A former UK ambassador, Craig Murray, has been jailed for eight months over blogs he wrote about the trial of Alex Salmond, a former first minister in the UK.
He was jailed for breaching a court order protecting the identities of women who accused Mr Salmond of sexual assault.
Mr Murray wrote a series of blog posts after attending two days of the former first minister’s High Court trial last March over sexual assault allegations.
The judge had made an order during the trial to protect the identity of the women involved – or any information which could lead to them being identified – from being disclosed, the UK guardian reported
But, Mr Murray, who knew there were court orders giving the women anonymity deliberately risked jigsaw identification.
On Tuesday, the judge, Lady Dorrian, said his actions were so grave that it could only be dealt with by a prison sentence.
“His actions had struck at the heart of the fair administration of justice” and created a real risk that complainers would be reluctant to come forward in future cases, particularly high-profile ones, the judge ruled.
She said his repeated breaches, which included refusing to take down the blog posts despite legal warnings from the Crown Office, were a “contempt of considerable gravity.”
His actions “strike at the heart of the fair administration of justice,” she added
“It appears from the posts and articles that he was in fact relishing the task he set himself, which was essentially to allow the identities of complainers to be discerned – which he thought was in the public interest – in a way which did not attract sanction.
“These actions create a real risk that complainers may be reluctant to come forward in future cases, particularly where the case may be high profile or likely to attract significant publicity.
“The actions strike at the heart of the fair administration of justice.
“Notwithstanding the previous character of the respondent and his health issues, we do not think we can dispose of this case other than by way of a sentence of imprisonment.”
The former diplomat will, however, not go to prison immediately as the court has given his lawyers a period of three weeks to submit an appeal.
“The order has been suspended until later this month so that his lawyers can prepare an application to the High Court to grant them permission to appeal their decision to the UK Supreme Court.”
His lawyers are also set to argue that their client should receive bail if the case is given the go ahead to proceed to the UK Supreme Court.
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