UK’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan found to be in contempt after blogging about Alex Salmond

Ex-SNP leader launching fresh legal action over handling of harassment complaints

Adam Forrest@adamtomforrest
Thursday 25 March 2021 11:51
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A former UK diplomat has been found to be in contempt of court after writing about the Alex Salmond trial on his blog.

Craig Murray, ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan, was found to be in contempt after his online posts about the former SNP leader’s criminal trial in 2020.

Judge Lady Dorrian told Mr Murray that several blog posts and tweets the diplomat wrote could lead to the identification of four different complainers.

Mr Murray sat in the public gallery during two days of the trial in March 2020, at which Mr Salmond was found not guilty of all 12 of the sexual assault charges against him.

The former diplomat’s sentencing has been deferred until 7 May, while the judge awaits further reports on the contempt case.

Prior to the judge’s statement on Thursday morning, Mr Murray said he had closed his blog on a “temporary” basis, having been given “no choice but to go dark”.

It comes as Mr Salmond has said he is ready to take legal action against Scottish government’s top civil servant.

In a statement, the former first minister said permanent secretary Leslie Evans had failed to take “real responsibility” for failings highlighted in two reports this week.

The Holyrood committee investigating the Scottish government’s unlawful handling of harassment complaints concluded there was an “individual failing” by Ms Evans because she knew of the prior contact between the officer investigating complaints and those who made them.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has made clear Ms Evans “retains her confidence” despite the criticisms made in the committee’s report.

Mr Salmond, who has urged Ms Evans to resign, said: “I have waited to see the response from those individuals to the publication of the inquiry reports. Unfortunately, it appears that the clear intention is to carry on regardless.”

The former SNP leader said he had now instructed lawyers to “bring proceedings” related to Ms Evans’ conduct – though it is not yet clear whether the action would be raised against Ms Sturgeon’s government, or the top civil servant personally.

Mr Salmond also said he would make a complaint to Police Scotland about the alleged leak of the original harassment claims against him to the Daily Record newspaper. “I have every confidence that Police Scotland will pursue that matter with rigour,” he said.

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