Ex-ambassador sentenced to jail over blog relating to Alex Salmond sex crime trial

Craig Murray threatened to reveal identity of former Scottish leader’s accusers

Former ambassador Craig Murray was convicted of contempt of court over a blog post about the trial of Scottish leader Alex Salmond. Getty
Former ambassador Craig Murray was convicted of contempt of court over a blog post about the trial of Scottish leader Alex Salmond. Getty

A former British diplomat was sentenced to eight months in prison for jeopardising the anonymity of women who accused Scotland’s former First Minister Alex Salmond of sex crimes.

Craig Murray, 62, the colourful former ambassador to Uzbekistan, was convicted of contempt of court over a blog in which he threatened to reveal the identities of four of the accusers.

Mr Salmond went on trial last year accused of sexually assaulting 10 women, all of whom were granted anonymity. The former leader of the Scottish National Party was cleared of all charges.

Murray, who like Mr Salmond is a supporter of independence for Scotland, wrote about the case in his blog in March 2020 after watching the trial in Edinburgh for two days.

A judge said Murray relished the prospect of the women being identified and left his blog online despite warnings of the dangers it posed. Leeona Dorrian told him that his actions led to a real risk that women would not come forward to report alleged crimes.

"The actions strike at the heart of the fair administration of justice,” she said.

Murray, who was convicted in a virtual hearing, was told to hand himself in to serve his sentence but was given three weeks to appeal. He was ordered to hand in his passport.

After the verdict, Murray complained he was not able to travel to Spain to give evidence in a case related to the alleged surveillance of Julian Assange during his seven years in the Ecuador embassy in London.

Murray’s role as ambassador in Tashkent came to an acrimonious end in 2004 when he was dismissed after highlighting human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, a prominent ally of the US in counterterrorism.

He accused Tashkent of passing bogus security information to the West obtained through torture and criticised Britain for accepting such material.

Murray claims he was targeted by a smear campaign alleging heavy drinking and sexual misconduct after his marriage broke down. He later married an Uzbek woman and they had a son earlier this year.

Updated: May 11, 2021 06:30 PM

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