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30 Jul 21 07:56
Date Joined: 20 Mar 18
| Topic/replies: 31,673 | Blogger: politicspunter's blog

A former diplomat is to be jailed after Supreme Court judges refused him permission to appeal his conviction for breaching a court order.

Craig Murray was jailed for eight months over blog posts he wrote about the trial of Alex Salmond.

The 62-year-old made use of a mechanism allowing him to appeal directly to the UK Supreme Court.

However, the court has now confirmed they will not hear submissions from Murray's lawyers.

His supporters said the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan would "surrender himself to police shortly".

Murray was given the eight-month sentence for breaching a strict court order which had been passed during the former first minister's trial on sexual assault charges in March 2020.

Judge Lady Dorrian passed the order to protect the identities of the women who claimed to have been abused by the ex-SNP leader, who was acquitted of all 13 sexual assault charges.

However, the retired diplomat breached the order and published pieces of information on his blog which, if pieced together like a jigsaw, could lead readers to establish the identities of the women.

Lady Dorrian told Murray that his actions "struck at the heart of justice".

The judge - who sat alongside Lord Menzies and Lord Turnbull - also refused permission to allow the case to go to the UK Supreme Court.

Murray then made use of a mechanism which allows potential appellants to appeal directly to the UK Supreme Court.

However, a spokeswoman for the court has confirmed that justices will not hear any submissions from Murray's lawyers.

The spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that the application has been refused."

Many media organisations in the UK such as the Independent Press Standards Organisation have rules that forbid publication of material that could identify an alleged victim of sexual assault, regardless of whether the complaint leads to a conviction.

However, The Craig Murray Justice group said Murray's imprisonment would set a "dangerous precedent".

Spokeswoman Ellen Joelle Dalzell added: "The sentence handed to Craig Murray not only sets legal precedent in terms of a custodial sentence for the charge of jigsaw identification, it represents an attack on free speech in general, and a tangible threat to the free reporting of legal trials in particular.

"The judgement is excessively punitive, is likely to have severe implications for Murray's poor health and represents a dangerous precedent for journalists and other writers who seek to fairly report or comment on matters of public law."
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