defame and destroy the reputation of Alex Salmond and try to insinuate by cold, deliberate and repeated omission and misrepresentation that the verdict of the jury was a mistake.

We should also address her claim that the “women do not have a voice”. That is yet another utterly unjustified claim to victimhood. All of the women are in powerful positions. They each had their voice heard loudly and clearly in court. The jury knew what that voice was worth.

Since then, the nine powerful women who concerted to make false allegations against Alex Salmond have continued to have the loudest voice in Scotland. They issued a joint statement through Rape Crisis Scotland, which appeared on the front page of every newspaper in Scotland and was all over the BBC.  How is that “having no voice”? This article is a further example of their continuing media campaign to destroy Alex Salmond, despite having lost in both the High Court and the Court of Session.  Unlike the innocent Mr Salmond, Woman K who lied about being groped during a photoshoot, can conduct her campaign from behind a screen of state protected anonymity.

Woman F – the other original complainant, who never actively sought criminal charges – says the social media backlash is compounding her distress.

“It’s difficult not to see the verdict as a reflection on yourself,” she says. “One of the reasons I didn’t want to go [to the police] was the idea of going through an adversarial court process with the First Minister, and then having a jury say they didn’t believe you. I found that prospect unbearable.

“Obviously they are taking a decision based on the evidence as they see it and interpret it, and that’s their role and their right, but it’s difficult to see that as anything other than a stamp of failure.”

Woman F is in a different category. An incident undoubtedly happened. She was working late on the ministerial box with Alex Salmond in Bute House and a few drinks led to a cuddle on the bed, which Alex Salmond acknowledged at the time and acknowledged at the trial, ought not to have happened and was inappropriate.

She did indeed raise the issue at the time, and received a formal apology from Alex Salmond and an offer to transfer to another job at the same level. She accepted his apology and chose to continue working with him and did so happily for a substantial period. Ms Garavelli is accurate that Woman F had never wanted to go to the police. She was badgered into it once the decision was taken to eliminate Salmond, as Woman F’s story was the little grain of fact around which they sought to create their pearl.

The interesting point is that Woman F’s original complaint said nothing about Salmond attempting to grope under her underwear. Those details were added later in a series of increasingly salacious statements once the police and the Leslie Evans process started sexing up (literally) the allegation. Under pressure, I believe Woman F became confused herself as to the truth of events.

Defence Counsel in summing up used the memorable phrase that Woman F’s account had “grown arms and legs” over the years. That is undoubtedly true from successive statements, and I think that is why the jury found it did not amount to sexual assault. I do not accuse Woman F of lying or scheming.

Their experience is, up to a point, inevitable. All trials are a battle of competing narratives, and this one was no different. Prosecuting, the Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice, QC – a low-key, but forensic operator – presented the complainers as committed professionals reduced to sexual playthings by a man drunk on his own untouchability.

Defending, Gordon Jackson, QC, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and his junior Shelagh McCall, presented them as schemers: women who had either made things up, or over-reacted. A majority of the jury believed Jackson’s version. Salmond is innocent; ergo – in some eyes – the women must be guilty.

But trials, particularly sexual offence trials, are complicated affairs, with high stakes and, often, muddy waters. There tend not to be eyewitnesses, and yet the jury must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt, and so convictions are difficult to secure.

This is false equivalence. Garavelli attempts to muddy the facts of this case firstly by portraying the difficulty as that of “he said, she said” decision by the jury. But that was not the case here. In most of the accusations, the accusers were shown to be lying by other independent witnesses – whose accounts Garavelli dishonestly and systematically omits.

In this trial the stakes were higher, and the waters muddier, than most. On the verdict hung not only the fate of the man who took the SNP from the fringes to the mainstream, and the country to the brink of independence, but that of his protege-turned-adversary, Nicola Sturgeon, along with the Scottish independence movement as a whole.

If that wasn’t enough weight to bear – unfolding alongside the Weinstein case in the US – it was seen as a referendum on the #MeToo movement; a litmus test for contemporary attitudes on sexual offending in the workplace. Had #MeToo challenged public misconceptions on sex and power? Was it being used to empower women; or to victimise men?

This is Garavelli’s second mention of the entirely irrelevant Weinstein – a blatant attempt to sully Salmond by association. The repeated references to #Metoo are only of any value in clarifying Garavelli’s own mindset and explaining the incredible levels of biased selection of fact in her article.

Because actually this was not about #metoo or about Weinstein, however much Garavelli and her political allies want it to be. It was about whether Alex Salmond committed certain criminal acts. Which he did not. He is innocent.

As for the muddy waters, where to start? Salmond is innocent; but he does not come out of this unsullied. “I wish on my life the First Minister had been a better man and I wasn’t here today,” said Woman H, who claimed whilst giving evidence that he’d attempted to rape her.

Of all the witnesses, Woman H was the one most comprehensively shown to be a nasty and ill-motivated liar. Her comments on the character of Alex Salmond are just that. The jury did not believe Woman H. We will come to her later.

The attempted rape charge was dismissed along with all the others, but the broader sentiment was endorsed. Both Prentice and Jackson, prosecution and defence, quoted Woman H in their closing submissions. “I wish on my life the First Minister had been a better man and I wasn’t here today,” Jackson said. “It’s a good line. Maybe it was rehearsed. But it is true. Because if, in some ways, the former First Minister had been a better man, I wouldn’t be here, you wouldn’t be here. None of us would be here.”

Jackson was using the understood rhetorical device whereby you start off by appearing to concur with your opponents’ point and then you go on to demolish it. This is yet again an example of Garavelli’s extraordinary and quite deliberate distortion by omission in presenting the defence case, and in particular omitting in virtually its entirety the evidence of all the defence witnesses, seven of them female.

This was, in fact, the core of the defence case: that Salmond was a flawed, demanding, irascible leader, whose behaviour could be inappropriate, though never quite so inappropriate as to be criminal. Never that.

This is simply an untruth. The core of the defence case was, plain as a pikestaff, that the allegations were lies concocted in collusion as part of a conspiracy to destroy Alex Salmond politically. The defence was not “he felt her up but that is not illegal”. By failing to present the actual facts of the defence, – in which Garavelli is in lockstep with the entire rest of the state and corporate media – Garavelli is quite deliberately seeking to encompass the goal of Salmond’s political destruction through repeating the allegations, seeing the innocent verdict as merely a bump in that road.

It was an impression reinforced last weekend when footage emerged of the garrulous Jackson discussing his client loudly on the Edinburgh to Glasgow train at a time when the trial was still in progress. He referred to Salmond and the allegations, as “inappropriate, arsehole, stupid, but sexual?” He also risked being in contempt of court by mentioning two of the complainers by name, and said his strategy included trying to “put a smell” on the women.

Many had wondered at the wisdom of choosing Jackson as a defence lawyer for a high profile sexual assault case. He did secure the acquittals, but at what cost? His indiscretion has effectively “put a smell” on Salmond, and he has referred himself to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.

Garavelli at least here correctly admits Jackson was saying Salmond’s behaviour was not sexual, unlike the Murdoch media’s false claim he called Alex a sex pest. The taping of Jackson is highly suspicious. That Jackson, a former Labour MP, is not Salmond’s greatest fan is unsurprising. And we do not know his motive in modulating his views to his particular interlocutor on the train. There is no “smoking gun” here, no indication of any wrong act by Salmond, despite the media excitement.

Much of the prosecution case centred on what happened in Bute House – the First Minister’s official residence in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. To those of us who sat through the two-week trial, the lay-out of the Georgian townhouse is now as familiar as our own homes. The basement where the civil servants had their offices. The first floor with its chandelier-lit drawing room, the site of many an IndyRef dinner. The second floor (part official/part private), with its adjoining sitting room and study. And the third floor with its private bedrooms – one of which was the scene of whatever happened with Woman F, on the night of 4 December, 2013. That something inappropriate took place has never been denied. Woman F received an apology from Salmond at the time and an assurance it would never happen again. Now she too – along with the other complainants – is being branded a liar on the internet.

I cannot find a great deal of evidence of Woman F being branded a liar on the internet. I would not call her such. There is no doubt that under pressure she embellished successive accounts of the incident. We have no idea what a jury thinks, but it seems highly probable they thought her first and less extreme account was the true one.

The image created of the former First Minister – an image undisputed by the defence – was of a man who could not bear to be alone. A man who worked all hours in both his public and private quarters and expected civil servants and government officials to work alongside him. A man who drank while he worked, and wanted others to drink too. A man for whom the boundaries between work and leisure, business and pleasure were hazy. Blurred lines, as they say.

This again is simply untrue. There was no evidence led he could not bear to be alone. The defence led a great deal of evidence that it was perfectly normal for the First Minister to be accompanied by Private Office staff at official functions in the evenings and to be working on the paperwork in the ministerial box with him at his home until after midnight. As a former senior civil servant myself, I can tell you for certain this is absolutely true; it is how every UK minister operates too.

There were other hints of murkiness too: allusions to machinations which, as Salmond said, could not be spelled out in court. “There is something going on here,” Jackson told the jury. “I can’t prove it, but I can smell it.”

Those of us who covered the preliminary hearings know what he was talking about: texts and emails the defence see as proof of a plot. One of them read: “We have lost the battle, but we will win the war.”

The lost battle referred to the judicial review – pursued by Salmond – which found the Scottish government’s investigation of the first two complaints had been unlawful; the war, to the criminal trial. Between the start of the judicial review and police charges being laid, eight more complainers had come forward.

The reason there were “hints of murkiness” is that the defence were barred by the court from entering the evidence of conspiracy. All they could get away with was the odd hint.

The text “We have lost the battle, but we will win the war” was from Leslie Evans, Head of the Scottish Civil Service. She sent it minutes after Scotland’s highest civil court, the Court of Session, had handed victory to Alex Salmond in a stunning ruling that the Scottish Government process of investigation into Alex Salmond was “illegitimate, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”. Something else Garavelli does not tell you.

The Scottish Government then put Police Scotland and the Crown Office up to bringing in the criminal prosecution. They have now lost that too. Salmond has been vindicated in the highest civil court in the land and in the highest criminal court in the land. But Garavelli is still out to destroy his reputation despite the verdict of both courts.

The next act in this drama – Salmond’s reckoning – will be played out in a post-coronavirus world. But the seeds are already sown. They have been scattered by those supporters who turned up at the court day after day to shout “Captain, my Captain” or to play ‘Freedom Come All Ye’ on the bagpipes.

Oh look. It is those plainly retarded, very ethnic and uncouth Salmond supporters again.

They have been scattered by the former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, MP Joanna Cherry and MSP Alex Neil, who called for resignations and fresh inquiries; and by the online warriors tweeting bile-laden tweets about women they will never know.

Actually I know some of them. Can’t speak for others. Scotland is a small country.

It is clear Salmond is on the warpath. The question is how far will he go? Is he willing to set fire to the house he built, just to watch his enemies burn?

All great dramas have a central theme. The theme for The Rise and Fall and Putative Rise of Alex Salmond is power. It runs through the unfolding events like an electric current. The lust for it, what you do with it when you acquire it, and what happens when you refuse let it go.

It was a shift in political power dynamics – from Salmond to Sturgeon post-IndyRef – that provided the local catalyst; a shift in gender power dynamics post-Weinstein, the global catalyst. It is no exaggeration to suggest that without the confluence of these two “moments”, the allegations at the centre of the court case might never have come to light.

Oh look. That’s three mentions of Weinstein now.

For the last 20 years, Salmond and Sturgeon have been the SNP’s towering figures, each to some degree responsible for the ascendancy of the other. Sturgeon – 16 years Salmond’s junior – was on the executive of the Young Scottish Nationalists and helped secure Salmond’s victory in the leadership election of 1990.

Of all the daft things Garavelli has written, this is perhaps the most risible. Anyone over the age of fifty is convulsed with laughter. The idea that 30 years ago Alex Salmond needed the support of the young Nicola Sturgeon to become SNP leader is just silly.

In return, Salmond acted as Sturgeon’s mentor as she became an SNP candidate, a list MSP and finally, MSP for Govan – a seat she took from Gordon Jackson in 2007. Back then, Jackson was combining his legal work with his job as a Labour politician. The Scottish establishment is a very small world.

The Salmond/Sturgeon relationship suffered a blip in 2004. Salmond had resigned as leader four years earlier to be replaced by John Swinney (now Deputy First Minister) and when Swinney resigned, Sturgeon threw her hat in the ring. Salmond had insisted he had no interest in being leader again. But when he realised his protege wasn’t going to win, he changed his mind.

Sturgeon was not best pleased. But they hammered out a pact at the Champany Inn in Linlithgow – the birthplace of both Salmond and Mary Queen of Scots. They would stand on a joint ticket, it was agreed, with Sturgeon as Salmond’s deputy. Then, when the time came for him to go, she would be the anointed one.

Unlike Tony Blair, Salmond kept his part of the bargain. As the IndyRef campaign gathered momentum, Sturgeon’s public profile grew and grew so that when – on 19 September, 2014 – the result was declared and Salmond resigned, there was no question over who would succeed him.

This is all broadly true, which comes as something of a shock.

Sturgeon surfed into the role of First Minister on a tide of goodwill. She owned the SNP conference in Glasgow the following spring, striding onto the stage like a coral-suited Boudicca.

It wasn’t long, however, until two facts became glaringly apparent: 1) Sturgeon had a very different style and set of priorities from Salmond and 2) Salmond had no intention of letting her get on with the job unhindered.

Sturgeon was more cautious than Salmond, less clubbable and much more interested in women’s issues. Right from the start, she put gender equality near the top of her agenda. She was particularly vocal on all-women shortlists, quotas for public boards and the eradication of sexual harassment in the workplace.

This is true. She also thought gender balanced cabinets were very important indeed, until she decided that female majority cabinets were OK, it was only male majority cabinets that were bad.

After the Weinstein story broke in October 2017, and the ripples spread out to Westminster, Holyrood and beyond, she encouraged women to come forward with complaints and sought to improve the process by which that could be done.

Oh look. That is now four mentions of Weinstein.

What Nicola Sturgeon did was to initiate with Lesley Evans a process of retroactive complaint and actively to solicit complaints specifically against Alex Salmond. A process which the Court of Session was to declare “illegal, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”. Interestingly, the Scottish Government conceded the case and threw in the towel just as Liz Lloyd, Nicola Sturgeon’s Chief of Staff, and Mr Sommers, her Principal Private Secretary, would have had to come and give evidence under oath about Nicola’s involvement in all this. Another interesting fact Garavelli somehow does not tell you.

In the meantime, Salmond was becoming a problem. Early on she had to put him in his place after he appeared to suggest he would decide the strategy for the 2015 General Election. He fought and won the seat of Gordon in that election; then fought and lost it in the snap election of 2017.

He had already made it clear he believed Sturgeon’s softly, softly strategy was misguided and he blamed her “underwhelming” campaign for the loss of seat. Now, bereft of an official role, he turned into an embarrassment. In the summer of 2017, he staged a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, opening with the words: “I promised you we’d either have Theresa May or Nicola Sturgeon, but I couldn’t make these wonderful women come….”; an off-colour comment Sturgeon generously described as a throwback to “the Benny Hill era”.

Worse still, he launched a chat show on Kremlin-backed channel RT (formerly Russia Today), a move that caused consternation amongst even his closest friends. “I think there was a moment where his own hype overtook him and he wasn’t as alert to reality as he might have been,” one told me. “He began to believe the referendum was lost because the BBC was conspiring against him, rather than because his case was weak and he didn’t have anything to say about the hardest issues.”

Garavelli claims to have found one of Alex Salmond’s “closest friends”, who believes that the arguments for Independence are weak, who does not believe that the BBC were significantly biased in the 2014 referendum campaign, and who believes it is axiomatic that it is illegitimate to appear on Russia Today. In fact, what Garavelli is telling us is that she found one of Alex Salmond’s friends who shares none of Alex Salmond’s beliefs and happens to share all of Dani Garavelli’s beliefs. As somebody once said, I think we might put a “smell” on Garivelli here.

It is here that the narrative begins to diverge. For those in the Sturgeon camp, it goes something like this. In November 2017, Mark McDonald was forced to resign as Minister for Childcare for sending “inappropriate” texts. This reinforced the Scottish government’s view that Holyrood was unlikely to be immune to allegations of historic offences. So it drew up a code of practice that allowed complaints to be brought not only against current ministers, but former ministers going back to the Scottish Parliament’s inception in 1999. It had no idea the first person to fall foul of this process would be the former First Minister.

Those in Salmond’s camp agree McDonald’s resignation was a turning point, but for different reasons. If McDonald had resigned his Holyrood seat, as well as his ministerial role, there would have been a by-election and an opportunity for Salmond to return to frontline politics. They contend the new process was designed precisely to prevent that happening.

Whatever the truth, Woman K, the civil servant who claimed he grabbed her bottom while they were having their photo taken at Stirling Castle, and Woman F, the civil servant he apologised to back in 2013, came forward.

Except the truth is not in dispute. The Court of Session found that the Scottish Government version was a lie and that Leslie Evans’ new system was “Unfair, illegitimate and tainted by apparent bias”.

A Scottish government inquiry was launched, the story leaked to the Daily Record tabloid newspaper and the allegations passed to the police. The weekend the Record story broke, Salmond held a press conference at the Champany Inn at which he described the investigation as “flawed and bereft of natural justice”.

The sexed-up allegations were passed to David Clegg of the Daily Record by Woman A, with whom Clegg had a personal history.

Woman K remembers that weekend well. “My partner happened to be away and, no word of a lie, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep or drink anything,” she says. “I just sat on Twitter and refreshed it and refreshed it, and every time I did there was something new and horrifying being said about me.”

In an apparent display of power, Salmond launched a crowd-funder to raise money to fund the judicial review. In January last year, the government finally conceded its process was flawed on the basis that the investigating officer had previously been in contact with one of the complainants.

That is an utterly tendentious statement of the multiple grounds on which the process was found to be flawed. Judith Mackinnon had actively encouraged, on behalf of Leslie Evans, both the complainants to lodge allegations against Alex Salmond, and then herself been appointed the investigating officer. The government caved to avoid Liz Lloyd and Leslie Evans having to give evidence of their role in the affair.

A jubilant Salmond called for the resignation of the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, who led the inquiry. But then, a fortnight later, another dramatic twist. The former First Minister was charged with a total of 14 offences against 10 women (one charge was later dropped). And so the stage was set for Scotland’s trial of the decade.

And what a coincidence that timing was, folks.

No-one arriving at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday, 9 March, could have doubted the importance of what was about to unfold inside.

It was a few days BSD – Before Social Distancing – and the Royal Mile was very busy. A low winter sun was bouncing off the bronze toes of philosopher David Hume who sits outside. Tourists generally rub his right foot for luck, but today they were focused on the press pack jostling for the best position from which to catch Salmond and his entourage. He didn’t disappoint, smiling as he walked in, with his sister, Gail, and former constituency office worker, Isobel Zambonini.

Inside, the reporters were jittery. They knew the trial would be a legal minefield and that the demand for seats was likely to outstrip capacity.

At around 11am, the dramatis personae began to assemble. In the dock, flanked by security officers, was Salmond, his face now rictus as the 15 members of the jury filed in. Presiding over the case was Lady Dorrian, Scotland’s second most senior judge.

Dramatis personae

The others you have met already: Prentice – a quietly-spoken schoolmaster, who derives his power from the belt you suspect he has hidden beneath his advocate’s gown; Jackson – a Toby jug of a man, who has perfected the role of bumbling old fogey; and McCall, who is too senior to be a junior, and was presumably there to provide a female foil to Jackson’s performative blokey-ness.

The prosecution case was straight-forward. The women could be divided into roughly two categories: Woman A, Woman C, Woman D and Woman K, who claimed to have been sexually assaulted in public, and Woman B, Woman F, Woman H and Woman J, who claimed to have been assaulted while working late at Bute House. Woman G fell into both categories. Woman E did not appear in court and the charge relating to her was dropped.

Four of the women – Woman B, Woman D, Woman F and Woman K – were civil servants. All the civil servants told the court they reported their experiences to colleagues or line managers at the time of the alleged incidents, which took place between 2010 and 2014.

This is true. But yet again Ms Garavelli ignores totally the evidence of the defence witnesses. You won’t find it below either. Karen Watt, line manager to Ms B and Ms D, categorically refuted the claims that they had complained to her at the time. It is simply appalling of Garavelli to state the accusations of the Nameless 9, but not mention the refutations.

What does Ms Garavelli have against Karen Watt? It is Karen Watt, not the Nameless 9, who is voiceless. You won’t find Karen Watt’s voice on the BBC or in the newspapers. Because a slogan-programmed moral vacuum like Dani Garavelli may have been in the courtroom when Karen Watt gave her evidence, but Garavelli did not hear her. Because Karen Watt does not fit the programme. Karen Watt is the Wrong Kind of Woman.

Ms Garavelli did not speak to Karen Watt. She is proud she spoke to five of the Nameless 9, but she found no time to speak to any of the seven women who were defence witnesses. Who unlike the Nameless 9 do not cower behind state-enforced anonymity, but stood brave and strong and gave their evidence in the open, risking the ridicule and contempt of liars like Garavelli for being the Wrong Kind of Women – or perhaps worse, risking that their voices really would not be heard, because people like Garavelli would decide that women who do not pile in behind the great #Weinstein #MeToo crusade do not deserve to exist. And that women who do pile in behind the great #Weinstein #MeToo crusade, even if that be by telling evil lies against some patriarchy figure, have greater moral worth and right to a hearing.

That must be what Garavelli believes. Or she could never have written this article.

Prentice set about establishing a course of conduct. As he questioned them one by one, he drew out the patterns: the alleged public assaults – from the repeated stroking of Woman D’s face to the running of hands down the curves of Woman A’s body – had a proprietorial quality. “I think the First Minister did it because he could,” Woman K told the court.

With the women who claimed to have been assaulted in Bute House, the links were even clearer. In each case, they had been working in the evening. Several were offered alcohol – Maotai, Limoncello or whisky – and there was often some pretext for the initial touching: the re-enactment of a scene from a Jack Vettriano Christmas card (Woman B), for example, or an impression of a zombie from a film (Woman J).

All of the women spoke of feeling demeaned. They explained, too, the conflict they felt over making a formal complaint or going to the police. Salmond was the most powerful man in the country. They loved their jobs, had worked hard to gain them, and believed they would lose them if they made a fuss.

“If I had complained it would have been swept under the carpet and I would have suffered in my career,” said Woman B. “I never saw anyone in a senior position in the Scottish government tackle the First Minister on his behaviour.”

The problem here is yet again Garavelli ignores all of the evidence that the incidents as described did not happen. Woman B had claimed that Salmond was grasping her wrists and seeking to kiss her (the Jack Vettriano reenactment) when Alex Bell walked in and witnessed it. Alex Bell – who it must be said detests Salmond, who very sensibly sacked him – gave evidence that they were apart when he walked in and he saw nothing wrong. Her line manager also contradicted her statement that she reported it at the time. Again Garavelli simply ignores the contrary evidence as though it did not exist. The jury did not ignore it.

The fact that the alleged incidents took place in the run-up to the Independence Referendum in 2014 added extra pressure, the women said. Not only was it their job to protect the First Minister’s reputation, but the whole democratic process was at stake. “Everything we did which was outward facing had potential ramifications which went beyond personal experience,” said Woman F, who talked of a “real loyalty” to Salmond.

Some online commentators have suggested there was no corroboration of the women’s testimony. This is untrue. One civil servant colleague told the court he had witnessed the First Minister reaching out to touch the hair and face of Woman D in a lift. He had instinctively brushed Salmond’s hand away, saying something like: “Behave yourself.”

Some online commentators may indeed have suggested that. I myself did report the incident of the attempted touch of the hair in a lift, in almost exactly the terms that Ms Garavelli reported it, because it is indeed what was said in court. You see, unlike Ms Garavelli, I took the novel approach of reporting both the prosecution and the defence evidence. Because I also reported, which Ms Garavelli does not, the evidence of Lorraine Kaye.

Lorraine Kaye is another of those Wrong Type of Women who Garavelli  finds beneath her notice. Kaye gave evidence that she herself had pulled at Woman D’s hair because it was a standing joke in the office to straighten out Ms D’s remarkable ringlets, a joke Ms D enjoyed. Here again, we honest people have to take into account the evidence of Karen Watt.

Karen Watt said that the “civil servant colleague” Garavelli coyly refers to, Donald Cameron, told her about the incident of nearly touching the hair in the lift. She accordingly asked Woman D if she wished to make a complaint. Woman D had responded definitely not, she thought nothing of it. Which given it was the hair on her head in question and not her pubic hair, many of us might find a rational response. How we all came to be listening to this utter nonsense in the High Court of Edinburgh many years later is something you will have to ask our corrupt police and law officers.

The one clue is that Donald Cameron, the man who had tried to make a mountain out of this molehill, was the head of Leslie Evans private office. But even Cameron was forced to admit under cross-examination that there was no policy that Salmond should not work alone with women in Bute House. Which brings us to Garavelli’s next paragraph…

Three other civil servants testified that – after woman F and woman G’s experiences – staff rotas were changed so no woman would be alone in Bute House with the First Minister after 9pm (although others denied this was the case). Colleagues and relatives also testified to Women F and Women G’s state of mind immediately afterwards, describing them variously as “traumatised”, “pale” and “upset.”

I am slightly confused by this claim. The court saw evidence that Woman F went and did some more work down in the office at Bute House after the alleged attempted rape, and then filed her overtime claim before going home. Woman G had indeed been upset. She had joined the civil service from the SNP,  using what seemed to me throughout the trial a rather dubious revolving door behind the two. She had then been upset to be seen at a function she viewed as blurring that line, possibly to the detriment of her career. Salmond testified it was because she was upset he had put his arm round her to comfort her (he had known her for years).

The staff rotas claim was demolished by Donald Cameron, Lorraine Kaye, Karen Watt and others who stated there never was any such policy. Kaye and Watt were the principal civil servants who were very frequently with Salmond at Bute house working late at night throughout this period. Neither had ever heard of any such policy and the fact of their actual working there belied its existence.

Salmond’s defence was pick and mix. Some of the encounters he admitted, but insisted they were consensual; others, he insisted, were complete fabrications.

Like many trials, much of the evidence was He said, She said. Or rather He said, She said, She said, She said.

A rehearsed bit of writing to reinforce the meme that this trial was Salmond’s word against a succession of women. “He said, She said, She said, She said.”  Garavelli does this precisely to preserve this entirely false idea of the trial. This is why the mainstream media have universally ignored or massively under-reported the factual defence evidence. In fact, in the large majority of instances, it was evidence from a variety of defence witnesses, mainly female, against the uncorroborated word of the accuser.

Woman F – the civil servant to whom Salmond apologised – said she had to fight him off as he forced his hands under her clothing. He described the encounter as a “sleepy cuddle”.

Again and again the article returns to this one incident as it is the only one of any substance, the one on which the whole creaky structure was based. As stated, the bit about forcing his hands under her clothing was an addition years later. There was a cuddle, for which he apologised. The jury believed his account backed by the actual treatment of the incident at the time.

Woman B said he seized her wrists and tried to kiss her while attempting to re-enact the Vettriano Christmas card. He said it was just high-jinks. “At the time it wasn’t regarded as it is being presented now,” he said.

Woman B also said Alex Bell entered during the incident, which Alex Bell said did not happen. And said she reported it to her line manager, which her line manager said did not happen. Alex did state he had indeed grabbed her wrists and suggested they re-enact the Vettriano painting, that she said “Don’t be daft” and he immediately let go. Context is everything here. It was Christmas. The Vettriano painting, which was in the room, showed a kiss under the mistletoe.

Woman G said he had put his arm around her and tried to kiss her. He said he was comforting her because she had been upset.

Fair description.

Woman A said he had touched her buttocks and her breasts. He said to have done so in a public space would have been “insane.” He said she was at the centre of the plot to bring him down.

Woman A is indeed at the centre of the plot, and right at the centre of Scottish government. She is going to feature a lot as documents kept from the court become public in new processes.

Her claims of assault in very public situations were outlandish. Including on the dance floor of a Christmas Party, when everyone was sat around the dance floor at tables eating; and in the Glasgow East by-election, where Salmond was constantly accompanied by minders. The jury dismissed them.

Woman H said Salmond assaulted her twice in Bute House. The first time, she said, he kissed her and put his hands under her clothes; the second, he restrained her, removed both their clothes and climbed on top of her naked and aroused.

Woman H said the first incident had taken place in May 2014. He said there was no date in May 2014 for which he didn’t have an alibi, and used a combination of a diary and a calendar in an attempt to prove it. She said the attempted rape took place on June 13 after an IndyRef dinner; he said she hadn’t been at that dinner.

Jackson also suggested she was seeking revenge for the former First Minister’s refusal to back her in a political project. Weirdly, Salmond admitted a consensual encounter with Woman H – a “footer”, a bit of “how’s your father,” as Jackson put it – on an occasion which did not appear on the indictment.

It is interesting that only now does Garavelli introduce Woman H, the weakest link in her  chain. Yet Ms H was longer on the witness stand at the trial than anybody, including Alex Salmond. Woman H was the woman who texted that she had a plan to bring down Salmond and remain anonymous. And of all the accusers, Woman H was the one most categorically shown to be an absolute, inescapable liar. Garavelli gives you no detail of that at all.

Here is what Garavelli dishonestly hides from you.

Woman H claimed that Salmond attempted to rape her after a small dinner with Alex Salmond, an actor (the publication of whose name the court banned), and Ms Samantha Barber, a company director. Salmond gave evidence that the entire story was completely untrue and the woman had not even been there that evening. Samantha Barber gave evidence that she knows woman H well, had been a guest at her wedding reception, and that woman H had phoned and asked her to attend the dinner with the specific explanation she could not be there herself. Indeed, affirmed Ms Barber, woman H definitely was not there. She had given that firm evidence to the police.

Against that, there was a vague statement by the actor that he believed a fourth person had been present, but he described her hair colour as different to woman H, described her as wearing jeans when woman H said she was wearing a dress, and did not say the woman had her arm in a sling – which it was established woman H’s arm was at that time. One arm in a sling would be pretty debilitating in eating and the sort of detail about a fellow diner at a very small dinner party you would likely remember.

There was more. Woman H had claimed to have had communications on that night with Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh on the subject of attending an international football match with Alex Salmond the next day. Never has a claim been so utterly demolished in court. Tasmina testified thhat her father had died that very day and she was dashing down to London organising the funeral. Tasmina was in tears in the witness box. Garavelli is big on emotion. But she does not report this. Because it was the Wrong kind of Emotion from the Wrong Kind of Woman.

Given the very firm statement from Samantha Barber, her friend, that woman H was definitely not there, a number of lawyers and police officers with whom I have discussed this have all been perplexed that the charge was brought at all, with such a strong witness to rebut it, given that the police were relying on an extremely tentative identification from the actor (who did not appear in court to be cross-examined). The truth is, as the jury found, that woman H was not physically there when she said the incident took place. Woman H had lied. More importantly, the evidence available to the police and prosecutor fiscal showed that there was never any realistic prospect of conviction.

So why was the charge brought?

This ribald tone was the one Jackson used a lot. To watch him, to listen to him, you would think he had wandered into the courtroom from the 1950s. His defence veered in all directions. One minute Salmond was a touchy feely guy whose hugs and kisses were being misunderstood, the next the victim of some grand, yet intangible, plot.

Do you see what Garavelli has done here? She has written that Salmond’s defence to the allegations of Woman H was nothing but “Cor Blimey Squire, OK he copped a feel but ‘aven’t we all, know what I mean, nudge nudge, wink wink?”

Whereas Woman H was in real life comprehensively demolished by a whole succession of witnesses, mostly female, and shown not even to have been present on the occasion when she claimed attempted rape. If Jackson’s defence was as hopeless as Garavelli portrays, how on earth would it have succeeded? And never forget, the jury are two thirds female.

But it was Jackson’s trivialisation of some of the alleged offences that raised most eyebrows. It is one thing to insist the former First Minister is innocent of the offences with which he has been charged. It is another to treat some of those offences as inconsequential.

In defiance of what we know about power dynamics, Jackson equated the tactile way Salmond dealt with members of the public with the way he interacted with much younger female workers. And he peddled all the old tropes. If woman F had believed Salmond had intended to rape her she would surely have considered it important enough to report to the police. If woman H had been distressed after her ordeal, then what was she doing on Twitter?

There is a certain amount of justice in Garavelli’s claim here. There are of course plenty of examples of women continuing to appear to interact normally with their abuser after the most shocking abuse. More often in domestic than work situations. But she is playing on the Weinstein theme here. Not all men are the same. There may be a general way that powerful men act with junior female staff. But that does not mean that Salmond did, nor that he is Weinstein.

Garavelli wants to convict Salmond because in general men do that kind of thing. This is why she ignores witness after witness who said that in Salmond’s case, he did not.

Ms F did indeed complain, and received an apology.

The other eight did not complain at the time, as witnesses showed. Garavelli tries to have it both ways. You cannot both argue that there is “no smoke without fire” and claim that the fact that nine women now complain about Salmond means he must be bad, and at the same time claim that the fact that eight women all continued to work perfectly happily around Salmond, often for years after an alleged incident, and showed no sign of anything having happened in their tweets and emails at the time, is an irrelevance.

At times he seemed to regard the process as high jinks. He engaged in casual banter with a Glasgow councillor, as if they were old chums sharing a pint, not witness and QC facing each other across a courtroom.

At breaks and lunchtimes, he could be found laughing and gossiping with the (mostly male) reporters. In the afternoon the jury retired to consider its verdict, he grabbed hold of a well-known TV journalist and posed for a selfie.

Where are we going here? Jackson is blokey therefore evil? In what way does this relate to the evidence?

Jackson’s closing submission appeared to play to male fears about past behaviour. How did things that people thought nothing of later find themselves on a charge sheet, he wondered. “It’s scary, scary stuff.” A couple of jurors nodded along.

I had been thrown out. I have asked people in court, including employed jury watchers (they do exist, not just in The Good Wife). Nobody saw this “nodding”. The jury was 9-6 majority female. Garavelli’s attempt to portray Salmond’s acquittal as the result of evil male potential sexual predators on the jury is despicable. Personally, I looked hard at the jury for two days and found the jury impressively stone-faced and very careful to appear impartial and do their duty properly.

The fact the trial was unfolding alongside the sentencing of Weinstein was significant. At almost precisely the moment the film producer was being jailed for 23 years, Jackson was asking Woman A: “Do you call that groping?” Scotland’s #MeToo moment this was not.

The repeated Weinstein references reach their climax. I have lost count of the deluge of Weinsteins in this article.  Weinstein was convicted. Salmond was not. Scotland failed, says Garavelli. The fact that Weinstein is a monster and Salmond is not never seems to cross her mind. Powerful men are all the same, aren’t they?

In comparison with Jackson, Salmond came across as dignified. The consensus amongst the journalists beforehand was that it would be disastrous for him to testify; but we were wrong.

I found the smirking of journalists, forty of whom I was sitting behind while in the public gallery, appalling. The conversations I overheard between them in the queue and in the toilets revealed extreme bias. Most tellingly, when the defence witnesses were giving evidence, I am an eye witness to forty MSM journalists all folding their notebooks and stopping taking notes. As plainly Garavelli did.

Some of his charisma revived in front of an audience. He spoke and moved his hands like the accomplished politician he is, and had dates and facts at his fingertips.

When Prentice opened his cross-examination with the words: “Did you consider [woman B]’s feelings for one moment when you took hold of her hands and said let’s reenact the Christmas card?” repeating it four times, he seemed briefly rattled. But overall, he came over as meticulous and polished.

Asked if he regretted his behaviour, he said he wished he’d been more careful with people’s personal space, but “I’m of the opinion events are being reinterpreted and exaggerated out of any possible proportion.”

The jury took six hours to deliver its verdict which meant its deliberations spanned a weekend. By Monday, it had lost two of its 15 members. In Scottish courts, verdicts can be decided on a straight eight/seven majority. But when two jurors drop out like this the required ratio changes to eight out of 13.

When the time came, the foreman stood up and said Not Guilty to 12 of the 13 charges. The verdict on the charge involving Woman F – sexual assault with intent to rape – was found Not Proven, which is also an acquittal. None of the verdicts were unanimous. The foreman seemed content with the decisions he was conveying, but others were not. One young-ish juror with glasses sat with his head bowed.

Garavelli has no idea how that youngish juror voted. Here again is a blatant attempt to convey that this was a perverse verdict. Only old people and male sexual predators could have failed to see Salmond’s guilt, Garavelli insinuates. The young are with #Metoo, are with #Weinstein. The young could seen the guilt, she implies. Actually, when I first saw the jury I was very surprised by how young they were overall. Much younger that a representative sample of 15 of the population. Garavelli is incidentally in very grave contempt of court in clearly identifying an individual juror and how she thinks he voted. Garavelli of course will be protected by the Establishment from any consequences of this.

As Garavelli says, Not Proven is also an acquittal. But I do believe there is something very specific in the jury finding all of the other verdicts Not Guilty but the Miss F case Not Proven. I have said above, and I was convinced during the trial, Ms F is in a different category.  I do not believe she was knowingly lying. All the others I believe to be brazen, barefaced and conspiring liars who tried to orchestrate a terrible miscarriage of justice.  I believe that is why their cases resulted in Not Guilty, but Miss F in Not Proven.

The jury were distinguishing who was, and who was not, a perjurer.

Of course I cannot prove that. It is an interpretation. But if Ms Garavelli can speculate so wildly on what the jury thought – without in her case labeling it as speculation – then so might I, more honestly.

Woman F was gutted. “I suppose I had hoped and expected that my case would be one that would help give weight and establish that pattern for others because there was quite a lot of evidence around it and I ended up feeling crushed,” she told me later.

Again go for Woman F, Dani; whatever you do avoid the more brazen liars when trying to milk sympathy.

Outside, Salmond made his statement while Jackson looked on, wigless and swigging from a Coke bottle. “God help us all,” the former First Minister said in reference to Covid-19. Then he elbow-bumped with Jackson in celebration.

Dani is a skilled journalist. She gave an interview on Bella Caledonia where she explained at length that mere bloggers have not had the real training to learn the tricks of the trade. Every time she turns to Salmond and his supporters, the level of her language drops to reflect those common people’s gross and uncouth qualities: Jackson does not “drink”. He “swigs”

Throughout the trial, there were two women notable for their absence. The first was Moira, Salmond’s wife of 39 years. Sixteen years his senior, she has always shunned the limelight. She accompanied him to court on the second last day, prompting speculation she might testify, but the rumours came to nothing; and she wasn’t by his side as he walked free.

Why should she? There was no need for her to testify. The prosecution case had been comprehensively destroyed. Alex and Moira are happily together back at home ever since the trial. Garavelli’s petty insinuation of – what, exactly – about a lady who is around eighty years old is uncalled for.

The second woman was Nicola Sturgeon. She too was said to be on the witness list though never called. And yet, she was omni-present. Every time her name was mentioned, political journalists pricked up their ears. When Salmond’s former Chief of Staff Geoff Aberdein told the court he and one of the complainers had first met with her on 29 March, 2018 – four days earlier than the date she previously gave the Scottish Parliament – several of them almost spontaneously combusted.

This paragraph wins the all time prize for easy identification of one of the busted accusers: again, contempt of court by Garavelli. Again there is no chance anything will happen as the Establishment will protect her.

Sturgeon had been cited by the defence as an unwilling witness. She then asked to be excused as a result of the covid-19 crisis. The defence had agreed to this – they did not have to.

Sturgeon’s role in the botched internal process will be explored in a forthcoming parliamentary inquiry, while a standards panel will look into the meetings and phone calls she had with Salmond while the investigation was ongoing. If she is found to have breached the ministerial code then her position will be challenged.

Lied to parliament is also something of a problem.

For now, the coronavirus crisis is all that matters, but Salmond is not going anywhere, and there will come a time when these issues must be addressed.

What happens to Sturgeon has implications both for the nationalist project. While Salmond was a guerilla fighter – the perfect leader for an insurgency – Sturgeon is a stateswoman respected on the international stage. To those who dream of an independent Scotland within Europe, her resignation would be a disaster.

Really? I think Joanna Cherry might pick up that mantle and do rather better. So do a great many folk.

The SNP which once saw itself as a united force – an us-again-the-world kind of party – is divided as never before. The faultlines began to appear shortly after the IndyRef as its tight ranks were swelled by thousands of new members. Left vs right; veterans vs newbies.

For a while Sturgeon pacified her squabbling brood, supporting, mollifying, giving an occasional ticking off, but mostly just telling everyone what they needed to hear. When the Salmond allegations exploded into the public domain, however, there was little she could do to keep tempers in check.

By the time he launched his crowd-funder, two distinct camps had formed and #IstandwithSalmond and #IstandwithSturgeon hashtags were circulating on Twitter. These camps have become more entrenched with time, compounded by acrimonious debate around the Scottish government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which is part real, part proxy for the wider power struggle.

This SNP civil war stuff is a nonsense. The group that tried to bring down Salmond controls many levers of party power, but ultimately 99.9% of the membership are focused on Independence not on fourth wave feminism, and that cannot be held back.

The claim this is anything to do with the Gender Reform Act is a nonsense. There are different views on the GRA. I am a strong supporter of Alex Salmond and a sceptic about Sturgeon’s commitment to Independence, but I support the GRA. There is no such clear fault line. The vast majority of members just want Independence.

This power struggle is about to be played out in miniature as Angus Robertson (Team Nicola) and Joanna Cherry (Team Alex) battle it out to be selected as the party’s candidate for Edinburgh Central in next year’s Holyrood elections. This is destined to be a dirty fight. At the same time, the SNP is struggling with its domestic agenda. Thirteen years is a long time for any party to be in power and there is a growing frustration with its lack of fresh ideas.

There is no sense in which Joanna Cherry is a cypher for Alex Salmond, nor for anybody else. Her very strong feminism, of the sensible, grounded kind (which I 100% support) is also a factor here. Garavelli cannot pitch this as a split between Salmond and feminism, and then say Cherry is Team Alex. (I am not sure Angus Robertson is still going to be a candidate. Somebody told me the other day he might be held back by some family issues.)

All this is being played out against a backdrop of national turmoil: Brexit, for example, and now the coronavirus, which may have raised Sturgeon’s credibility, but also impacted on the prospects of a second referendum.

One recent poll put support for Scottish independence at 52%, but Johnson has consistently said he will refuse Sturgeon a Section 30 order granting powers to hold a fresh vote, so things are at an impasse. Few in Scottish politics now believe there will be a second referendum before next year’s Holyrood elections and possibly not for quite some time after that.

And now this. Salmond’s acquittal is a grenade. When he lost his Westminster seat, he quoted from a Jacobite song, ‘Bonnie Dundee’. “You have not seen the last of my bonnets and me,” he said. But will he really stage a comeback?

Though his supporters would relish it, it is hard to see how he could shrug off the reputational damage the trial has done. More likely he will wield his power from the shadows, manipulating, undermining, bringing his influence to bear. And trying to destroy his former ally. There seems no doubt if he can bring Sturgeon down he will, and to hell with what that does to the cause.

I doubt he has to do anything. Knowingly lying to parliament is hard to survive. I am however picking up one interesting undercurrent. Sturgeon supporters and the Unionist establishment have united against Alex Salmond, because they both want to stop any move towards early Independence,  as Garavelli quite rightly notes. The buzz at Holyrood is that the unionist parties may drop or hobble the parliamentary inquiry into the Salmond affair, in order to help Sturgeon survive and prevent any prospect of a renewed push for Independence. An interesting possibility worth watching closely.

What cultural message would it send out, though, if the chief casualty of this sorry affair turned out to be a progressive female leader?

I think it would send the message that she was elected by people who expected her to use the mandate for a new Independence Referendum, and she bowed her head to Westminster rather than do that. SNP members are focused on Independence, which Dan seems unable to grasp.

For all the political questions that are being asked in the aftermath of the trial, there are many gender-related ones which are not.

For example: why did special advisers, such as Geoff Aberdein – who knew of the concerns over Salmond’s behaviour – fail to act? Ditto those at the top of the Civil Service?

Actually Mr Aberdein testified that he did not know, other than of Woman F, where action was taken under civil service procedure (before her account became exaggerated).

What can be done to stop online bloggers and tweeters, with no understanding of the law, peddling inaccuracies about the trial, the verdict and the women who made the allegations?

I don’t know the answer to your question,  but this sounds like a worrying call for censorship to me.

But then, what can be done to stop a  “journalist” like Dani Garavelli writing lie after lie after lie about the case and ignoring totally all the evidence of defence witnesses,  with the entire establishment, both unionist and Sturgeon supporting, lining up behind her to amplify her lies?

What lessons can be learned about the handling of sexual offences from a case in which the unwanted touching of women in the course of carrying out their professional duties has been down-played?

I can offer one suggestion. When you have clear evidence of a conspiracy to fit somebody up, instead of a corrupt Crown Office and Police, you have honest ones who prosecute the conspirators and not the person being fitted up?

What impact will hearing a Defence QC ask: “Do you call that groping?” have on other women uncertain about whether or not to come forward? And whither #MeToo – a movement built on female solidarity – in a world where communicating with other women can be presented as collusion?

There were very genuine questions here in a case which, whether Garavelli likes it or not, pushed at the boundaries of what has hitherto been accepted as “sexual assault”. Putting your hands on someones arms over their sleeves is not generally construed as sexual assault, but it was so charged here. The account by Witness J of having a hand put on her leg immediately above her knee during a very brief car ride is also genuinely interesting.

This trial does not give an answer, because the defence was that it did not happen, and that a fixed armrest containing an installed phone in the particular car would have prevented it, as testified by the driver and Alex Salmond. But is a hand on a clothed leg just above the knee actually sexual assault, when the recipient says, as in this case, they did not indicate disapproval? I am not asking that as a rhetorical question. I genuinely do not know where the law now stands. “Do you call that groping?” is not an illegitimate question.

When does collusion count as conspiracy? The difficulty here is that when people concert their actions, they cannot at the same time claim to be independent and corroborative.  But I think if Ms Garavelli may show a little patience, it is going to become very plain indeed this was conspiracy as the debarred evidence comes out.

These are the issues preoccupying the complainants as they try to pick up the pieces of their lives amid a torrent of abuse.

“I worry that some of the commentary in the aftermath of the trial has been damaging, not only for the public discourse, but for our own safety and welfare,” says one.

Woman K wants her experience to be a catalyst for change. “I don’t want it to end like this – something good has to come of it,” she says. “We are privileged women in so many ways. We are all highly educated, we all know the ins and outs of government, the language of bureaucracy, and even we feel helpless and voiceless.

“If we can help make the system work better for women in the future then that, at least, would be something.”

Do you remember that two direct eyewitnesses who were watching said that Ms K’s allegation simply did not happen? Ms Garavelli seems not to have noticed. Again, the article relies on emotional solidarity for the nameless 9 and simply accepts their claim of victimhood, even though the jury did not.

The experience has been traumatic, but most of the women I have spoken to say they would do it again.

“Though it has been awful, at least I know I did what I could,” says one. Another agrees she felt a responsibility to her fellow complainers.

“I have been a feminist all my life,” she says. “I have talked about how women should speak out – so then, when it’s my turn, I couldn’t say: ‘Someone else needs to do that, not me.’ If things are going to change, I have to help change them.”

I have no doubt they would do it again. They have got away with it very well. They have damaged both Salmond and Independence – though they will come to see just how superficially – and are all able to keep churning out interviews and statements under the cloak of anonymity. I am quite sure some of the Nameless 9 actually believe that there actions were justified in a wider cause #metoo #Weinstein.

I can tell you what happens next. Dani Garavelli will tell us how dreadfully upset she was by my article. She will claim to have received anonymous threats from “cybernats”, using of course Scots phrases, and to have needed to ask the police for protection. The Integrity Initiative might even burn some “cybernat” identities to send her threats. She will hide or delete the twitter and other social media accounts because f “harassment”, if which there will be no useful proof.

Because Garavelli is part of a one trick pony club. Their one weapon is the claim of victimhood. Even though they are, by any standards, powerful and influential people and much more wealthy than most of us.

These establishment figures conspired to put an innocent man in jail for the rest of his life. To ruin a great reputation. To tear him and his loving wife apart. To damage the chances of Scottish Independence.

The establishment have lost in the highest civil court in the land and in the highest criminal court in the land. Their take is amazing. Now, as Kenny Farquharson of the Times has been tweeting out, anybody who accepts the decision of the High Court and of the Court of Session is a “zoomer”.

The establishment thing to do is now to deride those courts, to portray the jury as stupid, the judges as fossilised, the law as wrong. We are to decry thinking. Logic, reason, evidence, inconvenient defence witnesses are to be discarded.

Instead we are to feel pain. Not Alex Salmond’s pain, he is a man so his does not count. Nor his wife’s, nor the seven female witnesses for the defence. They are the “Wrong Kind of Women” so their pain does not count either. No, please cover your ears like Woman K in her kitchen. Cover your ears to logic and reason. Feel the pain of this woman, shown to have lied in court to try to destroy a man and his family. Feel the pain of Dani Garavelli, attacked for publishing her farrago of lies to the same end. Feel the pain of all women who have been mistreated through the centuries – as indeed I do not for one moment deny in general they have.

Because the truth of this individual case does not matter, you see. OK, in this individual case the evidence showed he was innocent and the jury went with that. But that does not have to stop you. You do not have to hear or see that evidence. You just have to feel the pain. Then you can crush and destroy this human being completely without remorse or concern for truth. Because he was only human anyway. He was a powerful man. That made him by definition evil, and the women in the right. Even if they lied.

In the final analysis, the question Garavelli’s article raises is whether the wider sweep of the feminist movement against historic injustice, justifies ignoring the actual facts and evidence, in a particular case of one powerful but innocent man.

I believe I know the answer.

Do you?

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post “I Have a Plan So That We Can Remain Anonymous But Have Maximum Effect” appeared first on Craig Murray.

How It Starts

Par craig

The brevity of this post is out of proportion to the enormous importance of the subject. But I want to let you know I am thinking and working on it.

It is a recognised pattern for dictatorship to commence with emergency measures designed to combat a threat. Those emergency measures then become normalised and people exercising arbitrary power find it addictive. A new threat is then found to justify the continuation

It is by no means clear to me that it is a rational response to covid-19 to tear up all of the civil liberties which were won by the people against authority through centuries of struggle, and for which people died. To say that is not to minimise the threat of covid-19. It is also worth pointing out that a coronavirus pandemic was a widely foreseen eventuality. People keep sending me links to various TV shows or movies based on a coronavirus pandemic, generally claiming this proves it is a man-made event. No, that just proves it is a widely foreseen event. Which it is.

The lack of contingency preparedness is completely indefensible. It is partly a result of the stupidity of Tory austerity that has the NHS permanently operating at 100% capacity with no contingency, and partly the result of the crazed just-in time thinking that permeates management in all spheres and eliminates the holding of stock.

It is incredible to me that the UK is willing to throw away some £220 billion and rising on Trident against a war scenario nobody can sensibly define, but was not willing to spend a few million on holding stock of protective clothing for the NHS against the much more likely contingency of a pandemic. What does that say about our society?

Anyway, we are where we are. Nobody knows how deadly this virus is. There have not been, anywhere, sufficient reliable large general population samples to know what percentage of people who get the virus will die. We just do not know how many people in the UK have had it and not got seriously ill. My suspicion is that in a couple of years time it will be discovered the mortality rate was under 1%. But I do not know, and I do not blame the government for making worst assumptions in the absence of reliable scientific evidence. Personally, I am obeying lockdown and would advise others to do so too until the situation is clearer. But I do not want to see the police harassing people for going on a long walk or posting a letter. It really is a problem to have police empowered to stop and question a citizen for just walking in the street. It is also a problem that Peter Hitchens is being reviled for saying, in essence, little more than that. When you can’t criticise restrictions on liberty, you know society has entered a very dark phase indeed.

I would feel much more comfortable if they were open about what they do not know. All the excuses for not testing people rather than admit they did not have the tests rather rattles trust. The ability of the rich and well-connected to access tests also rattles trust.

But none of this justifies rule by fiat – if Parliament cannot sit, I personally believe it would benefit the nations of the UK to have no new laws for a while. There are too many laws already. It does not justify banning political gathering. I don’t recommend anyone to gather, and I don’t imagine they would gather, but the evil of banning political activity is much more serious than the danger of four lonely people in Solihull getting together to talk about coronavirus restrictions.

It certainly does not justify banning jury trials, which the Scottish government has just dropped from today’s Bill after a revolt led by Joanna Cherry. The bill still weakens the defence in trials by allowing pre-taped video evidence and dispensing with the right to cross-examine. If the accusers had been allowed to get away with their lies in the Alex Salmond trial without cross-examination, the result might have been very different. For God’s sake, if you cannot do justice, suspend it. Do not dispense rough justice.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

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Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post How It Starts appeared first on Craig Murray.

Daily Record Investigates My Home and Finances

Par craig

The day after I publish my article accusing the corporate media of being an active part of the conspiracy against Alex Salmond, and of giving disgracefully selective, slanted and biased coverage of the evidence of his trial, the Daily Record has decided to investigate my home and personal finances. Is not life full of little coincidences?

I received this email from the Daily Record’s political editor.

I replied to him politely. This was probably a mistake – I should have just told him where to go.

But I cannot get over the idea that this is absolutely illegitimate. It is a plain attempt to bully and harass me for having published the truth about what really lay behind the Alex Salmond case. Who put up the Daily Record up to launching an investigation into my personal circumstances? It is of course the paper to which was leaked the very detailed and most salacious of the false accusations against Salmond. Who trawled the land register to find my home purchase?

The key point is not one mainstream media journalist has even attempted to refute the facts of my article J’accuse. It is packed with facts. Might not the political editor of the Daily Record better spend his time researching the conspiracy against Alex Salmond, rather than threatening an independent journalist for the crime of doing journalism?

I greatly dislike bullies. I do hope you feel the same. Mr Hutcheon’s contact details are there. If any of you feel like phoning, texting or emailing Mr Hutcheon to suggest he might be better employed investigating the facts of my article about the Salmond fit-up, rather than pursuing a journalist, you would earn my eternal gratitude.

It goes without saying that this blog is free to read. I have always stated that I do not wish anybody to support my work if it costs them the slightest personal hardship. If anybody wishes to cancel their subscription because I am doing up a house to run as a b & b, I shall not be in the slightest upset.

UPDATE the Daily Record have now published their stunning investigative article, together with a large picture of my house. My wife and family are very upset by this.

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/alex-salmond-blogger-trial-high-21789285

What I am now waiting for is all these people to step in and condemn the publishing of my home and the subsequent risk to the security of my wife and family, with as much vigour as they today defended the privacy of the Edinburgh third house of the Head of MI6.

Tumbleweed rolls by.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

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J’Accuse

Par craig

A 22 person team from Police Scotland worked for over a year identifying and interviewing almost 400 hoped-for complainants and witnesses against Alex Salmond. This resulted in nil charges and nil witnesses. Nil. The accusations in court were all fabricated and presented on a government platter to the police by a two prong process. The first prong was the civil service witch hunt presided over by Leslie Evans and already condemned by Scotland’s highest civil court as “unlawful, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”. The second prong was the internal SNP process orchestrated by a group at the very top in SNP HQ and the First Minister’s Private Office. A key figure in the latter was directly accused in court by Alex Salmond himself of having encouraged a significant number of the accusers to fabricate incidents.

The only accusations Police Scotland could take forward were given to them by this process. Their long and expensive trawl outside the tiny closed group of accusers revealed nothing. Let me say that again. Police Scotland’s long and expensive trawl outside the tiny closed group of accusers revealed nothing at all.

Let me give you an example. I have personally read an account by a woman who was contacted by the police and asked to give evidence. She was called in for formal interview by the police. The massive police fishing expedition had turned up the fact that, years ago, Alex Salmond had been seen to kiss this woman in the foyer of a theatre. She was asked if she wished to make a complaint of sexual assault against Alex Salmond. The woman was astonished. She told them she remembered the occasion and Alex, who was a friend, had simply kissed her on the cheeks in greeting. No, of course she did not wish to complain. She felt they were trying to push her to do so.

That is typical of hundreds of interviews in the most extensive and expensive fishing expedition in Scottish police history. That turned up nothing. Zilch. Nada.

What the police did get was eye witness evidence that several of the allegations they had been handed by the closed group were fabricated. Two eye witnesses, for example, appeared in court who had been within six feet of the alleged buttock grab during a Stirling Castle photocall. Both had been watching the photo being taken. Both testified nothing had happened. The police had that evidence. But they ignored it. A more startling example is below.

You may be interested to know the police also spent a great deal of time attempting to substantiate the “incident” at Edinburgh airport that has been so frequently recycled by the mainstream media over years. MI5 also hired a London security consultancy to work on this story. The reason so many resouces were expended is that they were desperate to stand up this claim as the only incident from outside the tiny cabal of Scottish government insiders.

They discovered the actual Edinburgh airport “incident” was that Alex Salmond had made a rather excruciating pun about “killer heels” when the footwear of a female member of staff had set off the security scanner gate. This had been reported as a sexist comment in the context of a much wider dispute about staff conditions. That is it. “Killer heels”. A joke. No charge arose from this particular substantial waste of police time, in which the involvement of MI5 is highly noteworthy.

You will probably know that I too faced politically motivated accusations of sexual misconduct from the state, in my case the FCO, when I blew the whistle on British government collusion in torture and extraordinary rendition. I too was eventually cleared of all charges. When you are facing such charges, there comes a moment when you reveal the evidence to those defending you. They, of course, will not necessarily have presumed your innocence. I recount in Murder in Samarkand this moment in my own case, when after going through all the evidence my representative turned to me and said in some astonishment “You really didn’t do any of this, did you?”. He had been disinclined to believe the British government really was trying to fit me up, until he saw the evidence.

In Alex Salmond’s case, after going through all the evidence, his legal team were utterly bemused as to why it was Alex Salmond who was being prosecuted; rather than the members of the WhatsApp group and senders of the other messages, texts and emails being prosecuted for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. There could not be a plainer conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Not only were members of this very small political grouping orchestrating complaints in the documented communications, they were encouraging their creation.

It is much worse than that. There is plain reference to active and incorrect communication from the SNP hierarchy to Police Scotland and the Crown Office.The reason that Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal’s office prosecuted the victim of the conspiracy rather than the conspirators, is that they had themselves been politically hijacked to be part of the fit-up. I fully realise the implications of that statement and I make it with the greatest care. Let me say it again. The reason that Police Scotland and the Procurator Fiscal’s office prosecuted the victim of the conspiracy rather than the conspirators, is that they had themselves been politically hijacked to be part of the fit-up. Just how profound are the ramifications of this case for the Scottish establishment has so far been appreciated by very few people.

Alex Salmond’s counsel, in his summing up for the defence, said that the evidence of collusion and conspiracy in the case “stinks”. It certainly does; and the stench goes an awful long way. A new unionist online meme today is to ask why the accusers would put themselves at risk of prosecution for perjury. The answer is that there is no such risk; the police and prosecutors, the Scottish government including, but not only, as represented by the accusers, have all been part of the same joint enterprise to stitch up Alex Salmond. That is why there is still no investigation into perjury or conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, despite the evidence not just of the trial but of the documents and texts which the judge prevented from being led as “collateral”.

I cannot begin to imagine how evil you have to be to attempt falsely to convict someone of that most vicious, most unforgivable of crimes – rape. But it is impossible to have followed the trial, still more impossible to know the evidence that the judge ruled inadmissible as collateral, without forming the view that this was a deliberate, a most wicked, conspiracy to fit him up on these charges. Furthermore it was a conspiracy that incorporated almost the entire Establishment – a conspiracy that included a corrupt Scottish Government, a corrupt Crown Office, a corrupt Scottish Police and an uniformly corrupt media.

Coverage of the trial was a disgrace. The most salacious accusations of the odious prosecutor were selected and magnified into massive headlines. The defence witnesses were almost totally ignored and unreported. The entire stream of evidence from credible witnesses that disproved the prosecution case in its entirety was simply never presented in the papers, still less on radio and TV. A great deal of that evidence proved that prosecution witnesses were not merely mistaken, but had been deliberately and coldly lying.

Let us consider the lead accusation, that of attempted rape. I want you honestly to consider whether or not this should have been brought before the court.

Woman H claimed that Salmond attempted to rape her after a small dinner with Alex Salmond, an actor (the publication of whose name the court banned), and Ms Samantha Barber, a company director. Salmond gave evidence that the entire story was completely untrue and the woman had not even been there that evening. Samantha Barber gave evidence that she knows woman H well, had been a guest at her wedding reception, and that woman H had phoned and asked her to attend the dinner with the specific explanation she could not be there herself. Indeed, affirmed Ms Barber, woman H definitely was not there. She had given that firm evidence to the police.

Against that, there was a vague statement by the actor that he believed a fourth person had been present, but he described her hair colour as different to woman H, described her as wearing jeans when woman H said she was wearing a dress, and did not say the woman had her arm in a sling – which it was established woman H’s arm was at that time. One arm in a sling would be pretty debilitating in eating and the sort of detail about a fellow diner at a very small dinner party you would likely remember.

Given the very firm statement from Samantha Barber, her friend, that woman H was definitely not there, a number of lawyers and police officers with whom I have discussed this have all been perplexed that the charge was brought at all, with such a strong witness to rebut it, given that the police were relying on an extremely tentative identification from the actor (who did not appear in court to be cross-examined). The truth is, as the jury found, that woman H was not physically there when she said the incident took place. Woman H had lied. More importantly, the evidence available to the police and prosecutor fiscal showed that there was never any realistic prospect of conviction.

So why was the charge brought?

You might also wish to consider this. While the jury was considering its verdict, two members of the jury were removed. Here I know more than I can legally say at present. That might be put together with the chance that somebody was tailing Alex Salmond’s defence counsel and video recording his conversation on a train. If you look at the recording, it is obvious that if it were being taken with a mobile phone, that act of recording would have been very plainly visible to Mr Jackson. It appears far more likely this was done with a concealed device, possibly routed through a mobile phone for purposes of metadata.

I only have definite good source information on MI5 involvement in the attempt to dredge up charges at Edinburgh airport. While I have no direct evidence the juror expulsion or the Jackson tape were underlain by security service surveillance, I am very suspicious given the knowledge that MI5 were engaged in the witch-hunt. Which of course also begs the question that if any of the alleged incidents inside Bute House were true, the state would by now have produced the MI5 or GCHQ/NSA recordings to prove it (claiming they were sourced from elsewhere). Salmond has been considered by them a threat to the UK state for decades, and not only over Scottish Independence.

I also ask you to consider who has been, and who has not been, persecuted. Alex Salmond stood in the dock facing total ruin. The conspirators have faced not even questioning about their collusion.

I have published the only detailed account of the defence case. In consequence not only was I slung out of court by the judge on a motion of the prosecution, and threatened with jail by the Crown Office for contempt of court, the judge also made an order making it illegal to publish the fact that I had been barred from the court, in effect a super injunction. Yet the mainstream media, who published ludicrously selective and salacious extracts from the proceedings designed deliberately to make Salmond appear guilty, have received no threats from the Crown Office. They continue to churn out article after article effectively claiming Salmond is guilty and massively distorting the facts of the case.

One consequence of the extreme media bias is that lies which were told by the prosecution are still being repeated as fact. The lie that a policy and/or practice was put into place to prevent women working alone in the evenings with Alex Salmond, was comprehensively demolished by four separate senior civil service witnesses, one of them a prosecution witness. That was never media reported and the lie is still continually repeated.

It is only the person who published the truth, as agreed by the jury, who faces hostile action from the state.

Because the only thing that was not fixed about this entire affair was the jury. And they may well have contrived to nobble even that with jury expulsion.

We should be very grateful to that jury of solid Edinburgh citizens, two thirds of them female. They were diligent, they did their duty, and they thwarted a great injustice in the midst of a media hanging frenzy that has to have impacted upon them, and probably still does.

I would however state that, up until she inexplicably expelled me from the court, I had found Lady Dorrian’s handling of the trial entirely fair and reasonable. Equally it was a judicial decision in the Court of Session that had found the Scottish Government process against Salmond to be “unlawful, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”.

Which brings me on to the role of the Head of the Scottish Civil Service, Leslie Evans. “We may have lost a battle, but we will win the war”. That is how, in January 2019, Leslie Evans had messaged a colleague the day they lost in the Court of Session. It is an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle of these people that the colleague she messaged was in the Maldives at the time.

It is incredible that after a process Evans claimed in court to have “established” was described as unlawful and unfair by a very senior judge, her first thought was on “winning the war”. That message alone is sufficient to sack Leslie Evans. Is shows that rather than being a civil servant engaged in an effort to administer justly, she was engaged as parti pris in a bitter battle to take down Alex Salmond. She would not even accept the verdict of the Court of Session. It astonishes me, as a former member for six years of the senior civil service myself, that any civil servant could commit themselves in that way to try ruthlessly to take down a former First Minister, with no heed whatsoever either to fair process or to the decision of the courts.

It is quite simply astonishing that Ms Evans has not been sacked.

Well, Leslie Evans did carry on her war. At the cost of many millions to the Scottish taxpayer, she has now lost the battle in both Scotland’s highest civil court and in Scotland’s highest criminal court. The campaign to destroy Salmond has been trounced in both the Court of Session and the High Court. That Leslie Evans is still in post is a national scandal. That Nicola Sturgeon a few weeks ago extended Evans’ tenure by a further two years is an appalling misjudgment.

Evans has a particularly unionist outlook and regards her role as head of the Scottish civil service as equivalent to a departmental permanent secretary of the United Kingdom. Evans spends a great deal of time in London. Unlike her predecessor, who regarded Scotland as separate, Evans regularly attends the weekly “Wednesday Morning Colleagues” (WMC) meeting of Whitehall permanent secretaries, chaired by the Westminster Cabinet Secretary. She much values her position in the UK establishment. What kind of Head of the Scottish Civil Service spends the middle of the week in London?

Rather than any action being taken against the perpetrators of this disgraceful attempt to pervert the course of justice, even after their plot has been roundly rejected in the High Court, the Scottish Government appears to be doubling down in its accusations against Alex Salmond through the medium of the state and corporate media, which is acting in complete unison. It has now been widely briefed against Salmond that Police Scotland has passed a dossier to the Metropolitan Police on four other accusations, set at Westminster.

What the media has not told you is that these accusations are from exactly the same group of conspirators; indeed from some of the actual same accusers. They also do not tell you that these accusations are even weaker than those pursued in Scotland.

In the massive effort to prove “pattern of behaviour” in Alex Salmond’s recent trial, incidents which happened outwith Scottish jurisdiction could be presented as evidence in a separate “docket”. Thus the defence heard evidence from the “Chinese docket” of Salmond “attempting to touch” a colleague’s hair in a hotel lift in China. Well, the London “docket” was considered even weaker than that, so it was not led in the Edinburgh trial. The idea that Leslie Evans’ “war” against Salmond will be won in an English court, having failed in both the civil and criminal Scottish courts, is just black propaganda.

As is the continued campaign to claim that Salmond is really guilty, carried on by Rape Crisis Scotland. They yesterday published a statement by the nine anonymous accusers attacking Salmond further, and rather amusingly the nine wrote together to deny they were associated with each other. It seems to me entirely illegitimate for this group to be able to conduct a continued campaign of political harassment of Alex Salmond from behind the cloak of state-enforced anonymity, after he has been acquitted of all charges. I understand the reasoning behind anonymity for accusers in sex allegations. But surely state backed anonymity should not be used to enable the continued repetition of false accusations without fear of defamation law, after the jury has acquitted? That is perverse.

It is also a fact that Rape Crisis Scotland is just another instrument of the Scottish government, being almost entirely funded by the Scottish government. There is a very serious infringement of public conduct here. One of the nine conspirators, whose statement is being amplified by Rape Crisis Scotland, is personally very directly involved in the channeling of government money to Rape Crisis Scotland. That is a gross abuse of office and conflict of interest and should be a resignation matter. Here again, direct wrongdoing is being carried out from behind the screen of state-backed anonymity.

Let me give you this thought. Alex Salmond having been acquitted, you would think that the unionist media would seek to capitalise by training its guns on those at the head of the SNP who sought to frame him, who after all are still in power. But instead, the unionist media is entirely committed to attacking Salmond, in defiance of all the facts of the case. That shows you who it is the British establishment are really afraid of. It also confirms what I have been saying for years, that the SNP careerist establishment have no genuine interest in Scottish Independence and are not perceived by Whitehall as a threat to the union. And in that judgement at least, Whitehall is right.

I should state that in this article I have, absolutely against my own instincts, deferred to Alex Salmond’s noble but in my view over-generous wish to wait until the Covid-19 virus has passed before giving all the names of those involved and presenting the supporting documents. I have therefore removed several names from this article. Alex Salmond believes that it is wrong to move on this at a time when many people are suffering and grieving, and he has stated that it would indeed be narcissistic to think of his own troubles at this time of wider calamity. I find this extremely upsetting when his enemies are showing absolutely no respect nor restraint whatsoever and are engaged in full-on attack on his reputation. I can assure you this is even more frustrating for me than for you. But while the mills of God grind slowly, they grind exceedingly small.

Those who do not know Scotland are astonished that the Alex Salmond trial and its fallout have not damaged support in the polls for Independence nor even for the SNP. I am not in the least surprised – the reawakening of the national consciousness of the Scottish people is an unstoppable process. If you want to see it, look not at any single politician but at the mass enthusiasm of one of the great, self-organised AUOB marches. The spirit of Independence rides the SNP as the available vehicle to achieve its ends. It is no longer primarily inspired nor controlled by the SNP – indeed the SNP leadership is blatantly trying to dampen it down, with only marginal success. This great movement of a nation is not to be disturbed by fleeting events.

That is not to underplay the importance of events for those caught up in them. As Alex Salmond stood in the dock, he was very probably staring at the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison, of never being with his wife Moira again, and of having his reputation as Scotland’s greatest national leader for centuries erased. The party hierarchy had already overseen the Stalinesque scrubbing of his image and name from all online content under the SNP’s control. The future now looks very different, and I am cheered by the brighter horizon.

Let me finish this article by observing that the British state continues to keep the unconvicted Julian Assange in conditions of appalling detention and receiving brutal personal treatment reserved normally for the most dangerous terrorists. The British state has refused to let Assange out of jail to avert the danger of Covid-19. By contrast the government of Iran has allowed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe out of prison to reduce her danger from the epidemic. Which of these governments is portrayed as evil by the state and corporate media?

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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I

The post J’Accuse appeared first on Craig Murray.

Covid-19: UK Withdrawal from the EU Single Market Must Be Postponed to 2023

Par craig

The enormous economic impact of the reaction to Covid-19 is plain for all to see. The effect on economies – which had barely recovered to 2008 levels after the great Banker Theft crisis – is enormous. You cannot just close down businesses and expect them all to restart three months later. Plus the hit to personal finances is going to result in a huge and lasting reduction in consumer demand, exaggerated by what I predict will be a much higher propensity to save against future disaster. Even optimistic economists are expecting a 15% drop in GDP and slow recovery. At recent levels it is going to take some seven years of compound economic growth to recover that.

I always argued that England and Wales should leave the EU as had been democratically decided by the electorate, and an Independent Scotland should not as similarly decided. My personal enthusiasm for the EU’s political institutions disappeared after their enthusiastic backing for the repression in Catalonia. But I also always believed, and still believed, that a hard Brexit was madness and that a Norway or Switzerland style relationship made sense – which approximates fairly well to the position the UK currently is in until the transition period ends at the turn of the year.

To leave the EU customs union and single market will be a massive short term economic dislocation. Even to consider doing this on top of the economic crisis caused by the reaction to Covid-19 ought to be unthinkable and I suspect that it is. There is no way that the UK can crash out of the single market in January 2021 in these circumstances, and I suspect that even this Westminster government may be forced to admit that soon.

I might add that the government measures to alleviate the economic impact of covid-19 in the UK are going to run aground in a fog of inertia, largely as the result of the UK having crippled its own bureaucratic machine though a decade of extreme cuts to staffing and capabilities. I myself tried to organise a COVID business interruption loan for the music festivals, and after many hours of effort was finally told by Natwest Bank that the regulations state that:

1) If the bank would normally grant the loan on commercial terms, it must do so without the government COVID guarantee
2) The bank may not grant the loan unless it would normally do so on commercial terms

Which means it is impossible to get the government’s purported loan guarantee. I assumed this was just Natwest being obstructive, but then I discovered this is precisely what the government scheme says.

Not so much Covid 19 as Covid 22. The actual effect in practice will be that the only people able to access the billions in government guaranteed funds for business interruption will be very wealthy Tory businessmen who don’t actually need the money. The sad thing is, that is not in the least surprising.

One thing of which we can be certain is that the depression will be used by the Tories to bring in another decade of austerity, of further abandonment of the economic potential of the state actor, and of attacks on the living standards of the poorest in society. It is important now to start working on a counter-plan of economic planning and investment to build a fairer and greener economy, with much more localism and resilience, once the current crisis has passed. Here in Scotland, that can show the alternative path which Independence can bring; in the rest of the UK it can bring a new focus for societal resistance to the Tories. Empathy, solidarity, localism and resilience are all virtues that are not valued by neo-liberalism. That society is rediscovering them could yet open the way to a brighter future.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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BIC NWBKGB2L
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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Covid-19: UK Withdrawal from the EU Single Market Must Be Postponed to 2023 appeared first on Craig Murray.

Assange Bail Application Today

Par craig

Unfortunately I am in lockdown at home in Edinburgh and cannot get down to Westminster Magistrates Court for Julian Assange’s urgent bail application today. Several hearings ago, Magistrate Baraitser stated pre-emptively that she would not grant bail, before any application had been made. Today’s application will argue that Assange’s ill health puts him at extreme danger from COVID-19, and that prison conditions make it impossible to avoid infection.

The government has stated that it is actively considering releasing some prisoners to reduce prison populations because of COVID-19. That a non-violent remand prisoner, whose current position is an innocent man facing charges in a foreign state, is in the fortress Belmarsh prison is already self-evidently ludicrous.

Both the British Government and Vanessa Baraitser personally came in for extreme criticism from the highly authoritative International Bar Association over both the conditions in which he is being held and over the conduct of his extradition hearing to date. This is from the International Bar Association’s own website:

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) condemns the reported mistreatment of Julian Assange during his United States extradition trial in February 2020, and urges the government of the United Kingdom to take action to protect him. According to his lawyers, Mr Assange was handcuffed 11 times; stripped naked twice and searched; his case files confiscated after the first day of the hearing; and had his request to sit with his lawyers during the trial, rather than in a dock surrounded by bulletproof glass, denied.

The UK hearing, which began on Monday 24 February 2020 at Woolwich Crown Court in London, UK, will decide whether the WikiLeaks founder, Mr Assange, will be extradited to the US, where he is wanted on 18 charges of attempted hacking and breaches of the 1917 Espionage Act. He faces allegations of collaborating with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to leak classified documents, including exposing alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. The hearing was adjourned after four days, with proceedings set to resume on 18 May 2020.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, commented: ‘The IBAHRI is concerned that the mistreatment of Julian Assange constitutes breaches of his right to a fair trial and protections enshrined in the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which the UK is party. It is deeply shocking that as a mature democracy in which the rule of law and the rights of individuals are preserved, the UK Government has been silent and has taken no action to terminate such gross and disproportionate conduct by Crown officials. As well, we are surprised that the presiding judge has reportedly said and done nothing to rebuke the officials and their superiors for such conduct in the case of an accused whose offence is not one of personal violence. Many countries in the world look to Britain as an example in such matters. On this occasion, the example is shocking and excessive. It is reminiscent of the Abu Grahib Prison Scandal which can happen when prison officials are not trained in the basic human rights of detainees and the Nelson Mandela Rules.’

In accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998, which came into force in the UK in October 2000, every person tried in the UK is entitled to a fair trial (Article 6) and freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment (Article 3). Similarly, Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights upholds an individual’s right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc, commented: ‘The IBAHRI concurs with the widespread concern over the ill-treatment of Mr Assange. He must be afforded equality in access to effective legal representation. With this extradition trial we are witnessing the serious undermining of due process and the rule of law. It is troubling that Mr Assange has complained that he is unable to hear properly what is being said at his trial, and that because he is locked in a glass cage is prevented from communicating freely with his lawyers during the proceedings commensurate with the prosecution.’

A recent report from Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Inhumane Treatment, presented during the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council (24 February – 20 March 2020), argues that the cumulative effects of Mr Assange’s mistreatment over the past decade amount to psychological torture. If Mr Assange was viewed as a victim of psychological torture, his extradition would be illegal under international human rights law.

117 medical doctors, including several world prominent experts in the field, had published a letter in the Lancet warning that Assange’s treatment amounts to torture and that he could die in jail.

Should Assange die in a UK prison, as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has warned, he will effectively have been tortured to death. Much of that torture will have taken place in a prison medical ward, on doctors’ watch. The medical profession cannot afford to stand silently by, on the wrong side of torture and the wrong side of history, while such a travesty unfolds.

You may recall that I myself concluded that the extraordinary and oppressive treatment of Assange, and the refusal of Baraitser to act to ameliorate it, could only be part of a deliberate policy to cause his death. I could, and can, think of no other possible explanation.

If the authorities now refuse to allow him out on bail during the Covid-19 outbreak, I do not see how anybody can possibly argue there is any intention other than to cause his death.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Assange Bail Application Today appeared first on Craig Murray.

Tomorrow is Another Day

Par craig

I have received very many messages waiting for my take on the Alex Salmond acquittal. There is much to say and a need to take serious decisions about exactly when to reveal various crucial elements of information, because while the truth is vital, there can be a legitimate question at which moment it does most good. The most stunning information is in danger of being swamped by COVID-19 at the moment.

Secondly, you will not perhaps be surprised to hear that there has been some serious happiness in the Murray household today. This subject is best tackled stone cold sober.

It is tonight worth reflecting that people seeking to still cast aspersions are attacking the jury, who were diligent and contained nine women whom they are disparaging. Nine women on a jury drawn from No voting Edinburgh. A jury who for the last few years have been, like everybody else, indoctrinated with the rubric that it is a terrible moral wrong to doubt the word of an accuser making any sexual allegation #Ibelieveher.

I was worried that this was James Stewart of the Glen before a jury of Campbells all over again, but this jury looked carefully at the actual evidence before them, evidence that was – and still is now post verdict – in no way reflected fairly in the highly selective coverage of the mainstream media. That jury came to the only decision available to honest and sensible people.

But I want to make one thing quite clear. This is not a case where the major accusations failed because of the difficulty of proving what happened with two people alone in a room. In such cases it is often right to feel real and profound sorrow for the accuser with no means of proof. This was a case where there was very real evidence, from third party after third party, of certain accusers telling definite and deliberate lies. A case where eye witnesses stated categorically that claimed events did not happen. A case where eye witnesses testified people were not physically present when claimed. A case where witnesses testified that reports had not been made, and policies not instituted, as claimed by the prosecution.

A limited amount of evidence was also heard of some of the accusers conspiring together with others, including through a Whatsapp group created for the specific purpose, to fabricate and forward those lies. The vast bulk of evidence on this specific issue of conspiracy was excluded by the court both in pre-trial hearings and by dismissal of witnesses or evidence in the trial itself but, as Alex Salmond indicated from the court steps, will be out in due time.

It is also important to note that two thirds of the accusers – and indeed precisely those two thirds who were involved in lies, fabrications and conspiracy – were and are senior members of the SNP, very much part of the party machine, very much close to the leadership and especially involved in the non-independence related agenda that has taken over the party. With one exception, they are in highly paid party nominated jobs now with the tab picked up by the taxpayer. What we learned in the trial about careerism and self-promotion among those earning a very fat living out of the party’s current domination of Scottish politics was really very unedifying indeed.

That a party which has such a wonderful and committed membership – a membership who make me proud to be a member alongside them – should play host to a parasitic and highly paid professional elite with no discernible interest in Independence is a truly remarkable phenomenon. What we saw revealed in court was a procession of members of the political class who would just have happily have made their careers in the old corrupt Scottish Labour Party if it was still in charge. A major, major clearout is needed.

Now where did I leave my Lagavulin? For once, I feel I have deserved it.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post Tomorrow is Another Day appeared first on Craig Murray.

It’s Not Socialism. It’s Another Mega Wealth Transfer.

Par craig

Amid the COVID-19 panic, it has hardly been noticed that Carphone Warehouse went bust, with 2,900 people losing their jobs. Its co-founder, David Ross, is of course the billionaire that Boris Johnson claimed paid for his luxury holiday to Mustique, whereas Ross claimed he only organised it. Who actually paid is one of those Johnson peccadilloes, like the promotion of Jennifer Arcuri, the Garden Bridge fiasco, the Guppy conversation over beating up Stuart Collier, the Russian Influence report, the question of how many children he really has – I could go on rather a long while here – which will be discreetly downplayed by the state and media nexus.

Ross, like Branson and so many others of the “entrepreneurs” that we are taught to worship, came from a very wealthy background and had the great advantages of capital and connections to boost him up the ladder. To be fair to Ross, unlike for example Philip Green, there is no suggestion that he made his fortune from Carphone Warehouse by systematic asset-stripping. What he did do, which is typical of capitalism today, is with the other directors systematically and legally remove capital as it accumulated from the company into their own personal bank accounts. In the long term this left Carphone Warehouse unable to restructure and adapt to changed market conditions, which it needed to do, as its High Street model failed for reasons unrelated to the current health crisis. Ross also had illegally used his shares as collateral for £162 million of personal loans, for which this major Tory party donor has inexplicably never been prosecuted.

Ross had inherited a very large chunk of shares in, and the chairmanship of, Cosalt Ltd, a maritime supplies company. It went bust with £70 million debt and a £50 million pensions deficit, which ruined the lives of many employees and ex-employees. Inexplicably, after it went bankrupt its best assets were sold by the administrators Price Waterhouse at a knockdown price to… major Tory Party donor David Ross. Who thus made money from his own family company going bust and its pensioners being shafted.

Inexplicably, major Tory Party donor David Ross was not disqualified as a director of other companies by the Insolvency Service when Cosalt, of which he was a chairman, went bankrupt.

About 7% of Ross’s wealth would pay the entire Carphone Warehouse staff being made redundant for a year. That of course will never happen because it is absolutely contrary to the model of capitalism currently operating, in which the ultra wealthy view companies as sources of short term wealth extraction and feel zero connection to the workforce.

There is room to be congratulatory of Rishi Sunak’s active interventionism in the face of the economic crisis caused by the reaction to coronavirus. Many of his interventionist measures are very good, in particular in subsidising wages. It has been rightly and widely noted that to date there is not enough to support those self-employed in the gig economy, while to rely on universal credit to support anybody in crisis is plainly insufficient. But I am here more concerned with the larger macroeconomic measures. Quantitative easing as ever will merely push more money into the financial institutions for them to looad into financial instruments of zero real economic benefit.

The vast bulk of the £330 billion business bailout will find its way in huge tranches into mega-companies. The airline industry has already requested £7.5 billion, to give just one example. That is a series of simple large cheques for an overstretched civil service to write. I strongly suspect that the loans to small businesses, started today, will be slow and bureaucratic and difficult to access. They will be subject to bank interest – the bankers always win – which for a period will be paid by the taxpayer. Many of these measures when you analyse them are in the long term more transfers of money from the taxpayers to the banks.

It has been widely noted that money is suddenly magically available which was denied to industrial strategy and to the NHS for decades. But do not be fooled; this is not a conversion to Keynes by the Tories. In bailing out the airlines, Branson is not going to be asked to put back one penny of his personal wealth, and nor is David Ross nor any of the other billionaires. Those who have made vast fortunes in our ever-expanding wealth gap are not going to be asked to put anything back into the companies or system which they exploited. Massive state subsidies will predominantly go to the biggest companies and benefit the paid agency of the bankers. You and I will pay. The taxpayer will ultimately pick up the tab through what may prove to be another decade of austerity imposed as a result of another transfer of wealth from us to banks, financial institutions and big companies. The small and medium companies which will go to the wall – and a great many will – are going to provide rich pickings in a few months time for the vultures of the hedge funds and other disaster capitalists.

It is fashionable to write articles at the moment stating the Government has discovered the value of socialist intervention. I suspect history will show that nothing could be further from the truth.
——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post It’s Not Socialism. It’s Another Mega Wealth Transfer. appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Long Dark Night of the Soul

Par craig

As many of you will already know, I was excluded from the public gallery of the Alex Salmond trial yesterday. Inside the High Court, in the queue to enter the courtroom, I was suddenly taken aside by the police and told I was barred. The prosecution had made an application to the judge for an order for my removal which the judge had agreed, over a “possible contempt of court.”

I asked the police – who were very pleasant – if they could tell me where the possible contempt lay, but they had no information. Later I phoned the court and was eventually phoned back by the clerk of the court, who was also very pleasant, but he could not tell me where the possible contempt lay either. He could however tell me I was excluded for the duration of the case, not just for the day.

I have to say that I find this process very unsatisfactory. To be excluded from a public trial on the basis of something I have “possibly” done, when nobody will even specify what it is I have “possibly” done, seems to me a very strange proceeding. I can only assume that it is something I have written on this blog as there has been no incident or disturbance of any kind inside the courtroom. But if the judge is genuinely concerned that something I have written is so wrong as to necessitate my exclusion, you would expect there would be a real desire for the court to ask me to amend or remove that wrong thing. But as nobody will even tell me what that wrong thing might “possibly” be, it seems only reasonable to conclude that they are not genuinely concerned, in a legal sense, about something I have written.

I will state openly that if the court asked me to remove or change anything I have written, I would certainly do that. But they have not asked me. They have just chucked me out without explanation. I do not find that satisfactory. It also seems to me very strange indeed, and quite contrary to natural justice, that the prosecution and the judge were formally discussing in secret a motion for my exclusion, while I was standing right outside their door. I was not given a hearing, allowed to be present, or even told it was happening. They knew I was there because the police then came straight to me. That seems to me contrary to all principles of natural justice. I am not a terrorist who needed to be secretly surveilled and dealt with in camera while excluded.

I do not doubt the judge may have the legal powers to do this. But the law is then wrong. Not to mention that this behaviour is extremely discourteous – she should at least have called me in and told me why. That would have taken a minute. And I then could also have removed any material she wished.

All of which – and the threat of prosecution for contempt which carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail – is very unpleasant. But what is far worse is the terrible feeling of helplessness that has resulted. I have scarcely slept at all this night, and it really was a dark night of the soul. Having seen the crushing power of the state operate against both Julian Assange and Alex Salmond in the last month has been dreadful. It is of course, at a philosophical level, the state’s use and abuse of its monopoly of violence, including the violent enforcement of deprivation of liberty. I am excluded from the court by the state’s monopoly of violence, as I would discover very soon if I attempted to re-enter. I find the violence of the state, and its enforcement by officialdom, a more brutal and horrible thing than personal violence, which I abhor. It has kept me awake, in a sea of desolation, to think that how Julian and Alex feel tonight must be a million times worse than I am feeling, which is bad enough.

But it is also the helplessness. In both the Assange and Salmond cases, I felt strongly that by bringing the full and detailed facts of the court proceedings into the light, I was at least doing something for truth and honesty. The detailed accounts I could write in each instance presented a picture that was entirely different to the selective and horribly skewed view of the proceedings being fed to the populace by the state and corporate media. Even if my accounts reached only a few thousand people, a world where a few thousand people know the truth is better than a world of absolute darkness, by a factor of infinity.

Being deprived of that ability at least to hold a little candle in the darkness, at least to bear quiet witness to the truth, has just left me also in darkness. That is where I have been all night, unsleeping, fevered and restless. And today I shall not be in court.

Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 7

Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 8

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post The Long Dark Night of the Soul appeared first on Craig Murray.

Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 8

Par craig

After Day 8, there is a change in the balance of evidence. Previously a popular meme has been that either Alex Salmond must be lying, or 9 separate women must be lying. After today’s evidence we can say that either several of those women must be lying, or a variety of other direct witnesses, female and male, must be lying. There is of course an element of false dichotomy even in this statement of the case, as in a number of instances there is a fair degree of commonality from both prosecution and defence as to actions, but differences as to interpretation or to intent. I can also say without any fear of contradiction that many of the allegations would not meet the definition of a sexual assault as commonly understood by the person in the street. That is not to say they cannot meet a legal definition. There I will bow to the judge – who I continue to find very fair.

The first witness today was Ms Samantha Barber, a company director. She had known Alex Salmond since 1994 when she was working for the SNP as a research assistant for the Euro elections. She had thereafter been employed by the European Parliament, and in 2007 become the Chief Executive of Scottish Business in the Community, a post she still held in 2014. She is now a director of several companies.

In the seven years Alex Salmond was First Minister she had several times been a guest at Bute House for dinner. She had a positive and respectful relationship with Alex Salmond but they were not personal friends outside of business.

She had been a personal friend of Ms H, the accuser who alleged attempted rape, for some years by 2014. They remain friends. She had been invited to the evening reception of Ms H’s wedding. She testified she is also a friend of Ms H’s current husband.

Ms H had telephoned her to invite her to the dinner at Bute house with the (not to be named) actor on 13 June 2014. Ms H in inviting her had stated she (Ms H) was not able to be there. In fact Ms H had indeed not been at the dinner. Ms Barber had arrived that evening at around 7pm. She had been shown up to the drawing room. The actor was already there and they had chatted together, just the two of them, until about 7.15pm when Alex Salmond had joined them. The three of them had dinner together. It was friendly and conivivial. At first the actor’s career had been discussed and then Scottish independence. Nobody else was there. Asked if any private secretaries had been in and out during dinner, Ms Barber replied not to her recollection. Nobody interrupted them

One bottle of wine was served during dinner. She had left after dinner around 9 and the actor had stayed on as Alex Salmond offered to show him around the Cabinet Room.

Defence Counsel Shelagh McCall QC asked her if Ms H had been there? No. Did you see her at any point during the evening? No.

[Ms H had claimed she was at this dinner and the attempted rape occurred afterwards. Alex Salmond had testified Ms H was not there at all. A video police interview with the actor had tended to support the idea Ms H, or another similar woman, was there and they were four at dinner.]

Prosecution counsel Alex Prentice then cross-examined Ms Barber. He asked whether she had received a message from the police on 29 January. She replied yes she had, and called them back on 3 February. Prentice asked whether they had then told her they wanted a statement, and whether she had replied she needed to take advice first. Ms Barber agreed.

Prentice asked why she would need legal advice to give a statement to police. Ms Barber replied she had never been involved in any judicial matter and wanted to understand the process she was getting into before she did anything. She had not said she wanted legal advice first, just advice.

Prentice asked again “why would you need legal advice before talking to the police”? Ms Barber again replied she wanted to understand the process she was getting into.

Prentice asked again, twice more, “why would you need legal advice before talking to the police?”. He got the same answer each time. You will recognise from yesterday’s report of his cross-examination of Alex Salmond, that it is a rhetorical trick of Prentice, to constantly repeat the same question in order to throw an unreasoned suspicion on the veracity of the answer. On this occasion he was stopped by the judge, who had enough.

Lady Dorrian pointedly asked him “Is a citizen not entitled to take advice, Mr Prentice?”, in a Maggie Smith tone of contempt.

Prentice then asked whether Ms Barber had already been at another Bute House dinner in May. Ms Barber replied not that she could recall. Prentice then asserted that the dinner on 13 June was with the actor, Ms H, and Alex Salmond. Ms Barber replied no, she genuinely had no recollection at all of Ms H being there.

The defence counsel Shelagh McCall QC then resumed questions. She asked if the police had put to Ms Barber that Ms H was there. Ms Barber replied that they had, and she had told them exactly what she had told the defence and now told the court, that Ms H had not been there.

The next witness was Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who swore on the Koran. She had joined the SNP in 2000 and been appointed national Women and Equalities Convenor in 2011. From 2015 to 2017 she was MP for the Ochil Hills.

Shelagh McCall QC asked if she knew Ms H. She replied for some years, and more frequently from 2012. Ms H had been involved in the Yes campaign. They had a good relationship, and in 2014 Ms H had asked her advice on standing for the SNP national executive committee.

McCall asked her if she remembered the date of the 13 June 2014 dinner. Tasmina responded yes, that was the day her father had died. She had received a message he was taken very ill that morning and had set off for London. At Carlisle they learnt he had died. (At this point the witness broke into tears.)

Before leaving Scotland with her husband she had messaged the First Minister’s office to say she would not be able to attend the Scottish women’s international football match the next day. (The point of this evidence is it contradicts Ms H’s evidence of her interaction with Ms Ahmed-Sheikh over the football.)

McCall led the witness on to June 2015 when Ms H had contacted her about becoming the SNP candidate for an Aberdeenshire constituency. Ms Ahmed-Sheikh confirmed that in June 2015 she had received a text from Ms H about the chances of Alex Salmond endorsing her, including the phrase “it would be great to be working with Alex again”.

Later Ms H discovered Salmond would not support her. Later texts read “Alex doesn’t think there is any chance for me against (name withheld)”, and then that she was withdrawing from the race and “Alex has it all to explain for”, alleging that Salmond had found another candidate to stand against her.

McCall then led Ms Ahmed-Sheikh to the occasion of the Stirling Castle dinner for the Council of Economic Advisers and the accusation of Ms E that Salmond had grabbed her buttock during a photoshoot. Ms Ahmed-Sheikh said the dinner had been very convivial, with a good atmosphere and speeches. Afterwards the guests had all gone onto the parapet in groups to have their photo taken with the First Minister with the Lion Rampant flag. Space was limited on the parapet so it was done in small groups. Ms Ahmed-Sheikh had been in the same small group as Ms E. She had her photo taken with the First Minister immediately before Ms E. Afterwards she had watched Ms E have her photo taken as the group all waited for each other and left together. This was just politeness.
Shelagh McCall asked a series of questions:
Did you see Alex Salmond insist Ms E have her photo taken? No.
Did you witness any discomfort from Ms E? No.
Did you see anything untoward? No.
[Ms E has accused Alex Salmond of grabbing her buttocks during the photoshoot.]

The prosecution asked no questions of Ms Ahmed-Sheikh.

The next defence witness was Fergus Mutch. He had worked from 2012 as a parliamentary constituency support worker for Alex Salmond, becoming office manager there in 2013 and in November 2015 head of communications and research for the SNP. He had first met Ms H in 2013 during the Yes campaign. In May and June 2015 he had dealt with her during the constituency selection process. In June 2015 she had sent him an email about wanting to become the candidate and asked him to set up a meeting with Alex Salmond. He had forwarded it on to Salmond.

Asked by Shelagh McCall if Alex Salmond had a preferred candidate, Mutch replied that Salmond had thought there were better, more local, candidates than Ms H. In June and July of 2015 Ms H had become well aware that was Mr Salmond’s view.

Shelagh McCall then turned to the accusation of Ms F, that she had been indecently assaulted by Alex Salmond in the early hours of 10/11 September 2014. Mr Mutch testified that during the 2014 referendum campaign both he and Ms F had accompanied Alex Salmond on tours, sometimes separately and sometimes together. On 12 September they had all three travelled by helicopter. He was shown a twitter post by Ms F made on 12 September at 6.45pm stating “extraordinary day in Indyref to Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth”. Mr Mutch said they had all been together from about 9am until about 9pm on the helicopter tour finishing at Gleneagles where they stayed the night.

Shelagh McCall QC asked how Ms F seemed that 12 September: “on good form, professional, buoyant”. How had she interacted with Alex Salmond “relaxed, normal, sitting next to him in the helicopter”.

Shelagh McCall then led Mr Mutch to February 2015, when he was working on a book about the referendum campaign. Ms F had sent him her campaign diary as source material. Ms F’s diary entry for 11 September (immediately following the alleged assault) read:
“Up at 7am. Heard Alex Salmond on Good Morning Scotland. Began making my way to International Conference Centre. Having to stand in the hot hall handing the microphone to journalists taking its toll, particularly after the whisky the night before. By contrast Alex Salmond is sharp in response to the questions, particularly from Nick Robinson.”

The prosecution had no questions for Mr Mutch.

The next defence witness was Mr Kirk Torrance. He had been a new media specialist for the SNP from 2009 to 2011 and had been brought in by them again for the referendum campaign. He testified that he had been in Bute House on several occasions, and the first time he had been there Alex Salmond had given a tour of the building and explained the history, paintings and so on. He had seen Alex Salmond do the same with other visitors.

He testified he had known Ms F since 2010. He well remembered the events of 10 September 2014 and the huge effect on the referendum campaign of the Royal Bank of Scotland announcement about moving its head office to England. The following day he had been inside SNP party headquarters watching the event from the International Conference Centre on live TV. After this Ms F had come in to SNP HQ and he had seen her in the kitchen at lunchtime. She had been regaling the HQ staff, especially the female staff, with the funny story that Alex Salmond had told her the previous evening about the well known political journalist who had passed out at Bute House after a sexual encounter.

Ms McCall asked whether she had appeared upset by the story [as Ms F and prosecution had claimed – see yesterday’s report]. Mr Torrance replied no, quite the opposite. She was enjoying retelling it, particularly to the female staff. Ms McCall asked whether the occasion could be interpreted as Ms F trying to process and make sense of an unfortunate event? No, replied Mr Torrance.

The next defence witness was Karen Watt, currently Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council for Further and Higher Education. From 2009 to 2012 she had been Principal Private Secretary to the First Minister.

Defence QC Gordon Jackson asked what Alex Salmond had been like as a boss. She replied working for him had been both a privilege and a penance. It has been exciting, fast paced, stressful and very demanding. Salmond could personally be demanding, fierce, fun and good company.

Jackson asked about Ms D. Ms Watt replied Ms D was very smart and got things done. Alex Salmond had rated her highly. Had Ms D enjoyed her time in the Private Office? Yes. Led by Jackson, Ms Watt explained that she would normally go on overseas visits with the First Minister but had not done so on the China trip as she was leaving the office shortly thereafter. The civil service contingent had thus been led by Donald Cameron, principal private secretary to Leslie Evans, head of the Scottish Civil Service. There had been a formal debrief meeting after the visit, at which nothing exceptional happened.

A few days later Donald Cameron had told her that he had witnessed an event in a lift in China where Alex Salmond had attempted to touch Ms D’s hair. He had seemed concerned but Ms Watt had not known what to make of it. The two of them had therefore held a meeting with Ms D. At the meeting Ms D had stated that the event was nothing that had concerned her. Ms Watt had viewed this as the end of the matter.

Ms Watt was then asked about Ms B. She said that Ms B was good at her job, smart and professional. She managed other staff on the policy side. Gordon Jackson asked her if she remembered the matter of the Jack Vettriano Christmas card.
Had she shared the view that the card was inappropriate? Yes she had.
Did she remember it being discussed in the office? Yes she did.
Had Ms B said anything to her about a sexual encounter with Alex Salmond in relation to the painting? Ms Watt replied she could not recall such a thing.
Did she tell you Alex Salmond had repeatedly grabbed her wrists? I do not remember any such conversation.
Did she tell you about anything of a sexual nature with Alex Salmond? No.
[Ms Watt was Ms B’s manager. Ms B had testified she had reported the alleged incident to Ms Watt.]

There were no questions to Ms Watt from the prosecution.

The next defence witness was Geoff Aberdein. He had been Chief of Staff to Alex Salmond from 2011 to 2014. He had first started working for him in 2004. He testified that Alex Salmond was a firm but fair boss. Work had been very demanding. Salmond had high standards, did not mince his words but welcomed people giving the same back to him. Their relationship was purely professional – they were not friends outside working hours.

In 2013 Salmond’s Principal Private Secretary had told him about the incident with Ms F. He had never been aware of any other sexual allegation regarding Alex Salmond. Salmond had taken responsibility and apologised. Ms F had been offered the chance to leave Private Office for another civil service job, but had declined. In spring of 2014 Griffin had been on a trip with Salmond and Miss F together, which had been normal.

On 8 to 9 March 2018 Ms A had contacted him to say she was involved in a process of looking at complaints about Alex Salmond. He had spoken to Kevin Pringle and Duncan Hamilton by conference call to discuss this. On 29 March 2018 he had held a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament to discuss this. On 2 April he had attended a further meeting in Sturgeon’s home. In none of these contacts did Ms A reveal she was personally making allegations of abuse. Gordon Jackson asked whether there was even the slightest hint that Ms A was personally making a complaint? No, never.

There were no questions for Mr Aberdein from the prosecution.

The next defence witness was Ms Lorraine Kaye. A civil servant for 21 years, she had been deputy private secretary to Alex Salmond under three successive principal private secretaries. She stated that working in the Private Office was very demanding, the hours were incredibly long. You might start at 7am and then not leave Bute House until after midnight after dealing with the ministerial box and correspondence. You could be working on speeches and papers there until the early hours. She had personally done this.

Gordon Jackson asked if there had ever been a policy of female civil servants not being alone in the evening at Bute House with Alex Salmond. Ms Kaye replied no, she had frequently been there alone herself throughout. She had loved the job – it was the highlight of her career.

Asked about Alex Salmond as a boss, Ms Kaye said he was driven, committed and set high standards for himself and for everybody else. He was old-fashioned. He had always opened the door for her and other women and ushered them in, he would insist even junior civil servants be seated properly at table when working over meals. Gordon Jackson asked if Salmond was tactile? Yes, he was always hugging and kissing and posing for selfies with people.

Jackson said there was a difference between being tactile and over the top. Was he ever out of order? Not that I saw, replied Ms Kaye.
You were there sometimes very late? Yes, we could come back to Bute House after a dinner or function after 11pm and still have to finish papers and correspondence.
Was there ever any policy not to be alone there with Mr Salmond?
No. I was, frequently.

Gordon Jackson asked about Ms D. Had she ever tugged her hair? Ms Kaye said yes she had. Ms D had remarkable tight ringlets of which Ms Kaye laughed she was very jealous. People tugged them. This may sound surprising but the atmosphere in the Private Office was that they were all very close. They spent much more time with each other than with their own family and friends.
You were never uncomfortable around Mr Salmond? No.
Would you attend dinners at Bute House sometimes? Yes, that was part of the job.

There were no questions from the prosecution for Ms Kaye.

The next defence witness was Alexander Anderson. He had worked for Alex Salmond in various capacities from 1998 to 2016. From 2012 he had been a SPAD to the First Minister covering external policy, and had responsibility for speeches, correspondence and diary. He said that Salmond could be a demanding boss, but also encouraging and inspiring.

In 2008 Anderson had been working on press in the Glasgow East by-election campaign office. Alex Salmond arrived several times, always with an entourage, and would always be straight out campaigning with his entourage and the candidate. He had seen no interactions between Salmond and Ms A in the campaign offices.

The atmosphere in Salmond’s Private Office had been intense. It would be fair to call it a family atmosphere. It was very hard working but also light-hearted and they had socialised. Salmond was a tactile person. He would always take people’s hand on the street and hug people at bus stops or in businesses as he campaigned. Gordon Jackson asked if he saw a clear line between that and inappropriate sexuality? Absolutely.

Had Anderson seen Salmond together with Ms D? Yes. They appeared to have a great relationship. Ms D was very smart, a good colleague and a bubbly personality. Gordon Jackson asked if Anderson knew Ms F. Yes, he replied. Had he seen her in stockinged feet? Yes, Anderson replied, this appeared to be her habit at work. [This confirms Salmond’s account and contradicts Ms D’s account of how she came to have her shoes off.]

Gordon Jackson then led on to Ms E. Had Mr Anderson been at the Stirling Castle dinner, and had he been one of those photographed with Alex Salmond on the ramparts? Yes, replied Anderson, they had all had photos taken because it was the first time in 300 years the lion rampant had flown at Stirling castle. There had been a professional photographer there to take the photos.
Were you there when Ms E was photographed? Yes, I was on the ramparts with her.
Did you see anything inappropriate? No.
Did you witness any reluctance on her part? Did you hear her say anything? No.

The prosecution had no questions for Mr Anderson.

The final witness of the day was Ms Ann Harvey, who worked in the SNP whips’ office at Westminster from 2006-9 and 2011 to present. She had been present at the Glasgow East by-election. In response to a question from Gordon Jackson, she replied that she had witnessed nothing inappropriate there when Alex Salmond visited.

Gordon Jackson asked whether she had more recently been asked anything relevant? Ms Harvey replied that on 31 October 2017 she had received a series of 16 text messages to her private number asking for information and whether she could disclose anything about the past. Gordon Jackson asked what the messages said specifically and who they were from.

At this point, Alex Prentice rose for the prosecution and objected to this line of questioning. The jury was dismissed and a legal argument was held on the admissibility of this information. I am not allowed to report the legal discussion. In the end the judge ruled the evidence inadmissible and Ms Harvey was dismissed.

That concluded the day’s proceedings. It was a day on which defence witnesses directly contradicted evidence from the accusers on a number of key points, most importantly but by no means solely on the question of whether Ms H was present at all at the event where she claimed to have been the victim of attempted rape. It was also given in evidence that people had not reported incidents they said they had reported, and there was no civil service policy against women working alone in the evening with Alex Salmond – which claim had been one of the MSM’s most lurid headlines.

MSM reporting I have seen to date has not reported today’s proceedings fairly. For example in reporting that Ms Barber had testified Ms H was not at the dinner, the media has not generally reported the key facts that Ms Barber knew Ms H very well and the dinner was just for three people.

It is interesting that the prosecution chose not to cross examine the defence witnesses, except in the case of Ms Barber who was subjected more to innuendo than to cross-examination and who gained the protection of the judge. I am very constrained by what I can legally comment at present, so let us leave it there for the day.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

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The post Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 8 appeared first on Craig Murray.

Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 7

Par craig

With the defence opening its case, the Alex Salmond trial finally had a public gallery open all day, and accordingly I was in court with my trusty notebook. I should start by saying that the contrast with the soul-crushing experience of Woolwich Crown Court and the Julian Assange hearing was extreme. Edinburgh High Court is built for public access, not for public exclusion like Woolwich. You walk in straight off the High Street and the entire design of the building is intended to let the public flow through freely. There are literally no fences, no locked doors, no armoured glass, no enclosed glass cage for the accused. The court itself was impressive; Lady Dorrian presided with exemplary fairness, dealing quickly and sensibly with points that arose on admissibility of evidence. The jury of 15 citizens looked engaged and earnest throughout. The impression of my first day is that it is a process that deserves respect and trust, something I never felt at an Assange hearing.

The day was dramatic enough, mostly consisting of Alex Salmond in the witness stand giving evidence. That evidence was startling. He stated that some of the accusations were deliberate fabrications with a political purpose. He specifically accused Ms A of fabrication, and of recruiting and encouraging five of the other accusers also to make fabrications against him. Crucially he described Ms A, whom he accused of orchestrating the fabrications, as extremely close to Nicola Sturgeon, and did so in terms so graphic and detailed that I cannot repeat them as it would identify Ms A.

On Ms A’s own accusations, he stated that it was “ludicrous” for her to suggest that he sexually assaulted her in the middle of a dance floor when she handed him the microphone to make a speech at the office Christmas party, when all eyes would be upon him. The guests were seated all around the dance floor at tables, and there was a meal. He also stated that Ms A’s claims of his assaulting her during the by-election campaign in July 2008 were fabricated. He had always had minders with him during his presence at the by-election. The events described were public. He did recall seeing Ms A there, but the claims that he touched her buttocks or kissed her lips were fabrication.

On 2 April 2018 Salmond had attended a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon and discussed two complaints against him, which were then subject to civil service procedures. No mention had been made that Ms A was bringing sexual allegations against him, although Ms A had input into that meeting which I must not specify.. This was the meeting at Sturgeon’s home where Sturgeon had told the Scottish parliament she first heard of allegations against Alex Salmond. Salmond stated under oath that Sturgeon had earlier held a meeting on 29 March 2018 to discuss the allegations with Geoff Aberdein, Salmond’s former chief of staff. That is five days before the date that Sturgeon told parliament she first knew of the allegations. That may have wider political ramifications.

Salmond had only found that out from the police almost a year later that Ms A had made allegations personally against him, despite dealings with her over the Scottish government inquiry into the two complaints.

The other accuser whom Alex Salmond was directly accusing of fabrication was Ms H. Salmond stated categorically that Ms H had not been at the dinner with the actor (whose name for reasons I do not understand the court also does not allow me to mention) in June 2014, after which the woman had claimed that Salmond had attempted to have sex with her in the bedroom in Bute House. Salmond also stated that Ms F had not been in Bute House in May 2014 when she claimed that an earlier incident had occurred. The court spent a great deal of time as the defence team took Salmond though the official calendar, the official diary, and the Bute House kitchen records to establish that there was no Bute House event in May 2014 at which Ms H might have been present.

Salmond stated that Ms H’s description of her communication with Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh about possible attendance at a football match the next day could not be true because Ms Ahmed-Sheikh’s father had died the previous day and she had left for London for the funeral, which had Ms H been present where and when she claimed, Ms H must have known.

Alex Salmond did however say that he had an entirely consensual sexual encounter with Ms H in Bute House approximately one year previously. The encounter had not involved penetration or full undress but had been of a sexual nature. It had been initiated by Ms H. He remembered that the evening was the first time he had heard the word “shots” in relation to alcohol, as Ms H had said “who would have thought I would be drinking shots with the First Minister”. He stated that he had then known Ms H for some years working for the SNP in various capacities, and that this consensual encounter had been a case of old friends going too far, which they had both acknowledged and realised it was a mistake, and parted on good terms.

Alex Salmond testified that subsequently in 2015 Ms H had sought his endorsement for nomination as an SNP candidate in an Aberdeenshire constituency. He had not given his endorsement. (You will recall that the court had during Ms H’s evidence seen texts from Ms H appearing to confirm she had sought his endorsement).

At this point I am going to insert out of turn the evidence of the second defence witness, Mrs Isobel Zambonini. Mrs Zambonini testified that she had been working as an employee in Alex Salmond’s constituency office when Ms H had arrived one day to do some paperwork and photocopying, and she had been told that Ms H was there to seek the parliamentary nomination. She had however been aware that Alex Salmond preferred another candidate.

Some days later Mrs Zambonini had encountered Ms H again by her car. Ms H had asked Izzie how she found it working for Alex Salmond. After an initially pleasant conversation, suddenly Ms H had stated “He needs to remember who he is and how he got there, I was instrumental in making that happen”. Mrs Zambonini stated she had been shocked by how quickly Ms H had changed and got angry.

Returning to the testimony of Alex Salmond, this had started with Alex being led by his counsel through a description of the functioning of the Private Office of the First Minister. It was a very high pressure 24/7 operation and officials from the Private Office accompanied the First Minister on all official occasions, including dinners, conferences etc both at home and abroad. The Private Office had about twenty staff, selected by the Civil Service. These were highly sought after positions that often led on to career promotion. Because of the unusual hours and working conditions the Private Office was like a “big family” and working relationships were more informal than may be normal in the Civil Service.

The First Minister had three sets of offices from all of which the Private Office operated. At St Andrews House, in the Holyrood Parliament and at Bute House, which contained both substantial offices and living accommodation.

Salmond was asked about the complaint by Ms B that he had grabbed her arms and attempted to kiss her, suggesting that they re-enact the scene in Ae Fond Kiss by Jack Vettriano, which picture had been delivered to Bute House.

Alex Salmond stated that he rated Ms B highly, as a civil servant who helped him prepare for First Minister’s Questions. The context was that the painting had been donated by Jack Vettriano for the First Minister’s christmas card, and had been the subject of discussion in the private office all day, mostly focussed on how they would tell Vettriano that the card was inappropriate for the purpose and something more sedate required. In the event Vettriano had been very gracious about it and donated another painting named “Let’s twist again”, which had eventually been auctioned raising £100,000 for charity. “Ae Fond Kiss” had ended up as a charity Christmas card for Shelter.

Salmond acknowledged that he had grabbed Ms B’s arms and suggested to her that they re-enact “Ae Fond Kiss”, but he characterised this as part of the running joke and “horseplay”. He said that Ms B had replied as she had testified “Don’t be daft”, and he had desisted. There was no intention on his part to assault or to be indecent.

Turning to the evidence of Ms C, Salmond acknowledged that he had given her and her husband a lift from Pizza Express on Holyrood Road to Waverley Station, but categorically denied that he had put his hand on her knee during the journey, though he acknowledged it was possible he inadvertently brushed her leg. He stated that the woman’s husband was an old friend who had worked for him in two different offices, and he had been chatting with him throughout the journey. Salmond stated the car had been the First Minister’s silver Lexus, in which the rear armrest between the two back seats was permanently fixed down as it incorporated a specially fitted telephone. It would be impossible surreptitiously to put your hand on somebody’s leg without being seen reaching over the armrest.

On the accusations of Ms D, Salmond said that she was a civil servant whose work he valued very highly. She had very curly hair which sprang back if you pulled it. This was a joke in the office and Salmond said that other members of the office also sometimes tugged at Miss D’s hair in jest. Asked about an incident on an official visit to China, Salmond explained that the visit to China had been extremely important and hard working and had included a meeting with Premier Li and a Memorandum of Understanding on Chinese investment in Grangemouth petrochemical complex and on Scottish salmon exports to China. Salmond acknowledged that he had stroked Ms D’s face while she was sleeping, but said it was as the car in which they were travelling arrived at the internal border with Hong Kong where there would be a document inspection, and he had stroked her face in order gently to wake her up. It had no sexual motive. He also acknowledged that on that visit he had reached out to tug her hair in a lift as witnessed by Donald Cameron, but said this too had no sexual motive.

Salmond acknowledged that he had, as Ms D testified, interlinked arms with her while they were buying ice creams for the team at the Ryder Cup in Chicago. He stated there was no sexual motive and it was an example of the informal nature of the Private Office when on mission. They had been attending the Ryder Cup for meetings as Scotland was hosting the next one at Gleneagles. He acknowledged further that Ms D had shown him a bikini shot of her holiday in Jamaica. He agreed that he had told her that she looked like Ursula Andress in Dr No.

Asked by Defence counsel whether he now regretted his behaviour, Alex Salmond said that obviously from his position in the court he did, and he should have been more aware of intruding into people’s personal space. But incidents which nobody deemed serious at the time were now being exaggerated. His counsel, Gordon Jackson QC, asked him why that might be. Salmond replied that some of the allegations were fabrications for a political purpose, whereas others were little incidents which were now being reinterpreted in an entirely different way in the light of the police investigation of the last eighteen months.

Salmond was next asked about the accusation by woman G that he touched her bottom at the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in Glasgow. Alex Salmond replied that he recalled the incident well. They were late for a dinner where they were meeting with an important figure from the oil and gas industry. He had arrived with Ms G, who was a SNP functionary figure, his wife Moira and one other. The contact had occurred when he gave Ms G a “friendly shove” in the back to hasten her up the spiral staircase, where she was “dithering and talking”. His wife Moira had been between Alex and Ms G when he reached up to give the shove.

Ms G had later moved into the career civil service. She had been present as duty Private Office official at a dinner in George St which had happened rather spontaneously to toast the arrival of Kevin Pringle’s new baby. She had been concerned that, now a civil servant, she ought not be present at what might be seen as largely a political party event, and had been particularly concerned when a picture of her there had been tweeted out.

After the dinner, she had returned with Salmond to Bute House with the ministerial box to go through the papers and correspondence ready for the morning, as ministers do with their private secretary on duty every evening. She had been very upset when there. She had not told Salmond why and he now knew it was because of the tweet. He had known her for over six years, from before she became a civil servant, and had put his arm around her to comfort her and ask what was wrong. There was no sexual motive.

Salmond was then asked about the testimony of Ms F, who was at the time an SNP press officer. He described the evening in question. It was in the final few days before the 2014 Independence referendum. The BBC had just announced that if Scotland became Independent, the Royal Bank of Scotland would move its HQ to England. Salmond had an 8am television interview on Good Morning Scotland the next morning and a major speech at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre at 10am. An opinion poll had just shown a Yes lead, and the RBS announcement had the capacity to derail Independence.

Returning from an event in Glasgow to Bute House with press officer Ms F, arriving after midnight, he had been for a very long time on the phone trying to raise the Chief Executive of RBS for clarification. They also had to amend his speech for the morning to take account of the new development. Ms F had testified that she had found Salmond lying on the floor, and he had invited her to lie down beside him. Salmond stated that it had always been his working method, his whole professional life, to lay out his speeches on the floor to look over them and make changes. He was asked whether there was any physical contact with Ms F, he replied none whatsoever, except that when they finished preparation for the morning, which was about 3am, he had tapped her on the nose when saying goodnight.

At one point when they were waiting in the early hours for feedback from Ross McEwan of RBS to incorporate in the speech, he had taken Ms F on a tour of the state rooms of Bute House as she had not been there before. It was then he had told her the amusing story about the journalist passing out in front of a portrait which they stood before, at a party.

On the accusation of Ms E that he had touched her buttocks during a photograph at Stirling Castle, Salmond denied this, he had been hosting a dinner at Stirling Castle and afterwards all of the participants had taken a photo of him and the lion rampant flag, because it had been the first occasion that Scottish flag had flown at Stirling castle since 1707. Salmond said there was whole series of photos of him on the occasion with his arms around people, and it was standard for a politician. He regretted not having been sensitive to the fact that Ms E had not wished to join in with the picture taking. His wife Moira had been present, and the next day they had travelled with Ms E to Gleneagles.

Alex Salmond was then asked about the allegation of Ms F. He said that Ms F was another excellent civil servant. He said that the alleged incident in September 2013 was true. He had said goodnight to her and gone to kiss her cheek, but as they moved he had made fleeting contact with her lips by accident.

On 4 December 2013 they had returned from Holyrood to Bute House about 8pm with a great deal of work to do in the ministerial box. There was First Minister’s Questions to prepare and the Clutha helicopter disaster had just happened. The White Paper on Independence had just been published and there was a great deal of correspondence and paperwork arising from the China visit.

They did all of this except the Chinese papers and then had dinner at Bute House. As Ms F had testified, the heating in the office floors of Bute House had broken down. It was December and very cold so they went up to the bedroom which had heating and a table and chairs to work at. Ms F had taken her boots off which, Salmond said, she always did when indoors, unless in a very formal situation.

Salmond said that as they were working on the Chinese papers it seemed appropriate to take up a bottle of Mai Tai with which they had been presented on the China trip, and they had drunk some of this while they were working. They became tipsy. Salmond said they were both drinking about equally. After finishing, Ms F had gone and sat on the bed in order to put on her boots. Gordon Jackson QC asked Salmond if he had instructed Ms F to get on the bed, as she alleged, and Salmond replied firmly “no”. Salmond had gone across to hand her the folder, and they had embraced goodnight and then fallen in to what he described as a “sleepy cuddle”. Ms F’s feet were on the floor, they were lying on the bed and Salmond had one arm under her and one arm over her. Both were fully clothed.

Asked if the thought this was appropriate, Salmond said no, it was not appropriate, he was First Minister and he ought not to have done this.

After a short time, Ms F said “I’ll have to be going. This isn’t a good idea” and Salmond replied “no, this is a very bad idea” and they got up. She said “Goodnight First Minister”, he replied “Goodnight [christian name]”, and she left. He now knew she finished some work in the office downstairs before leaving Bute House.

Salmond was asked if he grabbed her buttocks, he replied no. He was asked if she struggled, he replied no. “It was a cuddle”.

A few days later, Salmond was approached by his Principal Private Secretary Joe Griffin, who said that Ms F had told him there had been a cuddle and a kiss, and she wanted a meeting and an apology. This meeting had happened very quickly. He had apologised. It should not have happened and was entirely his fault. She had asked if it would affect her career and he had said no, he took full responsibility. He had asked whether she wished to continue to work in the Private Office and she had replied that yes, she did. She had asked for an assurance there would be no recurrence and he had given that.

Gordon Jackson put to Alex Salmond that the charge was an intent to rape. Salmond said never, this was not true, he had never attempted a non-consensual sexual act in his life and never would.

Salmond stated that the accusation had changed over time. Joe Griffin had given a fair account as prosecution witness of what Ms F had alleged at the time. This had now developed into an accusation that he groped her and touched her underwear. This was a new and recent ramping up of the accusation.

After Alex Salmond’s cross examination by the defence counsel had finished, the prosecuting counsel, Alex Prentice QC, stood to cross examine him. The questioning of the accused by the prosecutor is normally the most dramatic moment in any criminal trial, and Prentice plainly intended this should be no exception. He had the Jack Vettriano painting displayed on screens and asked:

“Did you for one moment consider Ms B’s feelings when you grabbed her hands and asked her to re-enact the kiss?”

Alex Salmond replied that it was a joke, part of a running joke that had been going through the day, and he had expected Ms B would understand the suggestion was not serious.

To which Prentice responded:

“Did you for one moment consider Ms B’s feelings when you grabbed her hands and asked her to re-enact the kiss?”

And Prentice continued to ask the same question six times, irrespective of what Alex Salmond said in response. What Salmond said in response included that Ms B was a personality who was particularly partial to jokes and horseplay, and gave no indication of taking any offence at the time.

Prentice then went on to ask why Salmond had done this when nobody else was in the room. He replied that it was towards the end of the working day and people were popping in and out of the Private Office continuously. Obviously he now regretted not having had more respect for Ms B’s private space, but completely denied any struggle or force.

Prentice asked whether Salmond had instilled fear into his Private Office staff. Salmond replied that was neither his belief, intention nor perception. Prentice said they had heard evidence that some people were intimidated by Salmond. Alex replied that he accepted that was true for those people, but it was not the general case. Prentice replied that they had heard from one witness that the stress of working in Private Office had caused mental health difficulties. Salmond replied that he accepted that was true for that person.

Prentice went through the various accusers, asking Salmond in each instance to state the age gap between them, and supplying the answer in each case. He was anxious to impress that in general Salmond was about 30 years older than his accusers. He asked Salmond if he had respect for women. Salmond replied yes, he had equal respect for the women and men he had worked with.

Prentice asked whether Salmond thought tugging hair was acceptable and whether he had not seen women flinch. Salmond said it was lighthearted in context and that had not been the reaction at the time. His behaviour had not been sexual.

Prentice asked whether Salmond’s behaviour with Miss F had been acceptable. He was 58 and she was 29. Did he advance drinking alcohol as an excuse? Salmond said no he did not, and he had acknowledged responsibility for unacceptable behaviour. But there was no struggle, they were both fully clothed, and feet on the floor.

Prentice stated that “you had however, on an earlier occasion, kissed her”. Salmond replied that he had, but he had inadvertently brushed her lips when he had gone to kiss her cheek. Prentice expressed scepticism that this could happen. Salmond replied that in his experience it on occasion did.

Prentice then asked if Salmond realised how demeaning it would be for a woman to be smacked on the bottom. Salmond replied yes, he did, but he had not done that. He had given Ms G a push up the staircase. Prentice asked whether he denied saying to her “what I would do to you if I was 26” when “comforting” her at Bute House. Salmond said he did deny this. He had been telling her she was a talented young woman with a big future in front of her, in order to comfort her when she was distressed. Prentice asked whether Salmond alleged Ms G had misread the situation. Salmond replied yes.

Prentice stated that Salmond had claimed the attempted rape charge by Ms H had been based on an earlier consensual encounter initiated by Ms H on 16 August 2013. He again stressed the age difference. He said that the truth was that Ms H was indeed at the dinner with the actor on 12 June 2014 and that afterwards Alex Salmond had tried to rape her. Salmond said no, it was not the truth.

Prentice said “you did behave as described”. Salmond replied “no, I did not.”
“The truth is, she was there” : “No, it is not”.
“You tried to rape her” : “No, I did not”.

Prentice asked why Alex Salmond had told Ms F a story involving a penis. Did he think that was appropriate, alone in Bute House in the early hours? He was 31 years older than Ms F. Salmond replied that he had explained the context of why he had told the entertaining story about the passed out journalist under the portrait, while they were waiting for more information to come to finish off the speech and interview briefing. Prentice said that Salmond had proceeded to attempt to kiss her on the face and lips. Salmond replied that he had not. It was an extremely crucial night just before the referendum, and he was focused on the RBS leaving story, on his 8am TV interview and on his big speech.

Prentice said that he had grabbed Ms E’s backside because he could. Salmond replied that he had not touched her backside. But he should have been more aware of her personal space and that she was not keen to join in the photograph taking.

That finished the notably brief prosecution cross examination of Alex Salmond, which it is fair to say was very much aimed at arousing the emotions rather than attempting to query Salmond’s version of the facts.

Court reporting restrictions prevent me from passing much comment on the above. I would have covered the prosecution case in equal detail had the public not been barred from the court during it. I shall contribute another report after the defence continues today.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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The post Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 7 appeared first on Craig Murray.

13 Events, No Witnesses: The Prosecution Concludes the Case Against Alex Salmond

Par craig

Today the prosecution concluded its case against Alex Salmond. The most important point was that, now the final prosecution witness has been called, we can conclusively say that the Crown did not produce a single eye witness to any of the 13 alleged incidents. This is even though many of them occurred in public; at a photo opportunity in Stirling Castle, in restaurants, in a vehicle with other occupants. It is strange that a behaviour allegedly so continuous and so compulsive was simultaneously so invisible – that is invisible to anybody who was not either a member of Nicola Sturgeon’s very closed inner circle – which describes six of the nine accusers – or a senior Scottish government civil servant, which describes the other three. It is the very narrow and connected milieu of the accusers which distinguishes this case from the comparisons the media had everywhere drawn with the monstrous Weinstein.

The nearest thing the crown had to an eye witness was Mr Donald Cameron, head of the private office of Leslie Evans, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government. Mr Cameron testified on Friday that he had witnessed Alex Salmond attempt to brush the hair from the cheek of a civil servant in a lift (which is not one of the charges). Mr Cameron also agreed under questioning that there was not, to his knowledge, any policy against female civil servants working alongside Mr Salmond in Bute House, which claim had been the major trial media headline on Friday morning.

The other main point of interest since my last report has been the acknowledgement by accuser Ms J that she had been in messaging contact with Ms H – before making her allegations. The Crown did not after all call one of its listed witnesses, Ian McCann, the SNP official who had been in the WhatsApp group discussing (ahem) the accusations and who had been involved in the strategy to “sit on them” until they were “needed”. The cross-examination of McCann would have been very interesting; I am rather unsurprised the Crown have pulled him.

I had a conversation on the last AUOB march with a lady who used to be a senior British Airways air hostess. British Airways used to host promotional events such as conferences and dinners at venues such as Turnberry or Gleneagles. Air hostesses would be present for hospitality duties, in their uniforms in the day and then changing into evening wear for the evening function. Social mores change, and this would be viewed as pretty tacky now, but it was perfectly normal twenty or thirty years ago.

The lady told me that she very frequently had problems with guests becoming over familiar and trying it on with the hostesses, particularly after drinking at dinner. The guests were generally very senior executives and politicians. The hostesses would frequently discuss among themselves who was and who was not “handsy”, who to avoid and who was nice company. She told me that Alex Salmond had been very frequently, over many years, a guest of BA at these functions, in a variety of capacities. She had never once heard a single word of complaint about him. In the starkest contrast to many other public figures.

The media have had over a week of lurid headlines. Tomorrow will see the start of the defence case – and the good news is that means the court will be open to the public. If I can wake up and queue up early enough, I hope that I shall be able to bring you detailed reporting.

Shortly after Alex Salmond left the Scottish parliament, Robin Mcalpine told me that he had been entering the parliament with Alex Salmond for a meeting. The security guard had been rather embarrassed to tell the former First Minister that he would require to be signed in as he was no longer a member. Salmond replied “of course, call the First Minister’s office”. The guard did so, and the First Minister’s office refused to sign him in. That was when I first knew something was badly wrong.

Under Alex Salmond, Scottish nationalism was radical and challenged the imperialist English nationalist narrative that so dominates UK politics and media. Since his departure, there has been a radical change of emphasis. On Syria, on Ukraine, on Huawei, the SNP has decided to join in with Britnat union jack patriotism and indeed be still more militaristic than the Tory government. Rather than explain, let me present some contrasts which you should easily understand.

Last week the SNP at Westminster sided with the most right wing Tory rebels in voting against Huawei’s involvement in constructing the UK’s 5G network. On Syria the SNP is actively calling for regime change and criticising the UK government for not adopting a policy of regime change.

On Ukraine also the SNP is actively more hawkish and anti-Russian than the Tory government and criticises from the extreme NATO hawk position. The SNP defence spokesman, Stewart MacDonald, posted a twitter stream of the books he read in 2019 which was an astonishing collection of Russophobia, both Russophobic “research” and Russophobic spy fantasy fiction. MacDonald was actually awarded a medal by the President of Ukraine for his services to Russophobia – sorry, services to Ukraine’s image abroad. (This is true, not a joke).

With Salmond out of the picture, the SNP has been captured to become a political party with an absolutely safe, dependable neo-con worldview. The SNP leadership unquestioningly now accepts and actively promotes the Britnat framing of China and Russia as the enemy. Salmond never did. The SNP has been successfully neutered by the British Establishment both from challenging the Britnat worldview and from any genuine intention to break free of the UK state. This has been a major success for the security services in neutralising what the UK state saw as its biggest single danger. It explains absolutely why Alex Salmond needs, from a UK security service point of view, to be permanently put out of the picture.

Neither China nor Russia is the enemy of Scotland. Quite the opposite. I am going to say that again so it sinks in. Neither China nor Russia is the enemy of Scotland. The acceptance by the SNP hierarchy of this Britnat imperialist framing is a betrayal of the Independence movement.

On Huawei, it seems to me extremely improbable that the Chinese state – which has enjoyed phenomenal success through peaceful economic expansion – has any intention of spying aimed at harming the interests of Scotland. What I do know for certain is that the UK government will use 5G, exactly as it has used every other communications technology, for mass spying on its own citizens. What I know for certain is that the UK government’s mass spying on its own citizens includes those it views as being a danger to the UK state through their support for Scottish Independence.

I should have been a great deal more impressed by the SNP’s vast coterie of Westminster MP’s, all of whose arses are becoming increasingly well padded from their long and comfortable sojourn on the green benches in Westminster, if they had taken the opportunity of the Huawei debate to speak, not in Churchillian terms about the Chinese Red threat to the United Kingdom, but to speak about GCHQ and MI5 spying on Scottish people. That is what the SNP should be about, not British patriotism.

Consider the above change in the SNP’s geopolitical stance. Consider that the majority of accusers are senior SNP figures close to the current leadership. Consider the role of SNP Party HQ in (ahem) discussing the accusations. I hope you now understand that is why I shall be in court every day from tomorrow.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post 13 Events, No Witnesses: The Prosecution Concludes the Case Against Alex Salmond appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Boy I Love is [Not] in the Gallery – The Alex Salmond Trial Day 4

Par craig

I am reporting today on the Salmond trial over 24 hours delayed. As I am not permitted media access and the public is excluded from the gallery during accusers’ evidence, I need to gather information in order to be able to give a different perspective from the mainstream media. It is very hard to do that in real time.

But when done, it is very interesting indeed. Yesterday, all of the mainstream media portrayed Salmond’s defence, and his defence counsel Gordon Jackson QC, as an appeal to the social attitudes of the 1960’s. This from the BBC is how the episode of an alleged slap on the buttocks of Ms G in a restaurant is universally described in the media:

When it was suggested by Mr Jackson that the smack had been “playful”, the witness said she had considered it to be “extremely inappropriate”.

But this is a quite deliberate misrepresentation – which is peculiarly universal in the BBC, Guardian, the Scotsman, the Times, the Sun and anywhere you care to look. Gordon Jackson was not suggesting an alleged unwanted slap on the buttocks was “playful” in mitigation. Doubtless as intended, the reporting has brought down a social media storm from feminists of all genders accusing Gordon Jackson of ancient chauvinist attitudes and Alex Salmond of appalling abuse.

Those criticisms of Salmond and Jackson would be quite justified if the mainstream media reports of what was said were true.

But in fact it is a completely false distortion of what was said. This is the truth.

It was the woman – Woman G herself – who had described the alleged slap on the buttocks as “playful” in her initial statement to police. Playful was Ms G’s own choice of word. Gordon Jackson was putting her own word to her, and querying how an alleged event which she had initially described as “playful” had now morphed into a serious criminal offence.

It makes rather a difference when you realise that “Playful” was Ms G’s word, not Gordon Jackson’s word, nor Alex Salmond’s word, does it not? Yet you would never know that from all of yesterday’s media reports. That is because the media is very deliberately attempting to frame this story, and frame Alex Salmond’s guilt, in the public mind. That is the real danger when the public are excluded and only state approved “media” are allowed to witness. Thank God for moles.

I also ask you to bear in mind that these are all the prosecution witnesses. The defence witnesses have not yet been called. All of the media are reporting that women were banned from being alone with Alex Salmond in Bute House after 7pm. It is reported as fact. That was however an assertion by one prosecution witness. It is not necessarily true, despite all the media headlining it as fact. Wait until you hear the defence witnesses. It may be true. It may not be true. Wait.

A final thought for today. It is notable that quite a few of these incidents have taken place in public places. Restaurants. Office parties. A car containing also both a driver and the accuser’s husband. In the case of Ms A, numerous unspecified locations. Yet to date, not one single incident has been attested by an independent witness who saw it. Nobody seems to have seen these things that allegedly happened in public. That may change as the prosecution case progresses. But it is an interesting fact at present.

As the prosecution case mounts, it is intended that you should start to lose your critical faculties and conclude there is no smoke without fire. That is how the prosecution are framing this. Hold on, draw no conclusions, and above all do not believe the media. There is a reason independent media witnesses including myself are not allowed into court.

Irrespective of whether the individual accusations are true or false – and the jury are in much the best place to decide that, guided by the judge – one thing is very clear to me. A number of very ambitious people took advantage of Alex Salmond to propel political careers, and then turned upon him after he no longer had power. This happened once it became clear it was the will of the new SNP hierarchy that Alex Salmond be taken out of the political scene for good.

Which makes me feel quite ill.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

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MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post The Boy I Love is [Not] in the Gallery – The Alex Salmond Trial Day 4 appeared first on Craig Murray.

Your Man Kept Oot the Gallery: The Alex Salmond Trial Day 3

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I have long deplored the ever burgeoning number of party political hacks – of every political party – which the poor long suffering taxpayer has to stump up for. I recommend the excellent book The Triumph of the Political Class by Peter Oborne, on this and other subjects. There is an ever increasing rise in the number of SPADS. In addition, the offices of members of various parliaments are comfortably staffed both at parliament and in the constituency. Various individuals and groupings have taxpayer-funded but party appointed “Chiefs of Staff”. I have always viewed “Short money” as a constitutional abomination – the state, the poor taxpayer, should not be paying for political party machines. If the members of a party, any party, wish to try to impress their views on voters and to establish themselves in lucrative office, then the party members should fund their activity themselves. The Short money system pays for party HQ staff and machinery according to electoral success, and thus helps cement the establishment. Furthermore, there can be friction between taxpayer funded party appointees and the civil servants they work with – when I worked within the FCO, we career civil servants found SPADs an ill-informed nuisance. Plus the political patronage system can be open to abuse – remarkably, two SNP political appointees on the books of the Scottish civil service, paid for by the Scottish taxpayer, have recently without changing jobs been bumped up two whole pay grades on their taxpayer funded salary, a happening unavailable to ordinary civil servants.

Yesterday saw the continuation of the prosecution case in the Alex Salmond trial. As always, I have to write with extreme care for fear of being found in contempt of court.

The BBC is permitted to be highly selective on the aspects of the evidence it reports. Sarah Smith has been telling the camera with great emotion that an accuser referenced the Harvey Weinstein case, and has been stating with a voice full of angst that the “victim” said she did not want any of this, and swore that it is all true. Sarah Smith has done this without offering any substantial account at all of the defence’s cross examination of said witness. Sarah Smith is in no danger whatsoever of being found in contempt of court for a broadcast that reaches millions of people and is deliberately, professionally and competently designed to sway the viewers emotionally into a view of the case hostile to Alex Salmond. By contrast I, to a smaller audience, am writing with extreme circumspection, knowing the state will prosecute and probably jail me in a flash if I get one nuance wrong. So I am dependent on you reading this whole article with intelligence, and thinking “I wonder why he just told me that bit? Where was that relevant?”

It is essential to an understanding of this case, and not so far in any dispute, being fully brought out by the direct evidence of Ms A, Ms C and Ms H, that six of the accusers conferred (and I carefully used a neutral verb there) together over their accusations. Ms A yesterday denied a suggestion from the defence that she was thus involved in encouraging the accusations. We also know from Ms H’s evidence that at least two of the accusers were actively involved with SNP HQ in a plan to “sit on” the accusations until it was time to “deploy them” “if needed”, and that meant to stop Alex Salmond coming back into politics by refusing him vetting as an SNP candidate.

So it is extremely important for you to be aware that none of these accusers to date (up to end day 3) has been a career civil servant. All are SNP party figures, right at the heart of the operations of the current SNP administration. There is, in my belief, a deliberate attempt at false portrayal in the media to pass some accusers off as career civil servants in order to give an undeserved aura of impartiality and trustworthiness. Which is not in the least to allege the accusers are not trustworthy persons, just to say their trustworthiness is not avouched by career civil service status. Some future accusers to be called may well be genuine civil servants. It is an important distinction; not for the purposes of the trial – it makes no difference to the jury or the facts of the case – but to the wider political ramifications.

Anyway, for a report on yesterday’s evidence from important SNP politicians and apparatchiks, I refer again to Grouse Beater. Today I am going to lift a section of his report wholesale, for which I trust he will forgive me:

d. Next witness is a complainer, Woman A, so court being cleared again. Alex Salmond is accused of indecently assaulting her and sexually assaulting her. Woman A tells the court she was working for the SNP in 2008 when Alex Salmond’s behaviour caused her concern. He says he would go in as if to kiss her cheek but then give her a “sloppy and kind of unpleasant” kiss on the lips. Woman A also says “at times he would put his hand on my back and move his hands so they were on the side of my chest or on my bum”. “I took the view it was deliberately…there was no need for his hand to be there, it wasn’t something you would have done by accident.” Did Woman A encourage Alex Salmond to kiss or touch her? “Not at all.” Did she want it to happen? “Absolutely not.” Did she voice disapproval? “I didn’t know how to say ‘don’t do this’ to the first minister, but I would move, I actually began to carry a bag so it was between us”. Why didn’t Woman A tell Alex Salmond to stop? “I liked my job,” she says. “He was the most powerful man in the country….I had experienced volatile mood swings and behaviour from him and it was always easier to move away then risk infuriating or antagonising him.” Did Woman A tell anyone? “I was embarrassed, I was doing this job which meant a lot to me and him humiliating me on a regular basis was embarrassing. I didn’t want to tell people he was doing this….it would make me look weak.”

Lunch adjournment

e. Woman A tells court that Alex Salmond touched her at a party; running his hands down over “the curve of my body” while saying “you look good, you’ve lost weight”. She says she was “kind of internally shocked” and kept her distance from him for the rest of the night. Alex Prentice asks Woman A if she consented to anything Alex Salmond is said to have done to her? “Never”. Did she give a signal of consent? “No”. Prosecution finished with witness, now Gordon Jackson will cross examine.

f. Gordon Jackson says Alex Salmond kissed other people on the lips; “what he did to you was the same he did to members of the public – that’s the sort of man he was”. Woman A says she doesn’t remember seeing Alex Salmond holding other women by the shoulders. Jackson says “these events such as they were are absolutely nothing, and were not distressing in any way or form”. He says they have “turned into criminality” due to “revisionism because other things happened since”. Woman A says that’s “categorically wrong”. Jackson asking why she didn’t later disclose the alleged incidents; Woman A says she had “put them behind me” and “moved on”. Woman A says “I didn’t want to be drawn into a world where I was dealing with my complaint against Alex Salmond….until the police came to see me I was content not to be part of this.” On the incident where Woman A says Alex Salmond ran his hands over her and said she had lost weight, Jackson says “you call that groping?” “Yes,” she replies. He had contended that “nothing happened”; Woman A says “Mr Salmond assaulted me – that’s not nothing”. Asking about Woman A’s contact with other complainers. She says she contacted others off the back of the Daily Record story, saying she thought it “would be difficult for people to handle”, she wanted to “check they were okay”. She says she also reached out to men. Jackson says Woman A was “very much a part of encouraging people to make a complaint, and make things that were trivial, nothing, turned into criminal charges”. Woman A says “I was not encouraging people to make a complaint.”

g. Next witness is Woman C – an SNP politician. Alex Salmond is accused of sexually assaulting her. Woman C says she was celebrating after a Holyrood budget vote, at a restaurant. Alex Salmond offered her a lift to Waverley Station in his ministerial car afterwards to catch a train, she says. Woman C says Alex Salmond put his hand on her leg, above the knee, and kept it there for “a large proportion of the journey”. Did she invite him to do this? “Absolutely not”. She was “embarrassed” and “just hoped it would stop”. Asked why she didn’t say something or call for help, Woman C says “it was so surreally [sic] awful that I didn’t want to say anything, I was just really embarrassed by it and presumed he would stop quite soon because it was so not the right thing to do.”

h. Shelagh McCall cross examining now. She puts it to Woman C that Alex Salmond “says he never touched your leg”. Woman C replies that “I wish it wasn’t the case, so I wouldn’t be here today.” Asking Woman C about whether she felt under pressure from Woman A to speak to the police. She says she didn’t feel pressure to give a statement; she only wanted to speak about things when she wanted to, but “people were talking about this”. Asking if this was a trivial incident? Woman C says “it was something done by my first minister and leader – it was something you put to one side, because who on earth are you going to tell about something like that?” Asked if she thought alleged incident a sexual assault, Woman C says “it was entirely inappropriate and wrong”. “I suppose when you look back you realise how much you excuse a person because of who they are.”

The Ms A incident, if for the moment we take her account as true, raises some very serious questions. Sexual assault is rightly an extremely serious matter, carrying heavy penalties. When does contact over clothing, not with an erogenous zone, become sexual assault?
It is important to emphasise that the defence do not accept Ms A’s account, but the judge’s direction to the jury on this point is going to be extremely interesting. The jury determine fact, but on the point of law they should be guided by the judge.

Pizza Express are getting a lot of very peculiar publicity. The dinner from which Alex Salmond gave Ms C a lift to Waverley Station was at Pizza Express Holyrood. No evidence so far that Prince Andrew was at the next table. As the defence pointed out to Ms C, it’s about a quarter of a mile to drive. (This is true, I used to live next door, and I could dash it on foot in six minutes to catch a train).

Woman C says Alex Salmond put his hand on her leg, above the knee, and kept it there for “a large proportion of the journey”. Did she invite him to do this? “Absolutely not”. She was “embarrassed” and “just hoped it would stop”. Asked why she didn’t say something or call for help, Woman C says “it was so surreally awful that I didn’t want to say anything, I was just really embarrassed by it and presumed he would stop quite soon because it was so not the right thing to do.”

The defence also pointed out that the limousine in question had a large fixed armrest between the two back passengers which would make the surreptitious or casual placing of a hand difficult. None of these defence points appear to have found their way into mainstream media.

But the two most important facts of the day seem – as you would expect – to be missed entirely by the mainstream media.

They are brought out by the excellent report by James Doleman in Byline Times. The first is that Ms C admitted to being a member of a WhatsApp group that had been “discussing” the allegations against Salmond. I use the verb “discussing” used by James Doleman and presumably used in court. Other verbs are available.

Secondly, Ms C said she had come forward in response to an “unsolicited email” by a police officer. I have previously reported on the massive fishing expedition conducted by Police Scotland against Alex Salmond in the context of the civil case he won against the Scottish government for the unfair and biased process conducted against him.

The court remains closed to the public when the accusers give evidence, which is over 90% of the trial so far. I have reapplied for accreditation as media, now as the newly appointed Political Editor of an established media organisation, Black Isle Journalism Ltd, which meets the required criteria. I await a response.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Your Man Kept Oot the Gallery: The Alex Salmond Trial Day 3 appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Alex Salmond Trial: Your Man Excluded From the Gallery

Par craig

A jury member is only allowed to consider certain facts in a case. The judge has ruled rigorously on what both prosecution and defence counsel may present as relevant fact. The judge will have excluded certain facts from being presented for various reasons. One of these reasons is Scotland’s idiosyncratic and very strict law on collateral evidence.

The essence of the collateral evidence rule is that what must be judged is the alleged criminal action itself and evidence pertaining directly to it. So if I were alleged to have stolen a tricycle, and an eye-witness says they saw me do it, that must be judged on the evidence of the event itself. If I had evidence, for example, that a social media group had been discussing how to fit Craig Murray up as a thief, that evidence would very likely not be admissible in court because it would be collateral evidence. It does not relate to the direct eye witness evidence on the alleged criminal act itself.

The classic statement of this Scottish common law rule is from Justice Clerk Ross in Brady vs HM Advocate 1986

The general rule is that it is not admissible to lead evidence on collateral matters in a criminal trial. Various justifications have been put forward for this rule. The existence of a collateral fact does not render more probable the existence of the fact in issue; at best a collateral matter can only have an indirect bearing on the matter in issue; a jury may become confused by having to consider collateral matters and may have their attention diverted from the true matter in issue.

Some may find this strict law on collateral evidence counter-intuitive. But it is the law, and the social media group “evidence” would very likely be kept from the jury while my guilt or otherwise of tricycle theft was being considered. The jury would have properly, as is the law of the land, to consider only what the judge directs them to consider in reaching their verdict.

But a journalist is not a jury member. The journalist has a very different role. The journalist’s job is to dig out information of the kind the judge may consider collateral and immaterial to innocence or guilt of the act. The journalist could not, of course, publish any such information during the trial itself or the judge might send them to jail for a considerable period. But the job of the journalist is to dig, and to keep digging.

I am rather a hard working journalist. Therefore coming specifically to the Salmond case I know some things which the jury know but you, dear reader, are not permitted to know, like the identities of the accusers. I know other things around the alleged events which the jury will not know, because it does not fit in to the judge’s, or the lawyers’, view of what is needful to be presented at trial. Some of that I cannot tell you nor even hint at because it may influence the jury in the improbable event that they read my blog. Such event being made even less probable by the judge’s stern and correct admonition to the jury not to read about the trial online. But some of that I can tell you because certain facts are plainly not relevant to the question of guilt or innocence of the charges involved.

[As an aside, I was challenged online as to whether I agreed with the law of contempt of court. My own belief is it is much too strict in limiting publication. Throughout most of the world, freedom of speech allows people to comment on trials as they wish and it is for the jury or the judge not to be influenced by the media. The judge’s direction to the jury not to read or be influenced by media ought to be sufficient. There is something strange about the notion that trial should theoretically be public, but the public not permitted to write about it. What is the point of trials being public if the public are not permitted to comment? It is even stranger that I can say to you down the pub that I thought a witness came across as a liar, but that legally expressed opinion becomes illegal if I tweet it. Where is the line? Can I tell a small meeting I thought the witness was a liar? And finally, the extremely arbitrary powers of the judge to decide who is guilty of contempt of – the judge themself – is an extraordinarily abusive power if you think about it. Being able just to jail anyone who says you are personally doing a bad job is self evidently an abuse of human rights.]

Another category of things which I know, relates to the political circumstances and machinations around this most political of trials. At a crucial moment where the Independence movement is, frankly pathetically and unnecessarily, stalled by the Boris Johnson veto, it is no exaggeration to say that the fate of an entire nation can be affected by the outcome of this trial. The Independence movement is of course infinitely bigger than any individual or collection of individuals, just as the cosmos is much bigger than my teacup. But this trial directly relates to the stalling of the momentum of the Independence movement, and in a manner most people do not realise.

There are vital questions here which in no way depend on whether or not Ms H told the truth in her testimony about events in Bute House. It is very important to say that nothing I write here is affected in any way by whether the alleged attempted rape and alleged attempted assault with intent to rape actually happened or did not happen. Everything I am going to write will remain true whether the alleged assaults happened or not, and what I write makes that neither more nor less likely. The accusers’ claims and the accused’s denials must be fairly judged. I leave that in the very capable hands of Lady Dorrian and the jury (and I may add that all my research has cast no shadow at all on the reputation of the trial judge Lady Dorrian).

The trial was kicked off with by far the most serious allegations first, from Ms H. The court is cleared of the public for the evidence of the anonymous accusers. Media only are permitted to attend and watch in a CCTV room. I have been refused media accreditation on the grounds I do not write for “a media organisation regulated by Ofcom and owned by a limited company.” The ever excellent Grouse Beater blog has a very good compendium of Ms H’s evidence the first two days as reported by journalists, including by James Doleman and by Philip Sim.

I believe however I may comment on one aspect of Ms H’s evidence without fear of contempt of court, because my commentary in no way relates to the allegation made, or comments one way or the other on the plausibility of what Ms H said. I here take an aspect of Ms H’s evidence entirely at face value.

Ms H on Monday in court described herself as a “soft supporter of Independence”, “not very party political.”

Yet this is a person who could stay in a bedroom inside Bute House (not Salmond’s bedroom), who was employed then in a central, vital political capacity, who remains today very much an intimate part of the small trusted inner circle of SNP leadership, a person approved as an SNP candidate by central vetting, who attempted as the court heard today to get the nomination for an Aberdeenshire Holyrood consituency which overlapped with Alex Salmond’s then Westminster Gordon seat.

A “soft independence supporter”. Her own words. Approved as a candidate.

This is three years after the alleged attempted rape. My point is purely a political one.

Those of us who are deeply unhappy with the apparent willingness of the SNP to accept a permanent Westminster veto on Independence, and to squander the mandate for Indyref2 won at the last Holyrood election, have long suspected that far too many people at the “professional”, careerist, highly paid core of the SNP are at best “soft independence supporters” and more interested in other political agendas: particularly agendas related to gender and identity politics. The revelations of this trial, entirely unrelated to the truth or otherwise of the allegations against Alex Salmond, are of massive public interest from a political standpoint.

According to her evidence today, when Ms H did finally years later report the alleged assault in Bute House, as she said inspired by the Harvey Weinstein case, she reported it not to the police, not to the civil service, but to the SNP’s conduct and discipline officer, Ian McCann. That is in itself sufficient indication that Ms H, who said in evidence she could go in and out of Bute House without signing in, is not the career civil servant she was rather disingenuously made out to be in the media.

Her evidence was perfectly clear. She made the sexual assault complaint to party HQ with the specific purpose of preventing any possible political comeback by Alex Salmond and to ensure he could not pass vetting in order to become an SNP candidate again. Ms H said this directly in her evidence.

Not only that, but she discussed this plan not just with Ian McCann – who reports directly to Peter Murrell – but with other accusers.

So here we have four women, Women H, G, J, and A, all of their identities kept secret because they are all accusers of Alex Salmond, all of them in very close circle within the current SNP leadership. They are in touch with each other and with Ian McCann. Woman H has given the SNP details of a serious criminal allegation against Alex Salmond with the stated intention that it should be used in vetting to prevent him being an SNP candidate again. She is discussing with some or all of the others how they can make allegations and stay anonymous. The official response from SNP HQ is that they will hold on to the allegations hoping they will “not need to deploy them.”

Witness H is specifically asked against what eventuality the party was sitting on the allegation, and she replied explicitly for vetting – ie to prevent Alex Salmond standing for parliament again. Sitting on allegations of an extremely serious criminal offence, in case you have to deploy them – why? for the political purpose of preventing an Alex Salmond comeback – is a very strange way indeed to deal with a criminal matter. Attempted rape is far more serious than that. If it is true, this is a gross insult to victims of sexual violence everywhere.

I repeat again, in the interests of my not going to jail. None of this in any way reflects on the truth or otherwise of the alleged assault itself. The above is all perfectly possible if based on a real, or based on a fabricated assault. I am not commenting on Ms H’s credibility. That would be illegal. I am commenting on the interesting fact of the SNP staff and the accusers sitting on allegations with the intention of deploying them, specifically only if necessary, to end Alex Salmond’s political career. The idea that attempted rape could be an insurance against an Alex Salmond comeback – an idea into which SNP HQ were fully bought in. Indeed it was SNP HQ who expressed it that way.

If you look through the twitter lines, you will see that journalists between them have missed at least three quarters of what is said in court. Because I am not there I am dependent on their selection of material. But allied to my background knowledge, I do hope that I have managed to elucidate some of what is happening, and fulfilled my purpose of supplying information you will not get from corporate and state media. It is plain enough that what I have stated is what has been given as evidence. It is extraordinary that mainstream media reports that I have seen mention none of this, but again only concentrate on the lurid details of the happenings in Bute House as alleged by Miss H.

Iain Macwhirter reckoned this trial could split the SNP from top to bottom. I respect Iain greatly and I know why he said it. But I believe Iain is wrong about the effect on the party. As more revelations come out, despite the anonymity of the accusers, what I do believe this trial might do is enable the broader SNP membership to cast off a fairly small and unrepresentative group of careerists who have gained control of the party machinery, who never had Independence at heart and have been making a very fat living on the back of the efforts of a devoted membership.

Irrespective of which, I wish the judge and jury well in their efforts to reach a fair and considered verdict on the allegations.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post The Alex Salmond Trial: Your Man Excluded From the Gallery appeared first on Craig Murray.

In a Strange Limbo

Par craig

My efforts to accredit to cover the Alex Salmond trial continue to be stonewalled. I therefore cannot gain access to the court which is closed to the public while the anonymous accusers give their evidence. Media only are able to watch via CCTV from a media room, which is where I am trying to get. The established media are of course overwhelmingly hostile to Alex Salmond.

You will recall the media behaviour at the coverage of the Julian Assange hearing. They turned up in force on day one and gave major coverage to the prosecution opening statement. The headlines screamed that Julian Assange had “put lives at risk”, and was just an “ordinary criminal”. They then almost entirely left, and gave virtually zero coverage to the defence’s comprehensive refutation of these arguments.

I suspect we are going to see a similar dynamic at play here. The prosecution led yesterday with its key witness and the most serious accusations. The media have used screaming headlines – today’s Times has five separate articles on the trial – and Ms H’s accusations are given in enormous, salacious detail. I am willing to wager very large sums of money that the defence are not given nearly the same level of coverage. Which is why I need to be in there to record what really happens.

I have established firmly that I am not being kept out for reasons of space. I have been passed around various officials, but the lady from “judicial communications” in charge of the court is willing to admit me provided the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) is willing to accredit me with their media card. I filled in the forms for that and sent in the photo last week. So far no response from SCTS, except that they yesterday referred me to “judicial communications”, who referred me straight back to SCTS again. The old runaround.

I am extremely frustrated by this as this is the key witness (I know who Ms H is, incidentally) and key evidence I am missing. There are a number of other subjects on which I might be blogging, but the annoyance is knocking my concentration at present, for which I apologise.

The post In a Strange Limbo appeared first on Craig Murray.

Reporting the Alex Salmond Trial

Par craig

Imagine you had not seen the reporting of the Julian Assange hearing by myself or by any other citizen journalist. Imagine you had only seen the reports of the mainstream media. What impression would you have of that hearing solely from the MSM and how would it differ from the impression you have now?

Every fact I reported from the Assange hearing was just that, a fact. Nobody, anywhere, has made a single claim that anything I reported to have happened, did not happen. Yet the mainstream media simply did not report 99% of the facts of the case which I reported.

Then realise this. For all the key evidential parts of Alex Salmond’s trial, the public and citizen journalists will be excluded and only the MSM will be permitted to be there. How thorough, how accurate and how fair do you think MSM reporting of the case will be? The MSM hate Alex Salmond as a danger to the status quo, just as they hate Julian Assange.

At least for the Assange trial I could queue from 6am and get in with the public. The public will themselves be excluded from the Salmond evidence sessions. I went to the court on Thursday and was told not to queue on Monday as there will be no parts of the trial open to the public that day. I was told to queue from early Tuesday morning with the possibility of a brief admission to the courtroom for the public at some point on that day, by no means guaranteed.

I have therefore applied to be admitted to the trial as a journalist. This is the email I sent to the courts service. I apologise that circumstances compelled me to blow my own trumpet, but the application is quite true if embarrassingly immodest. I am indeed the most widely read journalist resident in Scotland. The fact my journalism does not reach its audience by the medium of dead trees, or by TV news broadcast to an ever-shrinking audience of gullible old people, does not change that.

CRAIG MURRAY
To: communications@scotcourtstribunals.gov.uk

Thu, 5 Mar at 16:53

Sirs,

I am arguably the most read journalist resident in Scotland. We have undoubtedly the most popular and most read new media website in Scotland, http://www.craigmurray.org.uk.
Our regular readership is higher than the regular readership of the Scotsman or Herald, and on a good day higher than any Scottish newspaper. I have 75,000 followers on Twitter.

Last week our daily coverage of the Julian Assange hearing reached many millions of readers all around the world.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1

Many hundreds of thousands followed the hearing on my own website, and in the English language the article was republished on hundreds of websites worldwide, as proven by a google search of an unique exact phrase from the article, which gives 869 returns
.
My Assange hearing articles last week were in addition translated and republished in languages including French, German, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese (Iberian and Brazilian), Norwegian, Japanese and probably several others of which I do not know.

It is not just a question of quantity. This is reporting of the highest quality. My Assange case reporting was commended in the strongest terms by some of the UK’s most famous journalists, including Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger

former Daily Mail chief columnist Peter Oborne

And the legendary investigative journalist John Pilger

I would therefore be grateful if you would organise media accreditation for me to cover the Salmond case. In the modern world, the best journalists and those with the biggest audiences no longer work for the corporate or state media. Plainly, I am a journalist.

Craig Murray

The response to my email was of course to send me a form to fill, and that form made absolutely plain that it expected “journalists” to be from the established corporate and state media. Amusingly it also said the media organisation must have “balanced journalism”. That is of course another lie by the authorities. They have accredited the BBC, Sky and the Daily Telegraph, for example. They have not the slightest interest in balance, merely in excluding non right wing thinkers.

I have not heard back yet on my application. There is an irony that this blog might be regarded as a significant medium of publication for purposes of being threatened with jail for (ridiculous) alleged contempt of court, but not be regarded as a publication for the purposes of attending in court.

I still await a decision. If my accreditation is not accepted, my ability to report proceedings will be severely constrained. My strong suspicion is that being a good and accurate reporter with a wide international readership will appear to the authorities precisely the grounds on which they should try to exclude me. If excluded, I will provide what reporting I can, in any event, and gain entry at least to that part where the public are admitted, while finding ways to report what I cannot directly witness: I already know a great deal more than I am permitted to tell you about the facts of the case.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Momento Mori – Unpopular Thoughts on Corona Virus

Par craig

I have always been very fond of this photo, for reasons which are perhaps obvious. We are left to right Celia, Stuart, Neil, Craig and throughout our childhood we really were that close and that happy. The reason that I post this now is that my mother always told me she was amazed how good we looked in the photo, because it was taken when we were all off school sick with Hong Kong flu.

The Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968/9 was the last really serious flu pandemic to sweep the UK. They do seem extraordinarily regular – 1919, 1969 and 2020. Flu epidemics have much better punctuality than the trains (though I cheated a bit there and left out the 1958 “Asian flu”). Nowadays “Hong Kong flu” is known as H3N2. Estimates for deaths it caused worldwide vary from 1 to 4 million. In the UK it killed an estimated 80,000 people.

If the current coronavirus had appeared in 1968, it would simply have been called “flu”, probably “Wuhan flu”. COVID-19 may not be nowadays classified as such, but in my youth flu is definitely what we would have called it. The Hong Kong flu was very similar to the current outbreak in being extremely contagious but with a fairly low mortality rate. 30% of the UK population is estimated to have been infected in the Hong Kong flu pandemic. The death rate was about 0.5%, mostly elderly or with underlying health conditions.

But there was no massive panic, no second by second media hysteria, over Hong Kong flu. Let me start being unpopular. “Man in his 80’s already not very well from previous conditions, dies of flu” is not and should not be a news headline. The coverage is prurient, intrusive, unbalanced and designed to cause hysteria.

Consider this: 100% of those who contract coronavirus are going to die. 100% of those who do not contract coronavirus are also going to die. The difference in average life expectancy between the two groups will prove to be only very marginal. That is because the large majority of those who die of COVID-19 will already be nearing the end of life or have other health problems.

Let me make this important statement. I write as somebody whose heart and lungs are damaged and in poor condition, following the multiple bilateral pulmonary emboli which nearly killed me in 2004, which mysteriously appeared at precisely the time the UK and US governments were desperately trying to get rid of me as Ambassador, just a couple of weeks after I had been finally cleared of all the false charges with which the British government had attempted to fit me up. I was in a coma for days and subsequently given a maximum of three years to live (read Murder in Samarkand for the full story). If I get COVID-19 I expect I shall be fairly quickly gone off on my next adventure.

But I am OK with that. I have lived an incredibly full and satisfying life. I have no desire whatsoever to die – I have a wife and children I love deeply and I have important political battles I wish to fight. But human beings are not supposed to live forever and one day my time will come.

What worries me about the current reaction to coronavirus, is that it seems to reflect a belief that death is an aberration, rather than a part of the natural order of things. As the human species continues to expand massively in numbers, and as it continues casually to make other species extinct, it is inevitable that the excessive and crowded human population will become susceptible to disease.

As we see the catastrophic effects of human beings on the environment, including on other species and the climate, I am genuinely perplexed as to what are the underlying assumptions and goals of humankind. Do we really believe that medical science could and should eliminate all disease? There are numerous, well-funded medical scientists working very hard on research into the idea that ageing itself is a process that can be prevented. Because that is a notion very attractive to wealthy westerners, more money is being spent on preventing ageing than on fighting malaria and other tropical diseases. Where does this end? Do we really want a world – or at least a wealthy word – where everybody gets to be a centenarian? What are the effects of that on overall population, on demographics, economics and the allocation of finite resources including food and housing?

The mass hysteria around the current coronavirus is being driven by a societal rejection of the notion that the human species is part of the wider ecology, and that death and disease are unavoidable facts, with which it ought to be part of the human condition to come to terms. Let me offer a comforting thought to those of you who have bought into the hysteria. I have no doubt whatsoever that mortality rates from the coronavirus are being exaggerated. They are all based on extrapolation from those who have been tested, but there exists a very large population of people, worldwide, who have or have had the coronavirus, whose symptoms have been those of a cold or non-existent, who have not put themselves forward for testing. The Hong Kong flu had a mortality rate of 0.5% and I believe that ultimately COVID-19 will prove to be very similar. Just like flu once you get it, the only difference being it is more contagious so more people will get it.

Yes wash your hands, bin your tissues, keep things clean. Don’t hang around someone who has the flu. Take advantage of everything modern medicine can do to help you. But don’t be too shocked at the idea that some sick people die, especially if they are old. We are not Gods, we are mortal. We need to reconnect to that idea.

All human deaths are individual tragedies. I wish all solace and comfort to the grieving, and in no way wish to minimise the pain of individual loss of anybody of any age (I lost my own mother not long ago), or that even a small number of child deaths in particular will be dreadfully painful. My deepest and heartfelt condolences go to all the bereaved, and my warm regards go to all the sick and the worried. But the perspective of the wider place of human life in the cosmos is a help in grieving. The purpose of this blog remains not to shirk from saying what might be unpopular. I do hope people will start to consider COVID-19 in a more measured way.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Momento Mori – Unpopular Thoughts on Corona Virus appeared first on Craig Murray.

A Chink in the Wall

Par craig

Is it not astonishing that the reviled Fox News will allow Roger Waters to put forward truths on the Assange extradition which are completely banned from the BBC, CNN, NBC and indeed from the entire rest of the mainstream media, both print and broadcast?

The post A Chink in the Wall appeared first on Craig Murray.

Julian Assange Hearing – Your Help Wanted

Par craig

Here is a list of things you can do to help. Everyone can do at least one of these.

1) Put 18 May firmly in your diary. The hearing stands adjourned until 18 May. Turn up on 18 May and join the protests there all day – show the world this is a political trial, and we know it. Woolwich Crown Court is walking distance from Plumstead Railway Station in South East London. If you feel able to do so, bring your tent and join the Free Assange Village that sets up on the grass banks around the court – there is loads of available space. But if you can just turn up for the day, that is just as valuable. Protests will roll on every day throughout the hearing which will continue for a minimum of three weeks.

Make all the noise you can at the protests. The prosecution is anxious to portray this as an “ordinary criminal case”. Make sure the world, and the judge, know it is not. There was an attempt by the judge to deflect the communication problems caused by Julian being locked inside a bulletproof glass cage, and blame the distant noise of protestors for that instead. Do not be deflected by this arrant nonsense. Make all the noise you can.

2) Write to your elected representatives. This really does have an impact if done en masse. You can do this whichever country you are in. The key points are these:

– Publishing the truth should not be a crime. Wikileaks exposed war crimes and worldwide corruption by governments.
– The prosecution case rests entirely on the argument that the UK/US Extradition Treaty of 2007 is legally enforceable, but that specifically Clause 4.i of the Treaty forbidding extradition for political offences has no standing in law. This is an absurd argument.
– Ask specifically your elected representative whether they personally believe political offences should be extraditable, and what they believe the impact might be worldwide on political dissidents in exile
– Demand they act on the disgraceful conditions in which Julian is held, including entirely unnecessary strip searches and manacling, lack of access to his legal papers and lack of access to his lawyers. Point out he has not been convicted and that these are incompatible with his status as an innocent remand prisoner. Point out he is being treated as the most violent convicted terrorists are treated, but he is unconvicted and accused of a peaceful political offence.

3) Put in a freedom of information request. I explained at great length why it is impossible that the UK could have ratified the US/UK Extradition Treaty in 2007 if it is indeed, as the prosecution claim, incompatible with the UK Extradition Act of 2003. Please read that again.

If you are in the UK
There must be documentary evidence of all the clearance work around Whitehall that was done to ensure the 2007 Treaty is fully compatible with UK law. I therefore need people to submit Freedom of Information Requests to:
a)Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Specifying Consular Dept, Legal Advisers, North American Dept, Nationality & Treaty Dept, Counter Terrorism Dept or their successors if renamed and any other relevant departments)
b)Home Office
c)Treasury Solicitors
d)Cabinet Office
e)UK Parliament

Requesting “All materials relating to the ratification and entry into force of the UK/US Extradition Treaty (signed 2003 ratified 2007), and particularly all discussion of the ability of the 2003 Extradition Act to apply all of its provisions, of the need or lack of need for any further statutory provision to incorporate it into English law, including but not exclusively any reference to extradition for political offences or to clause 4 of the UK US Extradition Treaty.” Materials should be requested from 2002 to 2007.

If you are in the USA, please similarly put in a FOIA request to the Department of Justice and State Department for all material relating to the implementation of the UK/US Extradition Treaty (signed 2003, ratified 2007), and particularly any discussion of the political offences exclusion at Clause 4, in particular but not exclusively with relation to the desirability of the UK implementing that clause and/or the UK’s ability to do so.

I realise I am asking for a bit of work here from you to work out how to do and phrase this. I have never been let down when drawing on the tenacity and perspicacity of our readers before!

4) Research the passing of the 2003 Extradition Act.

In Court the prosecution argued that the 2003 Extradition Act was the first such UK Act not to include an exclusion for political offences. Parliament must therefore deliberately have removed the political offences exclusion and the 2007 Treaty could not put it back in. The defence argued to the contrary that the 2003 Extradition Act is an Enabling Act on which extradition treaties depend. Both the Act and the Treaty are required for extradition, and the Act did nothing to limit Treaties from including a ban on extradition for political offences.

As always, Judge Baraitser ignored the defence argument. She three times asserted as a simple matter of fact that Parliament had intended to allow extradition for political offences when passing the 2003 Extradition Act. Twice she did this in interruption of the defence argument to the contrary.

Normally neither arguments about the intention of parliament, nor quotes from Hansard debates, are taken into consideration by English courts. With few exceptions, rulings have been that the legislation must be read on its face. But here, Baraitser has herself quoted the intention of parliament – using that very word – to justify dismissing the defence argument. It must therefore be legitimate to introduce evidence on the intention of parliament, if the judge is going to rely on the concept.

I therefore need people to read through all the Hansards of debates on the 2003 Extradition Act, both in the Commons and the Lords, to see what was said about extradition for political offences, and particular if any distinction was made between terrorists and peaceful political offenders, and whether ministers gave any reassurances. Apart from the debates, there may be parliamentary questions in Hansard on the same topic.

It is of course true that the 2003 Extradition Act was a product of the so-called “War on Terror” and the Iraq and Afghan invasions, passed by Blair, Straw and Blunkett, undoubtedly the most hostile to civil liberty, authoritarian government in modern British history. But even so, I feel fairly confident that to get the Act through the Commons and especially the Lords, ministers will have been obliged to give some reassurance it was not intended to use it against peaceful political dissidents.

I have received quite a clamour from people wanting to know how they can help. Off you go!

This blog will resume its daily coverage of the hearings when proceedings restart on 18 May. On a personal note, my sincere thanks to all those who supported financially. I am happy to report that from the afternoon of Day 3, an accommodation was made by the Court whereby Julian was given six seats in the public gallery for family and close friends, and he kindly listed me for one of those, so I no longer had to queue at 6am, and I hope that will continue.

Finally may I say that I am always delighted when readers, and subscribers, introduce themselves personally. I find it really heartwarming and it certainly helped keep my morale up at a very tiring and emotionally draining time. So please do not feel in the least reticent to say hello if you come along from 18 May.

There was a tremendous camaraderie at the hearing among Julian’s supporters, and I believe I met people from well nigh every country in Europe and the Americas. We kept each other going, and Julian lit up every time he saw friendly faces. It was a very intense week, and even with a wonderful and loving family to go home to, I felt a bit down after we all split up, and everyone who has been back in contact since has said the same thing. I am haunted by the thought of how much more dreadful Julian must feel, back into the bowels of that high tech dungeon and virtual solitary confinement, with very little contact with his legal team or his papers and months to go before anything else happens. Do think of him and pray for him if you have a faith.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Julian Assange Hearing – Your Help Wanted appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Alex Salmond Trial and Censorship

Par craig

I am just off to the High Court to check out physical arrangements for access on Monday, and was inspired to send the above email, which I add as an update.

On Monday morning at 6am I shall again be queuing up outside a courtroom. I never had any intention this blog would become so concentrated on court reporting, but then I never expected the state to be trying to put so many of my friends in prison.

Nor had I expected at this stage in my life to be threatened with prison myself. The Procurator Fiscal’s office in Scotland wrote to me to say that they are considering prosecuting me for contempt of court – which when it is related to a major criminal trial, carries a maximum sentence in Scotland of up to two years in prison.

20200121 LRM letter to C Murray[353039]

I have still not heard where their consideration of whether to prosecute me has led them. But the job of the Crown Office is to prosecute criminals, not to write them letters. My interpretation of the letter, which I believe would be the interpretation of any reasonable person, is that it is an attempt at censorship by terrifying me into removing the article of which they complain.

The Crown should not be doing that. If the Crown is ordering the suppression of satire without the decision of a judge, then we have set Scottish society and Scottish liberties back several hundred years. The Crown is not in the position of somebody who feels themselves libeled and might send a “cease and desist”. For the Crown to attempt direct censorship without judicial authority is a very serious breach of human rights.

The article complained of, clearly labeled as fiction, does not mention Alex Salmond nor any of his accusers and is largely a satire on the Moorov Doctrine. If the Crown is saying that it is illegal to satirise the Moorov Doctrine lest you reduce its efficacy, that again appears to me to have serious human rights implications. A senior QC told me shortly before Christmas that, entirely unrelated to the Salmond Case, they had been briefed by the Procurator Fiscal Service that it was their policy to push and extend the use of Moorov Doctrine. There is a very wide public interest in discussing that.

All of which naturally constrains my reporting next week. It is of course important both to give the fairest hearing to the accusers and not to prejudice jury members on the facts with which they are faced. But I cannot even tell you what happened in court at the last case management hearing, although it is very important. When combined with the anonymity of the accusers, it does make it very difficult indeed to report the background to the case, which given its profound political implications that engage a legitimate wider public interest, is deeply disturbing to me. I shall however do my best, in full compliance with both the law of contempt and the rulings of the court, but operating hard up against that boundary in the interests of free speech and public knowledge, to the extent that is permissible and legitimate, to report as much of the truth as I can.

Hopefully without going to prison. Wish me luck.

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Doune the Rabbit Hole 2020

Par craig

Long term readers know that the Doune the Rabbit Hole Music Festival is run by my family and myself and is a major part of my life. It is in a sense my “day job”. The full line-up for 2020 is now here.

The artistic direction of the festival is very much the province of my son Jamie, though when you see something entirely unexpected like the Morriston Orpheus Choir you know there is some input from me!

I have written before about why we do the festival. It is about lifestyle and community, about creating a nicer, kinder world for a short time in the fields on the edge of the Highland Line. Doune the Rabbit Hole is a conscious attempt to maintain the communal values of the earliest music festivals, and the experience is very different from that of the large commercial ones. It is a family festival not just in the sense of being family owned and run. Under 12s come free and there is a huge amount of time and other resource devoted to providing facilities and entertainment for them. The very presence of so many children is important to the sense of being a community, not an audience, as is the extraordinary age range of those who come. There is no dominant age group. Pets are welcome and lots of people bring them.

The finances of the festival are a huge challenge. The fixed costs of the required infrastructure – fencing, temporary roads, water, stages, lighting, sound systems, toilets, tentage, signage, security, first aid and more – are colossal, amounting to over £400,000. This is why many of Scotland’s camping festivals, including Wicker Man and Electric Fields, have closed down in recent years. In the modern age, much of that is mandated by the authorities, for example we would be much happier without six miles of fencing. That is before you pay the musicians. Live performance rather than selling recorded music is nowadays a much higher percentage of a musicians’ income, and the cost of leading bands has increased exponentially in real terms over the last couple of decades. Plus, as a matter of principle, we pay all the musicians, including those looking to break through, of which we have masses.

Ten years of trying has proven to us that the only way a camping festival can survive financially is to reach a size of about 8,000 people, due to the fixed costs. You can imagine the challenges of attempting to grow the festival to the size needed, with all the infrastructure required to keep that many people entertained, safe, fed, watered and with clean toilets (and having the cleanest toilets of any festival is very high on our priorities), yet at the same time retain the community, family, non-commercial and above all friendly atmosphere. I hope that this link might take you to the public reviews on Google. My feeling was last year that we achieved this atmosphere for the visitors but not for the crew, who were over-stressed. I am spending a lot of time on how to make the community work for everybody and keep the finances together, while avoiding commercialisation. We are always very keen on keeping bar and food prices down to ordinary, non-festival levels and making sure that people never feel ripped off on site.

Let me be perfectly open with you and say that this is the year we finally hope we will reach a size where the festival stops losing money. The reason that it has been able to survive and develop to this stage, is that I have over the years put in a six figure sum of my own money to keep it going (which is also the reason I do not now have any!)

The Douniversity proved a very popular innovation last year, with a legion of talks including by Kristin Hrafnsson (editor in chief Wikileaks), Robin McAlpine and myself. This year Common Weal are curating the Douniversity, which I am sure will be great.

The festival has become to me an essential annual spiritual refreshment, and a vital part of what keeps me going.

Finally, I would as every year very much welcome volunteers from our readers who would be prepared to come and help out at the festival, particularly behind the bars, but if you have other particular skills or preferences I am sure they can be accommodated. In the first instance, please send me a message via the contact button top right of the blog to introduce yourself. Please do let me know if you have done it before or if you have otherwise met me, as I have a terrible memory for names. We do, however, need to sell a great many tickets, and if you fancy coming just to enjoy the event you will be very welcome indeed. You can buy tickets here.

.

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It’s Super Bernie Day

Par craig

I retain the belief that the motivations of Bernie Sanders’ voters – a fair society with decent pay, healthcare, working conditions, immigration justice and the ultra wealthy paying their share – will not be affected today by the massive media hype of the right wingers coalescing around the corrupt and inept Joe Biden. I therefore expect that in 24 hours Bernie will be well down the path to becoming the Democratic nominee.

I should like to believe that the leaked DNC emails of four years ago will yet have a vital effect. By exposing the way Hillary and the DNC rigged the primaries and cheated Bernie out of the nomination last time, they have already made people far more alert for procedural cheating this time. That background will also make it far tougher for the right to mobilise unelected superdelegates to undemocratically prevent Bernie from getting the nomination. It is not a good look to cheat him again. If people did not know about the hidden cheating last time, fixing the Convention would be a simpler sell.

I maintain the hope that the novel coronavirus will prove less virulent and less potent than generally feared. If I am wrong, the USA will shortly experience the massive difference in ability to control an epidemic when ordinary people are not covered by an adequate public health service. Similarly, we in the UK will understand that the Tory policy of running the NHS at 99% capacity as a norm is ridiculously improvident; the expense of carrying a substantial spare capacity for emergencies ought to be part of any decent planning, a principle which has been scandalously neglected.

Here is an interesting irony for you. Almost everybody on the left in the UK, and certainly anybody who has expressed the slightest concern at the appalling repression of the Palestinian people, has been slurred and falsely abused as an anti-semite these past four years. Yet every friend of mine who has been falsely slurred as an anti-semite is, like me, rooting strongly for Bernie Sanders to become the first Jewish President of the United States. Meanwhile the Guardian, which in the UK has led the charge against the left with an average of over 8 articles a week in 2019 accusing left wing figures or the left in general of anti-semitism, is pulling out all the stops to prevent Bernie becoming the first Jewish President of the United States.

The Guardian has rebranded as Joe Biden News. When Kath Viner became Editor it targeted the Clintonite identity politics right for its much needed online revenue increase. Last night its US Politics livestream ran 16 straight items gushing about Joe Biden, his rallies and his endorsements from Buttigeig, Klobuchar and a stream of other irrelevant right wing figures.

Today’s Guardian Online Front Page: The Guardian is Rebranding as Joe Biden News

I am personally pleased that the right has finally settled on the hopeless Biden as its standard bearer. I wonder if we will now be allowed to ask why Burisma paid Hunter Biden $850,000 to be non-executive director of a Ukrainian gas company which he never even visited? It is a fine example of the complete departure of rationality from political life that, even when appalling corruption is laced with geopolitical implications touching on issues of war and peace, you are not allowed to point out the stinking mess without being labeled as a supporter of Trump.

Finally, after the Russiagate 2 “Bernie is a Russian Puppet” effort fell rather flat, those united US intelligence agencies are still attacking with a message which scarcely pretends to be anything other than an attempt to damage Sanders by gross libel and insinuation. The curious involvement of Pompeo and Barr in this tells us one thing fairly plainly. Trump would much prefer to face Biden than face Sanders. He is of course right. If the Democrat establishment block Sanders in favour of another bought and paid for Wall Street puppet, they will end up with Trump until 2024 – and then Ivanka.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Paypal address for one-off donations: craigmurray1710@btinternet.com

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post It’s Super Bernie Day appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Armoured Glass Box is an Instrument of Torture

Par craig

In Thursday’s separate hearing on allowing Assange out of the armoured box to sit with his legal team, I witnessed directly that Baraitser’s ruling against Assange was brought by her into court BEFORE she heard defence counsel put the arguments, and delivered by her entirely unchanged.

I might start by explaining to you my position in the public gallery vis a vis the judge. All week I deliberately sat in the front, right hand seat. The gallery looks out through an armoured glass window at a height of about seven feet above the courtroom. It runs down one side of the court, and the extreme right hand end of the public gallery is above the judge’s bench, which sits below perpendicular to it. Remarkably therefore from the right hand seats of the public gallery you have an uninterrupted view of the top of the whole of the judge’s bench, and can see all the judge’s papers and computer screen.

Mark Summers QC outlined that in the case of Belousov vs Russia the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg ruled against the state of Russia because Belousov had been tried in a glass cage practically identical in construction and in position in court to that in which Assange now was. It hindered his participation in the trial and his free access to counsel, and deprived him of human dignity as a defendant.

Summers continued that it was normal practice for certain categories of unconvicted prisoners to be released from the dock to sit with their lawyers. The court had psychiatric reports on Assange’s extreme clinical depression, and in fact the UK Department of Justice’s best practice guide for courts stated that vulnerable people should be released to sit alongside their lawyers. Special treatment was not being requested for Assange – he was asking to be treated as any other vulnerable person.

The defence was impeded by their inability to communicate confidentially with their client during proceedings. In the next stage of trial, where witnesses were being examined, timely communication was essential. Furthermore they could only talk with him through the slit in the glass within the hearing of the private company security officers who were guarding him (it was clarified they were Serco, not Group 4 as Baraitser had said the previous day), and in the presence of microphones.

Baraitser became ill-tempered at this point and spoke with a real edge to her voice. “Who are those people behind you in the back row?” she asked Summers sarcastically – a question to which she very well knew the answer. Summers replied that they were part of the defence legal team. Baraitser said that Assange could contact them if he had a point to pass on. Summers replied that there was an aisle and a low wall between the glass box and their position, and all Assange could see over the wall was the top of the back of their heads. Baraitser said she had seen Assange call out. Summers said yelling across the courtroom was neither confidential nor satisfactory.

I have now been advised it is definitely an offence to publish the picture of Julian in his glass box, even though I didn’t take it and it is absolutely all over the internet. Also worth noting that I am back home in my own country, Scotland, where my blog is based, and neither is within the jurisdiction of the English court. But I am anxious not to give them any excuse to ban me from the court hearing, so I have removed it but you can see it here.

This is the photo taken illegally (not by me) of Assange in the court. If you look carefully, you can see there is a passageway and a low wooden wall between him and the back row of lawyers. You can see one of the two Serco prison officers guarding him inside the box.

Baraitser said Assange could pass notes, and she had witnessed notes being passed by him. Summers replied that the court officers had now banned the passing of notes. Baraitser said they could take this up with Serco, it was a matter for the prison authorities.

Summers asserted that, contrary to Baraitser’s statement the previous day, she did indeed have jurisdiction on the matter of releasing Assange from the dock. Baraitser intervened to say that she now accepted that. Summers then said that he had produced a number of authorities to show that Baraitser had also been wrong to say that to be in custody could only mean to be in the dock. You could be in custody anywhere within the precincts of the court, or indeed outside. Baraitser became very annoyed by this and stated she had only said that delivery to the custody of the court must equal delivery to the dock.

To which Summers replied memorably, now very cross “Well, that’s wrong too, and has been wrong these last eight years.”

Drawing argument to a close, Baraitser gave her judgement on this issue. Now the interesting thing is this, and I am a direct eyewitness. She read out her judgement, which was several pages long and handwritten. She had brought it with her into court in a bundle, and she made no amendments to it. She had written out her judgement before she heard Mark Summers speak at all.

Her key points were that Assange was able to communicate to his lawyers by shouting out from the box. She had seen him pass notes. She was willing to adjourn the court at any time for Assange to go down with his lawyers for discussions in the cells, and if that extended the length of the hearing from three to six weeks, it could take as long as required.

Baraitser stated that none of the psychiatric reports she had before her stated that it was necessary for Assange to leave the armoured dock. As none of the psychiarists had been asked that question – and very probably none knew anything about courtroom layout – that is scarcely surprising

I have been wondering why it is so essential to the British government to keep Assange in that box, unable to hear proceedings or instruct his lawyers in reaction to evidence, even when counsel for the US Government stated they had no objection to Assange sitting in the well of the court.

The answer lies in the psychiatric assessment of Assange given to the court by the extremely distinguished Professor Michael Kopelman (who is familiar to everyone who has read Murder in Samarkand):

“Mr Assange shows virtually all the risk factors which researchers from Oxford
have described in prisoners who either suicide or make lethal attempts. … I
am as confident as a psychiatrist can ever be that, if extradition to the United
States were to become imminent, Mr Assange would find a way of suiciding.”

The fact that Kopelman does not, as Baraitser said, specifically state that the armoured glass box is bad for Assange reflects nothing other than the fact he was not asked that question. Any human being with the slightest decency would be able to draw the inference. Baraitser’s narrow point that no psychiatrist had specifically stated he should be released from the armoured box is breathtakingly callous, dishonest and inhumane. Almost certainly no psychiatrist had conceived she would determine on enforcing such torture.

So why is Baraitser doing it?

I believe that the Hannibal Lecter style confinement of Assange, this intellectual computer geek, which has no rational basis at all, is a deliberate attempt to drive Julian to suicide. The maximum security anti-terrorist court is physically within the fortress compound that houses the maximum security prison. He is brought handcuffed and under heavy escort to and from his solitary cell to the armoured dock via an underground tunnel. In these circumstances, what possible need is there for him to be strip and cavity searched continually? Why is he not permitted to have his court papers? Most telling for me was the fact he is not permitted to shake hands or touch his lawyers through the slit in the armoured box.

They are relentlessly enforcing the systematic denial of any basic human comfort, like the touch of a friend’s fingertips or the blocking of the relief that he might get just from being alongside somebody friendly. They are ensuring the continuation of the extreme psychological effects from isolation of a year of virtual solitary confinement. A tiny bit of human comfort could do an enormous amount of good to his mental health and resilience. They are determined to stop this at all costs. They are attempting to make him kill himself – or create in him the condition where his throttling death might be explained away as suicide.

This is also the only explanation that I can think of for why they are risking the creation of such obvious mistrial conditions. Dead people cannot appeal.

I would remind you that Julian is a remand prisoner who has served his unprecedentedly long sentence for bail-jumping. His status is supposedly at present that of an innocent man facing charges. Those charges are for nothing except for publishing Chelsea Manning’s revelations of war crimes.

That Baraitser is acting under instructions seems to me certain. She has been desperate throughout the trial to seize any chance to deny any responsibility for what is happening to Julian. She has stated that she has no jurisdiction over his treatment in prison, and even when both defence and prosecution combined to state it was normal practice for magistrates to pass directions or requests to the prison service, she refused to accept it was so.

Baraitser is plainly attempting psychologically to distance herself from any agency in what is being done. To this end she has made a stream of denials of jurisdiction or ability to influence events. She has said that she has no jurisdiction to interfere with the strip searching, handcuffing and removal of Assange’s papers or with his being kept in solitary. She has said she has no jurisdiction to request that his defence lawyers have more access to their client in jail to prepare his defence. She has said she has no jurisdiction over his position in the courtroom. Se has suggested at various times it is up to Serco to decide if he may pass notes to his lawyers and up to Group4 to decide if he can be released from the armoured dock. The moments when she looks most content listening to the evidence, are those when prosecution counsel James Lewis argues that she has no decision to make but to sign the extradition because it is in good form and that Article 4 of the Treaty has no legal standing.

A member of the Assange family remarked to me at the end of week one that she seems very lazy, and thus delighted to accept any arguments that reduce the amount she needs to do. I think it is different to that. I think there is a corner of the mind of this daughter of dissidents from apartheid that rejects her own role in the torture of Assange, and is continually urging “I had no choice, I had no agency”. Those who succumb to do evil must find what internal comfort they may.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible. I wish to stress again that I absolutely do not want anybody to give anything if it causes them the slightest possibility of financial strain.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

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The post The Armoured Glass Box is an Instrument of Torture appeared first on Craig Murray.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day Four

Par craig

Please try this experiment for me.
Try asking this question out loud, in a tone of intellectual interest and engagement: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.

Now try asking this question out loud, in a tone of hostility and incredulity bordering on sarcasm: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.

Firstly, congratulations on your acting skills; you take direction very well. Secondly, is it not fascinating how precisely the same words can convey the opposite meaning dependent on modulation of stress, pitch, and volume?

Yesterday the prosecution continued its argument that the provision in the 2007 UK/US Extradition Treaty that bars extradition for political offences is a dead letter, and that Julian Assange’s objectives are not political in any event. James Lewis QC for the prosecution spoke for about an hour, and Edward Fitzgerald QC replied for the defence for about the same time. During Lewis’s presentation, he was interrupted by Judge Baraitser precisely once. During Fitzgerald’s reply, Baraitser interjected seventeen times.

In the transcript, those interruptions will not look unreasonable:
“Could you clarify that for me Mr Fitzgerald…”
“So how do you cope with Mr Lewis’s point that…”
“But surely that’s a circular argument…”
“But it’s not incorporated, is it?…”

All these and the other dozen interruptions were designed to appear to show the judge attempting to clarify the defence’s argument in a spirit of intellectual testing. But if you heard the tone of Baraitser’s voice, saw her body language and facial expressions, it was anything but.

The false picture a transcript might give is exacerbated by the courtly Fitzgerald’s continually replying to each obvious harassment with “Thank you Madam, that is very helpful”, which again if you were there, plainly meant the opposite. But what a transcript will helpfully nevertheless show was the bully pulpit of Baraitser’s tactic in interrupting Fitzgerald again and again and again, belittling his points and very deliberately indeed preventing him from getting into the flow of his argument. The contrast in every way with her treatment of Lewis could not be more pronounced.

So now to report the legal arguments themselves.

James Lewis for the prosecution, continuing his arguments from the day before, said that Parliament had not included a bar on extradition for political offences in the 2003 Act. It could therefore not be reintroduced into law by a treaty. “To introduce a Political Offences bar by the back door would be to subvert the intention of Parliament.”

Lewis also argued that these were not political offences. The definition of a political offence was in the UK limited to behaviour intended “to overturn or change a government or induce it to change its policy.” Furthermore the aim must be to change government or policy in the short term, not the indeterminate future.

Lewis stated that further the term “political offence” could only be applied to offences committed within the territory where it was attempted to make the change. So to be classified as political offences, Assange would have had to commit them within the territory of the USA, but he did not.

If Baraitser did decide the bar on political offences applied, the court would have to determine the meaning of “political offence” in the UK/US Extradition Treaty and construe the meaning of paragraphs 4.1 and 4.2 of the Treaty. To construe the terms of an international treaty was beyond the powers of the court.

Lewis perorated that the conduct of Julian Assange cannot possibly be classified as a political offence. “It is impossible to place Julian Assange in the position of a political refugee”. The activity in which Wikileaks was engaged was not in its proper meaning political opposition to the US Administration or an attempt to overthrow that administration. Therefore the offence was not political.

For the defence Edward Fitzgerald replied that the 2003 Extradition Act was an enabling act under which treaties could operate. Parliament had been concerned to remove any threat of abuse of the political offence bar to cover terrorist acts of violence against innocent civilians. But there remained a clear protection, accepted worldwide, for peaceful political dissent. This was reflected in the Extradition Treaty on the basis of which the court was acting.

Baraitser interrupted that the UK/US Extradition Treaty was not incorporated into English Law.

Fitzgerald replied that the entire extradition request is on the basis of the treaty. It is an abuse of process for the authorities to rely on the treaty for the application but then to claim that its provisions do not apply.

“On the face of it, it is a very bizarre argument that a treaty which gives rise to the extradition, on which the extradition is founded, can be disregarded in its provisions. It is on the face of it absurd.” Edward Fitzgerald QC for the Defence

Fitzgerald added that English Courts construe treaties all the time. He gave examples.

Fitzgerald went on that the defence did not accept that treason, espionage and sedition were not regarded as political offences in England. But even if one did accept Lewis’s too narrow definition of political offence, Assange’s behaviour still met the test. What on earth could be the motive of publishing evidence of government war crimes and corruption, other than to change the policy of the government? Indeed, the evidence would prove that Wikileaks had effectively changed the policy of the US government, particularly on Iraq.

Baraitser interjected that to expose government wrongdoing was not the same thing as to try to change government policy. Fitzgerald asked her, finally in some exasperation after umpteen interruptions, what other point could there be in exposing government wrongdoing other than to induce a change in government policy?

That concluded opening arguments for the prosecution and defence.

MY PERSONAL COMMENTARY

Let me put this as neutrally as possible. If you could fairly state that Lewis’s argument was much more logical, rational and intuitive than Fitzgerald’s, you could understand why Lewis did not need an interruption while Fitzgerald had to be continually interrupted for “clarification”. But in fact it was Lewis who was making out the case that the provisions of the very treaty under which the extradition is being made, do not in fact apply, a logical step which I suggest the man on the Clapham omnibus might reason to need rather more testing than Fitzgerald’s assertion to the contrary. Baraitser’s comparative harassment of Fitzgerald when he had the prosecution on the ropes was straight out of the Stalin show trial playbook.

The defence did not mention it, and I do not know if it features in their written arguments, but I thought Lewis’s point that these could not be political offences, because Julian Assange was not in the USA when he committed them, was breathtakingly dishonest. The USA claims universal jurisdiction. Assange is being charged with crimes of publishing committed while he was outside the USA. The USA claims the right to charge anyone of any nationality, anywhere in the world, who harms US interests. They also in addition here claim that as the materials could be seen on the internet in the USA, there was an offence in the USA. At the same time to claim this could not be a political offence as the crime was committed outside the USA is, as Edward Fitzgerald might say, on the face of it absurd. Which curiously Baraitser did not pick up on.

Lewis’s argument that the Treaty does not have any standing in English law is not something he just made up. Nigel Farage did not materialise from nowhere. There is in truth a long tradition in English law that even a treaty signed and ratified with some bloody Johnny Foreigner country, can in no way bind an English court. Lewis could and did spout reams and reams of judgements from old beetroot faced judges holding forth to say exactly that in the House of Lords, before going off to shoot grouse and spank the footman’s son. Lewis was especially fond of the Tin Council case.

There is of course a contrary and more enlightened tradition, and a number of judgements that say the exact opposite, mostly more recent. This is why there was so much repetitive argument as each side piled up more and more volumes of “authorities” on their side of the case.

The difficulty for Lewis – and for Baraitser – is that this case is not analogous to me buying a Mars bar and then going to court because an International Treaty on Mars Bars says mine is too small.

Rather the 2003 Extradition Act is an Enabling Act on which extradition treaties then depend. You can’t thus extradite under the 2003 Act without the Treaty. So the Extradition Treaty of 2007 in a very real sense becomes an executive instrument legally required to authorise the extradition. For the executing authorities to breach the terms of the necessary executive instrument under which they are acting, simply has to be an abuse of process. So the Extradition Treaty owing to its type and its necessity for legal action, is in fact incorporated in English Law by the Extradition Act of 2003 on which it depends.

The Extradition Treaty is a necessary precondition of the extradition, whereas a Mars Bar Treaty is not a necessary precondition to buying the Mars Bar.

That is as plain as I can put it. I do hope that is comprehensible.

It is of course difficult for Lewis that on the same day the Court of Appeal was ruling against the construction of the Heathrow Third Runway, partly because of its incompatibility with the Paris Agreement of 2016, despite the latter not being fully incorporated into English law by the Climate Change Act of 2008.

VITAL PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

It is intensely embarrassing for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) when an English court repudiates the application of a treaty the UK has ratified with one or more foreign states. For that reason, in the modern world, very serious procedures and precautions have been put into place to make certain that this cannot happen. Therefore the prosecution’s argument that all the provisions of the UK/US Extradition Treaty of 2007 are not able to be implemented under the Extradition Act of 2003, ought to be impossible.

I need to explain I have myself negotiated and overseen the entry into force of treaties within the FCO. The last one in which I personally tied the ribbon and applied the sealing wax (literally) was the Anglo-Belgian Continental Shelf Treaty of 1991, but I was involved in negotiating others and the system I am going to describe was still in place when I left the FCO as an Ambassador in 2005, and I believe is unchanged today (and remember the Extradition Act was 2003 and the US/UK Extradition Treaty ratified 2007, so my knowledge is not outdated). Departmental nomenclatures change from time to time and so does structural organisation. But the offices and functions I will describe remain, even if names may be different.

All international treaties have a two stage process. First they are signed to show the government agrees to the treaty. Then, after a delay, they are ratified. This second stage takes place when the government has enabled the legislation and other required agency to implement the treaty. This is the answer to Lewis’s observation about the roles of the executive and legislature. The ratification stage only takes place after any required legislative action. That is the whole point.

This is how it happens in the FCO. Officials negotiate the extradition treaty. It is signed for the UK. The signed treaty then gets returned to FCO Legal Advisers, Nationality and Treaty Department, Consular Department, North American Department and others and is sent on to Treasury/Cabinet Office Solicitors and to Home Office, Parliament and to any other Government Department whose area is impacted by the individual treaty.

The Treaty is extensively vetted to check that it can be fully implemented in all the jurisdictions of the UK. If it cannot, then amendments to the law have to be made so that it can. These amendments can be made by Act of Parliament or more generally by secondary legislation using powers conferred on the Secretary of State by an act. If there is already an Act of Parliament under which the Treaty can be implemented, then no enabling legislation needs to be passed. International Agreements are not all individually incorporated into English or Scottish laws by specific new legislation.

This is a very careful step by step process, carried out by lawyers and officials in the FCO, Treasury, Cabinet Office, Home Office, Parliament and elsewhere. Each will in parallel look at every clause of the Treaty and check that it can be applied. All changes needed to give effect to the treaty then have to be made – amending legislation, and necessary administrative steps. Only when all hurdles have been cleared, including legislation, and Parliamentary officials, Treasury, Cabinet Office, Home Office and FCO all certify that the Treaty is capable of having effect in the UK, will the FCO Legal Advisers give the go ahead for the Treaty to be ratified. You absolutely cannot ratify the treaty before FCO Legal Advisers have given this clearance.

This is a serious process. That is why the US/UK Extradition Treaty was signed in 2003 and ratified in 2007. That is not an abnormal delay.

So I know for certain that ALL the relevant British Government legal departments MUST have agreed that Article 4.1 of the UK/US Extradition Treaty was capable of being given effect under the 2003 Extradition Act. That certification has to have happened or the Treaty could never have been ratified.

It follows of necessity that the UK Government, in seeking to argue now that Article 4.1 is incompatible with the 2003 Act, is knowingly lying. There could not be a more gross abuse of process.

I have been keen for the hearing on this particular point to conclude so that I could give you the benefit of my experience. I shall rest there for now, but later today hope to post further on yesterday’s row in court over releasing Julian from the anti-terrorist armoured dock.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible. I wish to stress again that I absolutely do not want anybody to give anything if it causes them the slightest possibility of financial strain.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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The post Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day Four appeared first on Craig Murray.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – The Assange Hearing Day 3

Par craig

In yesterday’s proceedings in court, the prosecution adopted arguments so stark and apparently unreasonable I have been fretting on how to write them up in a way that does not seem like caricature or unfair exaggeration on my part. What has been happening in this court has long moved beyond caricature. All I can do is give you my personal assurance that what I recount actually is what happened.

As usual, I shall deal with procedural matters and Julian’s treatment first, before getting in to a clear account of the legal arguments made.

Vanessa Baraitser is under a clear instruction to mimic concern by asking, near the end of every session just before we break anyway, if Julian is feeling well and whether he would like a break. She then routinely ignores his response. Yesterday he replied at some length he could not hear properly in his glass box and could not communicate with his lawyers (at some point yesterday they had started preventing him passing notes to his counsel, which I learn was the background to the aggressive prevention of his shaking Garzon’s hand goodbye).

Baraitser insisted he might only be heard through his counsel, which given he was prevented from instructing them was a bit rich. This being pointed out, we had a ten minute adjournment while Julian and his counsel were allowed to talk down in the cells – presumably where they could be more conveniently bugged yet again.

On return, Edward Fitzgerald made a formal application for Julian to be allowed to sit beside his lawyers in the court. Julian was “a gentle, intellectual man” and not a terrorist. Baraitser replied that releasing Assange from the dock into the body of the court would mean he was released from custody. To achieve that would require an application for bail.

Again, the prosecution counsel James Lewis intervened on the side of the defence to try to make Julian’s treatment less extreme. He was not, he suggested diffidently, quite sure that it was correct that it required bail for Julian to be in the body of the court, or that being in the body of the court accompanied by security officers meant that a prisoner was no longer in custody. Prisoners, even the most dangerous of terrorists, gave evidence from the witness box in the body of the court nest to the lawyers and magistrate. In the High Court prisoners frequently sat with their lawyers in extradition hearings, in extreme cases of violent criminals handcuffed to a security officer.

Baraitser replied that Assange might pose a danger to the public. It was a question of health and safety. How did Fitzgerald and Lewis think that she had the ability to carry out the necessary risk assessment? It would have to be up to Group 4 to decide if this was possible.

Yes, she really did say that. Group 4 would have to decide.

Baraitser started to throw out jargon like a Dalek when it spins out of control. “Risk assessment” and “health and safety” featured a lot. She started to resemble something worse than a Dalek, a particularly stupid local government officer of a very low grade. “No jurisdiction” – “Up to Group 4”. Recovering slightly, she stated firmly that delivery to custody can only mean delivery to the dock of the court, nowhere else in the room. If the defence wanted him in the courtroom where he could hear proceedings better, they could only apply for bail and his release from custody in general. She then peered at both barristers in the hope this would have sat them down, but both were still on their feet.

In his diffident manner (which I confess is growing on me) Lewis said “the prosecution is neutral on this request, of course but, err, I really don’t think that’s right”. He looked at her like a kindly uncle whose favourite niece has just started drinking tequila from the bottle at a family party.

Baraitser concluded the matter by stating that the Defence should submit written arguments by 10am tomorrow on this point, and she would then hold a separate hearing into the question of Julian’s position in the court.

The day had begun with a very angry Magistrate Baraitser addressing the public gallery. Yesterday, she said, a photo had been taken inside the courtroom. It was a criminal offence to take or attempt to take photographs inside the courtroom. Vanessa Baraitser looked at this point very keen to lock someone up. She also seemed in her anger to be making the unfounded assumption that whoever took the photo from the public gallery on Tuesday was still there on Wednesday; I suspect not. Being angry at the public at random must be very stressful for her. I suspect she shouts a lot on trains.

Ms Baraitser is not fond of photography – she appears to be the only public figure in Western Europe with no photo on the internet. Indeed the average proprietor of a rural car wash has left more evidence of their existence and life history on the internet than Vanessa Baraitser. Which is no crime on her part, but I suspect the expunging is not achieved without considerable effort. Somebody suggested to me she might be a hologram, but I think not. Holograms have more empathy.

I was amused by the criminal offence of attempting to take photos in the courtroom. How incompetent would you need to be to attempt to take a photo and fail to do so? And if no photo was taken, how do they prove you were attempting to take one, as opposed to texting your mum? I suppose “attempting to take a photo” is a crime that could catch somebody arriving with a large SLR, tripod and several mounted lighting boxes, but none of those appeared to have made it into the public gallery.

Baraitser did not state whether it was a criminal offence to publish a photograph taken in a courtroom (or indeed to attempt to publish a photograph taken in a courtroom). I suspect it is. Anyway Le Grand Soir has published a translation of my report yesterday, and there you can see a photo of Julian in his bulletproof glass anti-terrorist cage. Not, I hasten to add, taken by me.

We now come to the consideration of yesterday’s legal arguments on the extradition request itself. Fortunately, these are basically fairly simple to summarise, because although we had five hours of legal disquisition, it largely consisted of both sides competing in citing scores of “authorities”, e.g. dead judges, to endorse their point of view, and thus repeating the same points continually with little value from exegesis of the innumerable quotes.

As prefigured yesterday by magistrate Baraitser, the prosecution is arguing that Article 4.1 of the UK/US extradition treaty has no force in law.

The UK and US Governments say that the court enforces domestic law, not international law, and therefore the treaty has no standing. This argument has been made to the court in written form to which I do not have access. But from discussion in court it was plain that the prosecution argue that the Extradition Act of 2003, under which the court is operating, makes no exception for political offences. All previous Extradition Acts had excluded extradition for political offences, so it must be the intention of the sovereign parliament that political offenders can now be extradited.

Opening his argument, Edward Fitzgerald QC argued that the Extradition Act of 2003 alone is not enough to make an actual extradition. The extradition requires two things in place; the general Extradition Act and the Extradition Treaty with the country or countries concerned. “No Treaty, No Extradition” was an unbreakable rule. The Treaty was the very basis of the request. So to say that the extradition was not governed by the terms of the very treaty under which it was made, was to create a legal absurdity and thus an abuse of process. He cited examples of judgements made by the House of Lords and Privy Council where treaty rights were deemed enforceable despite the lack of incorporation into domestic legislation, particularly in order to stop people being extradited to potential execution from British colonies.

Fitzgerald pointed out that while the Extradition Act of 2003 did not contain a bar on extraditions for political offences, it did not state there could not be such a bar in extradition treaties. And the extradition treaty of 2007 was ratified after the 2003 extradition act.

At this stage Baraitser interrupted that it was plain the intention of parliament was that there could be extradition for political offences. Otherwise they would not have removed the bar in previous legislation. Fitzgerald declined to agree, saying the Act did not say extradition for political offences could not be banned by the treaty enabling extradition.

Fitzgerald then continued to say that international jurisprudence had accepted for a century or more that you did not extradite political offenders. No political extradition was in the European Convention on Extradition, the Model United Nations Extradition Treaty and the Interpol Convention on Extradition. It was in every single one of the United States’ extradition treaties with other countries, and had been for over a century, at the insistence of the United States. For both the UK and US Governments to say it did not apply was astonishing and would set a terrible precedent that would endanger dissidents and potential political prisoners from China, Russia and regimes all over the world who had escaped to third countries.

Fitzgerald stated that all major authorities agreed there were two types of political offence. The pure political offence and the relative political offence. A “pure” political offence was defined as treason, espionage or sedition. A “relative” political offence was an act which was normally criminal, like assault or vandalism, conducted with a political motive. Every one of the charges against Assange was a “pure” political offence. All but one were espionage charges, and the computer misuse charge had been compared by the prosecution to breach of the official secrets act to meet the dual criminality test. The overriding accusation that Assange was seeking to harm the political and military interests of the United States was in the very definition of a political offence in all the authorities.

In reply Lewis stated that a treaty could not be binding in English law unless specifically incorporated in English law by Parliament. This was a necessary democratic defence. Treaties were made by the executive which could not make law. This went to the sovereignty of Parliament. Lewis quoted many judgements stating that international treaties signed and ratified by the UK could not be enforced in British courts. “It may come as a surprise to other countries that their treaties with the British government can have no legal force” he joked.

Lewis said there was no abuse of process here and thus no rights were invoked under the European Convention. It was just the normal operation of the law that the treaty provision on no extradition for political offences had no legal standing.

Lewis said that the US government disputes that Assange’s offences are political. In the UK/Australia/US there was a different definition of political offence to the rest of the world. We viewed the “pure” political offences of treason, espionage and sedition as not political offences. Only “relative” political offences – ordinary crimes committed with a political motive – were viewed as political offences in our tradition. In this tradition, the definition of “political” was also limited to supporting a contending political party in a state. Lewis will continue with this argument tomorrow.

That concludes my account of proceedings. I have some important commentary to make on this and will try to do another posting later today. Now rushing to court.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post Your Man in the Public Gallery – The Assange Hearing Day 3 appeared first on Craig Murray.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 2

Par craig

This afternoon Julian’s Spanish lawyer, Baltasar Garzon, left court to return to Madrid. On the way out he naturally stopped to shake hands with his client, proffering his fingers through the narrow slit in the bulletproof glass cage. Assange half stood to take his lawyer’s hand. The two security guards in the cage with Assange immediately sprang up, putting hands on Julian and forcing him to sit down, preventing the handshake.

That was not by any means the worst thing today, but it is a striking image of the senseless brute force continually used against a man accused of publishing documents. That a man cannot even shake his lawyer’s hand goodbye is against the entire spirit in which the members of the legal system like to pretend the law is practised. I offer that startling moment as encapsulating yesterday’s events in court.

Day 2 proceedings had started with a statement from Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s QC, that shook us rudely into life. He stated that yesterday, on the first day of trial, Julian had twice been stripped naked and searched, eleven times been handcuffed, and five times been locked up in different holding cells. On top of this, all of his court documents had been taken from him by the prison authorities, including privileged communications between his lawyers and himself, and he had been left with no ability to prepare to participate in today’s proceedings.

Magistrate Baraitser looked at Fitzgerald and stated, in a voice laced with disdain, that he had raised such matters before and she had always replied that she had no jurisdiction over the prison estate. He should take it up with the prison authorities. Fitzgerald remained on his feet, which drew a very definite scowl from Baraitser, and replied that of course they would do that again, but this repeated behaviour by the prison authorities threatened the ability of the defence to prepare. He added that regardless of jurisdiction, in his experience it was common practice for magistrates and judges to pass on comments and requests to the prison service where the conduct of the trial was affected, and that jails normally listened to magistrates sympathetically.

Baraitser flat-out denied any knowledge of such a practice, and stated that Fitzgerald should present her with written arguments setting out the case law on jurisdiction over prison conditions. This was too much even for prosecution counsel James Lewis, who stood up to say the prosecution would also want Assange to have a fair hearing, and that he could confirm that what the defence were suggesting was normal practice. Even then, Baraitser still refused to intervene with the prison. She stated that if the prison conditions were so bad as to reach the very high bar of making a fair hearing impossible, the defence should bring a motion to dismiss the charges on those grounds. Otherwise they should drop it.

Both prosecution and defence seemed surprised by Baraitser’s claim that she had not heard of what they both referred to as common practice. Lewis may have been genuinely concerned at the shocking description of Assange’s prison treatment yesterday; or he may have just had warning klaxons going off in his head screaming “mistrial”. But the net result is Baraitser will attempt to do nothing to prevent Julian’s physical and mental abuse in jail nor to try to give him the ability to participate in his defence. The only realistic explanation that occurs to me is that Baraitser has been warned off, because this continual mistreatment and confiscation of documents is on senior government authority.

A last small incident for me to recount: having queued again from the early hours, I was at the final queue before the entrance to the public gallery, when the name was called out of Kristin Hrnafsson, editor of Wikileaks, with whom I was talking at the time. Kristin identified himself, and was told by the court official he was barred from the public gallery.

Now I was with Kristin throughout the entire proceedings the previous day, and he had done absolutely nothing amiss – he is rather a quiet gentleman. When he was called for, it was by name and by job description – they were specifically banning the editor of Wikileaks from the trial. Kristin asked why and was told it was a decision of the Court.

At this stage John Shipton, Julian’s father, announced that in this case the family members would all leave too, and they did so, walking out of the building. They and others then started tweeting the news of the family walkout. This appeared to cause some consternation among court officials, and fifteen minutes later Kristin was re-admitted. We still have no idea what lay behind this. Later in the day journalists were being briefed by officials it was simply over queue-jumping, but that seems improbable as he was removed by staff who called him by name and title, rather than had spotted him as a queue-jumper.

None of the above goes to the official matter of the case. All of the above tells you more about the draconian nature of the political show-trial which is taking place than does the charade being enacted in the body of the court. There were moments today when I got drawn in to the court process and achieved the suspension of disbelief you might do in theatre, and began thinking “Wow, this case is going well for Assange”. Then an event such as those recounted above kicks in, a coldness grips your heart, and you recall there is no jury here to be convinced. I simply do not believe that anything said or proved in the courtroom can have an impact on the final verdict of this court.

So to the actual proceedings in the case.

For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:

1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.
Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.

2) Assange solicited the material from Manning
Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public

3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk
Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.

In summary, Summers stated the US government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. He described the above three counts as “rubbish, rubbish and rubbish”.

Summers then walked through the facts of the case. He said the charges from the USA divide the materials leaked by Manning to Wikileaks into three categories:

a) Diplomatic Cables
b) Guantanamo detainee assessment briefs
c) Iraq War rules of engagement
d) Afghan and Iraqi war logs

Summers then methodically went through a), b), c) and d) relating each in turn to alleged behaviours 1), 2) and 3), making twelve counts of explanation and exposition in all. This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights, but will relate occasionally to the alleged behaviour number and/or the alleged materials letter. I hope you follow that – it took me some time to do so!

On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. Nor had Manning needed a code to conceal her identity as the prosecution alleged – the database for intelligence analysts Manning could access – as could thousands of others – did not require a username or password to access it from a work military computer. Summers quoted testimony of several officers from Manning’s court-martial to confirm this. Nor would breaking the systems admin code on the system give Manning access to any additional classified databases. Summers quoted evidence from the Manning court-martial, where this had been accepted, that the reason Manning wanted to get in to systems admin was to allow soldiers to put their video-games and movies on their government laptops, which in fact happened frequently.

Magistrate Baraitser twice made major interruptions. She observed that if Chelsea Manning did not know she could not be traced as the user who downloaded the databases, she might have sought Assange’s assistance to crack a code to conceal her identity from ignorance she did not need to do that, and to assist would still be an offence by Assange.

Summers pointed out that Manning knew that she did not need a username and password, because she actually accessed all the materials without one. Baraitser replied that this did not constitute proof she knew she could not be traced. Summers said in logic it made no sense to argue that she was seeking a code to conceal her user ID and password, where there was no user ID and password. Baraitser replied again he could not prove that. At this point Summers became somewhat testy and short with Baraitser, and took her through the court martial evidence again. Of which more…

Baraitser also made the point that even if Assange were helping Manning to crack an admin code, even if it did not enable Manning to access any more databases, that still was unauthorised use and would constitute the crime of aiding and abetting computer misuse, even if for an innocent purpose.

After a brief break, Baraitser came back with a real zinger. She told Summers that he had presented the findings of the US court martial of Chelsea Manning as fact. But she did not agree that her court had to treat evidence at a US court martial, even agreed or uncontested evidence or prosecution evidence, as fact. Summers replied that agreed evidence or prosecution evidence at the US court martial clearly was agreed by the US government as fact, and what was at issue at the moment was whether the US government was charging contrary to the facts it knew. Baraitser said she would return to her point once witnesses were heard.

Baraitser was now making no attempt to conceal a hostility to the defence argument, and seemed irritated they had the temerity to make it. This burst out when discussing c), the Iraq war rules of engagement. Summers argued that these had not been solicited from Manning, but had rather been provided by Manning in an accompanying file along with the Collateral Murder video that showed the murder of Reuters journalists and children. Manning’s purpose, as she stated at her court martial, was to show that the Collateral Murder actions breached the rules of engagement, even though the Department of Defense claimed otherwise. Summers stated that by not including this context, the US extradition request was deliberately misleading as it did not even mention the Collateral Murder video at all.

At this point Baraitser could not conceal her contempt. Try to imagine Lady Bracknell saying “A Handbag” or “the Brighton line”, or if your education didn’t run that way try to imagine Pritti Patel spotting a disabled immigrant. This is a literal quote:

“Are you suggesting, Mr Summers, that the authorities, the Government, should have to provide context for its charges?”

An unfazed Summers replied in the affirmative and then went on to show where the Supreme Court had said so in other extradition cases. Baraitser was showing utter confusion that anybody could claim a significant distinction between the Government and God.

The bulk of Summers’ argument went to refuting behaviour 3), putting lives at risk. This was only claimed in relation to materials a) and d). Summers described at great length the efforts of Wikileaks with media partners over more than a year to set up a massive redaction campaign on the cables. He explained that the unredacted cables only became available after Luke Harding and David Leigh of the Guardian published the password to the cache as the heading to Chapter XI of their book Wikileaks, published in February 2011.

Nobody had put 2 and 2 together on this password until the German publication Der Freitag had done so and announced it had the unredacted cables in August 2011. Summers then gave the most powerful arguments of the day.

The US government had been actively participating in the redaction exercise on the cables. They therefore knew the allegations of reckless publication to be untrue.

Once Der Freitag announced they had the unredacted materials, Julian Assange and Sara Harrison instantly telephoned the White House, State Department and US Embassy to warn them named sources may be put at risk. Summers read from the transcripts of telephone conversations as Assange and Harrison attempted to convince US officials of the urgency of enabling source protection procedures – and expressed their bafflement as officials stonewalled them. This evidence utterly undermined the US government’s case and proved bad faith in omitting extremely relevant fact. It was a very striking moment.

With relation to the same behaviour 3) on materials d), Summers showed that the Manning court martial had accepted these materials contained no endangered source names, but showed that Wikileaks had activated a redaction exercise anyway as a “belt and braces” approach.

There was much more from the defence. For the prosecution, James Lewis indicated he would reply in depth later in proceedings, but wished to state that the prosecution does not accept the court martial evidence as fact, and particularly does not accept any of the “self-serving” testimony of Chelsea Manning, whom he portrayed as a convicted criminal falsely claiming noble motives. The prosecution generally rejected any notion that this court should consider the truth or otherwise of any of the facts; those could only be decided at trial in the USA.

Then, to wrap up proceedings, Baraitser dropped a massive bombshell. She stated that although Article 4.1 of the US/UK Extradition Treaty forbade political extraditions, this was only in the Treaty. That exemption does not appear in the UK Extradition Act. On the face of it therefore political extradition is not illegal in the UK, as the Treaty has no legal force on the Court. She invited the defence to address this argument in the morning.

It is now 06.35am and I am late to start queuing…

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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The post Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 2 appeared first on Craig Murray.

Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1

Par craig

Woolwich Crown Court is designed to impose the power of the state. Normal courts in this country are public buildings, deliberately placed by our ancestors right in the centre of towns, almost always just up a few steps from a main street. The major purpose of their positioning and of their architecture was to facilitate public access in the belief that it is vital that justice can be seen by the public.

Woolwich Crown Court, which hosts Belmarsh Magistrates Court, is built on totally the opposite principle. It is designed with no other purpose than to exclude the public. Attached to a prison on a windswept marsh far from any normal social centre, an island accessible only through navigating a maze of dual carriageways, the entire location and architecture of the building is predicated on preventing public access. It is surrounded by a continuation of the same extremely heavy duty steel paling barrier that surrounds the prison. It is the most extraordinary thing, a courthouse which is a part of the prison system itself, a place where you are already considered guilty and in jail on arrival. Woolwich Crown Court is nothing but the physical negation of the presumption of innocence, the very incarnation of injustice in unyielding steel, concrete and armoured glass. It has precisely the same relationship to the administration of justice as Guantanamo Bay or the Lubyanka. It is in truth just the sentencing wing of Belmarsh prison.

When enquiring about facilities for the public to attend the hearing, an Assange activist was told by a member of court staff that we should realise that Woolwich is a “counter-terrorism court”. That is true de facto, but in truth a “counter-terrorism court” is an institution unknown to the UK constitution. Indeed, if a single day at Woolwich Crown Court does not convince you the existence of liberal democracy is now a lie, then your mind must be very closed indeed.

Extradition hearings are not held at Belmarsh Magistrates Court inside Woolwich Crown Court. They are always held at Westminster Magistrates Court as the application is deemed to be delivered to the government at Westminster. Now get your head around this. This hearing is at Westminster Magistrates Court. It is being held by the Westminster magistrates and Westminster court staff, but located at Belmarsh Magistrates Court inside Woolwich Crown Court. All of which weird convolution is precisely so they can use the “counter-terrorist court” to limit public access and to impose the fear of the power of the state.

One consequence is that, in the courtroom itself, Julian Assange is confined at the back of the court behind a bulletproof glass screen. He made the point several times during proceedings that this makes it very difficult for him to see and hear the proceedings. The magistrate, Vanessa Baraitser, chose to interpret this with studied dishonesty as a problem caused by the very faint noise of demonstrators outside, as opposed to a problem caused by Assange being locked away from the court in a massive bulletproof glass box.

Now there is no reason at all for Assange to be in that box, designed to restrain extremely physically violent terrorists. He could sit, as a defendant at a hearing normally would, in the body of the court with his lawyers. But the cowardly and vicious Baraitser has refused repeated and persistent requests from the defence for Assange to be allowed to sit with his lawyers. Baraitser of course is but a puppet, being supervised by Chief Magistrate Lady Arbuthnot, a woman so enmeshed in the defence and security service establishment I can conceive of no way in which her involvement in this case could be more corrupt.

It does not matter to Baraitser or Arbuthnot if there is any genuine need for Assange to be incarcerated in a bulletproof box, or whether it stops him from following proceedings in court. Baraitser’s intention is to humiliate Assange, and to instill in the rest of us horror at the vast crushing power of the state. The inexorable strength of the sentencing wing of the nightmarish Belmarsh Prison must be maintained. If you are here, you are guilty.

It’s the Lubyanka. You may only be a remand prisoner. This may only be a hearing not a trial. You may have no history of violence and not be accused of any violence. You may have three of the country’s most eminent psychiatrists submitting reports of your history of severe clinical depression and warning of suicide. But I, Vanessa Baraitser, am still going to lock you up in a box designed for the most violent of terrorists. To show what we can do to dissidents. And if you can’t then follow court proceedings, all the better.

You will perhaps better accept what I say about the Court when I tell you that, for a hearing being followed all round the world, they have brought it to a courtroom which had a total number of sixteen seats available to members of the public. 16. To make sure I got one of those 16 and could be your man in the gallery, I was outside that great locked iron fence queuing in the cold, wet and wind from 6am. At 8am the gate was unlocked, and I was able to walk inside the fence to another queue before the doors of the courtroom, where despite the fact notices clearly state the court opens to the public at 8am, I had to queue outside the building again for another hour and forty minutes. Then I was processed through armoured airlock doors, through airport type security, and had to queue behind two further locked doors, before finally getting to my seat just as the court started at 10am. By which stage the intention was we should have been thoroughly cowed and intimidated, not to mention drenched and potentially hypothermic.

There was a separate media entrance and a media room with live transmission from the courtroom, and there were so many scores of media I thought I could relax and not worry as the basic facts would be widely reported. In fact, I could not have been more wrong. I followed the arguments very clearly every minute of the day, and not a single one of the most important facts and arguments today has been reported anywhere in the mainstream media. That is a bold claim, but I fear it is perfectly true. So I have much work to do to let the world know what actually happened. The mere act of being an honest witness is suddenly extremely important, when the entire media has abandoned that role.

James Lewis QC made the opening statement for the prosecution. It consisted of two parts, both equally extraordinary. The first and longest part was truly remarkable for containing no legal argument, and for being addressed not to the magistrate but to the media. It is not just that it was obvious that is where his remarks were aimed, he actually stated on two occasions during his opening statement that he was addressing the media, once repeating a sentence and saying specifically that he was repeating it again because it was important that the media got it.

I am frankly astonished that Baraitser allowed this. It is completely out of order for a counsel to address remarks not to the court but to the media, and there simply could not be any clearer evidence that this is a political show trial and that Baraitser is complicit in that. I have not the slightest doubt that the defence would have been pulled up extremely quickly had they started addressing remarks to the media. Baraitser makes zero pretence of being anything other than in thrall to the Crown, and by extension to the US Government.

The points which Lewis wished the media to know were these: it is not true that mainstream outlets like the Guardian and New York Times are also threatened by the charges against Assange, because Assange was not charged with publishing the cables but only with publishing the names of informants, and with cultivating Manning and assisting him to attempt computer hacking. Only Assange had done these things, not mainstream outlets.

Lewis then proceeded to read out a series of articles from the mainstream media attacking Assange, as evidence that the media and Assange were not in the same boat. The entire opening hour consisted of the prosecution addressing the media, attempting to drive a clear wedge between the media and Wikileaks and thus aimed at reducing media support for Assange. It was a political address, not remotely a legal submission. At the same time, the prosecution had prepared reams of copies of this section of Lewis’ address, which were handed out to the media and given them electronically so they could cut and paste.

Following an adjournment, magistrate Baraitser questioned the prosecution on the veracity of some of these claims. In particular, the claim that newspapers were not in the same position because Assange was charged not with publication, but with “aiding and abetting” Chelsea Manning in getting the material, did not seem consistent with Lewis’ reading of the 1989 Official Secrets Act, which said that merely obtaining and publishing any government secret was an offence. Surely, Baraitser suggested, that meant that newspapers just publishing the Manning leaks would be guilty of an offence?

This appeared to catch Lewis entirely off guard. The last thing he had expected was any perspicacity from Baraitser, whose job was just to do what he said. Lewis hummed and hawed, put his glasses on and off several times, adjusted his microphone repeatedly and picked up a succession of pieces of paper from his brief, each of which appeared to surprise him by its contents, as he waved them haplessly in the air and said he really should have cited the Shayler case but couldn’t find it. It was liking watching Columbo with none of the charm and without the killer question at the end of the process.

Suddenly Lewis appeared to come to a decision. Yes, he said much more firmly. The 1989 Official Secrets Act had been introduced by the Thatcher Government after the Ponting Case, specifically to remove the public interest defence and to make unauthorised possession of an official secret a crime of strict liability – meaning no matter how you got it, publishing and even possessing made you guilty. Therefore, under the principle of dual criminality, Assange was liable for extradition whether or not he had aided and abetted Manning. Lewis then went on to add that any journalist and any publication that printed the official secret would therefore also be committing an offence, no matter how they had obtained it, and no matter if it did or did not name informants.

Lewis had thus just flat out contradicted his entire opening statement to the media stating that they need not worry as the Assange charges could never be applied to them. And he did so straight after the adjournment, immediately after his team had handed out copies of the argument he had now just completely contradicted. I cannot think it has often happened in court that a senior lawyer has proven himself so absolutely and so immediately to be an unmitigated and ill-motivated liar. This was undoubtedly the most breathtaking moment in today’s court hearing.

Yet remarkably I cannot find any mention anywhere in the mainstream media that this happened at all. What I can find, everywhere, is the mainstream media reporting, via cut and paste, Lewis’s first part of his statement on why the prosecution of Assange is not a threat to press freedom; but nobody seems to have reported that he totally abandoned his own argument five minutes later. Were the journalists too stupid to understand the exchanges?

The explanation is very simple. The clarification coming from a question Baraitser asked Lewis, there is no printed or electronic record of Lewis’ reply. His original statement was provided in cut and paste format to the media. His contradiction of it would require a journalist to listen to what was said in court, understand it and write it down. There is no significant percentage of mainstream media journalists who command that elementary ability nowadays. “Journalism” consists of cut and paste of approved sources only. Lewis could have stabbed Assange to death in the courtroom, and it would not be reported unless contained in a government press release.

I was left uncertain of Baraitser’s purpose in this. Plainly she discomfited Lewis very badly on this point, and appeared rather to enjoy doing so. On the other hand the point she made is not necessarily helpful to the defence. What she was saying was essentially that Julian could be extradited under dual criminality, from the UK point of view, just for publishing, whether or not he conspired with Chelsea Manning, and that all the journalists who published could be charged too. But surely this is a point so extreme that it would be bound to be invalid under the Human Rights Act? Was she pushing Lewis to articulate a position so extreme as to be untenable – giving him enough rope to hang himself – or was she slavering at the prospect of not just extraditing Assange, but of mass prosecutions of journalists?

The reaction of one group was very interesting. The four US government lawyers seated immediately behind Lewis had the grace to look very uncomfortable indeed as Lewis baldly declared that any journalist and any newspaper or broadcast media publishing or even possessing any government secret was committing a serious offence. Their entire strategy had been to pretend not to be saying that.

Lewis then moved on to conclude the prosecution’s arguments. The court had no decision to make, he stated. Assange must be extradited. The offence met the test of dual criminality as it was an offence both in the USA and UK. UK extradition law specifically barred the court from testing whether there was any evidence to back up the charges. If there had been, as the defence argued, abuse of process, the court must still extradite and then the court must pursue the abuse of process as a separate matter against the abusers. (This is a particularly specious argument as it is not possible for the court to take action against the US government due to sovereign immunity, as Lewis well knows). Finally, Lewis stated that the Human Rights Act and freedom of speech were completely irrelevant in extradition proceedings.

Edward Fitzgerald then arose to make the opening statement for the defence. He started by stating that the motive for the prosecution was entirely political, and that political offences were specifically excluded under article 4.1 of the UK/US extradition treaty. He pointed out that at the time of the Chelsea Manning Trial and again in 2013 the Obama administration had taken specific decisions not to prosecute Assange for the Manning leaks. This had been reversed by the Trump administration for reasons that were entirely political.

On abuse of process, Fitzgerald referred to evidence presented to the Spanish criminal courts that the CIA had commissioned a Spanish security company to spy on Julian Assange in the Embassy, and that this spying specifically included surveillance of Assange’s privileged meetings with his lawyers to discuss extradition. For the state trying to extradite to spy on the defendant’s client-lawyer consultations is in itself grounds to dismiss the case. (This point is undoubtedly true. Any decent judge would throw the case out summarily for the outrageous spying on the defence lawyers).

Fitzgerald went on to say the defence would produce evidence the CIA not only spied on Assange and his lawyers, but actively considered kidnapping or poisoning him, and that this showed there was no commitment to proper rule of law in this case.

Fitzgerald said that the prosecution’s framing of the case contained deliberate misrepresentation of the facts that also amounted to abuse of process. It was not true that there was any evidence of harm to informants, and the US government had confirmed this in other fora, eg in Chelsea Manning’s trial. There had been no conspiracy to hack computers, and Chelsea Manning had been acquitted on that charge at court martial. Lastly it was untrue that Wikileaks had initiated publication of unredacted names of informants, as other media organisations had been responsible for this first.

Again, so far as I can see, while the US allegation of harm to informants is widely reported, the defence’s total refutation on the facts and claim that the fabrication of facts amounts to abuse of process is not much reported at all. Fitzgerald finally referred to US prison conditions, the impossibility of a fair trial in the US, and the fact the Trump Administration has stated foreign nationals will not receive First Amendment protections, as reasons that extradition must be barred. You can read the whole defence statement, but in my view the strongest passage was on why this is a political prosecution, and thus precluded from extradition.

For the purposes of section 81(a), I next have to deal with the question of how
this politically motivated prosecution satisfies the test of being directed against
Julian Assange because of his political opinions. The essence of his political
opinions which have provoked this prosecution are summarised in the reports
of Professor Feldstein [tab 18], Professor Rogers [tab 40], Professor Noam
Chomsky [tab 39] and Professor Kopelman:-
i. He is a leading proponent of an open society and of freedom of expression.
ii. He is anti-war and anti-imperialism.
iii. He is a world-renowned champion of political transparency and of the
public’s right to access information on issues of importance – issues such
as political corruption, war crimes, torture and the mistreatment of
Guantanamo detainees.
5.4.Those beliefs and those actions inevitably bring him into conflict with powerful
states including the current US administration, for political reasons. Which
explains why he has been denounced as a terrorist and why President Trump
has in the past called for the death penalty.
5.5.But I should add his revelations are far from confined to the wrongdoings of
the US. He has exposed surveillance by Russia; and published exposes of Mr
Assad in Syria; and it is said that WikiLeaks revelations about corruption in
Tunisia and torture in Egypt were the catalyst for the Arab Spring itself.
5.6.The US say he is no journalist. But you will see a full record of his work in
Bundle M. He has been a member of the Australian journalists union since
2009, he is a member of the NUJ and the European Federation of Journalists.
He has won numerous media awards including being honoured with the
highest award for Australian journalists. His work has been recognised by the
Economist, Amnesty International and the Council of Europe. He is the winner
of the Martha Gelhorn prize and has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel
Peace Prize, including both last year and this year. You can see from the
materials that he has written books, articles and documentaries. He has had
articles published in the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post
and the New Statesman, just to name a few. Some of the very publications for
which his extradition is being sought have been refereed to and relied upon in
Courts throughout the world, including the UK Supreme Court and the
European Court of Human Rights. In short, he has championed the cause of
transparency and freedom of information throughout the world.
5.7.Professor Noam Chomsky puts it like this: – ‘in courageously upholding
political beliefs that most of profess to share he has performed an
enormous service to all those in the world who treasure the values of
freedom and democracy and who therefore demand the right to know
what their elected representatives are doing’ [see tab 39, paragraph 14].
So Julian Assange’s positive impact on the world is undeniable. The hostility
it has provoked from the Trump administration is equally undeniable.
The legal test for ‘political opinions’
5.8.I am sure you are aware of the legal authorities on this issue: namely whether
a request is made because of the defendant’s political opinions. A broad
approach has to be adopted when applying the test. In support of this we rely
on the case of Re Asliturk [2002] EWHC 2326 (abuse authorities, tab 11, at
paras 25 – 26) which clearly establishes that such a wide approach should be
adopted to the concept of political opinions. And that will clearly cover Julian
Assange’s ideological positions. Moreover, we also rely on cases such as
Emilia Gomez v SSHD [2000] INLR 549 at tab 43 of the political offence
authorities bundle. These show that the concept of “political opinions” extends
to the political opinions imputed to the individual citizen by the state which
prosecutes him. For that reason the characterisation of Julian Assange and
WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence agency” by Mr Pompeo makes
clear that he has been targeted for his imputed political opinions. All the
experts whose reports you have show that Julian Assange has been targeted
because of the political position imputed to him by the Trump administration –
as an enemy of America who must be brought down.

Tomorrow the defence continue. I am genuinely uncertain what will happen as I feel at the moment far too exhausted to be there at 6am to queue to get in. But I hope somehow I will contrive another report tomorrow evening.

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1 appeared first on Craig Murray.

Roger Waters on Julian Assange

Par craig

Roger Waters has become one of the most eloquent and persistent supporters of Julian Assange. He is prepared to challenge the propagandists of the mainstream media head-on in a way that many more people should do.

For yesterday’s rally for Assange Roger had prepared a talk putting Julian’s persecution in a global context. He did not have time to give the whole speech, and so I asked him if I could publish it:

WE ARE HERE TODAY FOR JULIAN ASSANGE.

But I have four names on this piece of paper.

The First and last of course is Julian Assange, A Journalist, a courageous shiner of light into the dark places from which the powers that be would dearly like to have us turn away.

Julian Assange. A name to be carved with pride intoany monument to human progress.

Julian is why we are here today, but this is no parochial protest. We are today part of a global movement, a global movement that might be the beginning of the global enlightenment that this fragile planet so desperately needs.

Ok. Second Name. Sent to me by my friend VJ Prashad.

Second name is Aamir Aziz, Aamir is a young poet and activist in Delhi involved in the fight against Modi and his rascist Citizenship law.

Everything Will Be Remembered

Kill us, we will become ghosts and write
of your killings, with all the evidence.
You write jokes in court;
We will write ‘justice’ on the walls.
We will speak so loudly that even the deaf will hear.
We will write so clearly that even the blind will read.
You write ‘injustice’ on the earth;
We will write ‘revolution’ in the sky.
Everything will be remembered;
Everything recorded

This out pouring of the human spirit from India is taking place in a time of revolt, when the fetters of propriety are set aside.

As we meet here in London, across the Atlantic in Argentina thousands of women are taking to the streets to demand the legalization of abortion from President Fernandez.

It’s not just Argentina. This last year we have seen major protests erupt across the whole world against neoliberal/fascist regimes. In Chile, The Lebanon, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti,France and now, of course also in Bolivia fighting the new US imposed military dictatorship there.

When will we see the name of England appended to that noble list? I sense the scratching of heads in drawing rooms across the home counties, “What’s he talking about, the man’s a bloody pinkopervert, bloody anti semite, what’s he talking about? We don’t live in a dictatorship, this is a free country, a democracy, with all the finest traditions of fair play, pah!”

Well, I’ve got news for you Disgruntled of Tunbridge Wells. We’d like to think this is a free country, but are we really free? Why, when Julian Assange is brought to the dock in the tiny magistrates court inside Belmarsh prison are so many seats occupied by anonymous American suits, whispering instructions into the attentive ear of the prosecution’s lead barrister, James Lewis QC?

Why?

Because we don’t live in a free country, we live in a glorified dog kennel and we bark and/or wag our tails at the bidding of our lords and masters across the pond.

I stand here today, in front of the Mother of Parliaments, and there she stands blushing in all her embarrassment. And just upstream from here is Runnemede, where in 1215, we, the English, laid out the rudiments of common law. Magna Carta, ratified in 1297 article 29 of whichgave us Habeus Corpus. Or did it? It stated:

“The body of a free man is not to be arrested, or imprisoned, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way ruined, nor is the king to go against him or send forcibly against him, except by judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”

Sadly, Article 29 is not enforceable in modern law. Magna Carta is only an idea, and in this propaganda driven modern world, it provides no check in principle to Parliament legislating against the rights of citizens.

We do however have an extradition treaty with the USA and in the first paragraph of article 4 of that treaty it states. “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.” Julian Assange has committed no crime but he has committed a political act. He has spoken truth to power. He has angered some of our masters in Washington by telling the truth and in retribution for the act of telling the truth they want his blood.

Yesterday in front of Battersea Power Station I did a TV interview for SKY news to promote this event, there was no visual link, so my only contact with the lady asking me questions was via an ear bud on a curly wire. I learned something about telling truth in the phrasing of her questions to me. She came at me like some crazed Don Quixote every question laced, thick with the smears and innuendo and the false accusations with which the powers that be have been trying to blacken Julian Assange’s name. She rattled off the tired, but well prepared narrative, and then interrupted constantly when I made reply. I don’t know who she is, she may mean well. If she does, my advice would be to stop drinking the Kool-aid, and if she actually gives a fig for her chosen profession get her sorry ass down here and join us.

So England. I call upon our prime minister,Boris Johnson, to declare his colours, does he support the spirit of Magna Carta? Does he believe in, democracy, freedom, fair play, free speech, and especially the freedom of the press? If the answer to those questions is yes, then come on Prime Minister be the British Bulldog you would have us all believe you are? Stand up to the bluster of American hegemony, call off this show trial, this charade, this kangaroo court. “The evidence before the court is incontrovertible.” Julian Assange is an innocent man. A journalist doing very important work for “we the people” by exposing the crimes of powerful sociopaths in the corridors of power.

I call on you to free him today.

I cannot leave this stage without mention of Chelsea Manning, who provided some of the material that Julian published.

Chelsea has been in a federal prison for a year incarcerated by the Americans for refusing, on principle, to give evidence to a grand jury specifically convened to make an example of Julian Assange. What courage. They are also fining her $1,000 a day. Chelsea yours is another name to be carved in pride, I’ve been reading the latest on your case, it looks as if your legal team are finding light at the end of the tunnel, please god, you get out soon back to your loved ones, you are a true hero.You exemplify the bulldog spirit that I was talking about a few moments ago.

Also Daniel Hale

Daniel is a whistle-blower you may not know yet. He was in a great documentary movie National Bird, made by my good friend Sonia Kennebeck. He was part of the US drone program targeting Afghans in their own country from some mobile command center in Navada. When his stint in the USAF was over. Daniel’s good heart refused to edit out the burden of remorse he carried and he very bravely decided to tell his story. The FBI/CIA have pursued Daniel remorselessly ever since and he is now in prison awaiting trial. Daniel’s is another name to be carved in pride. Those of us who have never compromised our liberty in the cause of freedom, who have never picked up the burning torch and held it trembling over the crimes of their superior officers, can only wonder at the extraordinary courage of those who have.

There are other speakers here, so I will make way, I could stand here all day railing against the dying of the light should we not stand Bulldog like, with arms linked, ranks closed in front of our brother and comrade Julian Assange. And when the lackies of the American Empire come to take him, to destroy him and hang him in the hedge as a warning to frighten future journalists, we will look them in the eye and steadfast with one voice we will intone.

“Over our dead fucking bodies.”

Roger Waters Feb 22nd 2020

You can see Roger delivering the truncated version, with force but still self-deprecation, on this video of yesterday’s event. You can also see great speeches including by Yanis Varoufakis and Brian Eno. I hope you will forgive me for setting the video to start at my own speech, which was the final one. It was only by the generosity of readers of this blog that I have been able to be here campaigning this week at all.

Today I move from the centre of London down to Woolwich and have to get to Belmarsh Magistrate’s Court (which is entered through Woolwich Crown Court) before dawn to try to queue for one of the 14 public seats in the courtroom. Holding the hearing in such a tiny court is a deliberate act of censorship by the British government. If any readers can offer practical advice on where to queue precisely in terms of access to the building it would be extremely welcome. There is of course no guarantee that the authorities will respect any queue, or have not reserved some of the public seats for the US Embassy etc.

I promise this is the last time I shall repeat this appeal:

With great reluctance, I am obliged to ask for donations to help this blog cover the Assange court case. We have rented a house close to the court and I will be trying to queue in the early hours of the morning to get one of the tiny number of seats available to the public at the hearing. The last year has seen constant travels down to London to support Julian in one way and another, and funds for the blog are running very low at the moment – very substantially less than 1% of readers subscribe (I am grateful to and humbled by those who do subscribe – and was very touched to meet so many subscribers at yesterday’s rally. Please don’t feel reticent to introduce yourselves, it gives me heart). I generally do not seek one off donations, as long term income is required to keep things on the road, but for the Assange – and Salmond – cases to be covered properly an exception is needed. With humility and reticence, I therefore ask if a few people could put some small donations forward using the standard payment details below.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Roger Waters on Julian Assange appeared first on Craig Murray.

The Assange Hearing: A Reticent Request

Par craig

Julian Assange will stand next week in the armoured dock, accused of the “crime” of publishing. It is worth recalling that Wikileaks has a 100% record of accuracy. Nothing it has published has ever been shown to be inauthentic. Julian stands accused of the crime of telling the truth – more than that, of telling freely to the ordinary people of the world about the crimes which the powerful seek to conceal.

It is a sad and damning fact that nobody in the United States has ever been jailed for the war crimes Wikileaks has revealed, for the massacre of journalists and of children, for the torture or for the corruption. Instead, the publisher who helped whistleblowers to get the truth out to the people has suffered enormously, and is threatened with incarceration for the rest of his life.

We might also consider that none of Julian’s publishing ever took place inside the United States. The USA is trying to extradite him for publishing American secrets outside the USA, in a startling claim of worldwide jurisdiction. It is a prosecution that would if successful have a massive chilling effect on investigative journalists all over the globe. The fact that the mainstream media editors who gleefully republished Wikileaks’ revelations are not also in the dock reflects the fact that the security services are now very confident they have those outlets under control.

For these and many other reasons, Julian’s hearing next week is extremely important and I am going down to London today for ten days to cover it and to take part in associated events. I do hope everybody will make a real effort to join the protests.

With great reluctance, I am obliged to ask for donations to help this blog cover the Assange court case. We have rented a house close to the court and I will be trying to queue in the early hours of the morning to get one of the tiny number of seats available to the public at the hearing. The last year has seen constant travels down to London to support Julian in one way and another, and funds for the blog are running very low at the moment – very substantially less than 1% of readers subscribe (I am grateful to and humbled by those who do subscribe). I generally do not seek one off donations, as long term income is required to keep things on the road, but for the Assange – and Salmond – cases to be covered properly an exception is needed. With humility and reticence, I therefore ask if a few people could put some small donations forward using the standard payment details below.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post The Assange Hearing: A Reticent Request appeared first on Craig Murray.

Immigration, and How People Are Valued

Par craig

In the last recorded full year, to March 2019, net migration into the UK from the EU was 59,000 while from outwith the EU it was 219,000.

That table is from racist playground the Migration Watch website. It is a poisonous organisation, but their figures seem to be correctly extrapolated from the Office of National Statistics. There is one matter on which Migration Watch are actually correct, which I will come to anon.

Non-EU net immigration has risen substantially in each of the last eight years. The second most interesting point about the Home Office’s policy statement on the new “points-based immigration system” is that none of the existing routes by which 219,000 non-EU migrants per year enter the UK is to be abolished (paras 12-13, 20-24). So that 219,000 non-EU net migrant figure will not be reduced as a result of these changes. Indeed, as several references in the paper make clear, immigration opportunities for non-EU citizens are increased as a result of this paper.

Those immigration routes for non-EU citizens are increased quite substantially. I anticipate a major surge in immigration from the Commonwealth as a result of this change. The problem the Government will find is that a points based system results in a level of automaticity of qualification. Those from English speaking countries – let’s say Ghana or India, but it is true of scores – already have the language qualification and benefit from good educational systems. Crucially, there are large very established communities from those countries already in the UK which own a vast plethora of companies, which makes securing a job offer much easier. I have no doubt whatsoever that many companies will discover an urgent need for one new accountant and two new systems administrators, and that cousins and brothers with genuine, appropriate qualifications, who previously the family was finding it difficult to bring in to the UK, will now breeze through to work for the family firm.

Speaks English? Yes, 10 points. Job offer? Yes, 20 points. Salary over £25,600? Yes, 20 points. Appropriate skill level? Accountant or IT systems administrator, yes, 20 points. For the avoidance of doubt, I have spoken to people in Ghana today already working on how to make money out of helping people get in through the scheme once it starts on 1 January.

I have written before about the tragic deprofessionalisation of the former UK Immigration Service. The system has been privatised and largely decoupled from Embassies, with visa processing handled by private companies in separate buildings. The vast majority of applications are never seen at all by an immigration professional from the Home Office or FCO. They are handled by very poorly paid employees, often locals of the country, completely as a tick box computer exercise.

In the days when the UK had a real Immigration Service, and I line managed a visa section in Accra which had 22 British professional Entry Clearance Officers in it, the very wise Chief Immigration Officer Myron Reid used to tell his staff always to remember it was not the documents they were admitting to the UK, it was the person. The key test was; did you believe the individual and should they be admitted, not how much paperwork they could produce, verification of which was always very difficult. Nowadays the much lower paid, private sector employed drones taking the vast majority of decisions seldom see the individual. The paperwork is all that counts. This will be still more the case as they tick the boxes to add up the 70 points.

I make this forecast with confidence. The net result of these changes will be increased net immigration into the UK, with a substantial spike in non-EU immigration visible in the March 2021 annual return. This is the other point on which Migration Watch are actually correct. The difference is, of course, that I very much welcome the increased immigration opportunities which will arise and believe the increased immigration is essential to our economy and society. I also find it irresistibly hilarious that the large majority of those who voted Brexit and voted Tory, who were primarily motivated by racism, will as a consequence face a substantive surge in non-white immigration. You would need a heart of stone not to laugh at that.

It is also worth noting that, while the freedom of movement with the EU was reciprocal, it is being exchanged for a new policy that will not be. It is going to be far easier for an Indian citizen to qualify to work in the UK, than for a UK citizen to go and work in India.

Do I believe that the government is deliberately seeking to increase non-EU migration? No, I don’t. I think they are just massively incompetent, have misread the effect of the points-based system which was only a vote-winning slogan, and have not understood the lack of control of implementation resulting from their austerity destruction of the professional Immigration Service.

I appreciate this is not the analysis that has been given from pretty well all other left wing thinkers. They have chosen to fight this as a radical restriction of immigration. Of course, what is lost is freedom of movement. It will be harder for EU nationals to come and work here and particularly in jobs the government deems as low-skilled. I utterly deplore the loss of free movement, which was one of the great societal advances of my lifetime. However, I suspect that many EU citizens who wish to live in the UK will still manage to gain employment that fits with the government’s rules. I want for a moment to consider the question of labour shortages in certain industries, which has dominated media debate on the points based system to date.

Firstly it is worth noting that, if not deterred by the ludicrously costly bureaucracy – and that is a real bar to genuine applicants – the paper has sufficient loopholes to allow immigrants, including EU immigrants, to come for work in many of the areas where shortages are feared. Nurses, for example, will not have to meet the minimum salary threshold, because in the NHS and other institutions national pay scales will take precedence over the minimum salary of £25,600 (para 4). In the building trade, plasterers and electricians will count as skilled. What constitutes skilled work is peculiarly arbitrary – anyone who thinks filleting fish is unskilled work should try it. Still more arbitrary is the notion that salary defines the value or the skill of work done. Care work doesn’t seem to me exactly easy.

The fundamental takeaway from this policy is that people who earn under £25,600 are viewed as inferior beings. It is remarkable that a government that claims its aim is to end discrimination between EU citizens and others, views discrimination on grounds of earnings as more laudable.

There will indeed be labour shortages arising from the imposition of this policy, in hospitality, agriculture, social care and other sectors. This will cause some economic pain. The Brexit myth that there are millions of hard working Brits waiting to re-enter the Labour market once no longer undercut by rampaging Romanians, will be exposed for the nonsense that it is. So is the idea that care homes will start paying £18 an hour to attract staff as a result of Brexit.

The paper states that there will be a power to add further “shortage occupations”, a job offer in which will give qualifying points, and I strongly suspect that will be quickly and quietly used rather than permit sectors to collapse. The power of adding shortage occupations is left by the paper with the Migration Advisory Committee, rather than with mad Priti Patel, which I am told she is not too pleased about but gives some hope the economy will not be ruined for the sake of xenophobia. But the extraordinarily high cost of immigration applications is also going to be a severe barrier to finding alternative staffing flows to EU free movement for low paid work. Upfront Home Office application charges – most of which goes to those private agencies doing the call centre type visa processing – of some £1500 will of course be an entirely new obstacle to those from the EU, and a substantial problem. So is the probable new requirement for medical insurance for EU citizens working here.

So the new policy will create at least temporary staffing shortages in some key economic sectors, will substantially diminish the rights of EU citizens, and will in my firm estimation lead overall to an increase in net immigration. I earlier referred to the second most interesting point being that the new policy did nothing to block pre-existing routes to non-EU immigration. The most interesting point of all is that it is a disaster for the rights of British citizens. British citizens lose the right to move freely around Europe, to work, settle and lead their lives over the vast majority of that great continent. It is an appalling restriction on the opportunities of all of us, especially of the young.

This great freedom has been thrown away to promote the views of racists. Those racists are so incompetent that at the same time as shredding British citizens’ right to migrate freely to the EU, they are inadvertently opening the doors to a new net increase in immigration into the UK largely from outwith the EU. This level of hapless blundering is a further marker in the extraordinary deterioration of the UK state as functioning entity.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

Recurring Donations



 

Alternatively:

Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
IBAN GB98NWBK60400532150962
BIC NWBKGB2L
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB

Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Immigration, and How People Are Valued appeared first on Craig Murray.

Seeing Through the Lies – US Edition

Par craig

The Guardian newspaper has taken the art of obfuscation, false implication and the subtler forms of journalistic lying to new heights in its very extensive coverage of the Roger Stone sentencing saga. It has now devoted fourteen articles in the last fortnight to this rather obscure episode of American political history. Yet in not one of those articles – nor in more than a dozen articles about the Stone case that preceded it over the last few months – has the Guardian informed its readers what Stone was actually convicted of doing.

Stone was convicted of giving false testimony and misleading the FBI, because he claimed to be a conduit between Wikileaks and Trump when he was not. There was no conduit between Wikileaks and Trump. Stone was also convicted of witness intimidation, because once his fantasies got him into trouble he tried to browbeat my friend Randy Credico into backing up his tale.

The Guardian has, in a feat of some skill, contrived to give its readers the impression that Stone has been convicted for Trump/Wikileaks links, when that is in fact the precise opposite of the truth.

Stone has been convicted for fabricating the existence of Trump/Wikileaks links, of which there were none.

The Guardian has hung its entire corporate personality on Clinton identity politics and its entire financial survival on building a new online customer base among the Clinton electorate in the USA. When even the New York Times had to admit the Mueller report utterly failed to substantiate Clinton’s inane claims that the Russians had caused Clinton’s election defeat, even when a judge dismissed the DNC’s lawsuit against said Russians as being supported by no viable evidence whatsoever, even when the entire world derided the Guardian’s massive front page lie about Paul Manafort visiting Assange in the Embassy, the Guardian has persisted in reporting as fact the preposterous conspiracy theory that its heroine was thwarted from attaining supreme power by the evil machinations of Vladimir Putin.

To maintain this stance in the face of all factual evidence requires great skill and dexterity from Guardian journalists. Fortunately for the Guardian it does not lack for fantasist Russophobe fabricators like Luke Harding or for more subtly corrupt spinners like David Smith, who last week wrote of Stone that “He was the sixth former Trump aide to be convicted in cases arising from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.”

The oleaginous David Smith omitted to note what any half honest human being would consider a very pertinent fact – that not one of those convictions had anything at all to do with Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, being either entirely unrelated tax and corruption matters turned up while trawling, or as with Stone being questions of process. Stone’s case is unique in that not only did his conviction not relate to any Russian interference, it was for promoting precisely the same ludicrous fantasy that the Guardian is promoting. It was illegal for Stone to persist in telling his lies on oath; there is no legal bar to the Guardian promoting the same Trump/Wikileaks/Russia fantasy ad nauseam.

Yet we have the spectacle of Julian Assange standing before a judge facing extradition to the United States and up to 175 years in jail for “espionage”, when everything Wikileaks has ever published has a 100% record for truth and accuracy.

To finish with Stone, the ludicrous vindictiveness of the prosecutors in pushing for a seven to nine year jail sentence for an offence that was really no more than wasting investigators’ time with his fanatasies, was rightly called out by Donald Trump. The notion that Roger Stone threatened witnesses is problematical. Randy Credico, the only person Stone was convicted of threatening, has written to the judge asking for Stone not to be jailed and making plain he did not feel threatened. He had known Stone for years and was used to his blustering talk, which Randy never took as intended to be a serious threat.

To consider those DNC leaks published by Wikileaks in which Roger Stone claimed falsely to have a part. What the leaks did reveal was the foul play and machinations of the DNC machinery in cheating Bernie Sanders out of the nomination – including jiggling the ordering of primaries specifically to give Hillary “momentum”, and giving Hillary debate questions in advance. Nobody should be surprised to see the same tactics being deployed against Bernie Sanders – whom I should be clear I support strongly – yet again.

The “muddle” that led to CIA-linked Pete Buttigieg being able to claim victory in Iowa, for a crucial five days before the official tallies showed Bernie had in fact won was, I strongly suspect, merely a portent of what is to come. The fact the app that “misfired” was designed by four ex-Clinton staffers working for a company chaired by a Buttigieg team member is indicative of what we can expect over the next few months. The right have yet to decide on their champion to thwart Bernie. Buttigieg and Klobuchar are enjoying moments in the sun of media approval, and the DNC have now changed the rules to allow Bloomberg into future debates. That the Clintonites who have been deriding Sanders as not a Democrat, will actually switch to support Republican billionaire Bloomberg against Sanders, is something I expect to see play out over the next month as it becomes clear that neither Buttigieg nor Klobuchar can stop Bernie.

Here in the UK, I predict Bloomberg supporting Guardian editorials by April.

Still more sinister, the zionist propaganda machine has started to ramp up its attacks on Bernie. In Iowa the AIPAC linked Democrats pressure group Democratic Majority for Israel sprayed money on TV ads attacking Bernie. It is a sign of the times that Bernie Sanders, bidding to become the first Jewish President of the United States, is attacked and undermined by extreme zionists because of his entirely reasonable views on Israel/Palestine.

Despite all of which, opinion polls show Bernie with a clear lead heading towards the Nevada primary. I remain cautiously hopeful that the degree of cheating required to stop Bernie gaining the nomination would simply be too much to hide, and that the Wikileaks DNC revelations may ultimately, by showing up the dirty tricks last time, help Bernie to power this time. We should, however, never underestimate the resources of the financiers and the security state which will be deployed against Bernie in the next few months. It is going to be a fascinating year in US politics. Either the Democrats will pick a right wing standard bearer and lose to Trump, or Bernie will become President. I do not share the general fatalism on the left which deems the latter impossible.

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Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Time Warp UK

Par craig

The resignation of Savid Javid yesterday as Chancellor without even presenting a budget mirrors the resignation of Lord Randolph Churchill, Winston’s father – and in so doing says something extraordinary about lack of social progress in the UK in the intervening 130 years.

Chancellor Randolph Churchill disagreed with then Prime Minister Lord Salisbury over his first budget, and resigned. The whole spat was carried out in a splenetic and emotional fashion which was almost certainly influenced by Churchill’s mental deterioration from syphilis – which the Eton and Oxford educated Randolph had caught as a result of a Bullingdon Club jaunt.

(There is no evidence a pig was involved. There is also no evidence Winston had congenital syphilis, or that Jennie Churchill caught it from Randolph, the latter being slightly surprising).

It is to me quite incredible that the UK is still at the mercy of the whims and foibles of degenerates from not only the same class, but from within the same tiny social institutions which still confer a hereditary ability to govern a state of 60 million people now, in 2020. It makes a mockery of the UK’s claim to be a functional social polity and it makes a mockery of the very notion that “democracy” has any real existence in British society.

Johnson’s drive to centralise power is not especially different to that of Thatcher or Blair; there is a slight qualitative difference in the degree of Cummings’ policy influence, but to date I regard the claims that there is a real discontinuity in the form of UK government as overblown. Westminster has always been the seat of a massive, centralised abuse of power; perhaps it is a little bit more visible at the moment. What has enabled the continuation of oligarchic hegemony in the UK has been the destruction of the power to resist of organised labour. Thatcher quite deliberately undertook that as a massive project of social engineering, involving the deliberate destruction of all the UK’s major productive industries and replacement by a service based economy.

Blair continued the Thatcher revolution, in particular in removing government services to private providers where organised labour was weak or non-existent. The massive concentration of wealth into the hands of the rich and removal of wealth from ordinary people that ensued from the Thatcher/New Labour right wing revolution led to the reaction of Corbynism, but the roots of organised labour having been ruthlessly cut away, Corbyn found there was no longer a sufficient well of social solidarity which could support a counter narrative to the massively concentrated media propaganda.

Wealth inequality is fast heading back to levels Randolph Churchill would have recognised as he and his Bullingdon boys went whoring working class girls in Oxford. The gap between the top 1% and the 99% is shifting apart radically and is the key measure- not the gap between the 10% and 90% which the government points to disingenuously as not changing much.

Notions of social solidarity which made so much progress from 1800-1980 have gone backwards and their survival in isolated areas as a majority view is primarily as expression of national or cultural identity, notably of course in Scotland but also among immigrant groups and in cities with a strong sense of identity and civic pride. Outwith that, the UK has been engineered by unscrupulous politicians to revert to a society which delights in licking the shoes of the man from the Bullingdon Club.

Remind me, which century is this?

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Mourning A Terrorist

Par craig

The aim of this blog is to put forward reasonable points of view not easily found elsewhere, and it is important not to shy away from saying things because they run directly contrary to the popular mood. The stabbing of three people in Streatham was a tragedy, and while all are recovering, the mental and perhaps physical damage will be life-changing. But the death of the terrorist, Sudesh Amman, is also a human tragedy. The government’s populist response – to lock up those convicted of terrorist offences for ever longer and to seek to ban early release, even retrospectively – is crass and will make the situation worse, not better.

Sudesh Amman died aged only twenty. He had been jailed at eighteen for crimes committed when he was just seventeen. It is vital to state that those crimes were thought crimes – before he went to jail, Sudesh Amman had never been accused of attacking anyone. He was jailed for the terrorist fantasies he harboured as a child. Whether he would ever actually have attacked anybody had he never been sent to jail is a question it is impossible to answer. That he attacked people after being sent to jail is a simple fact.

That is not to downplay the idea he was a dangerous child. He had expressed the ambition to be a terrorist, posted violent fantasy online, downloaded posts on bomb-making and had acquired a combat knife and an air pistol. He may have gone on to carry out an attack. Or it may all have been just the bluster and rage of a frustrated child in a single parent family of five kids living in unpleasant circumstances.

It seems to me that intervention by the state was entirely reasonable in view of the seventeen year old’s state of mind. It is not at all obvious to me that branding a child, who had never attacked anybody, as a “terrorist”, thus destroying his prospects in life, convicting him of terrorist thought crime as soon as he turned eighteen, and sending him to prison to mix with hardened criminals and actual terrorists, was a sensible way for the state to intervene. By fueling his sense of alienation and injustice, that seems to me a course of action almost guaranteed to ensure that this child would emerge from prison as a twenty year old determined to commit an actual terrorist attack. Which is of course exactly what happened, and the death of young Sudesh Amman himself was the inevitable end of the tragedy.

SUDESH AMMAN

A seventeen year old harbouring fantasies of gross violence, but who has not carried those fantasies into action, should be a mental health issue not a criminal law issue. The state intervention should have been aimed at making Sudesh well and with future prospects in life. That may have involved a period of involuntary in-patient treatment, and we should have facilities that can provide that without branding young people terrorists before they have done anything violent.

It is of course worth noting also that with Sudesh as with so many others, if the UK had not invaded or attacked Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, his sense of injustice towards Muslims, which he fantasised about fighting to correct, would never have arisen in the first instance.

The idea that in future the answer is to lock away youngsters for life for thinking wrong, is at the moment extremely popular and helping the Tories surf still higher on their wave of xenophobic acclaim. That will simply stoke more grievance and create more terrorism. No matter how unpopular, those of us who try to think calmly and sensibly have a duty to oppose the baying of the mob.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Get Out and Vote Sinn Fein

Par craig

A quick exhortation to my readers in Ireland to get out to the polling station and vote for Sinn Fein. Irish government has too long consisted of two centre right parties taking turns at the trough of public finance, and Varadkar’s slick disguise of his essential Thatcherism through social liberalism and identity politics is particularly nauseating. Martin’s platform of being a little bit less Thatcherite than Varadkar is scarcely appealing. In a country that is now significantly wealthier per capita than the UK, the levels of poverty and the growth of inequality are inexcusable.

But even more important than any of that is Irish unification. As Northern Ireland elects a majority of Nationalist MPs for the first time since partition, and as Brexit leads to support for reunification that reaches across communities, the traditional parties in Ireland are lukewarm and at best pay lip service to Irish unity, with no sign of any real intention to reach for it.

Those who oppose Irish unity lest it be expensive are a disgrace to their nation. People who will not take what their forbears were willing to die for, because it might cost them a little bit, are despicable. They are also missing the point entirely. Before Independence, Ireland was very impoverished compared to England. The free part of Ireland is now much richer than England. Once Northern Ireland escapes from the dead hand of UK economic centralism, it too will flourish and become much wealthier. Ireland will be a larger and more confident economic unit. Of course there will be initial dislocation effects, but Ireland is well placed to weather any short term pain – provided the rich take their fair share of the burden.

For all those reasons, do get out and vote Sinn Fein.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Quick Thoughts from the Cesspool of London

Par craig

I have been in London all week and very busy, largely on the Julian Assange campaign/Wikileaks but also researching a couple of other things. Back to Edinburgh tonight I hope.

Against the background of the appalling behaviour revealed in the Wikileaks DNC leaks, I find it impossible to look at the Iowa caucus fiasco without entertaining the suspicion that the Democratic Party machine is trying to cheat Bernie out of the nomination yet again.

A similar straw in the wind on party “management”; I was told yesterday the SNP is cancelling its Spring Conference to avoid a membership revolt over the acceptance of the Westminster veto on Indyref2. Has anyone else picked this up?

Back home and hopefully posting something substantial tomorrow.

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Scottish Independence is Within our Grasp if We Heed the Lesson of Toom Tabard

Par craig

There will never again be a route to Scottish Independence deemed legal by Westminster. 2014 will never be repeated. The UK will never willingly give up a third of its land, most of its fisheries, most of its mineral resources, its most marketable beef, soft fruit and whisky, most of its renewable energy potential, a vital part of its military including its primary nuclear base, its best universities in a number of key fields including life sciences, its ready pool of intellectual and professional talent. Johnson is for once honest when he says keeping the Union together is his top priority. It is the top priority of the entire British establishment.

David Cameron only agreed to the 2014 referendum because he thought the result would humiliate and kill off Scottish nationalism. Support for Independence was at 28% in the polls at the time he agreed. Westminster had the most enormous and horrible shock when support for Independence grew to 45% during the campaign as many people for the first time in their lives heard the real arguments. The Whitehall panic of the last week of the 2014 referendum campaign is not something the British Establishment ever intend to repeat.

There is a charmingly naive argument put forward by some that, if support for Independence can be grown to 60% in the opinion polls, Johnson and Westminster will have to “grant” a referendum. This is the opposite of the truth. If support for Independence is at 60%, the very last thing that the Tories will do is agree a referendum they will lose. Their resistance will be massively hardened. Remember, the Tories could have zero Tory MPs in Scotland and still have a majority of 73 in Westminster. There is no political damage for Johnson in unpopularity in Scotland. In England, his anti-Scots stance is very popular with their Cummings core support base of knuckle-dragging, ill-educated racists.

The “intellectual justification” for this stance was trailed by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on the Marr programme this morning. Irrespective of the wishes of the majority in Scotland, the UK has a duty to stop Scottish Independence, to prevent anarchic secessionist forces being unleashed across Europe; he named Italy, France and Spain.

Westminster will never agree another referendum, and the more we look like winning it, the less they will agree to it.

Nor is there a route to a “legal” referendum through the courts. If a court rules that a consultative referendum is legal under the current Scotland Act (which it might well be), then the Tories will simply pass new legislation at Westminster to make it illegal. They have already done this at Westminster to overturn Scottish parliament decisions, and the UK Supreme Court have already made clear that the Sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament cannot be challenged.

Scotland can become independent, but becoming independent is, without doubt, going to be illegal in terms of UK law – which is to say Westminster law. There will not be a route to Independence agreed with Westminster.

If you believe in Scottish Independence, you believe that the Scottish nation are a “people” within the meaning of the UN Charter, and thus have an inalienable right of self-determination. That means that Westminster has no right, by legislation or by any other means, to prevent the Scottish people from exercising their self-determination.

I am sorry, but this is the fact: If you believe Scotland should only move to Independence in a Westminster-approved process, you do not really believe in Scottish Independence at all.

Which brings us to Nicola Sturgeon. Her much-trumpeted speech on the way forward following Brexit was disgraceful in explicitly stating that any referendum must be held with Westminster agreement, and that any referendum held without Westminster agreement could be “illegal”. She used the words “illegal” and “wildcat” to denigrate the idea of Scotland acting without Westminster permission.

Even the most loyal to Sturgeon of all major Independence bloggers, like James Kelly and Paul Kavanagh, could not support Sturgeon on this point.

What Sturgeon said amounts to an explicit acknowledgement of UK sovereignty over the Scottish people as both legitimate and immutable. She is accepting that the Act of Union did permanently alienate the right of self-determination. Sturgeon should heed the tale of Toom Tabard as to what respect English rulers show to Scottish leaders who accept their authority. Her speech reinforced my view that she really is much too comfortable in her role of colonial governor.

And yet…

When Sturgeon started talking about calling a Constitutional Convention I first scoffed thinking she was merely fulfilling my prediction that her “plan” would be to start yet another talking shop. But then I was astonished when she outlined the potential membership – the elected representatives of Scotland sitting together, constituting MSPs, MPs, (former) MEPs and council leaders.

I have explained at length over the last two years my proposal for a route to Independence that would lead to recognition by the international community. Donald Tusk today confirmed all I have been saying about the enormous sympathy there will be in the EU towards welcoming Scotland back, now the UK has switched status to third country state. [I knew Donald Tusk reasonably well when I was First Secretary of the British Embassy in Warsaw in the 1990s and he was an out of office politician the same age as me. I should like to think I had an effect!]

But the heart of what I was proposing is this, as I put it in December 2018

The Scottish Parliament should then convene a National Assembly of all nationally elected Scottish representatives – MSPs, MPs and MEPs. That National Assembly should declare Independence, appeal to other countries for recognition, reach agreements with the rump UK and organise a confirmatory plebiscite. That is legal, democratic and consistent with normal international practice.

Or as I put it again two weeks ago:

We should assemble all of Scotland’s MEP’s, MP’s and MSP’s in a National Assembly and declare Independence on the 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, thus emphasising the historical continuity of the Scottish state. The views and laws of London now being irrelevant, we should organise, as an Independent state, our referendum to confirm Independence, to be held in September 2020.

Please do read the articles linked if you have not already done so. They explain how Scotland can legitimately become an Independent nation without regard to UK domestic law.

Now, until Sturgeon’s speech, I had never seen anybody else but me put forward the proposal that the way forward is via an assembly of all MPs, MSPs and MEPs, giving the triple legitimacy of democratic election. Sturgeon has enhanced this by adding council leaders.

There is a huge difference between an assembly – or convention – of elected representatives, and an appointed one of the great and the good. This new assembly proposed by Sturgeon is very different indeed in that respect from the Convention of the same name that helped formulate devolution.

Now I do not think for one moment that Sturgeon has convened this Convention to declare Independence. But an assembly of Scotland’s MPs, MSPs, MEPs and council leaders will have a clear Independence majority numerically and a massive Independence majority intellectually. It will have an extremely strong claim to be a properly representative assembly whose members each have a democratic mandate. The French Revolution was of course similarly precipitated by constitutional innovation convening a National Assembly combining the different Estates, and that Assembly was swept along by fervour to take proto-revolutionary measures which went far beyond the initial positions of any of its members.

The dynamic of a new constitutional body whose members feel they command legitimacy, should not be underestimated. The convening of this body will be a real constitutional innovation. We need to make sure, that like that French National Assembly, they can clearly hear a huge mob outside their windows, demanding radical and speedy change.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post Scottish Independence is Within our Grasp if We Heed the Lesson of Toom Tabard appeared first on Craig Murray.

Non-Condemnatory International Reaction to Trump’s Bantustan Lite Palestine Plan Shows the “Two State” Solution Was Always a Lie

Par craig

I have read through the entire 181 pages of Trump’s “peace deal” for Israel, and it is breathtaking. It is not just that the “solution” it proposes is ludicrously one-sided, it is the entire analysis of the problem to be solved which reads as pure, unadulterated zionist propaganda.

For example, the word “violence” is used repeatedly. But it only ever refers to violence by Arabs. There is not one single mention of violence by Israel against the Palestinians, even though the ratio of killing between Israelis and Palestinians over the last ten years is approximately 80:1 . The only mention of violence against Palestinians at all relates to Kuwaiti expulsion of Palestinian refugees after the first Gulf war.

The analysis of the refugee issue is the same. Nowhere can the paper bring itself to note the key historic fact, that the Palestinian refugees were expelled from Israel. The paper treats Palestinian refugees as if they had simply materialised as an inconvenient phenomenon, like a plague of locusts. This “othering” of Palestinian refugees permeates the entire paper:

It must be stressed that many Palestinian refugees in the Middle East come from war torn countries, such as Syria and Lebanon that are extremely hostile toward the State of Israel

No. Palestinian refugees were driven by violence from the land that is now Israel. Families who lived there two generations ago have been displaced in favour of families who claim the land because their ancestors lived there eighty generations ago. That is a matter of indisputable fact.

You can claim that displacement of the Palestinians from Israel was justifiable because of the urgent need for a state for Jewish people after the Holocaust. You can claim that the displacement of Palestinians from Israel is justifiable because it is divinely ordained. You can claim the displacement of Palestinians from Israel is regrettable but irreversible. Make what argument you wish, but to refuse to acknowledge the basic fact that the Palestinian refugees were driven from Israel is a pathetic act of cowardice that underlines the sheer intellectual shoddiness of the paper.

The “deal” makes a direct equivalence between Palestinian refugees and “the Jewish refugees who were forced to flee from Arab and Muslim countries”. The language here is extremely revealing. The Jewish refugees “were forced to flee”. There is no hesitation about this claim of victimhood. Whereas there is no acknowledgement at all that the Palestinian refugees “were forced to flee” by the Israelis.

It is undoubtedly a valid point that many Jews were disgracefully and involuntarily driven out by Arab nations, and their suffering is too often overlooked. However to claim the numbers are equivalent is to ignore the fact that a significant portion of the Jewish population of Arab states moved voluntarily to the new homeland, whereas none of the Palestinians expelled from Israel left voluntarily. But the more glaring fact ignored in the paper is that the majority of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands were given the property of Palestinian refugees in Israel. The claim that both sides are in equal need of compensation is therefore a nonsense.

The failure to admit the Palestinian refugees were driven out of Israel panders disgracefully to the most extreme zionist propaganda, which claims that the land was empty before the Israelis settled it in 1948. This is a classic colonist origin myth, used repeatedly by the British Empire, by white settlers in the USA, and of course by apartheid South Africa. When the Trump deal was first published, I was genuinely astonished to find twitter awash with thousands of tweets claiming the Palestinians do not exist as a people. This is an extraordinarily prevalent racist trope among zionists and appears to be not policed on the internet at all. I have read hundreds of articles about the hateful phenomenon of anti-semitism in the mainstream media. I don’t think I have ever seen this extreme zionist racism of “there is no such thing as Palestinians” ever mentioned in the MSM as a problem. But zionist racism is a huge problem, and it underlies the fundamental analysis of the Trump paper.

If you cannot bring yourself to acknowledge, even once in 181 pages, that the Palestinian inhabitants were driven out of Israel, there is no chance the proposals built on these fundamentally dishonest foundations will be solid.

The Trump paper has three fundamental “solutions” to the Palestinian refugee issue.

1) Only those originally displaced to be deemed refugees, not their families.
2) Not one single refugee to be allowed to return to Israel (yes, it does actually say that)
3) No compensation to be paid to refugees by Israel

I have often pointed out that the proposed “two state solution” for Palestine has always been no more and no less than the old apartheid policy of “Bantustans” in South Africa, where the indigenous population were herded into six self-governing and four supposedly “independent states”.

It is worth pointing out that the apotheosis of the apartheid system, the Bantu Self-Governing Act of 1959, was given Royal Assent by Queen Elizabeth II, a point now rather skated over by a false narrative that apartheid was a solely Afrikaaner project post-Independence.

The major similarity that I had been pointing out with Bantustans was revealed by the map: fractured lands, not forming any kind of economically viable unit. Trump proposes Israeli annexation of the whole of the Jordan Valley, of North Jerusalem and large areas of the West Bank, the remnant of which is to be shattered by 15 Israeli sovereign settlements connected by Israeli only roads. Trump’s “Palestine” is very plainly not viable.

But the Trump proposals for how “Palestine” will run, make the Bantustan comparison still more stark. Indeed, the restrictions on the so-called “state” of Palestine under the Trump plan from having its own military or security forces are even greater than those imposed on the Bantustans by apartheid South Africa. Trump also proposes that Israel should have the right to stop Palestinian refugees from the wider diaspora entering the new “state” of Palestine.

A “state” not permitted to define its own citizens is not a state.

It does not stop there. The “state” is to have no right to a territorial sea or exclusive economic zone, with its sea to be given to Israel in contravention of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It is not to be allowed to conclude treaties without Israeli consent. It is not even to be allowed to open a port but to be forced to import and export goods through Israeli ports – in other words, the Israeli economic blockade is to continue on the new “state”. Plainly, even apart from the unviable fracturing and the shrunk territory, the administrative arrangements proposed make no attempt to reach the level of statehood.

Surely, then, the proponents of the “two state solution” must have reacted strongly to this betrayal of their proposal?

Well, no.

In many ways the most incredible thing about the Trump proposals is how welcoming the western powers were. The general reaction from all European governments was that these are serious proposals with which the Palestinians must engage. While the ridiculous assessment from Dominic Raab that “this is clearly a serious proposal” is perhaps what you would expect from a state looking to the US for economic crumbs, the Palestinians might legitimately have expected better from the EU than the official response, which welcomed Trump’s “commitment to a two state solution”, of France which “welcomes Donald Trump’s efforts”, and of Germany which “appreciates that the president is sticking to the two state solution”.

The Palestinians were probably less disappointed by the support of the traitorous dictatorships of the Saudi and other Gulf States for their close Israeli ally, which is par for the course. But the fact that the international community recognises as a proposed “two state solution” a paper which in no sense whatsoever establishes a Palestinian state within any normal definition of the word, should tell us something important.

As I have repeatedly stated, those who trumpeted the “two state solution” have always been con-artists who do not believe in a viable Palestinian state at all. The fact that Blair and Bush, two dedicated ultra-zionists, stood in the Rose Garden and promised a “two state solution” as part of their propaganda for the Iraq War and other Middle East invasions, really should have shown people of goodwill this was a blind alley. The Trump proposals are a betrayal of the Palestinians, of course. But they are not unique to Trump and they are exactly what Blair, Bush and all the zionist apologists intended all along.

The “two state solution” was always a con.

There is no viable two state solution. To create a viable Palestinian state alongside a viable Israeli state would now involve highly undesirable further forced movements of population. The only long term solution for Palestine/Israel is, as with South Africa, a single state in which everybody has a vote and everybody is treated equally, irrespective of ethnicity, creed or gender.

Trump may, peculiarly, have done one good thing with these ludicrously unfair proposals. He has exposed the hollowness of the “two state solution”, and the pretence that it offers any justice to the Palestinians of way forward towards peace.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Non-Condemnatory International Reaction to Trump’s Bantustan Lite Palestine Plan Shows the “Two State” Solution Was Always a Lie appeared first on Craig Murray.

The FBI Has Been Lying About Seth Rich

Par craig

A persistent American lawyer has uncovered the undeniable fact that the FBI has been continuously lying, including giving false testimony in court, in response to Freedom of Information requests for its records on Seth Rich. The FBI has previously given affidavits that it has no records regarding Seth Rich.

A Freedom of Information request to the FBI which did not mention Seth Rich, but asked for all email correspondence between FBI Head of Counterterrorism Peter Strzok, who headed the investigation into the DNC leaks and Wikileaks, and FBI attorney Lisa Page, has revealed two pages of emails which do not merely mention Seth Rich but have “Seth Rich” as their heading. The emails were provided in, to say the least, heavily redacted form.

Before I analyse these particular emails, I should make plain that they are not the major point. The major point is that the FBI claimed it had no records mentioning Seth Rich, and these have come to light in response to a different FOIA request that was not about him. What other falsely denied documents does the FBI hold about Rich, that were not fortuitously picked up by a search for correspondence between two named individuals?

To look at the documents themselves, they have to be read from the bottom up, and they consist of a series of emails between members of the Washington Field Office of the FBI (WF in the telegrams) into which Strzok was copied in, and which he ultimately forwarded on to the lawyer Lisa Page.

The opening email, at the bottom, dated 10 August 2016 at 10.32am, precisely just one month after the murder of Seth Rich, is from the media handling department of the Washington Field Office. It references Wikileaks’ offer of a reward for information on the murder of Seth Rich, and that Assange seemed to imply Rich was the source of the DNC leaks. The media handlers are asking the operations side of the FBI field office for any information on the case. The unredacted part of the reply fits with the official narrative. The redacted individual officer is “not aware of any specific involvement” by the FBI in the Seth Rich case. But his next sentence is completely redacted. Why?

It appears that “adding” references a new person added in to the list. This appears to have not worked, and probably the same person (precisely same length of deleted name) then tries again, with “adding … for real” and blames the technology – “stupid Samsung”. The interesting point here is that the person added appears not to be in the FBI – a new redacted addressee does indeed appear, and unlike all the others does not have an FBI suffix after their deleted email address. So who are they?

(This section on “adding” was updated after commenters offered a better explanation than my original one. See first comments below).

The fourth email, at 1pm on Wednesday August 10, 2016, is much the most interesting. It is ostensibly also from the Washington Field Office, but it is from somebody using a different classified email system with a very different time and date format than the others. It is apparently from somebody more senior, as the reply to it is “will do”. And every single word of this instruction has been blanked. The final email, saying that “I squashed this with …..”, is from a new person again, with the shortest name. That phrase may only have meant I denied this to a journalist, or it may have been reporting an operational command given.

As the final act in this drama, Strzok then sent the whole thread on to the lawyer, which is why we now have it. Why?

It is perfectly possible to fill in the blanks with a conversation that completely fits the official narrative. The deletions could say this was a waste of time and the FBI was not looking at the Rich case. But in that case, the FBI would have been delighted to publish it unredacted. (The small numbers in the right hand margins supposedly detail the exception to the FOIA under which deletion was made. In almost every case they are one or other category of invasion of privacy).

And if it just all said “Assange is talking nonsense. Seth Rich is nothing to do with the FBI” then why would that have to be sent on by Strzok to the FBI lawyer?

It is of course fortunate that Strzok did forward this one email thread on to the lawyer, because that is the only reason we have seen it, as a result of an FOI(A) request for the correspondence between those two.

Finally, and perhaps this is the most important point, the FBI was at this time supposed to be in the early stages of an investigation into how the DNC emails were leaked to Wikileaks. The FBI here believed Wikileaks to be indicating the material had been leaked by Seth Rich who had then been murdered. Surely in any legitimate investigation, the investigators would have been absolutely compelled to check out the truth of this possibility, rather than treat it as a media issue?

We are asked to believe that not one of these emails says “well if the publisher of the emails says Seth Rich was the source, we had better check that out, especially as he was murdered with no sign of a suspect”. If the FBI really did not look at that, why on earth not? If the FBI genuinely, as they claim, did not even look at the murder of Seth Rich, that would surely be the most damning fact of all and reveal their “investigation” was entirely agenda driven from the start.

In June 2016 a vast cache of the DNC emails were leaked to Wikileaks. On 10 July 2016 an employee from the location of the leak was murdered without obvious motive, in an alleged street robbery in which nothing at all was stolen. Not to investigate the possibility of a link between the two incidents would be grossly negligent. It is worth adding that, contrary to a propaganda barrage, Bloomingdale where Rich was murdered is a very pleasant area of Washington DC and by no means a murder hotspot. It is also worth noting that not only is there no suspect in Seth Rich’s murder, there has never been any semblance of a serious effort to find the killer. Washington police appear perfectly happy simply to write this case off.

I anticipate two responses to this article in terms of irrelevant and illogical whataboutery:

Firstly, it is very often the case that family members are extremely resistant to the notion that the murder of a relative may have wider political implications. This is perfectly natural. The appalling grief of losing a loved one to murder is extraordinary; to reject the cognitive dissonance of having your political worldview shattered at the same time is very natural. In the case of David Kelly, of Seth Rich, and of Wille Macrae, we see families reacting with emotional hostility to the notion that the death raises wider questions. Occasionally the motive may be still more mixed, with the prior relationship between the family and the deceased subject to other strains (I am not referencing the Rich case here).

You do occasionally get particularly stout hearted family who take the opposite tack and are prepared to take on the authorities in the search for justice, of which Commander Robert Green, son of Hilda Murrell, is a worthy example.

(As an interesting aside, I just checked his name in the Wikipedia article on Hilda, which I discovered describes Tam Dalyell “hounding” Margaret Thatcher over the Belgrano and the fact that ship was steaming away from the Falklands when destroyed with massive loss of life as a “second conspiracy theory”, the first of course being the murder of Hilda Murrell. Wikipedia really has become a cesspool.)

We have powerful cultural taboos that reinforce the notion that if the family do not want the question of the death of their loved one disturbed, nobody else should bring it up. Seth Rich’s parents, David Kelly’s wife, Willie Macrae’s brother have all been deployed by the media and the powers behind them to this effect, among many other examples. This is an emotionally powerful but logically weak method of restricting enquiry.

Secondly, I do not know and I deliberately have not inquired what are the views on other subjects of either Mr Ty Clevenger, who brought his evidence and blog to my attention, or Judicial Watch, who made the FOIA request that revealed these documents. I am interested in the evidence presented both that the FBI lied, and in the documents themselves. Those who obtained the documents may, for all I know, be dedicated otter baiters or believe in stealing ice cream from children. I am referencing the evidence they have obtained in this particular case, not endorsing – or condemning – anything else in their lives or work. I really have had enough of illogical detraction by association as a way of avoiding logical argument by an absurd extension of ad hominem argument to third parties.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post The FBI Has Been Lying About Seth Rich appeared first on Craig Murray.

Of Coronavirus and Chartism

Par craig

I am cheerfully optimistic that this Coronavirus, like asian swine flu and SARS before it, will prove not to be as deadly as may be prognosticated by journalists wanting to fill column inches. One day the human race will become extinct; but it is unlikely to be a virus that does it, as wiping out your host is not a clever survival policy for a virus. Even a disease as vicious as ebola proved not to be so potent against subjects who were not malnourished nor struggling with other health issues. So far this coronavirus seems to have a mortality rate of about 3%, which is probably an over high estimate as it is only a percentage of those who died after testing, whereas it appears there are large numbers with milder symptoms who are unlikely to have been tested in the first place. So coronavirus is not looking vastly different to ordinary influenza, which has a mortality rate of about 1%.

When you or I get flu we don’t normally panic as though we have a 1% chance of dying from it. That is again because we are well nourished, live in good conditions and have not been much weakened by other disease. Like this coronavirus, influenza generally carries off the old and frail. Whether the infamous Spanish flu after the First World War that killed so many was a particularly potent strain is open to doubt. A more powerful factor is probably that the population it wracked was suffering greatly from malnourishment, stress and disease already as a result of the war. But unlike this coronavirus, that one did attack children badly.

Which is not to say the current coronavirus might not yet mutate into something much more lethal, but as yet there is no sign of that happening.

I was educated both at school and university very much in the liberal tradition of history. At both levels, the curriculum featured a view of historic political development very much as “progress”. The “years of revolution”, 1830 and 1848, were landmarks in this, where liberal and national movements made some progress against monarchist autocracy across the whole of Europe. These political waves of convulsion on a continent wide basis undoubtedly happened, and in the UK resulted in the Great Reform Act and the Chartist Movement. They were taught in the Macaulay/Trevelyan historical tradition as very much the product of development in thought, as a product of political philosophy, as though the masses were moved by the elegantly turned phrases of a Benthamite pamphlet.

At university, I did add to this the knowledge that poor harvests had helped precipitate events, and indeed those had featured in my A level lists of “Causes of the French Revolution”. But it was only really a few years ago, when I was researching Sikunder Burnes, that I came to focus properly on the role of epidemiology in these human convulsions. Both the 1830 and 1848 European wave of revolutions coincided with the first and second ever cholera pandemics sweeping across Europe. The reason I came across this while studying Burnes is precisely that it was the opening up of Central Asia to trade in this period, largely through Russian exploration and expansion, that brought the disease into Europe. Burnes was in 1832 in a Bokhara ravaged for years by cholera. Its great canals – which are still there – were only being opened to fresh water once a month, and they served as both water supply and sewer, as Burnes documented in detail.

Without the misery inflicted by cholera, both directly and in economic impact, the desperate urban mobs may not have existed which enabled middle class liberals – and their own auto-didactic leadership – to start the establishment of western European democracy. It seems a very strange thing to suggest that cholera pandemics forwarded social progress. But there you are. I am now proceeding to an audacious discussion as to whether a lack of effective pandemics may retard social progress. Hang on to your hats.

[As a complete aside, I also discovered while researching Alexander Burnes that the great British liberal historical tradition was founded on a truly remarkable incestuous household menage a trois between Macaulay, his sister and Charles Trevelyan, father of the historian George who may well have been Macaulay’s son and nephew, rather than the official version of just nephew, and that Macaulay had also been having sex with his other sister. So much for Victorian respectability. Sikunder Burnes is a difficult book to describe because it presents an extremely detailed and painstaking account of the life of a 19th century British imperial functionary, and then from that framework sprout all kinds of exegeses on my wider intellectual interests. I hope it reads better than that sounds].

I do hope that I am right that coronavirus will prove, like SARS, not a great threat to us. The ability of modern nutrition, living conditions and medicine to ward off serious risk of epidemic and other illness has of course resulted in a very significant increase in human longevity. The relentless increase in longevity has slowed slightly as a result of the post 2008 economic crash, but I expect it to pick up again as it is a centuries old trend. In the UK, much has been written about the economic effects of this. In the UK, the concentration of wealth in the hands of old people who are not dying and passing it down, coincides with economic changes which have made it very difficult for young people to have good secure employment and to accumulate wealth, particularly property.

At the same time, the old people may own wealth but do not much generate it. With the increasingly aged demographic profile boosted by both people living longer and by historic falling birth rates, the percentage of the population in employment is in decline. The Office of National Statistics projects that while in 2007 there were 244 pensioners for every 1000 adults of working age, by 2041 there will be 419 per 1,000. This is a well understood economic problem to which, within the UK, the answer has lain in immigration.

It is not my purpose here to touch on these economic questions. I wish rather to look at the political effects. The UK has become a gerontocracy. The proportion of British adults eligible to vote who were aged over 55 in 2007 was approximately 37%. By 2041, that will be a majority of voters aged over 55. It is quite possible that a majority of those who do cast their vote in the UK are already over 55, as voter turnout is much higher among the elderly. So by 2040 it is perfectly possible that 60% or more of all votes actually cast will be cast by people aged 55 or over.

This is significant because it is a matter of indisputable fact that voting patterns are different between the old and the young. It was, to a truly remarkable degree, only the votes of the over 55s that stopped Scottish Independence, voted for Brexit, and elected Boris Johnson. Now any time I write on this subject I get offended older people saying “well I am old but I am not a Tory”. I know. I am not claiming every old person is a Tory. But Unionism, Brexitism and Toryism all are much more predominant among older voters. And while the issues may differ by 2040, I very much doubt there will cease to be differentials between the views of the old and the young.

The long term effects of western political systems which become increasingly dominated by geriatric voters are very unlikely to include a greater willingness to adopt progressive or innovative political approaches. I do not see how there can fail to be a stultifying effect on social progress. Again, I am 61 myself. Of course there are many radical older people. But there is overwhelming evidence that is not the norm.

Gaia has ways of restoring balance. It seems to me a fascinating speculation that, as the planet’s apex predator, mankind has succeeded in increasing individual longevity by increased nutrition and an ability to stave off pandemics which nature would use to keep down the numbers, and which normally would particularly kill older people. But the result of this may be a profound reduction in the adaptability and flexibility of mankind’s political hive mind as it becomes encrusted with geriatric thought, leading to seriously bad political decisions which ultimately will impact population anyway. Climate change is the most obvious example, but the process could have long term subtle effects in many ways.

Thomas Malthus was pilloried for centuries, but his critique of the dangers of human over-population now chimes with envronmentalist concerns. I have no desire to underestimate the suffering of those unfortunate enough to be affected by coronavirus. I do not actually wish to see elderly Tories and unionists carried off by flu. But I suspect you, like me, may very seldom get to read an article referencing the interrelationship of epidemiology, longevity and political systems. As the avowed purpose of this blog is to make people think, I thought readers and commenters may care to stretch their brains on this one.

Finally, as a restorative affirmation of the fact that older people can have very positive contributions to make to political thought, here is last week’s debate between George Galloway and myself on the subject of Scottish Independence. It has become unusual in British politics to see two people with fundamentally different views on a major political issue, discuss the matter with mutual respect and absolutely no rancour. It is a practice that appears to have deserted most professional politicians, as the last disintegrating days of the UK state become increasingly acrimonious.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The Troubling Decline of International Law

Par craig

While it is true that rogue states – most notably the USA – have always posed a threat to the rule of international law, I see no serious room to dispute that the development of the corpus of international law, and of the institutions to implement it, was one of the great achievements of the twentieth century, and did a huge amount to reduce global conflict.

The International Court of Justice, the Law of the Sea Tribunal, the European Court of Justice, the World Trade Organisation, these are just some of the institutions which have played an extremely positive role, helping resolve hundreds of disputes during their existence and, still more importantly, helping establish rules that prevented thousands more disputes from arising. Regional Organisations, dozens of them including the EU, the African Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, have also flourished.

The judgement of the ICJ in the 160 cases it has heard has almost always been respected by the parties to the case. That has applied even when the dispute is radical, inflammatory and had already led to fighting and deaths, such as the settlement of the Nigeria/Cameroon border. The ICJ has been a massive success story.

The foundation of the International Criminal Court in 2002 was the high water mark in establishing the rule of law as the guiding principle of international affairs. As with all the major worldwide institutions of international law, the UK had played a leading role in the establishment of the ICC. I was in the FCO at the time, and I remember the quiet confidence that eventually the USA would join up, just as they had with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea after decades of havering. In fact, the ICC has been a major disappointment, of which more later. I refer to 2002 as the high water mark for the rule of international law, because subsequently the tide has turned decisively against it.

When Blair and Bush invaded Iraq, not only without the sanction of the UN Security Council but in the certain knowledge the Security Council was against it, and in Blair’s case against the unanimous opinion of the FCO’s entire cadre of Legal Advisers who stated that the war was illegal, they not only precipitated a crisis that has resulted in millions of deaths, they dealt a killing blow to the entire fabric of international law.

The results are now becoming every day more visible. We have just survived for now, thanks to Iran’s remarkable sense and restraint, a dangerous crisis in the Middle East following the illegal assassination of General Soleimani, who was travelling on a diplomatic mission at the time. The use on a massive scale of execution by drone – including execution of UK and US nationals – by the British and American governments, often without the permission of the government in whose territory the execution takes place, is an appalling breach of international law for which there appears to be no effective remedy.

The FCO Legal Advisers refused to advise that the killing of Soleimani was legal in international law. However the UK government no longer cares if something is legal in international law or not. The government line was originally that there was an “arguable case” that the assassination was legal, then after objections from legal advisers the line changed to “it is not for the UK to determine whether the drone strike is legal”.

The United Kingdom used to be a pillar, arguably the most important pillar, of international law. Thanks to a series of neo-con politicians, including Blair, Straw, Cameron, May and Johnson, the UK scarcely makes a pretence any more abut giving a fig about international law. It simply ignores the instruction of the United Nations and the International Court of Justice to decolonise the Chagos Islands. It refuses to implement the binding international arbitration on debt owed to Iran. It mocks the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. It refuses to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women into asylum detention centres. I could go on. A direct consequence of this is sharply diminished UK influence in the world, and in particular for the first time in 71 years it does not have a seat on the International Court of Justice. As the UK has effectively spurned the authority of the ICJ, this is scarcely surprising.

It was the UK’s reputation as an upholder of international law that moderated outrage at the UN at the UK’s anachronistic permanent membership of the UN Security Council. That international respect no longer exists, and the British Government are deluded if they think that the UK’s privileged UN status will last forever, especially as it can no longer be represented as a proxy for EU foreign policy.

The UN itself is of course suffering a sustained threat to its authority. It is simply ignored on the dreadful Saudi led disaster in Yemen. By refusing the Iranian foreign minister a visa to attend a Security Council meeting on Soleimani, the USA struck at the very purpose of the UN. If the institution is to be held the hostage of its geographical host, what is its purpose? Ultimately, to regain relevance the UN would have both democratically to reform and to relocate, perhaps to South Africa. I do not see that happening in the near future.

As for the International Criminal Court, that has been a severe disappointment which in many ways symbolises the collapse of international law. Its failure to prosecute Bush and Blair for the war on Iraq set its direction from the beginning. Waging aggressive war is in itself a war crime and was indelibly established as such by the Nuremburg Tribunal. That it was not specifically mentioned in the Rome Statute was a flimsy pretext from judges not willing to take on power. The same judges have bottled out of investigation of US crimes in Afghanistan and appear to be in the same process over war crimes in Gaza, where astonishingly there has been no backing from states for the ICC against Netanyahu’s threat to institute sanctions against ICC staff if investigations continue. I used to defend the ICC robustly over accusations that it was simply a tool of neo-con policy. I now find it very hard to do so.

The UK is not the only country ignoring international law. Spain’s repudiation of the European Court of Justice decision that Junqueras must be released to take his seat in the European Parliament is a huge blow to the prestige and authority of that organisation. Spain’s vicious persecution of Catalonia is itself the most comprehensive challenge that “western values” have faced for decades in the European heartland, by a large measure worse than anything which Orban has done. Spain completely ignores its Council of Europe obligations.

The structure of international law is looking very shoogly indeed. It does matter, a very great deal. The world is becoming a significantly more dangerous place as a result.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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The post The Troubling Decline of International Law appeared first on Craig Murray.

Yes Minister Fan Fiction

Par craig

I have been rather unwell this last week with atrial fibrillation, and at 5am last Sunday morning had the paramedics out and puzzling over the ECG results. This particularly severe episode was a result of being out in the cold and storm for hours on the AUOB march, and I felt so guilty at being a self-inflicted drain on the NHS that I declined their offer to take me into hospital and decided to recover at home.

I did however get to thinking about whether, had I indeed toddled off on my next great adventure, I would regret holding information which I had not imparted to you. Well, I couldn’t in those circumstances regret not having imparted it as I would be deid, but you know what I mean. As it happened the thing I found I was most worried about not being able to impart was not, at least on its surface, a case of world sweeping importance, but rather of individual injustice. Though the surface often hides a great deal.

Anyway, having recovered I was saddened by the death of Derek Fowlds, who to me was always Mr Derek of Basil Brush. In fact I remember my confusion when Mr Derek replaced Mr Rodney, who I only learnt this week was in fact Rodney Bewes, another great comic actor of whose wider work I was at primary school unaware. Derek Fowlds of course became most famous in his brilliant role as Bernard in Yes Minister. Lying in bed getting better, I decided to while away the time by writing some Yes Minister fan fiction in tribute.

As with the original series, although based on a realistic civil service scenario dealing with similar events to those the civil service actually deals with, this conversation between a Minister and Permanent Secretary is purely fictional. No real situation is alluded to and any resemblance between the people and situations portrayed here and anything that is happening in real life is entirely accidental. Please do not attempt in the comments section to relate this entirely fictional hommage to Yes Minister to any actual events involving any actual court cases. Because you might wander into contempt of court.

This is of course my first Yes Minister effort.

FIRST YES MINISTER

Perm Sec. You see Minister, all you have to do is destroy your predecessor’s reputation. In the modern “Me Too” atmosphere, you accuse someone of sexual offences and politically they are finished. In fact you can do what you like to him.
Minister Like Julian Assange?
Perm Sec Exactly, Minister. Like Julian Assange. We yelled “rape” at him and then had to do nothing else. The left themselves destroyed him, led by the feminists of course. You see Minister, we feminists can be useful sometimes. (Canned Laughter)
Minister Yes, by the time they had finished with him, the government could torture him to death in plain sight and nobody cared.
Perm Sec Precisely Minister, and the hilarious thing was that there never was any rape and we never had to produce any evidence in court.
Minister Yes, brilliant. But it’s not an exact parallel with Orpheus though, is it Permanent Secretary? We don’t have any extradition request for Orpheus once any sexual charges fall.
Perm Sec The charges won’t fall, Minister, they won’t fall. We will get him found guilty.
Minister But he isn’t actually a rapist, you know. Not one of these incidents looks anything like rape. In fact they are all very flimsy. There isn’t one single independent witness and I don’t think any of them could be proven in court.
Perm Sec Please don’t worry yourself. It doesn’t matter, Minister. All we need is the word “rape” in the newspaper headlines. “Attempted rape” will do. You just tell the prosecutor to get the word out there, spread it in the media and Orpheus is finished.
Minister Even if he is not guilty?
Perm Sec He will be guilty. Whether he is guilty is irrelevant, he will be found guilty. This is where we use “more of”.
Minister “More of”?
Perm Sec Yes, “More of”. It’s not an official legal term, but all the lawyers know it as the oldest trick in the prosecutor’s book.
Minister What do you mean, Permanent Secretary?
Perm Sec Well look, we have the canoodling episode, the kiss in the office and a couple of suggestive remarks about sexy clothes.
Minister The sexy remarks are hardly illegal, are they?
Perm Sec Good God, Minister, what century are you in? (Canned Laughter). Sexual harassment, Minister. Kiss someone at the office party and tell someone else their figure looks good in that blouse, and you have established a pattern of behaviour. “More of” you see, Minister. The “more of” this stuff you throw, the better chance some of it will stick.
Minister But we don’t have that many instances. We went through absolutely everything. We had a team of 24 policemen working on it for 10 months and this was all we can find.
Perm Sec It is time to get creative then, Minister. We need more women to make allegations. In these circumstances it is always best to keep things close. Activate the women you know, Minister, activate the women you know.
Minister I don’t have that many friends, Permanent Secretary. I spend all my time reading books. (Canned Laughter).
Perm Sec Oh really, Minister, think. You must have some women very close to you.
Minister Well, there is Miss Barclay, my own Private Secretary.
Perm Sec Perfect, Minister perfect! Miss Barclay should be good for at least four allegations! Get her to say he tried to kiss her. Often.
Minister But surely nobody will believe my own Private Secretary – and she was involved in putting the dossier together and in discussions on handling the case. Nobody is going to believe her. And (gasps in horror) it really leads straight back to me being behind it, doesn’t it?
Perm Sec It can’t be traced back to you, Minister.
Minister Phew, that’s a relief. It can’t be traced back to me you say. How does that work?
Perm Sec Accuser anonymity, Minister.
Minister Accuser anon… oh yes! Oh yes! I am beginning to see!! They are sexual allegations so…
Perm Sec The identities of the accusers can be kept hidden by the court under penalty of severe jail sentences for anybody who reveals them so…
Minister …the accusers can just be my closest political cronies and the public will never be aware of that! That’s brilliant, Perm Sec!
Perm Sec Thank you, Minister (Canned Laughter)
Minister And thank God for that, because if the party faithful thought that I was trying to stitch up my predecessor they would have my guts for garters (Canned Laughter).
Perm Sec Heaven forfend, Minister!
Minister What? Oh too right. I was just thinking, Permanent Secretary, you know I am starting to get the hang of this. What about old Marmalade? He is very keen to get back into parliament and sees himself as a potential successor.
Perm Sec Marmalade? Well I suppose if we start adding in gay allegations, it does give a slightly more exotic tinge for the tabloids.
Minister I was thinking more of his wife, Permanent Secretary. If the old Marmalade family want a nice safe seat in the capital, let them do something to earn it.
Perm Sec Indeed, Minister. And is the wife not a former Special Adviser?
Minister Yes, is that a problem?
Perm Sec On the contrary, Minister. You see it is very useful. A SPAD is of course only a particularly spotty political hack whom politicians have conned the taxpayer into paying, but technically a SPAD is still a form of civil servant.
Minister Yes, and what of it?
Perm Sec Well, the words “civil servant” convey integrity, honesty and trustworthiness. (Canned laughter). We can leak to the tabloids that one of the accusers is a civil servant, and people will believe it must be genuine and independent. Very cunning idea if I may say so, Minister.
Minister Was it? Oh yes, I am cunning, aren’t I. (Canned laughter). But I still worry that none of the accusations is going to be individually convincing.
Perm Sec Doesn’t matter, Minister, doesn’t matter. Remember “More of”. Quantity not quality, Minister, quantity not quality. They don’t have to be individually convincing, just to give the impression of no smoke without fire.
Minister Oh well, I understand that now. In that case I can think of three or four more women very close to us indeed who can make allegations, if independence or credibility are not important and nobody will ever know who they were.
Perm Sec Volume is important, Minister, volume. It does not have to be heavy stuff. Just get them to allege an attempted kiss here, a brush of the hand on the bum as they were going out the door there.
Minister To build a pattern of behaviour.
Perm Sec Precisely, Minister, precisely. To build a pattern of behaviour. I see you have got it.
Minister But isn’t there a problem here, Permanent Secretary? If this man was a sexual predator on a large scale, there would be whispers for years and people in political circles would surely know. But he doesn’t have that reputation at all.
Perm Sec Don’t worry, Minister, he soon will have that reputation. (Canned Laughter). The media will believe it because we will tell them to believe it. And once the media believe something, the population will believe it too. Every politician has enemies, Minister, Orpheus more than most.
Minister But isn’t there a potential danger here, Permanent Secretary? I mean all of this is nonsense, so won’t he be acquitted and emerge possibly stronger than before?
Perm Sec Don’t worry, Minister, he won’t be acquitted. We have a legally invincible alliance on our side. “More of” is powerful, but “more of” combined with “home” becomes an irresistible force.
Minister (puzzled) “More of” and “home”.
Perm Sec Yes Minister. Answer me this. What does a jury want more than anything?
Minister To do justice?
Perm Sec Wrong, Minister, wrong. Home. A jury wants to go home. (Canned Laughter) Jurors are ripped away from their homes, jobs and families for weeks. At the end of it they are locked in a stuffy room with other jurors they don’t like, and not allowed to go home until they have all reached a verdict. So what do they do to reach agreement?
Minister Aaah, I see now. They compromise.
Perm Sec Exactly, Minister. They will compromise. It’s a natural human instinct to avoid conflict. There will be some people who think him totally innocent as nothing was individually proven, but there will be others who will think he must have done something wrong or there could not possibly be so many accusations. The power of “more of”. Of course they will chuck out the “attempted rape” very quickly as obvious nonsense. In the end they will find him not guilty on nearly all counts, but as a compromise will convict him of stroking someone’s hair, patting their bum or saying they look sexy.
Minister But surely he will hardly be jailed for that?
Perm Sec Doesn’t matter, Minister. “Rapist” will already be firmly printed on the public mind, and so long as we have the magic word “guilty” it does not matter what he is guilty of. And it can’t fail. With so many charges, the jury is simply bound to find him guilty of something so they can compromise and all go home.
Minister Brilliant, Permanent Secretary, brilliant.
Perm Sec Thank you.
Minister So that’s finally going to put a stake through his heart. No more Frank Sinatra comebacks and no more Quixotic campaigns chasing unicorns.
Perm Sec Yes, Minister.

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Westminster Cannot Block Scottish Independence

Par craig

Boris Johnson’s facetious, point-scoring reply to the formal request from the Scottish government for agreement to a second Independence referendum is an act of extreme arrogance. An off-the-cuff campaign remark from a single politician has no weight in weighing the will of a nation, and I presume Johnson is not arguing that every political statement Nicola Sturgeon or Alex Salmond has ever made has the force of law.

The “once in a generation” remark has no more force than “die in a ditch”. It is not contained in any official document, and appears in neither the Edinburgh Agreement nor the Smith Commission report. For Johnson to base his refusal of a vital democratic step on such a flimsy pretext is extremely arrogant. It is born of colossal self-confidence. He is perfectly confident the highly centralised Westminster system will allow him simply to ride roughshod over Scotland.

Johnson is of course right. You may be surprised to hear that I agree with the analysis of McHarg and McCorkindale published today that a legal challenge arguing the Scottish Government’s right to hold a referendum is a waste of time, not least because if such legal challenge looked like succeeding the Tories would simply pass Westminster legislation outlawing the referendum explicitly. There is no doubt whatsoever that such legislation would be upheld by the UK Supreme Court under the doctrine of the Sovereignty of (Westminster) Parliament.

I also have no doubt that a futile and time-wasting court action is going to be a key part of the Scottish Government’s approach in response to Johnson, of pretending to do something about Independence a few more years.

McHarg and McCorkindale are quite right on UK Constitutional Law, which is where their expertise lies. They know very little about public international law and still less about international politics.

The truth is that UK Constitutional Law is as irrelevant to Scottish Independence as Soviet Constitutional Law was to the question of Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Independence. The UK is disintegrating and not the smirk of Johnson, the frippery of the UK Supreme Court nor the witterings of lawyers can hold it together.

Independence is not a matter of domestic law. It is a matter of international law alone. Independence is the existence of a state in relation to other states. It is gained not by any internal process- internal process is utterly irrelevant, and in 95% of cases does not involve a referendum – but by recognition of other states, formalised through the General Assembly of the United Nations.

I touched on these points in my brief statement at the AUOB press conference after the march on Saturday.

In its judgement on Kosovo, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) specifically confirmed that the agreement of the state being seceded from was not necessary for Independence. That is the position in law, whatever any UK court may say. Indeed it was the UK government itself that put this argument most clearly to the ICJ in the Kosovo case.

5.5 Consistent with this general approach, international law has not treated the legality of
the act of secession under the internal law of the predecessor State as determining the effect
of that act on the international plane. In most cases of secession, of course, the predecessor
State’s law will not have been complied with: that is true almost as a matter of definition.

5.6 Nor is compliance with the law of the predecessor State a condition for the declaration
of independence to be recognised by third States, if other conditions for recognition are
fulfilled. The conditions do not include compliance with the internal legal requirements of
the predecessor State. Otherwise the international legality of a secession would be
predetermined by the very system of internal law called in question by the circumstances in
which the secession is occurring.

5.7 For the same reason, the constitutional authority of the seceding entity to proclaim
independence within the predecessor State is not determinative as a matter of international
law. In most if not all cases, provincial or regional authorities will lack the constitutional
authority to secede. The act of secession is not thereby excluded. Moreover, representative
institutions may legitimately act, and seek to reflect the views of their constituents, beyond
the scope of already conferred power.

That is a commendably concise and accurate description of the legal position. It is the legal opinion of the Government of the United Kingdom, as submitted to the International Court of Justice in the Kosovo case. The International Court of Justice endorsed this view, so it is both established law and the opinion of the British Government that a state has the right to declare Independence without the agreement or permission of the original state and its political or legal authorities.

I have continually explained on this site that the legality of a Declaration of Independence is in no sense determined by the law of the metropolitan state, but is purely a matter of recognition by other countries and thus acceptance into the United Nations. The UK Government set this out plainly in response to a question from a judge in the Kosovo case:

2. As the United Kingdom stated in oral argument, international law contains no
prohibition against declarations of independence as such. Whether a declaration of
independence leads to the creation of a new State by separation or secession depends
not on the fact of the declaration but on subsequent developments, notably recognition
by other States. As a general matter, an act not prohibited by international law needs
no authorization. This position holds with respect to States. It holds also with respect
to acts of individuals or groups, for international law prohibits conduct of non-State
entities only exceptionally and where expressly indicated.

So the key question is, could Scotland get recognition from other states for a Declaration of Independence? The attitude of the EU will be crucial and here Catalonia is obviously a key precedent. But it is one that has been totally misunderstood.

The vast majority of the politicians and functionaries of the EU institutions viewed the actions of the Francoist government of Spain in assaulting the people of Catalonia who were trying to vote, with extreme distaste. But they held their noses and supported Spain. Because over 20 years experience as a diplomat taught me that the EU functions as a club of member states, who will support each other in almost any circumstance. So Spain was supported.

But the UK is shortly going to stop being a member. It is Scotland, as a potential member with a long history of valued membership and a firm intention to join, which will have the natural support of the EU, the more so as there will be a strong desire to get Scotland’s fishing, energy and mineral resources back within the bloc. The disintegration of the UK will also be encouraged as a salutary lesson to any other states that consider leaving the EU. The political forces within the EU are very, very strongly behind recognition of Scottish Independence.

Once the EU decides to recognise Scotland (and crucially it is not a decision that needs unanimity in the EU vote, an extremely important and overlooked fact) the rest will be easy. The UK is detested in much of the developing world for its continued refusal to decolonise Diego Garcia, for the Iraq War, and for the whole history of colonialism.

So how should Scotland proceed? My advice would be to declare Independence at the earliest possible opportunity. We should recall all Scottish MPs from Westminster immediately. We should assemble all of Scotland’s MEP’s, MP’s and MSP’s in a National Assembly and declare Independence on the 700th Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, thus emphasising the historical continuity of the Scottish state. The views and laws of London now being irrelevant, we should organise, as an Independent state, our referendum to confirm Independence, to be held in September 2020.

The key criterion which governments have traditionally used to recognise another state is control of the state’s internal territory. (They do not have to use that criterion, each state can recognise on whatever basis it wishes, but that is the usual one cited). This is where the Catalonian Declaration of Independence failed, the Catalan Government never managed to enforce it on its own ground.

There is going to be no process of Independence agreed with the British government. We have to take Independence, not beg for it. At some stage, there is always the danger that the British government may try to react by sending in the British Army to enforce Westminster’s will. If we believe we are an independent nation, we have to be prepared to defend ourselves as an independent state should the worst happen. Calling a confirmatory referendum as the first act of the Independent state would make it difficult for Johnson to justify sending in the British Army to try to prevent it, but we cannot rule it out. Hopefully that will not involve anyone getting killed, but we must be plain that Westminster will never voluntarily allow us to leave and may physically attack us if we try.

I appreciate this may all sound very unpleasant and confrontational.

We have two alternatives now – we stand up for ourselves and our inalienable right of self-determination in international law as defined in the UN Charter, or we grovel before Johnson’s smirk and try various “legal” and “constitutional” avenues in terms of the UK’s utterly irrelevant domestic legislation. Which will get us nowhere, slowly.

The time has come for Scottish Independence. With a referendum denied by no fault of ours, we must seize the moment and take the Independence for which they will not let us vote.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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A Window for Peace

Par craig

There is this morning a chink of light to avoid yet more devastation in the Middle East. Iran’s missile strikes last night were calibrated to satisfy honour while avoiding damage that would trigger automatically the next round. The missiles appear to have been fitted out with very light warhead payloads indeed – their purpose was to look good in the dark going up into the night sky. There is every reason to believe the apparent lack of US casualties was deliberate.

Even more important was the Iraqi statement that “proportionate measures” had been “taken and concluded” and they did not seek “further escalation”.

I agree their response was proportionate and I would say that I regard the Iranian action so far, unlike the assassination of Soleimani by the US, legal in international law.

The entire world should congratulate Iran for its maturity in handling the illegal assassination of its General, who was on a peace mission, travelling as a civilian on a commercial flight, carrying a mediation message the US had been instrumental in instigating. If as seems possible the US actively manipulated the diplomatic process to assassinate someone on a diplomatic mission and traveling on a diplomatic passport, that is a dreadful outrage which will come back to haunt them. Life insurance rates for US diplomats no doubt just went up.

It is also worth noting the 2.8% rise in the Lockheed share price in the 24 hours immediately before the Soleimani assassination, outperforming the Dow about three times. That would bear investigation. Arms manufacturers and oil stocks have soared this last few days – and remember that nowadays the vast bulk of financial transactions are bets on the margins of movement, so vast fortunes will have been made out of all this.

The UK has been, as ever, complicit in US crimes. Our laughingly so-called “defence” industry – when were its products last used in self-defence and not colonial adventure? – is tied in to and dependent on the US military machine. The current build-up of US troops and hardware in the Gulf has Mildenhall as a major staging post. We do not have to do this. Whether officially or on a pretext, French airspace was closed to the US military build-up and the Americans have had to fly from the UK, skirting France, around the Atlantic.

In a huge Boris Johnson slap in the face to international law, extra US bombers to attack Iran have been flown into Diego Garcia, in the Chagos Islands. You will recall that is where the UK committed genocide against the population in the 1970s to clear the way for the US military base. Last year, the UK lost a hearing before the International Court of Justice and was subsequently instructed by the UN to decolonise the islands and give them back to Mauritius by last November. The UK simply persisted in its illegal occupation and now is threatening the use of the islands as the base for yet another illegal and destabilising war.

That the UK is a permanent member of the UN security council is a disgrace which surely cannot endure much longer. What the current crisis has shown us is that under Johnson the UK has no future except as a still more compliant servant of whoever occupies the White House.

Wars are easy to start but hard to stop. Trump appears to have calmed, but we cannot rule out a stupid “last word” attack by the USA. It is to be hoped that Iran now concentrates on using the immense political leverage it has gained to get western troops out of Iraq, which would be a tremendous result for all of us after 17 years. But we cannot rule out hotter heads in the Iranian government insisting on further attacks, or attacks from regional forces whose Tehran authorisation is uncertain. On either side this could yet blow up badly.

I am a sucker for hope, and the best outcome would be for the US and Iran to start talking directly again, and a deal to be made from this break in the logjam that is wider than, and Trump can portray as better than, “Obama’s” nuclear deal and would enable the lifting of sanctions. I am sure Trump will be tempted by the chance to go for this kind of diplomatic coup under the political cover provided him by Soleimani’s assassination. But the US is now so tied in to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and thus tied in to irrational hostility to Iran, that this must be extremely unlikely.

For those of us in Scotland, this is still more reason why Independence must be early. We cannot be tied in to a rogue state. As we march for Independence on Saturday, the potential for war in Iran gives the sharpest reminder why we must leave the UK and form our own, peaceful, law-abiding state.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.

Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:

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MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
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Lies, the Bethlehem Doctrine, and the Illegal Murder of Soleimani

Par craig

In one of the series of blatant lies the USA has told to justify the assassination of Soleimani, Mike Pompeo said that Soleimani was killed because he was planning “Imminent attacks” on US citizens. It is a careful choice of word. Pompeo is specifically referring to the Bethlehem Doctrine of Pre-Emptive Self Defence.

Developed by Daniel Bethlehem when Legal Adviser to first Netanyahu’s government and then Blair’s, the Bethlehem Doctrine is that states have a right of “pre-emptive self-defence” against “imminent” attack. That is something most people, and most international law experts and judges, would accept. Including me.

What very few people, and almost no international lawyers, accept is the key to the Bethlehem Doctrine – that here “Imminent” – the word used so carefully by Pompeo – does not need to have its normal meanings of either “soon” or “about to happen”. An attack may be deemed “imminent”, according to the Bethlehem Doctrine, even if you know no details of it or when it might occur. So you may be assassinated by a drone or bomb strike – and the doctrine was specifically developed to justify such strikes – because of “intelligence” you are engaged in a plot, when that intelligence neither says what the plot is nor when it might occur. Or even more tenuous, because there is intelligence you have engaged in a plot before, so it is reasonable to kill you in case you do so again.

I am not inventing the Bethlehem Doctrine. It has been the formal legal justification for drone strikes and targeted assassinations by the Israeli, US and UK governments for a decade. Here it is in academic paper form, published by Bethlehem after he left government service (the form in which it is adopted by the US, UK and Israeli Governments is classified information).

So when Pompeo says attacks by Soleimani were “imminent” he is not using the word in the normal sense in the English language. It is no use asking him what, where or when these “imminent” attacks were planned to be. He is referencing the Bethlehem Doctrine under which you can kill people on the basis of a feeling that they may have been about to do something.

The idea that killing an individual who you have received information is going to attack you, but you do not know when, where or how, can be justified as self-defence, has not gained widespread acceptance – or indeed virtually any acceptance – in legal circles outside the ranks of the most extreme devoted neo-conservatives and zionists. Daniel Bethlehem became the FCO’s Chief Legal Adviser, brought in by Jack Straw, precisely because every single one of the FCO’s existing Legal Advisers believed the Iraq War to be illegal. In 2004, when the House of Commons was considering the legality of the war on Iraq, Bethlehem produced a remarkable paper for consideration which said that it was legal because the courts and existing law were wrong, a defence which has seldom succeeded in court.

(b)
following this line, I am also of the view that the wider principles of the law on self-defence also require closer scrutiny. I am not persuaded that the approach of doctrinal purity reflected in the Judgments of the International Court of Justice in this area provide a helpful edifice on which a coherent legal regime, able to address the exigencies of contemporary international life and discourage resort to unilateral action, is easily crafted;

The key was that the concept of “imminent” was to change:

The concept of what constitutes an “imminent” armed attack will develop to meet new circumstances and new threats

In the absence of a respectable international lawyer willing to argue this kind of tosh, Blair brought in Bethlehem as Chief Legal Adviser, the man who advised Netanyahu on Israel’s security wall and who was willing to say that attacking Iraq was legal on the basis of Saddam’s “imminent threat” to the UK, which proved to be non-existent. It says everything about Bethlehem’s eagerness for killing that the formulation of the Bethlehem Doctrine on extrajudicial execution by drone came after the Iraq War, and he still gave not one second’s thought to the fact that the intelligence on the “imminent threat” can be wrong. Assassinating people on the basis of faulty intelligence is not addressed by Bethlehem in setting out his doctrine. The bloodlust is strong in this one.

There are literally scores of academic articles, in every respected journal of international law, taking down the Bethlehem Doctrine for its obvious absurdities and revolting special pleading. My favourite is this one by Bethlehem’s predecessor as the FCO Chief Legal Adviser, Sir Michael Wood and his ex-Deputy Elizabeth Wilmshurst.

I addressed the Bethlehem Doctrine as part of my contribution to a book reflecting on Chomsky‘s essay “On the Responsibility of Intellectuals”

In the UK recently, the Attorney
General gave a speech in defence of the UK’s drone policy, the assassination
of people – including British nationals – abroad. This execution
without a hearing is based on several criteria, he reassured us. His
speech was repeated slavishly in the British media. In fact, the Guardian
newspaper simply republished the government press release absolutely
verbatim, and stuck a reporter’s byline at the top.
The media have no interest in a critical appraisal of the process
by which the British government regularly executes without trial. Yet
in fact it is extremely interesting. The genesis of the policy lay in the
appointment of Daniel Bethlehem as the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office’s Chief Legal Adviser. Jack Straw made the appointment, and for
the first time ever it was external, and not from the Foreign Office’s own
large team of world-renowned international lawyers. The reason for that
is not in dispute. Every single one of the FCO’s legal advisers had advised
that the invasion of Iraq was illegal, and Straw wished to find a new head
of the department more in tune with the neo-conservative world view.
Straw went to extremes. He appointed Daniel Bethlehem, the legal
‘expert’ who provided the legal advice to Benjamin Netanyahu on the
‘legality’ of building the great wall hemming in the Palestinians away
from their land and water resources. Bethlehem was an enthusiastic
proponent of the invasion of Iraq. He was also the most enthusiastic
proponent in the world of drone strikes.
Bethlehem provided an opinion on the legality of drone strikes
which is, to say the least, controversial. To give one example, Bethlehem
accepts that established principles of international law dictate that
lethal force may be used only to prevent an attack which is ‘imminent’.
Bethlehem argues that for an attack to be ‘imminent’ does not require it
to be ‘soon’. Indeed you can kill to avert an ‘imminent attack’ even if you
have no information on when and where it will be. You can instead rely
on your target’s ‘pattern of behaviour’; that is, if he has attacked before,
it is reasonable to assume he will attack again and that such an attack is
‘imminent’.
There is a much deeper problem: that the evidence against the
target is often extremely dubious. Yet even allowing the evidence to
be perfect, it is beyond me that the state can kill in such circumstances
without it being considered a death penalty imposed without trial for
past crimes, rather than to frustrate another ‘imminent’ one.
You would think that background would make an interesting
story. Yet the entire ‘serious’ British media published the government
line, without a single journalist, not one, writing about the fact that
Bethlehem’s proposed definition of ‘imminent’ has been widely rejected
by the international law community. The public knows none of this. They
just ‘know’ that drone strikes are keeping us safe from deadly attack by
terrorists, because the government says so, and nobody has attempted to
give them other information

Remember, this is not just academic argument, the Bethlehem Doctrine is the formal policy position on assassination of Israel, the US and UK governments. So that is lie one. When Pompeo says Soleimani was planning “imminent” attacks, he is using the Bethlehem definition under which “imminent” is a “concept” which means neither “soon” nor “definitely going to happen”. To twist a word that far from its normal English usage is to lie. To do so to justify killing people is obscene. That is why, if I finish up in the bottom-most pit of hell, the worst thing about the experience will be the company of Daniel Bethlehem.

Let us now move on to the next lie, which is being widely repeated, this time originated by Donald Trump, that Soleimani was responsible for the “deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans”. This lie has been parroted by everybody, Republicans and Democrats alike.

Really? Who were they? When and where? While the Bethlehem Doctrine allows you to kill somebody because they might be going to attack someone, sometime, but you don’t know who or when, there is a reasonable expectation that if you are claiming people have already been killed you should be able to say who and when.

The truth of the matter is that if you take every American killed including and since 9/11, in the resultant Middle East related wars, conflicts and terrorist acts, well over 90% of them have been killed by Sunni Muslims financed and supported out of Saudi Arabia and its gulf satellites, and less than 10% of those Americans have been killed by Shia Muslims tied to Iran.

This is a horribly inconvenient fact for US administrations which, regardless of party, are beholden to Saudi Arabia and its money. It is, the USA affirms, the Sunnis who are the allies and the Shias who are the enemy. Yet every journalist or aid worker hostage who has been horribly beheaded or otherwise executed has been murdered by a Sunni, every jihadist terrorist attack in the USA itself, including 9/11, has been exclusively Sunni, the Benghazi attack was by Sunnis, Isil are Sunni, Al Nusra are Sunni, the Taliban are Sunni and the vast majority of US troops killed in the region are killed by Sunnis.

Precisely which are these hundreds of deaths for which the Shia forces of Soleimani were responsible? Is there a list? It is of course a simple lie. Its tenuous connection with truth relates to the Pentagon’s estimate – suspiciously upped repeatedly since Iran became the designated enemy – that back during the invasion of Iraq itself, 83% of US troop deaths were at the hands of Sunni resistance and 17% of of US troop deaths were at the hands of Shia resistance, that is 603 troops. All the latter are now lain at the door of Soleimani, remarkably.

Those were US troops killed in combat during an invasion. The Iraqi Shia militias – whether Iran backed or not – had every legal right to fight the US invasion. The idea that the killing of invading American troops was somehow illegal or illegitimate is risible. Plainly the US propaganda that Soleimani was “responsible for hundreds of American deaths” is intended, as part of the justification for his murder, to give the impression he was involved in terrorism, not legitimate combat against invading forces. The idea that the US has the right to execute those who fight it when it invades is an absolutely stinking abnegation of the laws of war.

As I understand it, there is very little evidence that Soleimani had active operational command of Shia militias during the invasion, and in any case to credit him personally with every American soldier killed is plainly a nonsense. But even if Soleimani had personally supervised every combat success, these were legitimate acts of war. You cannot simply assassinate opposing generals who fought you, years after you invade.

The final, and perhaps silliest lie, is Vice President Mike Pence’s attempt to link Soleimani to 9/11. There is absolutely no link between Soleimani and 9/11, and the most strenuous efforts by the Bush regime to find evidence that would link either Iran or Iraq to 9/11 (and thus take the heat off their pals the al-Saud who were actually responsible) failed. Yes, it is true that some of the hijackers at one point transited Iran to Afghanistan. But there is zero evidence, as the 9/11 report specifically stated, that the Iranians knew what they were planning, or that Soleimani personally was involved. This is total bullshit. 9/11 was Sunni and Saudi led, nothing to do with Iran.

Soleimani actually was involved in intelligence and logistical cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan post 9/11 (the Taliban were his enemies too, the shia Tajiks being a key part of the US aligned Northern Alliance). He was in Iraq to fight ISIL.

The final aggravating factor in the Soleimani murder is that he was an accredited combatant general of a foreign state which the world – including the USA – recognises. The Bethlehem Doctrine specifically applies to “non-state actors”. Unlike all of the foregoing, this next is speculation, but I suspect that the legal argument in the Pentagon ran that Soleimani is a non-state actor when in Iraq, where the Shia militias have a semi-official status.

But that does not wash. Soleimani is a high official in Iran who was present in Iraq as a guest of the Iraqi government, to which the US government is allied. This greatly exacerbates the illegality of his assassination still further.

The political world in the UK is so cowed by the power of the neo-conservative Establishment and media, that the assassination of Soleimani is not being called out for the act of blatant illegality that it is. It was an act of state terrorism by the USA, pure and simple.

——————————————

Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.

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Account name
MURRAY CJ
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
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BIC NWBKGB2L
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Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.

The post Lies, the Bethlehem Doctrine, and the Illegal Murder of Soleimani appeared first on Craig Murray.

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