14:49 GMT16 April 2021
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    Craig Murray, through the use of an ill-defined process called "jigsaw identification", was accused of breaking a court order against naming his accusers in a sexual misconduct and rape trial against former Scottish National party leader Alex Salmond.

    The former UK diplomat and journalist, Craig Murray, faces jail after being convicted of contempt of court over his reports on the rape trial of former first minister Alex Salmond. 

    Murray, who became a father for the fourth time at the age of 62 last month with the birth of a son, wrote in his blog on Monday that he "May have to spend some time as a political prisoner" following the verdict two months after his virtual online court hearing.

    Murray was accused of using "jigsaw identification" to out Salmond's accusers in his blogged reports from the public gallery at the former Scottish national Party (SNP) leader's 2019-20 trial on fourteen charges, including sexual assault and rape. Prosecutors claimed that while he did not directly name any of the witnesses against Salmond, he published details about their working relationships to the former first minister that would allow others to identify them.

    Murray "was aware of the names of the complainers, even when there was no court order regarding them. But he said it would not be responsible journalism to have named them,” his barristers pointed out. “The fact alone is that he knew about the names and if he wanted to name them, he could have done so.”

    Salmond's successor in both the SNP and the Scottish government, Nicola Sturgeon, faced calls to quit — and a no-confidence vote in the Holyrood parliament set for Tuesday — over her handling of the affair, including allegations that her government withheld evidence from an inquiry set to report this week.

    Murray tweeted that the social media reaction of Sturgeon's "cult" followers was an indictment of her leadership.

    ​A member of Murray's family told the pro-SNP daily The National: “Objective evidence shows that mainstream media published far more jigsaw identification pieces than Craig and were not prosecuted.”

    They said the former British ambassador to Uzebkistan and his Uzbek wife, Nadira, “have a one-month-old son and he’s [Murray] not in good health nor getting any younger. But never underestimate his commitment and principle – he is a lot tougher than he looks.”

    Twitter users condemned the verdict as a "dark" and "frightening" portent of Scotland's future.

    Related:

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    Alex Salmond Tells Scottish Parliament Nicola Sturgeon's Government Was 'Tainted by Bias'
    Scottish Government Pressed Salmond Aide to Change Testimony to Sturgeon Conduct Probe
    Leaked Texts Read in Parliament Expose SNP 'Fishing' For Salmond Allegations
    Tags:
    Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond, contempt of court, Scotland, Craig Murray
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