A rebel Scottish blogger could be committed to jail by the middle of next week. Leave to appeal against the eight month sentence served on him in the High Court is expected by his legal team to be refused on Monday, according to the latest post on his own blog. If so, Craig Murray could well be a prisoner by Wednesday – a “political prisoner” by his own categorisation.
Mocking this maverick former British ambassador and savouring his plight has become a nasty habit among some callous, arrogant hacks in the legacy media, but they should be careful what they wish for. The crime for which Mr Murray is awaiting punishment – “jigsaw identification” (of Alex Salmond’s female accusers) – is one that, by its very nature, could not have been committed by just one journalist. Consequently, there could be further prosecutions. Otherwise, the dark suspicion will continue to grow – both in Scotland and elsewhere in the world – that Craig Murray was singled out for selective prosecution by the Crown. Not many people who value rule of law and liberty are partial to partial justice.
The newspaper industry’s self-regulator IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation) has issued very clear guidance on reporting of sexual offences:
Jigsaw identification occurs when different pieces of information appear in different publications, which allows readers who have seen the reports to work out who the victim is.Emphasis added
In fact, you don’t need to turn for guidance on this matter to the biggest written content regulator in the UK. Even children logging onto the BBC Newsround website can easily discover what jigsaw identification is. Its page on media and law states, clearly and correctly:
Sometimes the media are told not to identify a person. That’s when you have to watch out for jigsaw identification…Journalists and editors are unlikely to print someone’s name, but they have to be careful about what they do say. They might give out little bits of information which when pieced together allow someone to be identified. It’s like putting together a jigsaw.
So let’s make a little jigsaw, boys and girls. What were the different publications that supplied pieces of information that might help to identify Mr Salmond’s accusers? Remember there can’t be just one outlet or we won’t be able to complete the jigsaw, will we?
In characteristic fashion, Craig Murray has given us more than a few clues about who else did what he was found guilty of doing. Another much followed Scottish blogger went further by naming and shaming no fewer than eight experienced and distinguished Scottish newspaper journalists for this alleged offence. The publisher of that site (now believed to be stalking squirrels in Somerset) even claimed to have passed on evidence of this to the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service and to Police Scotland. No doubt that sprinkled a little nervousness around some Scottish newsrooms, although none of those named and shamed have responded in any way to my knowledge. I’d have been phoning a libel lawyer if my name had been on that list and I knew I was innocent. Why didn’t any of them?
I am not going to engage in similar finger pointing, or even provide a link to any of the said offending articles. Unlike a lot of ex-colleagues in the legacy media, I believe in presumption of innocence and letting the wheels of justice turn, however slowly they might do so. All I will say is this: the following Scottish newspaper groups have all signed up to IPSO: The Scotsman Publications, Herald and Glasgow Times, Daily Record and Sunday Mail, Press & Journal plus the tartanised editions of The Times and Sunday Times. So, if any of their journalists was guilty of jigsaw identification, they cannot say they did not get clear guidance on how to avoid doing so from their own chosen regulator. They should always abide by that or face the consequences.
Fiat justitia, ruat caelum! Let justice be done though the heavens fall! Anyone who put information into the public domain that in any way could aid the identification of anyone legally entitled to complete anonymity deserves to go to jail, for the issues at stake here could not be more serious: if three High Court judges decide that the offence committed by Mr Murray is so serious that a 62-year-old father of two young boys needs to be flung in a prison cell without any further delay, Scotland’s criminal justice system will fall under an even harsher global spotlight.
The Crown Office has already had to admit in an open court that it engaged in malicious prosecutions and now stands accused in the international court of public opinion of engaging in selective prosecutions. Not surprisingly, the man in charge of our state prosecutors, the Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC – appointed by Nicola Sturgeon not only to head up the Crown Office but to sit in her Cabinet – is stepping down. As he prepares to depart from his obviously conflicting roles, he might yet retrieve some of his lost public standing by being seen to live up fully to the rightful mission he outlined for himself and his colleagues on 5 September 2017:
Like judges, prosecutors must decide without fear or favour, affection or ill will, objectively and professionally, on the basis of an assessment of the available evidence; and it is one of my constitutional responsibilities to promote the integrity and independence of prosecutorial decision making.
If he really meant all those noble sounding words, Scotland’s top law officer now has a glorious opportunity to prove it – by prosecuting not only Craig Murray and Craig Murray alone for a crime no one person or publication could possibly have committed in complete isolation. It’s time to complete the jigsaw. The world is watching, Mr Wolffe.
Comments on this article are welcomed but will be actively moderated. Please remember you are personally, legally responsible for anything you post. Be careful not to name, defame or identify anyone whose anonymity should be protected. It will be hastily deleted and you may be blocked from commenting on anything again here. Authorised comments appear below the link to a previous piece about Craig Murray.