Former diplomat and blogger Craig Murray has said he will “go to jail with a clean conscience” ahead of his eight-month jail term for contempt of court.
The former ambassador to Uzbekistan is due to start prison time imminently after judges ruled his blog coverage of former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond’s trial could identify four complainers.
Protesters will gather outside St Leonard’s Police Station in Edinburgh on Friday afternoon, with the Craig Murray Justice campaign group saying his conviction “sets a dangerous legal precedent for freedom of speech and equality before the law”.
The 62-year-old’s offending blog posts contained details which, if pieced together, could lead readers to identify women who made allegations against Salmond, who was acquitted of all 13 charges including sexual assault and attempted rape in May last year.
At a virtual sentencing in May, Lady Dorrian said Murray knew there were court orders giving the women anonymity and he was “relishing” the potential disclosure of their identities.
Lady Dorrian said that Murray deliberately risked what is known as “jigsaw identification”, saying: “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.”
On Friday, Murray tweeted that “in my absence the Craig Murray Justice Campaign will be continuing the fight”, linking to a statement which suggested he would start his jail term “with a clean conscience” on Friday.
Neale Hanvey, the Alba MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said on Twitter he was “devastated and sickened by this development”, adding: “Scotland is no longer a safe, tolerant or free country.
“The vindictiveness of those who wield power is on naked display.”
Last month, Murray was refused in his bid to appeal the contempt finding against him at the UK Supreme Court, in a decision made by the High Court in Edinburgh
In February, Clive Thomson, who tweeted the names of women who gave evidence against Salmond at his trial, was jailed for six months.
The 52-year-old carried out a “blatant and deliberate” breach of a contempt of court order banning the identification of the complainers by naming five of them on social media, said Lady Dorrian at the High Court in Edinburgh.