Craig Murray Sentenced to 8 Months in Prison
August 2, 2021 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Craig Murray, historian, journalist, whistleblower and former diplomat, has begun an 8 Month Prison sentence over his reporting of the former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond’s Trial in 2020. Craig is the first person in the world to be jailed for supposed “jigsaw identification” of witnesses. Craig has previously reported on the Assange extradition hearing, the Israeli Elbit weapons factories in the UK and the Philip Cross Affair at Wikipedia.
posted by Lanark (24 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Huh. There appears to be no mention of hiring an uninterested third party to identify the witnesses based on the coverage. Seems like that would have cleared up a lot as far as guilt is concerned.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:44 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]

It's neat how literally everyone quoted in support of him is a man. They either can't find a single woman who supports him, or they don't think that women's opinions matter when they're about reporting that endangers female victims in high-profile sexual harassment cases.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:01 AM on August 2 [28 favorites]

Having read Murder in Samarkand, it's easy to believe that there are people high up in the UK government that don't like Craig Murray.

I'm not sure he's exactly a likable guy in general, but he's definitely shed light on things that make thé government look bad.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:16 AM on August 2 [4 favorites]

From what I have read about the Alex Salmond case, everyone involved comes out of it looking bad, the SNP, the prosecution, the defence, the justice system, the press, everyone.
posted by Lanark at 10:20 AM on August 2 [6 favorites]

I was impressed with Craig Murray when he initially became famous for whistleblowing about what he'd learned about UK activities during his diplomatic career. But since then he has declined into a notorious crank, famously denying that Russia could have had anything to do with the Skripal poisoning for example. It doesn't surprise me at all to hear that his thinking has led him to this deliberate breach of a court order when he thinks there's yet another UK state conspiracy at work.
posted by vincebowdren at 10:22 AM on August 2 [11 favorites]

Murray also "reported" that the DNC email leak was from a DNC insider and not a Russian hack and said he'd been in contact with the real leaker.

Nothing ever came of that.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:35 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]

In finding Murray guilty of so-called “jigsaw identification”, Lady Dorrian did not make a distinction between what Murray wrote about the Salmond case and what approved, corporate journalists wrote.

That is for good reason. Two surveys have shown that most of those following the Salmond trial who believe they identified one or more of his accusers did so from the coverage of the corporate media, especially the BBC. Murray’s writings appear to have had very little impact on the identification of any of the accusers. Among named individual journalists, Dani Garavelli, who wrote about the trial for Scotland on Sunday and the London Review of Books, was cited 15 times more often by respondents than Murray as helping them to identify Salmond’s accusers.
posted by Cezar Golescu at 10:43 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]

I think this is the phenomenon where people who are willing to break local norms in pursuit of justice are sometimes just attracted to breaking norms, or become so.

Regardless of the legal issues, identifying anonymous witnesses in a sexual assault trial is pretty scummy behaviour which rebounds on many unrelated innocent people.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 11:04 AM on August 2 [11 favorites]

identifying anonymous witnesses

I have read through the 16, now deleted, pages from Craig's blog and I can't find anything which would identify them, the references are all to "woman A" or "woman H" etc exactly the same as all the mainstream media reporting. So it seems the only reason Craig is in jail is that he doesn't work for Rupert Murdoch (or that he made too many enemies in high places).
posted by Lanark at 11:16 AM on August 2 [8 favorites]

The full official sentencing statement.

"A further factor of relevance is that some members of the public posted responses to the respondent indicating that they felt able to identify individual complainers from his posts, but it appears that he took no action in response to these."

I haven't gone through the blog posts in an effort to identify anyone, so I don't know how fair those comments are. There are mentions of newspapers and other press, as well as comparable cases.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:24 PM on August 2

The March 2021 judgment is here (PDF) and discussion of Murray's submissions begins at p. 65. The view of the Court was that Murray's intent was made clear by exhortations that, e.g., his readers “read this article very, very carefully indeed. Between the lines.” He apparently thought it important that the complainants' identity be made out, and if he failed – which was not the view of the Court – that would not change what he was trying to do, which is allow the identification of complainants in a sexual abuse trial, against a court order.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:59 PM on August 2 [8 favorites]

Murray broke the law. It's as simple as that. He chose to do in pursuit of his own agenda.

The flurry of men (and as with Assange, it always seems to be men) who rush to defend him have no answer to that so instead we get vague nods at some shadowy and purposeless conspiracy which we would immediately dismiss if it came from the QANON camp.
posted by fallingbadgers at 1:08 PM on August 2 [11 favorites]

According to the court judgement, Murray hoped the witnesses would be identified, and 'encoded' his reports of the trial in a way that blatantly invited his readers to put the pieces together. That is, he deliberately dropped hints, and drew attention to the fact that he was doing so:
He had formed the personal view that these identities were something which “there is the strongest possible public interest in knowing”.

He used certain strategies seeking to avoid being in contempt, the main one of which was “to leave information that people would not understand the ramifications of but would after the trial or once further evidence emerged”.

In a tweet drawing attention to this article (19 January 2020) he implored his followers “to read this article very, very carefully indeed. Between the lines.”

A comment was made by him in the 12 March article is to similar effect: “I am dependent on you reading this whole article with intelligence, and thinking “I wonder why he just told me that bit?””
He also included some pretty obvious clues, e.g. specifying the job that one of the witnesses had held, and the date when she held it. If this was a jigsaw, it was a childishly simple one (the judge compares it in her judgement to a 12-piece puzzle of Peppa Pig).
posted by verstegan at 1:09 PM on August 2 [23 favorites]

With the dates in that court judgement, I was able to dig out cached copies. Seeing them in context I can see why he was in contempt but also why he felt the need to publish the details. I don't think his intention was to "out" the witnesses individually, but to make other pertinent connections which I'm not going to repeat here.
The point is in writing what he did, he did effectively "out" them, so I think the court made the right decision.
posted by Lanark at 2:13 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]

Murray sought to identify women victims of sexual assault. He did so deliberately because he decided his friend was innocent before he’d heard a word of evidence. He did so because of a very specific theory of power and history he holds.

In 2011 he wrote: “The DSK case and the Assange case have brought to the fore the true ugliness of sex negative feminism and man hatred, and the extent to which they made inroads into our culture and society just as insidious as the right-wing propaganda of the Murdochs. They have also shown how those right wing forces can so easily hijack stupid blinkered man haters to the right-wing agenda.”

‘DSK’ is Dominique Strauss-Kahn a French economist, politician, and former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who was accused of the sexual assault and attempted rape of 32-year-old Nafissatou Diallo, a housekeeper at the Sofitel New York Hotel in the Manhattan.

If you're defending this vile apologist for rape culture, you're an apologist for rape culture yourself.
posted by Flitcraft at 5:29 PM on August 2 [16 favorites]

Mod note: One deleted. Cezar Golescu, you have made very clear over dozens of threads on metafilter over several years that you think sexual assault allegations by women against men are basically always without merit and get in the way of important work by men. It's gross, it's misogynist, and the whole site is aware of your views at this point. If you can participate without repeatedly retraumatizing members of the site who are victims of rape and sexual assault by dismissing and diminishing women's voices, that would be great. If you can't, you need to find another community, because you are repeatedly hurting many members of this community through your behavior, and it can't continue.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:15 PM on August 2 [23 favorites]

He's no better than the odious Yaxley-Lennon
posted by scruss at 6:47 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Upon review of prior behavior with the mod team, Cezar Golescu is banned.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:20 PM on August 2 [34 favorites]

Time to go Darmok on this with a Simpsons quote:

"A certain agitator; for privacy's sake, let's call her Lisa S. - no, that's too obvious - let's say, L. Simpson - has raised questions about certain school policies."
posted by BiggerJ at 7:59 PM on August 2 [9 favorites]

The Grayzone has quite a good article on Murray's imprisonment and its implications. Craig Murray has been an articulate teller of truths as well as somebody with many repellent traits, unsubstantiated beliefs and long-term grudges. Within Scotland, where he has been one of the bloggers supporting independence, he has made enemies in that camp - as well as with unionists, with various journalists and no doubt within Westminster and Hollyrood governments. He is, for me, a very difficult person to defend because of all he has said and done in the past - and in particular because of his cavalier, unrepentant approach to witness identity in the Salmond case.

At the same time, I think the issues shows how vulnerable bloggers can be. They have no editors or legal or colleagues to tell them what to do or say - so they can go off on whatever track they choose - and this is often which makes the best ones so readable. But they also have none of these voices to caution them or defend them.
posted by rongorongo at 11:17 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]

rongorongo, thats the same article which Cezar Golescu posted above.

The arguments about who provided which piece of the jigsaw are splitting hairs. Craig made a choice that scoring some political points was more important than respecting the privacy of the witnesses. He is finding out the hard way, that that's not a choice he can force on them.
posted by Lanark at 12:28 PM on August 3

There are Scottish bloggers like James Doleman who cover sensitive court cases all the time and they don't commit contempt by trying to out sexual assault survivors because they're not rancid misogynists. This isn't a freedom of speech against the state issue, it's a freedom to keep women subjected to and in fear of sexual assault issue and it's time men (and social conservatives of all genders) understood that Murray's misogyny and rape apologia is not negotiable. Please stop posting links which try to turn him into some kind of hero for his appalling behaviour.
posted by Flitcraft at 1:31 PM on August 3 [9 favorites]

The Grayzone

(an outlet that is probably best known for denying the extent of China's genocidal actions against the Uighurs)
posted by BungaDunga at 2:45 PM on August 3 [8 favorites]

Honestly, if this asshole is our best hope for hearing the truth, maybe we fucking shouldn't.
posted by Dysk at 12:51 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]

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