THEY CAME FOR MARK HIRST

On 7 January 2021 my friend Mark Hirst was acquitted of the charge brought against him by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). His alleged crime had been the practice of journalism.

The court made clear in upholding the defence submission of no case to answer that comments Mark had made on a video blog about the Salmond case were political speech protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, that they represented the free expression of opinion, and that as a matter of objective fact a reasonable person would not be threatened or alarmed by them.

This raises obvious questions about why Mark was prosecuted.

Are there no reasonable persons at COPFS who can properly assess objective facts?

Has no-one there read Article 10?

Or, like Humza Yousaf, are they just at war with freedom of expression?

Let me do what I can to answer those questions.

No case to answer

In an open letter to the Lord Advocate of 31 May 2020, distinguished signatories such as Noam Chomsky, Yanis Varoufakis, Professor Robert Black QC and – ahem – myself wrote of our “growing concern over the actions of both the Crown Office and Police Scotland”.

We continued:

“In recent weeks vocal independence supporters and backers of the former First Minister Alex Salmond, specifically the former UK diplomat, human rights campaigner and journalist Craig Murray along with fellow journalist Mark Hirst, have been arrested and charged in relation to comments they made publicly during and following the trial of Mr Salmond.

“We are particularly concerned to note that the investigating police officers are the same detectives who led the investigation against Mr Salmond over a period of two years and at considerable cost to the public purse.”

This, we pointed out, “leaves the distinct impression that Police Scotland, at the direction of the Crown Office, is acting in a manner that is both biased and disproportionate”.

Accordingly, we wrote:

“The actions taken so far risk establishing a public perception that both Police Scotland and the Crown Office are conducting themselves in a manner which is biased and is indeed political in nature.

“Such perceptions risk seriously damaging confidence in the Scottish legal system.”

We concluded by asking the Lord Advocate for “any meaningful public assurances you can offer that both Police Scotland and the Crown Office are complying with their obligations to act with complete impartiality and to apply the law fairly”.

In his response, published in the Sunday National on 7 June 2020, the Lord Advocate chose to focus on the trial of Alex Salmond, on which he commented as follows:

“Following a trial, Alex Salmond was acquitted by the jury and he stands innocent of the charges brought against him. That does not mean that it was inappropriate to investigate the allegations, or that the prosecution was not properly brought.

“Mr Salmond’s counsel did not argue, nor did the court hold, that there was no case to answer.”

It’s very important to note that, in defending the actions of Police Scotland and Crown Office in the Salmond case, the Lord Advocate laid great stress on the fact that a submission of no case to answer was not made by Salmond’s defence, and that the case went straight to the jury for them to assess the credibility of the complainers.

The clear implication of these comments is that a successful submission of no case to answer in that case would have suggested something inappropriate in the proceedings and would have caused him concern that the prosecution was not properly brought.

Well, as we know, in Mark’s case exactly such a submission was made, and was duly upheld by the court.

Further, unlike in the case of Alex Salmond, where much of the evidence of Crown witnesses was disputed, the facts in Mark’s case were never in dispute.

Indeed, the Crown evidence consisted entirely of the video in which Mark made his political comments, the contents of which were agreed by joint minute between prosecution and defence, and whose provenance had never for a moment been disputed by Mark.

The submission of no case to answer was therefore upheld on the basis of exactly the evidence which had been available to Police Scotland and Crown Office from the outset, and on which COPFS authorised and defended the decision to prosecute Mark.

So this was not a case where a submission of no case to answer succeeded because witnesses failed to speak up or because there were difficult questions of admissibility of evidence which were ultimately resolved in favour of the defence and where the Crown could therefore say that the issues needed to be tested in court before it could become evident that their case had failed.

No, this was a case where COPFS brought a prosecution which was quite obviously doomed to fail the moment it came to be assessed by a competent judge. Indeed, it’s hardly even a boast of my legal prowess to tell you that I was just one of many experienced lawyers, including Mark’s own legal team, who told him from the very outset that this is what was bound to happen.

So why was it allowed to happen?

The bias of COPFS

The two complainers against Mark were also two of the complainers against Alex Salmond, whose accusations against Salmond were dismissed by a jury but who, for good reasons of public policy, still enjoy the anonymity granted by the court in those proceedings.

Through their unofficial spokesperson, Sandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland, and taking advantage of that anonymity – an anonymity which was surely never designed for such a purpose – they told the Daily Record that Mark’s comments were “sinister” and “threatening” towards them.

Then they reported him to the police.

Anyone who has ever reported an actual crime to the police will know how slowly the wheels of justice then tend to grind.

Not so for this utterly fictional crime.

Mark was arrested immediately and his eight month ordeal at the hands of Police Scotland and COPFS began. He doesn’t know who his accusers were and, precisely because their allegations were not allegations that a reasonable person would make, their presence in the proceedings was never required in order for the sheriff to throw out their whole fictional complaint.

Any reader of this blog who thinks that’s a fair and proper use of the anonymity granted to these two complainers should apply forthwith to COPFS for employment. They can use someone like you, believe me.

The obvious answer to the obvious questions

Here then is my answer to the obvious questions about why Mark’s prosecution, based on allegations by two anonymous, unreasonable complainers, was authorised and vigorously pursued by equally unreasonable persons in the employment of COPFS.

It’s the answer that the Lord Advocate would have given to our open letter of 31 May 2020 if there was even an ounce of honesty left at COPFS.

Police Scotland and COPFS have indeed acted in a manner that is both biased and disproportionate.

What is more, there is every indication that they will continue so to act whenever anyone under the protection of the Scottish Government, of which the Lord Advocate is a key member, makes accusations against anyone perceived to be an ally of Alex Salmond.

In so acting, both Police Scotland and COPFS are conducting themselves in a manner which is patently biased and political in nature.

All that any reasonable person has to do to reach that obvious conclusion is look at what happened to Mark Hirst.

POSTSCRIPT:

If you haven’t already seen it, check out also this excellent interview with Mark by Stuart Campbell on the Wings Over Scotland blog today.

122 thoughts on “THEY CAME FOR MARK HIRST

  1. It seems to me that if you say or are deemed to have said anything that the SG don’t want to hear then the attack dogs are sent. I don’t know the in’s and outs of the law but was brought up to believe that the truth will win. It seems that on that road you are trashed and then the old-there’s no smoke without fire, from the curtain twitchers. If on line at the moment you ask / or state something that the mob don’t want to hear you are labelled a ‘Yoon” and cancelled. It is worrisome
    . Thank you for you legal breakdowns as it makes getting to the end of this enquiry in these times bearable.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, George, I’m very gratified to hear that. It’s surely only a matter of time before someone claims your namesake was “transgender” — as opposed to being a brave and immensely talented woman who defied the sex stereotypes and petty morals of her day to live a full and rewarding life in the face of formidable odds.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Great to see you back Mr D. Was getting concerned by your absence to the point that I was almost ready to get off my arse and email you.

    Good to see that Mark is getting exposure here and on WoS. Not too sure what to say about the case, other than that it fills me with despair that the authorities can now engage in these shameless levels of corruption and then simply brazen it out, confident in the knowledge that they themselves are utterly immune to whirlwinds.

    Meanwhile, a committee of enquiry is under way. There have been a lot of developments since you last posted. There is considerable need for an article or two from you to summarise events. Sakes man – you don’t want Wee Ginger Dug to be stealing all your readers…

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Lord Woolf must resign. And Humza useless the lack of justice secretary. And the first minister. This fiasco is of your making.

    Thank God the government hasn’t yet passed the stasi thought crime bill. This bill should be very loudly dropped and its supporters seriously questioned about their fascism.

    Anonymity must be removed for the accusers in the Salmond case or they will continue their vendetta, destroying lives and costing the public purse tens of millions, AT NO COST TO THE BELLIGERENT ACCUSERS. I have no idea if this is possible but it should be done.

    And SNP MSPs you better start speaking up for Scotland against these liars – or come May you’re toast. I think I will deliberately target the fence-sitters for their cowardice. One side is telling the truth – support them – loudly.

    P.S. Great Post

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Astonished. The only way the court’s order of anonymity could be reconsidered is by the court itself and meantime it is important, I think, to remember that these orders are granted for very good reasons and should absolutely be complied with.

      Personally, I’d like to see anonymity for the accused also in such cases until such time as there is a conviction and the presumption of innocence ceases to apply. I honestly don’t understand what the argument against that is.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Agreed Gordon, if one side needs protected by anonymity, then then other side does as well.

        The ‘reason’ that’s given for not having the accused remain anonymous is in the very specific case of multiple offenders – the publicity is meant to encourage others to come forward. In Alex Salmond’s case, since they happily published his name and we’ve had blaring headlines for years making up any kind of sordid innuendo they could get away with, you’d have thought the police would have realised after a year of scouring the country – not 4 years – that they really had nothing. What was it – 22 police officers interviewing about 400 people? It should have never gone to court, as any reasonable observer that knew the facts should have realised.

        Then we get nasty vile cases like Savile who was allowed to carry on ruining lives because he was protected, by the establishment, by the State, they waited until he died before prosecution – obviously because he knew too many names – and everyone cried out ‘why did no one complain’ so the establishment says the accused needs to be made public. But, it turns out Savile *was* complained about, repeatedly, to multiple different authorities throughout the revolting little perv’s so-called career. It turns out he was fully protected by all those authorities that had a duty of care.

        To my mind the argument for publicity of the accused identity is wrong, the problem is with the authorities that are meant to have responsibility – a duty of care – for listening to complaints. There could be penalties for those that fail in their duty and effectively protect criminal behaviour. There are already laws for aiding and abetting aren’t there? But it might be too specific for people that do so by remaining silent or suppressing information.

        Given the risk of malicious accusations which can wreck people’s reputation & life, anonymity should be afforded to all parties until after the conclusion of the case.

        In Alex Salmond’s case, the accusations appear to have been malicious AND the authorities failed in their duty of care (and appear to be malicious themselves). The continued persecution of a single private citizen is disgusting and wholly unacceptable. Why on earth the Scottish justice system, and the government, want to wreck their reputations by pursuing this path I can’t fathom. Do they think people don’t notice?

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      2. Good points as always, Contrary, and my sincere thanks to you and others for all the comments and lively discussion which I’m sure has helped keep the blog interesting for the many readers who’ve kept tuning in during the last month when I’ve been AWOL — my grateful thanks to them too!

        I’m proud of the high standard of discussion below the line on this blog and you’re a very big part of that. I’ll try to do a better job of joining in from now on.

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      3. Thanks Gordon – and thank you for providing this platform for focusing on this subject – I’m sure it will all descend into a squabbling rabble soon enough! You always join in far more than other bloggers (the only other blogger that nearly always responds to my posts is Richard Murphy but his responses are usually ‘noted’ or ‘thanks’ 😀 – so your insights in response to comments really add to the discussion). We definitely get bored without your incisive articles to focus on, but I think it was best to rest and recharge ready for the next few months – I reckon it’s going to be difficult separating out the political manoeuvring from the legal / justice events from here on in – and the need to keep things moving at pace. There should some conclusions before the May election, but whether those are early enough or satisfactory or not,,,

        Anyway, there are so many aspects to this – the conspiracy does truly run deep, is the only conclusion I can draw from that – keeping focus on how to demonstrate in simple terms to others that that is the only conclusion they can draw ,,, ugh I was going to say that is my priority, but how on earth do you simplify any of it?! Sigh. Onwards and upwards!

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  4. As I understand it, and correct me if I’m wrong here, the anonymity of the accusers is protected, but only in this jurisdiction. I’ve been told who one of them is, but I don’t necessarily believe it. I want to hear it from multiple trusted sources.
    If they are only protected in this jurisdiction, can we not talk to friendly foreign media outlets and get them to do the job. It needs doing. We cannot allow the slurs to continue from behind a veil of secrecy.

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    1. I’d strongly advise against that, kilted. All that we can do within the court’s order is continue to expose the conspiracy against Alex Salmond, including the way in which the absolutely proper and necessary right to anonymity under the court’s order has been abused, and continues to be abused, by some of the complainers, and by one of them in particular.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. No worries Gordon. I wouldn’t know where to start even, if I had the means, so there’s no fears that it’ll be me tipping off friendly foreign media types.
        I agree with you that anonymity should be applied to the accused too, but the MeToo Movement regard it as a way of potentially finding more evidence if more people come forward when they hear about the case.
        To my mind, as soon as the case was lost, their anonymity should be null and void from that point. Surely at that point, their accusations have been decided upon by a jury and the only reason to then protect their identity is to stop the world knowing that they made false accusations. That seems absurd.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’m very pleased to hear that, kilted!

        You make an important point too about the dangers of collusion between “victims”, even if it comes about innocently, in MeToo type of cases.

        I’ll own up to a tendency to always see every case from the point of view of the accused but I still don’t understand why the evidence of collusion between the complainers in the Salmond trial was excluded as collateral by the judge, especially since the Crown were relying on Moorov for corroboration and any discussion between the complainers of similarities in their complaints could not fail to be relevant to their credibility in my view.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Well Alex got off on all the charges without the issue of collusion being part of the case. As we know it now, do we not have a right to question why it appears to be beyond Police Scotland to go and chap on some doors. Everyone in that Whatsapp group was engaged in collusion. If the police want to up their conviction rate, there would seem to be some people who’ve already hoisted their own petard. Just go and chap on their doors.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. RE Moorov and collusion – I’ve been thinking about that recently. Moorov could only work, or apply, if there has been no collusion – as soon as witnesses or accusers collude, even just swapping stories influences others’ memories (where it might be innocently done), the accusations cannot be taken separately, they are too entangled. In the case of sexual crimes where testimony is so important, anything affecting that testimony needs to be carefully controlled.

        Evidence of collusion should never have been excluded from the Alex Salmond case, it just needed to be explained to the jurors what the relevance was. But then, maybe the judge shouldn’t have allowed the case to go ahead at all, given the number of flaws in the prosecution case.

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      5. Contrary, I totally agree about Moorov, and it’s not clear to me either why we don’t have access to Lady Dorrian’s written ruling on this as would be the norm for such an important ruling in such a high profile case. I assume it has to do with jigsaw identification but it surely must be possible to publish the legal grounds of the ruling without including personal details of the witnesses involved. If that is beyond the ingenuity of the courts, then our system of justice really is in trouble.

        I’m pursuing this and will let readers know how I get on.

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      6. Gordon, my understanding was that the prosecution removed Moorov from their case and that is why the judge decided to remove the other evidence from the defence case. If Moorov was to be used the evidence would have been admissible and the prosecution decided on balance it was more favourable to their case to ditch Moorov and get rid of the other evidence.

        I may be totally wrong in all or some of the above – I add that qualification.

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      7. Cubby, whenever there is only one witness to speak to an alleged offence, as there was for most of the Salmond charges, the Crown is obliged to rely on the doctrine of mutual corroboration (Moorov). It’s not something the Crown can choose to use or ditch but rather something that does or doesn’t apply.

        If the judge decides that the doctrine does apply, the case goes to the jury. If the judge decides it doesn’t, all the charges with just one witness are thrown out for lack of corroboration.

        Salmond’s counsel didn’t make any submission of no case to answer on any of the charges at the close of the Crown case, so it must have been accepted on both sides that the doctrine applied.

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      8. Gordon. – ” by one of them in particular” I have a clear choice of two in my mind as to who you are referrring to and the two are probably the complainers in the Hirst complaints.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Oh that would be good Gordon, written reasoning is what judges do – so where is her reasoning for this. It would be really good if you can get a hold of it. And I agree – our justice system really is in dire straits if they can’t even get a clerk do a half hour check and re-write to make it suitable for public consumption!

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  5. Thank you for this forensic post.

    “The submission of no case to answer was therefore upheld on the basis of exactly the evidence which had been available to Police Scotland and Crown Office from the outset”

    After the collapse of the Rangers fraud case and the subsequent civil cases for damages, the Lord Advocate publicly acknowledged that the prosecution had been malicious, had no proper basis and never had objective probable cause.

    Is Mark’s experience another example of a case having no proper basis or objective probable cause?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Astonishment might have been in another time my reaction to the events played out in this quite clearly politically motivated attempt to silence and extinguish any opinion of events which met with the displeasure of anonymous complainers involved in the trial of Alex Salmond.

    On the basis of the facts as presented by yourself and indeed by Mark himself in his interview with Stuart Campbell it would appear that any commentary considered threatening by certain unnamed persons can lead without foundation to the violation of privacy to third parties by agents of the State. It cannot be overstated that to any private citizen this must bring cause for extreme alarm.

    The fact that the dogs were set on a former SNP staffer perhaps goes some way in explaining the direction of travel this current SNP led government is going in regard to freedom of speech and expression of opinion. Parallels can be drawn from the conduct expressed within the hierarchy dominating the SNP Party management structures.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. You’re right, Robert, we’re in a place now where we’d be surprised if these people DIDN’T behave this way. I really think they have no understanding of the most basic principles of free speech, principles that a child can understand, namely that it’s precisely speech that you HATE that has to be protected.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Compare and contrast.

    Mark Hirst puts up a short video on YouTube and gets raided by the police and his reputation attacked etc etc.

    The BBC broadcast on multiple occasions a programme made by Kirsty Wark carrying out a retrial of Salmond and providing a platform for the complainers to once again make their false accusations.

    What a disgusting corrupt country we live in.

    Our only hope for something better is an independent Scotland. But it won’t happen with the current SNP leadership who have shown themselves to be no better than the Britnats and are happy to work with them when it suits them.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. The good thing for Mark from a practical point of view, Cringe, was that the test under the particular provision used by COPFS is an objective one of whether a reasonable person would view the comments made as threatening and abusive.

      Accordingly, it was irrelevant as a matter of law that the complainers found them so, and they became irrelevant on that basis to the court proceedings.

      The sheriff then made the objective assessment required and threw out the charge.

      That’s from the practical point of view. From an ethical point of view, the conduct of the complainers and COPFS is, as you imply, disgraceful.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. They came for Mark Hirst – aye The Swinney Todd aka The Flying Squad.

    These police officers could have been spreading the coronavirus through Hirsts house.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Perhaps because I have no background in law, I don’t really understand why the anonymity granted to Alex Salmond’s accusers also applied in the Mark Hirst case. Does that mean Alex’s accusers are now free to accuse anyone who says something they don’t like without ever being identified as the accusers?

    Based on the evidence (or lack of it) presented in the two cases, it seems that any real chance of winning the case is not the basis on which the case is taken forward. It seems more likely that the objective is to trash the reputation and the finances of the accused. With a compliant media happy to try the case as often as they like during the months between the accusation being made public and any trial, the COPFS are in a no lose situation, with the possible exception of the amount of public money being squandered.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Totally agree with your second paragraph, Weegie.

      On the first, I agree that their continued anonymity has been abused by these complainers and unfortunately that abuse is likely to continue. The reasons for the continued anonymity are good ones though, and are not related to Mark’s case.

      If, say, a rape victim thinks there’s a chance that she will lose her anonymity if her attacker is acquitted at trial, she is much less likely to report the rape and, even if she does, will surely suffer a great deal of additional trauma worrying about this until her attacker is convicted. The only way to avoid this is for anonymity to continue indefinitely regardless of the trial outcome.

      It’s pretty disgraceful, in my opinion, that some of the Salmond complainers are bringing this obviously necessary protection into disrepute.

      Liked by 6 people

  10. On various occasions subsequent to Mark’s no case to answer verdict I have tweeted saying that either COPFS are incompetent or they are malign actors.

    Thank you for your legal opinion back up my political assessment (I’m in the ISP). I’m waiting for one of us in the ISP to get arrested for political speech as the May Holyrood campaign heats up.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. As a lawyer I want to know why the Crown Office pursued this case and the Rangers case.

    It is pointless speculating about what and who may have been involved.

    The Crown Office is independent to decide on prosecutions. I think however it is right that there should be an enquiry by the Lord Justice General into the conduct of the Crown Office.

    I understand this would have certain constitutional implications and potential concerns about the supervision of the prosecution by the judiciary but I don’t see any other means which is independent. The LJG also knows how the Crown Office works on cases in a historical context

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Are there any other previous examples of political hounding on trumped up charges in recent memory in Scotland?

    Both the cases against Hirst and Murray are bizarre. Wings tried to find out who overseas The CPS and it seems they are literally a law unto themselves. Is this how it’s always been? There must be standards and oversight somewhere.

    Is there a record made when they crown decides to go forward with a prosecution justifying its belief in the likelihood of a conviction?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Derek, they are indeed a law completely unto themselves and Stuart Campbell has done another great job on this. It’s a disgrace and can’t be foregrounded enough for the largely unsuspecting Scottish public.

      Craig P above is spot-on. The playbook run by the police and COPFS against Alex is such an exact copy of what was run against Tommy Sheridan that I could have written the script myself as the whole nightmare unfolded. My intention when I started this blog was to write plenty about the jaw-dropping stuff that happened in Tommy’s case and that’s still my plan at some point so hope you’ll stay tuned…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Gordon thank you for your interesting and illuminating posts , I like others are scunnered (a good Scots word) at the apparent bias and misuse of our once world renowned justice system , unfortunately this appears NOT to be a new thing , as others have commented the whole Rangers debacle is unfathomable and IS costing the Scottish taxpayers somewhere in the region of £50 million to date yet NO ONE is being held accountable or responsible or even resigning , This surely MUST be investigated at a higher level

    The cases of Mark Hirst and Craig Murray are extremely disconcerting and worrying for ordinary people , when we have journalists who support Alex Salmond being charged with spurious allegations whilst other journalists who deliberately print national newspaper articles which sail closer to jigsaw identification of the accusers being ignored , people are rightfully concerned that the law is NOT being applied equally and fairly

    Off Topic but relevant I have posted this comment on other sites , recently on Iain Lawsons and others , can you tell me if this is doable , legal , or permissable

    IMO the committee decision should be followed by a judge led inquiry that has the ability to FORCE the SG and the uncivil servants to face proper questioning without the ability to remember or misremember and retract or correct their evidence

    I would also INSIST that anyone who has the intention of leaving their position to thwart or hinder the outcome of a judge led inquiry must have their pension rights suspended or paused until the outcome of that inquiry is known , the ONLY exception to that ruling would be if someone was willing to be a whistleblower and could provide sufficient provable information such as documentation or transcripts which would shorten the inquiry and enable criminal charges to be leveled , the weakest participant is usually the one with the least finances therefore the one who has MOST to lose . NO ONE should be able to gain financially from this clusterfcuk , and the thought that these people could leave with massive payouts and pensions after costing the Scottish taxpayer millions for this travesty of justice is unthinkable

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree about a judge-led inquiry, TH.

      Not sure about the legality of the other stuff you mention and I wouldn’t be in favour personally as I don’t think threatening people about their evidence, even with the best of intentions, ever works out well for anyone. I’ve seen enough dodgy “confessions” produced in the name of what the cops call “noble cause corruption” to last me a lifetime.

      As usual, all that is really needed in my opinion is a willingness to apply properly the sanctions we already have. As many others have pointed out, it’s ridiculous that witnesses are giving testimony on oath or affirmation at the Salmond inquiry and then, on a regular basis, writing to say oops, that unconditional statement I made about that important subject was wrong, sorry, and could I just put the opposite statement into the record now please?

      If the laws which are applied to witnesses in every other proceedings where evidence is given on oath or affirmation were simply applied to these proceedings, the result you seek would be instantly achieved, believe me.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. ” Noble cause corruption ” do the police actually think this way?

        It seems to me the same mindset of the ” wheest for Indy ” people. They take the approach that bad/criminal behaviour is ok to ignore if you think it is best for the cause of independence. My opinion is “wheest for Indy ” undermines the cause of independence.

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      2. Yes, I should have been clearer, Cubby, that “noble cause corruption” is a term used by the higher-ups in the polis. The view at the sharp end is more “We know he did it, and if he didn’t do that one he’s done others, so let’s make sure he’s done for it”.

        I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to break a lower principle for a higher one — for example, I personally would never cross a picket line even if I disagreed completely with the reasons for the strike — but I agree with you about the “wheesht for Indy” folks. They’re so wrong about Sturgeon and her clique in so many ways that we’re all going to have to make a huge effort on both sides to reunite the movement when the truth finally has to be faced.

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      3. Gordon, I don’t disagree with your comment re principles.

        However, you are not a policeman and their job is to apply/uphold the law not break the law and try and justify their actions by declaring themselves judge and jury.

        I agree that it will be difficult to reunite the movement. Posters BTL on WGD are well in to retrying and finding Salmond guilty as more and more info disturbs their previously held views – one even said Sturgeon was like a female Moses. Any criticism of Sturgeon or indeed anyone in the SNP is taken to be like blasphemy. I find this very sad since Mr Kavanagh knows fine well what has been going on but he continues his “wheest for Indy”

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  14. Gordon.
    Several bloggers cave covered this, but yours is the clearest exposition. Thank you.

    As a point of law, does an application for a search warrant have to state what’s being searched for? Does the warrant itself have to state what’s being searched for? If I’ve nicked a TV, does the search stop when the TV’s located, or can the police look for drugs under the floorboards?

    The reason for asking this is that it does seem here that Mr Hirst’s house was searched for evidence of other crimes, not for evidence of what he was charged with.

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    1. It’s a very good point, Robert, and one on which I think defence lawyers have really fallen down on the job by not challenging the specificity of warrants to the point where in practical terms pretty much anything goes now as the wording on warrants is so vague and imprecise that the police can get away with more or less anything.

      I could write a book on this as challenging warrants is a speciality of mine and it’s interesting that the whole Rangers case debacle stems from COPFS using a warrant illegally, proving yet again that if you can afford the very best lawyers and experts, you’ll get a much higher standard of justice. If the resources available to the accused in the Rangers case were available to everyone, Police Scotland and COPFS would be bankrupt by now under the weight of successful civil actions.

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  15. I really hope things turn out the same for Craig Murray. But regardless of a good result, nothing can repair the pain and cost. Fortunately, we can help a little with the latter but the stress both Mark and Craig must have suffered as a result of what has happened to them is theirs alone.

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    1. LB, it’s scandalous that people have to pay for their own defences, and the criminal legal aid system in Scotland is an utter shambles.

      We need to do away with all of the means testing and costly bureaucracy in the criminal defence system exactly as we should do with vital parts of the benefits system and if a few millionaires get a free criminal defence or child benefit for their kids then so be it.

      When the State comes after you with all its resources, whether it’s for breach of the peace or murder, a proper, competent and free defence should be an absolute right.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. To paraphrase Gandalf; You come back to us now at the turning of the tide.

    Great to see you back, Gordon. You are certainly not short of things to write about.

    I hope I am not raising my expectations too high, but there does seem to be a very different feel about things now. My reading is that the pressure on the dam is building and there are fewer fingers willing to plug it.

    I expect there will be a parliamentary motion shortly, formally demanding Swinney extend Hamilton’s remit, with the threat of a further no confidence vote behind it if he doesn’t acquiesce. For all the skullduggery of the last few years, I find his role in obfuscating and deflecting possibly the most abhorrent of all. Unlike Sturgeon, I really never expected he was capable of such behaviour.

    Look forward to reading your further contributions anon.

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    1. Thanks, GeeK. I agree with you that this does feel different now from other cover-ups that have succeeded.

      The parallels with Watergate — riding high in the polls with most people in the country still not knowing or caring yet what you’ve done but with too many people, including some people who are quite powerful themselves, in the know and motivated to expose you — are actually quite significant, I think.

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  17. What a shambles that Committee meeting was. Evans had no technical problems unlike some of the Committee members very lucky/convenient? Evans can really go on and on in her answers – obfuscation designed to take up time and baffle some of the Committee members. And some of them can quite clearly be easily baffled. What a waste of space Alisdair Allan is. The SNP seem to have a few Labour type low flying jimmies of their own.

    I am sure Evans left that meeting feeling quite pleased with herself. Not once did she express any need or desire for fairness or a duty of care to the accused former minister Salmond. Has there ever been a more sided investigation and years later after court cases finding it all unfair, unlawful and tainted by apparent bias, the current Inquiry and the current review by QC Dunlop the person responsible has the brass neck to still states she did everything right.

    Evans duty of care to the complainers obviously did not extend to following the complainers wish that the police did not get involved. The reason being they would have to perjure themselves. That of course did not bother Evans one little bit.

    Of course the finger pointing between Evans and others has started and Baillie was good at putting her on the spot.

    Sadly there was not one SNP Committee member who came across as wanting to get to the truth. The Scotgov have succeeded in dragging this Inquiry out for years. The whole business is a disgrace and embarrassment to Scotland and the Scottish parliament and the people responsible need to be held responsible. I am not convinced the Inquiry will deliver.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are correct Cubby, that woman can talk, and talk a lot and say nothing. Not even answer the question she was asked but they rarely seem to notice that. It has come to the point where the committee need to get smart and at least ask closed questions where only a yes or no answer can be given.

      I also noted the duty of care to everyone except the person the complaints are made about, in this case an innocent person.

      I almost boaked when she said she was ‘deeply affected’ or words to that effect by what she had to read in the complaints as Deciding Officer, yes, made up complaints, deep untruths, that’s what they were so no need to even mention that or look so pained!

      Jackie Baillie was funny about the orphaned process tho…but I have said this before, no one owns anything or is completely responsible in the SG…its all down to a ‘process’, just following the process we were.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lulu Bells – I concur with your comments. Evans does not seem to realise that she continues to give the impression that at no time did she ever consider that the accusations may be false and the possible reason that they were not taken previously to the police was the fact that they did not fancy committing perjury in a criminal court.

        However, Evans is an intelligent person so I do not believe that she would not have thought about this if any of her story is genuine. It was a fit up right from the start and the trying to duck responsibility is underway. The “orphaned” process that a large number of senior people had a role in creating but none of them take ownership of. Ultimately Sturgeon as FM who asked for such a process and signed it off has to take the ultimate responsibility.

        Amazing that Labour have picked some right diddies as their leader and Baillie is obviously far more capable. Evans was great at saying I had to follow the process and I had to follow the legal advice. One minute she portrays herself as the super Perm Secretary next minute just a robot following the process. Evans got off very lightly today – What are the odds I wonder of a sixth visit in front of the Committee.

        If they have an online meeting with Salmond and Sturgeon in the weeks to come with these technical problems it will be a shambles again.

        .

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, LB, the “deeply affected” stuff was also a feature of the evidence of Russell and Somers, and probably others — clearly, they’ve all been briefed to say it. Pretty cynical.

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    2. Thanks for the summary of today’s interview Cubby – doesn’t sound like the committee even tried there. I wonder if that might be partly due to the political / civil service division (they are allowed to be mean to the poor wee dinkums civil servants) – or even that there might be a more serious inquiry in the offing? That might be wishful thinking,,,

      I do wonder what effect reading some of the legal advice has had on the committee as well. The clandestine nature of that leaves me feeling,, a bit sceptical.

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  18. When I mentioned to a friend about how the police just ransacked Hirsts home he could not believe that the police had the power to do something like that when the matter at hand was a specific video on YouTube which complainers complained was threatening.

    Thanks Gordon for your comments on the matter of warrants giving the police such power.

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  19. Gordon, many thanks for the legal clarification on the Moorov as it applied in the Salmond trial. I am glad I added my qualification that I may be wrong😂😂😂😂.

    That being the legal situation it does seem very puzzling that evidence that may point to collusion/conspiracy was ruled inadmissible by the judge. Or am I getting this conclusion wrong as well. It also is worrying that the judges ruling is not now available to read as you say.

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    1. There ought to be a corollary to the Moorov doctrine: if you employ 22 police officers full-time for a year on a fishing expedition interviewing over 700 people and you can’t come up with anything more substantial than the original allegations, then that should cast doubt on the veracity of the original allegations. Sexual aggressors don’t confine their attentions to a handful of women – by the time they get to Salmond’s time of life they’ve had decades of bad behaviour behind them. Think of Bill Clinton, Rolf Harris and Harvey Weinstein: all had been at it for years and their behaviour was well-known in their circles, yet there were no such rumours about Salmond. Gordon, do you know if the failed police fishing expedition was brought up by Alex’s defence counsel?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know if it came up at all in the preliminary hearings, Stuart, but even I would have to concede that it would have been collateral evidence, and therefore inadmissible, in the trial itself.

        The place for exploring fully the disgraceful behaviour of Police Scotland and COPFS in the Salmond case — and, I’d hope in previous disgraceful episodes like the Tommy Sheridan and Andy Coulson cases, not to mention all the failures to prosecute the likes of Bob Bird, Douglas Wight, Fred Goodwin… — is a judge-led public inquiry, and that’s looking ever more likely.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Why heads haven’t rolled in the COPFS after they had to admit to malicious prosecution in the Rangers Administrators case is astonishing. James Wolffe should have tendered his resignation and if not Nicola Sturgeon should have demanded it. But then again Nicola is curiously selective in those she holds to account.

        I think that in a matter as important as abuse of power by the COPFS then nothing short of an independent Royal Commission is needed, inquiring into not just the Rangers case but much more besides. I see people focussing on the large amount of compensation paid but what’s far more concerning is the malicious use of the State’s resources against citizens where there is little or no evidence of wrongdoing – Salmond, Hirst and Murray being 3 examples. The COPFS refusing to release documents to Craig for his defence and threatening Alex if he should tell the truth in testifying to the Parliamentary Inquiry is outrageous. The COPFS is a direct threat to the administration of justice and to democracy in Scotland.

        Does the Scottish Parliament have the power to set up a Royal Commission or has that been reserved to Westminster? A Google search tells me that the last Royal Commission in the UK was in 2000, 20 years ago, whereas the Australian Federal Government has held at least 10 in that time and others at State level. Aren’t British politicians interested in finding out the facts?

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  20. Gordon, great to see you back on the forum and for the excellent legal analysis of the Mark Hirst case.
    For us sassenach lawyers does this mean that Mr Hirst will recover substantially all his legal costs in the matter? It sounds like the type of case in England that was so flawed from the outset, that the defendant would seek costs on an indemnity basis.

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    1. Good to hear from you too, Ingwe. We don’t have any recovery of costs for criminal cases in Scotland. If you don’t get legal aid you’re on your own. It’s scandalous.

      Fortunately for Mark, public feeling on this was such that the crowd-funder he ran will cover his legal fees but that’s the exception, obviously.

      We don’t have conditional fee agreements for civil cases either and after-the-event insurance is a rarity so holding the likes of COPFS to account for malicious prosecution is a non-starter for all but the most wealthy.

      I’m afraid the days are long gone when I used to boast about the Scottish legal system to colleagues from other jurisdictions.

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      1. Gordon, it shows how out of touch I am with criminal law. It seems that the position in England is pretty much the same as in Scotland in that unless legally aided, defence costs are not recoverable even where there is a finding of not guilty or a submission of no case to answer is successful.

        Further, to receive criminal legal aid requires income to be less than £37,500 p.a. and there are few firms still offering legal aid. So it appears that, just like access to the Ritz, justice is available to all! What dark times we are in with little signs of sunshine!

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  21. Two new items of correspondence published by the Committee.

    1. A letter from Salmonds solicitors to Fabiani and;

    2. A reply from Fabiani.

    1. Salmonds solicitors raise a lot of points they are not happy with and float the possibility Salmond may not attend. Salmond is not happy that a lot of correspondence has not been obtained by the Inquiry. This includes the info held by the Crown Office from the criminal trial. He has previously threatened not to attend if this info is not obtained. He states that he is being asked to swear an oath to tell the whole truth but if he does that the Crown Office will prosecute him. He also asks why previous submissions/documents he has sent the Committee have not been published. He also queries why some of his submission on the subject of documents was redacted by the Committee – see Wings for the unredacted version. I think Salmonds lawyers raise very valid points.

    2. Fabiani replies basically saying take it or leave it – that is the invite and we need to proceed to try and finish before the parliament winds up for the election.

    This Inquiry may fall apart. A judge led full powers inquiry may be needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In a previous article on Gordon’s blog I took it upon myself to List all the possible reasons/categories that I can see being used to justify a redaction. Looking at what was redacted on Salmonds submission ( as per Wings unredacted version ) there now seems to be more reasons for information to be kept hidden. Thank you (not) the Clerk to the Committee.

      When Salmond cannot even get his own submission published unredacted then the Inquiry is lost. This is not the type of Scotgov I want – it seems more and more a British government masquerading as Scottish. Just who runs the show – Evans or Sturgeon?

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Have you SEEN what was redacted from Alex Salmond’s submission to the committee?! It’s over on Wings. Bloody hell, if that’s the redaction-decision making, then the clerks are taking the piss.

    Yes Cubby – the word redacted should be banned, forthwith.

    On Alex Salmond’s full submission – that makes more sense now – he’s calling the withholding of evidence from the JR and criminal cases contempt of court, and possibly even perverting the course of justice in the criminal case.

    If he’s calling that out with such strong language, I suspect legal action will be coming along,,, will the prosecutors prosecute? Is there any hope of justice?! Arghngh.

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    1. Contrary, Craig Murray has been looking for a timeline on the whole AS “investigation” to help him in preparing his defence. I’m pretty sure you have one do you not? You might be able to help him out.

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    2. Hi David – I noticed Craig had asked for Daisy’s timeline. Unfortunately my timelines are not complete, and I focused on separate phases so I have lots on the procedure development, some on the judicial review, but not that much yet on the investigation phase – there are so many things to this part, so even though I’ve read some relevant docs on it,,,

      Sorry, I’m rambling – I’ve got flow charts hand-written on A3 paper, so what I do have is not complete and not easily digitised at the moment.

      I suppose I could start putting what I have together in tabular form (I intensely use a computer in my day job, long hours, so I avoid computers for leisure activities!).

      I’ll see what I can put together for him in case it’s useful anyway – thanks for thinking of it, if Craig believes Daisy’s timeline useful, he might find some of what I have of relevance. (I only have half of it referenced too, which annoys me, but I need to let these things (pedantry) go)

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  23. Geek, on BBC Politics Scotland on Sunday honest John Swinney smeared Salmond by saying he admitted to wrong doings during his trial. Picking up from Sturgeon on the Sophy Ridge Show on Sky. Both Sturgeon and Swinney deflecting from the question asked. Swinney is not the nice guy he makes out. Mind you neither is Sturgeon.

    Swinney also stated that he had already agreed for the remit of Hamilton to be widened. Was honest John being honest or playing with words?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cubby.

      I have known both personally for many years.

      I never got good vibes from her but it wasn’t until 2012 that I realised she was bad news as opposed to no news.

      I always liked him and always felt I was dealing with a man of decency and straightforwardness. Maybe I was wrong or maybe serving as her deputy for six years has had its effect. This stuff is insidious.

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      1. GeeK – very insidious indeed.

        The BBC interviewer could have put it to Swinney that he had made that statement in parliament but has he or will he confirm it in writing to QC Hamilton that the remit can be widened any way Hamilton wants. As far as I am aware he is refusing to write to Hamilton. Just another politician playing with words to suit his needs. Honest John no more.

        He is not the only senior SNP politician signed up to this nasty malicious business. I will be voting ( with great difficulty) SNP for the Constituency in May and I am glad that none of these people will be who I have to vote for.

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  24. The Scotgov have issued thousands and thousands of documents to the Committee.

    They all say Nicola is innocent except for one which says it wisnae me honest (thanks Lesley Evans).

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Gordon can I ask will you be doing a post on the exposure of Alex Salmond’s submission unredacted on Wings Over Scotland with a view from a solicitors perspective or is it maybe to hot to handle , or will it maybe interfere in any forthcoming possible criminal charges being levied from the COPFS (ha,ha,ha)

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    1. I’m struggling to think of any legal reason for the redactions, TH, so I don’t think I’ll worry that it’s too hot to handle. I’m thinking of what, if anything I have to add, and, if not, whether I should just put something up anyway out of solidarity — and also, as always, when I’m going to get time to do it!

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  26. Gordon I am minded to submit an FoI on the redaction of Salmond’s statement to the Enquiry:

    1. On whose authority were the parliamentary clerks working when they redacted the document?
    2. What is the legal basis of such redactions?
    3. What were the criteria for redaction?
    4. Who defined the criteria and when?
    5. Where can they be viewed by the public?

    If there are “legitimate” legal grounds for such redactions I won’t waste my time. Do you happen to know the law on this matter?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d go ahead and ask, David. I’m trying to think myself of what the legal basis for the redactions could be — it’s certainly not jigsaw identification or data protection issues — and struggling to come up with anything.

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    2. David,

      A FOI request would be fantastic, and those questions look ideal, please do submit it.

      If Gordon can’t see what grounds there are for those redactions, it sounds like they’ve just been taking the piss (as we’ve suspected all along). I wonder if that’ll be their answer,,,

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I haven’t filed the FOI. Having been directed to the terms of reference of the Enquiry, I’ve seen that:

      1. The enquiry will not “revisit the criminal trial”
      2. Any information that might serve to identify the alphabet women can be redacted.

      A lawyer might point out that the Salmond redactions were not in fact an attempt to revisit the criminal trial, nor could they conceivably have risked identifying the alphabet women.

      But I know for a fact that this is the answer I would be given, and any attempt to argue the toss would simply end up in a pissing contest, so I’ll spend my time on something more productive – like, for example, a clear explanation for why Sturgeon told what appears to be a stupid and pointless lie about the famous 29th March/2nd April meetings (see below).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fair enough David, though in a way this type of thinking – what’s the point when no one will listen – is something we are plagued with in Scotland and leads to inaction. In this case I think you are right – they’d just point you to the harassment committee’s pages – and it’s not like I made the effort or would even know where to start myself!

        Maybe something more specific is required, give the example of one of the redactions we have been given in Alex Salmond’s submission, and ask which category it comes under,,, I’ll have to look back at them now, I was so shocked at first reading them that I’ve forgotten the substance.

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      2. David, I agree about trying to prioritise what’s productive, given that almost anything you do of this type will hit a brick wall anyway since they are completely unaccountable and they just love the barrack-room lawyer mentality that comes with that.

        I always love it on the rare occasions you get such people into court and they discover that judges have precisely zero time for this stuff but that’s another story…

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  27. Salmonds lawyers have fired off a reply to Fabiani suggesting a date next month for Salmond to attend. A copy is in the Committee website.

    Once again they say they want the Committee to provide the outstanding docs and point out that as the Lord Advocate is part of the Scotgov and the Scotgov promised to make all documents available they should do so and remove the threat of Salmond being charged if he even mentions the existence of certain documents.

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  28. Funny how the complainers (alphabet women) are using the Scotgov funded Rape Crisis Scotland as their spokesperson and not, say, a lawyer. I think I know the answer to that. It is a disgrace that this organisation has effectively politicised itself.

    Also how do we know that this organisation has been authorised by all the alphabet women to make any statements they publish or anything they say on radio/ TV. Are the alphabet women likely to turn up on TV and say I did not authorise them to say that on my behalf. What proof can Rape Crisis show to demonstrate they have this authority?

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  29. This is a really valuable website. Thanks for your efforts. It is a precious thing good information from trained people and good information relating to our country, Scotland means I am in your debt.

    This is a guess. The thing that started this whole train of events moving in the first place is the key to it. The thing was a deception and it lead to the manufacturing of a MeToo environment at Holyrood, then to the AS conspiracy and the replacement of a detailed program of government with a bogus equality agenda.

    The deception is related to the pursuit of Independence or lack of it by FM and her circle who are in charge. Pursue Independence in press releases but build nothing, plan nothing. Wee handouts instead of a plan for a reformed banking environment. A long grass growth commission in the place of an agreement, movement wide on the institutions we will need to build for day 1as an Independent country.

    Once you start not doing things. Logical things. Then people eventually start to ask why – concerned punters, supporters, voters, SNP members. Eventually SNP politicians start to ask questions. That’s when it starts.

    I want to know the why of it. Why not just pursue Independence?

    .

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    1. Many thanks, Archie. I personally think the whole thing was less planned than you suggest and unfolded more or less as Robin McAlpine sets out in his excellent article on the Source and Wings sites last night but in practical terms it comes to much the same thing.

      I agree totally that we now have a politically conservative, economically reactionary Scottish Government with zero interest in independence who see all of the identity politics insanity as an excellent cloak of “progressiveness” when it’s nothing of the sort (though I also think they do actually believe in it as cult members invariably do). It’s one of the reasons why they are being largely protected by a Unionist media which hates them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the reply. The why of it has been bothering me for a couple of years now. Doing my nut in. Its easier to accept a more straightforward version of events (from trusted people who also who know more than us). It helps the punters, myself included, not run away with our own imaginations on it.

        There are too many aspects to it so I can’t express it in words but I am totally against the idea from people for fear of losing recent converts to our cause demand we carry on with the same folk in charge. I’m in my 50s now and never voted anything other than SNP. I’ll continue to vote for them but my greatest fear for Scotland right now is that the clique keep going and everyone else is beaten down.

        Keep it going man..

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  30. Gordon I posted this comment on Wings Over Scotland yesterday Jan 13th and would ask if you were one of these esteemed judges how you would feel in having been used as an unwitting tool in this apparent misuse of the justice system .

    I posted on the thread yesterday that the two judges Lord Pentland and Lady Dorrian must be outraged and incensed that they were hoodwinked and sold a parcel of lies when the court was presented with this contemptible parody of justice , surely THEY must recognise that the SG has committed contempt of court when they have deliberately and willfully ignored and failed to comply with a court ORDER to produce ALL documentation required by the defence to form that defence

    It is reprehensible and unbelievable that Alex Salmond’s defence solicitors have NOT PREVIOUSLY seen 46 documents out of 400 belatedly supplied in December 2019 despite having been ORDERED BY A JUDGE , the very same Lord Pentland who ORDERED that instruction

    So I ask again Lord Pentland and Lady Dorrian, do you consider you have been duped , do you consider this is fair and proper justice , is this debacle and travesty what you consider a Scottish Justiciary should be PROUD OF

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judges being outraged and incensed? I just can’t see it. Judges see the worst of humankind in the course of their work, I doubt much shocks them at all.

      But, I have a question for Gordon along similar lines,,,

      Gordon,

      How does one go about precipitating procedings against a government for, say, for example, contempt of court or perverting the course of justice? Am I right in thinking that the court itself has to bring about the charges? How is it brought to the courts attention – would that be COPFS? And the Lord Advocate is of course in charge of COPFS, and is part of the government,,,

      So what other avenues are there for nudging the court to bring forward charges? Is public interest enough – could a petition be brought forward? And how do they charge an entire government with withholding evidence? Does it need to be individuals, or can the institution be held accountable? Can two courts bring forward charges simultaneously?

      I mean, the government might have a valid reason for withholding evidence, they may have all been off sick with meningitis and the tea boy had to do the searches, but it has happened and should be investigated, surely. Lord Pentland already took a dim view of the government’s ability to be fair and open with producing evidence, maybe he’d like to get his teeth into finding out why.

      What are our options for putting on pressure in this area, is what I am asking?

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      1. Contrary, things that are technically available to a member of the public like private prosecution or judicial review or action for damages claiming some kind of loss are a non-starter in practice in my opinion. We need a judge-led public inquiry of the Leveson type, with cast-iron guarantees of implementation of its findings (which we were naive about in Leveson).

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      2. I didn’t think it would be possible to get anywhere with private prosecution – you’d need millions of pounds to go down that route! It was more of how to start putting pressure on – something that would have the potential for hmm ,,,

        I agree that the whole thing needs to be investigated in a judge-led inquiry – I was thinking there about a quick fix, not another inquiry that would last years, to put enough pressure on to get NS out of office as soon as possible – but in fact, just having the inquiry set up may be enough of a push from that point of view.

        Alex Neil MSP is calling for a judge-led inquiry into alleged conspiracy around Alex Salmond’s harassment, which is a start. I assume it’s parliament that calls for that – and they’d decide the remit, and the powers? Hm, yes, if he puts if to parliament soon, that might be useful.

        Leveson, and Chilcot (10 years! That’s where they got the idea for delaying action then,,,) – yes naive,,, or just led up the garden path, again?

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  31. Going back to Ms Evan’s statements to the Committee on Tuesday, she still emphasised that evidence of prior contact came to light at a late stage. Clearly she and her team had knowledge of the prior contact at a much earlier stage, and presumably their legal team did as well.

    It sounds as though she’s saying that they wouldn’t have revealed the prior contact unless they could no longer conceal it. Doesn’t seem to square with a duty of candour.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I posted something similar to this on WOS earlier, in response to a commenter who repeatedly asks what reason Sturgeon could have had for telling what appears to be such a stupid and pointless lie about the 29th March/2nd April meetings. I thought it would be of interest to readers here, who, like me, must be asking themselves similar questions

    My explanation makes sense and fits the Occam’s Razor test. If anyone thinks they have a better one I’m all ears…

    The FM’s goal was to distance herself as far as possible from the AS investigation. But she was under a legal obligation to make a declaration about her contacts and discussions on the matter. The 2nd April meeting was the absolute latest date at which she could plausibly claim to have been made aware of it.

    Although this lie appears stupid and pointless, it would also at the time have appeared to be a zero-risk lie. In June 2018, when the lie was first told, the investigation was under way. The expectation was that it would end in a finding against AS, that he would thereby be neutered, and that he would disappear with his tail between his legs and never be heard of again.

    There was at that point no reason to imagine that any information about any meeting should ever come into the public domain. (The lie didn’t become problematic until August 2018, when AS launched his case for judicial review.)

    And finally and very importantly, the fact is that Sturgeon must have known about the AS affair in November 2017 at the very latest, following the John Somers meetings with Woman A. So the 29th March/2nd April lie was a tiny little lie in a vast sewer of much bigger lies. In June 2018, when the lie was first told, I doubt that either Sturgeon or Liz Lloyd ever gave it so much as a second thought.

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    1. And if you are David F over on Wings, then I think I’ve just replied to you too! Haha.

      It’s a very good point – that the initial lie was before many of the other events. Why she compounded that lie with more (because she didn’t anticipate all the other events? The JR was the spanner in the works for sure, wasn’t it?)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it was a good reply Contrary.

        I also read your post about the upper parliamentary chamber being selected by ballot in the same was as juries. I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about that for years. It’s always seemed to me to be idiotic that we are prepared to select 12 people at random and give them the power to apply a law that might see someone jailed for life, but we won’t give 100 people selected on a similar basis the right to review the process of creation of these laws.

        It would be a far fairer system, that would provide a much more representative group of people (ones I don’t like as well as ones I do) than the great and the good choosing from the great and the good.

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      2. Aha! People DO read my comments on Wings 😉 thanks for the positive feedback too. I agree with what you say there, and also,,,

        Strangely, I’ve only just discovered that the Citizens Assembly have published their report just this past week, I’ve only just started reading the summary, but there is a very strong emphasis on having citizens input in parliament – lots of different suggestions for commissions and assemblies, along those lines. A fair amount to digest I think, and I still have a lot to read. You can find it hopefully here:

        https://www.citizensassembly.scot/

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      3. Contrary you did raise one question in your WOS post that I should have answered – why did Sturgeon double down on her March/April meeting lie for so long before she finally “remembered” that the March meeting had taken place?

        I don’t think that’s a difficult question to answer. When you’ve built a whole edifice of lies, you need to think very carefully before you change your story on any element of it. Pulling out just one small brick could bring the whole edifice crashing down.

        Sturgeon would have had to weigh up very carefully what impact coming clean about the March meeting might have on the rest of her edifice of lies.

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      1. …and there’s another crucial element to it that we can’t mention for now.

        Oh go on… Go on…

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  33. Hi Gordon, yes pestering you again, but I meant to also say to your comment above re:

    “My intention when I started this blog was to write plenty about the jaw-dropping stuff that happened in Tommy’s case and that’s still my plan at some point so hope you’ll stay tuned…”

    I don’t think you should hold back on giving us information on the Tommy Sheridan case(s) – it may seem not quite immediately relevant right at the moment, but because it’s complete it would be easier to write about, and if there are parallels it could spark some insights when looked at from other’s points of view,,, I’d find it useful, to see some of the inner workings of our justice system anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Contrary, I’m very encouraged by that. I have one on the self-sabotage by COPFS in the Andy Coulson trial that I’ve published before but is so apposite to what’s going on now that I might just dust it off and put up an updated version soon.

      The playbook run against Salmond by the police and COPFS is so similar to what was run against Tommy that I’ve almost felt I could write the script as events unfolded and as to what awaits Salmond in years to come regardless of the facts, well, try to find anything about Tommy in the mainstream media (and, shamefully, often in the “progressive” parts of social media too) that doesn’t feature the words “shamed” or “disgraced” or “convicted perjurer”, or worse.

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      1. Tommy Sheridan seemed to drift off into obscurity,,, he’s not someone I’d necessarily vote for (too much the activist perhaps), but he’s always seemed an okay guy to me, and I enjoy reading his articles in Sputnik news these days (when I remember to seek them out).

        What I couldn’t figure out was the motivation to ruin his reputation/career – and people still do believe he was convicted of perjury and that was the end of it – was he too left-wing for the powers that be? I suppose he was always fairly high profile in the past, when I think about it. Was he on track to split the Labour vote or something? The establishment really don’t like socialists do they?!

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      2. Contrary, one of the many things about Tommy that gets written out of history is that in the months leading up to the referendum in 2014 –well after all the perjury business was over — he toured the country, speaking almost every night, always to packed houses of hundreds of people, and he did as much as anyone to create the incredible sense of momentum and excitement we all had then about Scotland’s future.

        I was personally present at two of the meetings, one in Motherwell when he could have filled the big hall twice over and actually had to delay his speech to come out and speak from a car roof to the big crowd of people who had been turned away but stayed on anyway in the hope of Tommy doing what he did, and then one the night before the vote at Victoria’s in Sauchiehall Street, a big venue packed to the rafters where again loads of people had to be turned away.

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      3. Ah yes, he’s a very strong advocate for independence, and as you say a very persuasive speaker, which is enough motivation for the establishment to have him put out of the picture. Criminal courts really shouldn’t be used for political purposes.

        It’s certainly one very compelling reason why independence should *not* have just one overall leader – safety in numbers after all, and as long as we have several leaders in the cause that are able to discuss, compromise and agree in a civilised manner, I believe we’d be better served. (I don’t agree with the calls to unify the yes movement etc, we just need coordination and direction, not a dictator,,, who may be vulnerable).

        I did watch half the you tube video you’d posted previously, and I had to smile at the intro – oh those poll tax days, that’s when I first really became aware of him I think, haha. How on earth did we get so old, I sometimes think I’m still stuck in the 80s and 90s even though I can barely remember them – just trying to pretend I’m still young I guess!

        I see he’s done a podcast interview with Martin Keatings (of the s.30 case), which I need to listen to still.

        If, as you say Gordon, there are a lot of similarities in Tommy Sheridan’s case – can this be used to pick apart the MO of how they are using criminal courts to persecute people, and help to see a way to prevent it (I’m sure you have lots of ideas, probably too many, on what could be done, so I won’t ask what they all are!). Seeing how the process worked there will help give me insight into Leslie Evans’ decision to hand the complaints over to the Crown Office, she was probably quite familiar with the process (whatever she says to the contrary) and/or was either assured or advised it would work to her benefit … I still need to get up to speed with the committee stuff too,,, sigh, onward and upward!

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  34. DavidwFerguson

    When you say there was no risk the initial lie would become public – I don’t quite see that – there would have been nothing to stop Geoff Aberdein telling the media about the early two meetings whether or not the judicial review was successful.

    As it turned out he told the criminal trial under oath about the meetings. He also said that Lloyd – Sturgeons Chief of staff contacted him to discuss the complaints at the first meeting in early march 2018. So that meant Lloyd knew about the complaints and most people would take from that Sturgeon knew also. The second meeting 29March Aberdein also said Sturgeon/Lloyd requested it to discuss the complaints. None of this was documented even though it was Scotgov business on Scotgov premises – breaking the code. A question would be how and when did Lloyd know about the complaints and when did she tell Sturgeon. Another would be why was the meeting not recorded as all gov business on gov property should be.

    All of this was what Sturgeon wanted to keep secret.

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    1. I know all this Cubby and I don’t dispute any of it. But I think you have missed my point. If the complaints procedure investigation had been successful in nailing AS, none of this information would have entered the public domain.

      The fact that Geoff Aberdein met with Lloyd and Sturgeon on the 29th March wouldn’t have been of any relevance to anybody. Why would it matter? Who would it matter to?

      Nobody would have had any reason to go raking though the Scotgov records and discover that Sturgeon had logged the 2nd April meeting and not the 29th March meeting as the first occasion she had heard of the matter. Why would they?

      Nobody would have had any reason to go looking to see if the two meetings has been properly minuted. Why would they?

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  35. Gordon , if you are not happy in any way with this post please remove immediately.

    Clive Thomson v Lord Advocate , Jan 2021 Crowdfunder.

    He seems to have a similar problem to Craig Murray but not the funds to pay for his defence lawyer.

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    1. I’m very happy for people to be referred to this, Cubby. It’s scandalous that anyone facing such a serious charge should be having to pay for his own defence. When I was practising criminal law, legal aid was automatic in such cases.

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      1. Exactly Gordon that is why I chucked in a few bob for Salmond Murray and Hirsts defence costs and now Thomson.

        He deserves a decent defence.

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  36. Cubby do you know what this is about? I haven’t seen anything on Wings or Craig Murray about this case, I can’t find anything on the internet apart from the fundraiser, and I can’t go and rake round twitter as I’m currently banned. The guy only has 300 quid in his crowdfunder.

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  37. I watched Mark Hirst on the Twa Auld Heids video. He said that there’s a lot of disquiet among lawyers and judges in Scotland at what’s being going on at the COPFS. If so, why isn’t the legal profession coming out and saying so publicly? At the very least I’d expect the judges from both the judicial review and the criminal trial to be hauling the Lord Advocate and Lesley Evans into court to explain why they failed to disclose relevant documents which have since been disclosed to the Parliamentary Inquiry. Sounds like contempt of court to me.

    Mark also highlighted the devastating effect the trial has had on his income and finances despite the help of the crowdfunder and Craig Murray’s generous 10K donation from Craig’s own crowdfunder. It’s scandalous that the COPFS can get away with imposing huge costs on innocent citizens by maliciously prosecuting bogus cases with complete impunity. The so-called “freedom” to sue for malicious prosecution is only available to millionaires, not an ordinary person who’s just been financially crippled by the cost of defending their liberty. IMHO we urgently need legislation to correct this abuse. At a minimum it should be mandatory that where the judgement is No Case to Answer or the judge deems the prosecution otherwise unfair the defendant is entitled a total refund of their legal fees from the Crown.

    Lastly, Mark remarked that he would like to have a transcript of his own trial but that the cost might be a problem. I recall Craig Murray saying that to get a transcript of Salmond’s trial was going to cost 10K! In this age of word processing the cost to the Govt of printing off a copy is trivial or they could just post it on a website and you could print your own. It’s just another example where the judicial system is mired in secrecy away from the public gaze.

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    1. Aye, I think there is a definite need for a judge-led inquiry as Gordon says – urgently I’d say – and if what Mark says is correct, it sounds like the judiciary would be keen to have one too (rather than be reluctantly forced into it). I’d agree about a ‘no case to answer’ verdict should mean automatic compensation. These cases are revealing an awful lot about what’s wrong with out institutions and systems,,,

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  38. I’m puzzled about the “information which isn’t to be released”. On the one hand we had Alex Salmond’s team saying that they can’t even refer to the documents held by the Court; on the other hand we’ve seen published a letter from Craig Murray’s lawyers being pretty explicity about the same documents. Can’t both be right.

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    1. Robert, they are both right. It is Craig Murray’s decision to publish what he publishes. Salmonds solicitors have been warned multiple times if he refers to them at the Inquiry he may be prosecuted. Which in the current environment means he probably will. I doubt Salmond wants to take that risk after everything he has been through. There is no doubt the documents/info exists.

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  39. While I’m at it, thinking about it, here’s a random thought.

    Consider the Bute House alleged incident, where the question came up as to whether the complainant was in the building at all that evening. Surely there’s security at Bute House? Surely you can’t get in without showing ID? Surely there’s a record kept of every visitor?

    If there is a record kept, that would have relevant information, surely. But no mentiion at the criminal trial.

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    1. And yes, with a rotten sectarian Police force , a rotten and corrupt COPFS and all aided and abetted by mafiosa politicians, societies ultimately turn on the rotten mechanisms of state.

      And that is when societies turn on those who would abuse them.

      Societies can only be governed by consent. Disregard that and you’ll need a National Guard p, Police protection units, and all of the rest of the apparatus required to maintain a rotten state. And frankly who in their right minds would want a society like that.

      So keep up the good work Mr Dangerfield et al. The slide into a country without a proper Rule of Law is a dangerous road to follow. And that is why it is crucially important that this cancer of criminality must be excised by prosecuting those who would pervert the course of justice.

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  40. The comments about the COPFS, and the Police simply reflect what a rotten legal Burgh Scotland is.

    Pinochet, Idi Amin, all hailed from counties with a legal system as broken as Scotland’s legal system is. Lord knows what they teach In the supposedly venerated law schools of Edinburgh and Glasgow. It certainly doesn’t reflect the supposedly ancient and jurisprudential legal system that the Scots like to think they have. More like used car salesmen at a car auction there’s little faith or respect now for Scots Law.

    Not really much more to be said. And for those who do try to fight the good fight, well done for trying, but the rot started a long time back.

    Like

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