Through a solicitor I have now obtained copies of, or at least the text of, the court orders banning me from the Alex Salmond trial. These court orders are simply an extract of the minutes of the court rather than separate documents.
The Advocate depute submitted to the court that this case has received considerable publicity, with one member of the public, namely Craig Murray has been running a continuous blog. This individual has previously received a written warning from the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service with regards to the Contempt of Court Act 1981, he subsequently posted a copy of that letter. The individual applied to the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service for access to the media gallery which was refused. He has attended within the Public Gallery when the court has been opened. It has come to the attention of the crown that this individual’s blog has divulged information which would identify one of the complainers in this case. He invited the court to exclude Mr Murray from the court for the remainder of these proceedings as his continued presence would not be in the interest of justice. Further he submitted that the possible breach of the Contempt of Court Order was currently being considered by the Crown.
The Dean of Faculty advised the court that he has no objection to the motion to exclude the individual from the court.
The Court being satisfied that the advocate depute has set out a prima facia case that Craig Murray may have breached the Order made, in these proceedings, by this court on 10 March 2020 in terms of section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, excluded the said Craig Murray from attending in the public gallery for the remainder of these proceedings, said exclusion being made at common law.
Depute Clerk of Justiciary
The Court on the motion of the advocate depute directed that the close be closed to the public and members of the media. Further the court, on the motion of the advocate depute, there being no objection, made an order in terms of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, section 4(2) preventing the publication of the details of the issues raised in the legal submissions that took place, within a closed court between 10:45 hours and 10:49hours on 19 March 2020. Said order to be in place pending the resolution of trial proceedings against the accused Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond.
Depute Clerk of Justiciary
This confirms some important facts. It was the prosecutor, not the judge, who had initiated my banning. Further, the prosecution had at the very least been following, and it is not a large stretch to assume been instrumental in, the refusal to accredit me as media and allow me to be present and report during the prosecution case. The reasons given for refusing my accreditation were a series of evident falsehoods and excuses.
The prosecution then brought a further motive to ban publication of the fact that I had been barred from the public gallery. That is a kind of super-injunction, and particularly sinister.
I also strongly object to the fact that the above court discussion of me was held in secret, without my being informed let alone present, and that I was given no opportunity to refute the points made against me. I was in fact in the queue outside the court while they were discussing me inside. As this was a legal proceeding and ruling by a judge, that is entirely contrary to natural justice.
The most important fact here is that it is all threat and bluster. I have not been found guilty of contempt of court. I have not even been charged with contempt of court. I was in fact very careful throughout to stay clear of contempt, more so than the mainstream media, as documented in detail by Wings Over Scotland. Remember that Contempt of Court carries up to two years in prison – and is decided by the judge without a jury, on a summary hearing.
As detailed in that Wings article, unlike the Guardian and the Times, for example, I omitted in my reporting the fact that one of the accusers had been present at a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon and Geoff Aberdein on 29 March 2018, precisely because to include it could have lead to her easy identification. I was much more careful than the mainstream media – but they were not threatened with contempt of court or banned from covering the trial.
The truth is that the prosecution were insistent I should be banned because of another, indisputable fact. Nobody else but I produced the in depth detail of the defence case that refuted the prosecution allegations, using eye witness testimony that in many cases proved the accusers were actively lying. The mainstream media gave detail of prosecution evidence and copied out the most sensational phrases of allegation to make lurid headlines; they gave virtually no detail of the defence witnesses or what they said on oath.
You can test this. Read my detailed account of the defence on the two days I was actually permitted in the court. Try doing a Google news search of the major defence witnesses who gave key evidence. What do you get? Virtually nothing.
I can and do make the claim that were it not for my reporting, the verdict would have seemed utterly perverse to the people of Scotland. Fortunately this blog has a large enough reach, sufficiently amplified by many thousands of other social media users, that I was able to get the truth out far enough to people, particularly within the Independence movement, to make a very real difference.
Despite the concerted attempts of the Crown to prevent me.
The Crown had already attempted to terrify me into silence with its earlier threat of prosecution. This had failed, and as I expected the Crown had not been able to follow through on its threats of prosecution for contempt. That the Crown was able to stop my attendance at the trial based on further obscure allegations of contempt – again not followed through – is illegitimate state censorship.
The judge was very wrong to ban me from the court not based on anything in contempt I had written, but on the notion that I might in future write something in contempt of court. This is plainly a violation of my human right to free speech under the European Convention. I am taking legal advice on action. You cannot ban someone from court on the basis they might say something wrong in future, when they have never been convicted of, or even charged with, contempt.
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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