Updated: Dec 1, 2021
“look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it”
Read Part THREE here
In the early part of 2021 Sturgeon has a major problem. There is an inquiry into her governments’ handling the complaints made against her ex-boss and mentor Alex Salmond, former First Minister and former SNP Leader. These complaints had turned into 13 criminal charges, and Salmond had been acquitted on all.
Salmond and Sturgeon, for so long close colleagues and a powerful force in Scottish politics, had taken Scotland to the brink of independence. Salmond had nurtured Sturgeon’s career over decades and when he stepped down from the SNP leadership had anointed her his successor.
In March 2020, Salmond had walked free from court without a stain on his character, a completely innocent man. He had been subjected to the most ridiculous array of sexual assault charges. The complaints had been made by women who all had close connections to Sturgeon. This was no ‘he said, she said' - there were rebuttal witnesses that stated in court the alleged assaults simply did not happen. For the most serious charge, it was shown that the complainant was not even in the building. The jury heard the defence evidence, but the general public did not. The MSM preferred to use the most graphic prosecution statement to headline the news each day.
After Salmond’s acquittal several MPs, including Joanna Cherry QC and Kenny McAskill the former Scottish Justice Secretary had called for Salmond to be re-admitted to the SNP.
In the immediate aftermath of the trial the MSM, aided by SNP politicians and government agencies, continued with the smear that despite being found innocent by a predominantly female jury and female judge, Salmond was somehow not really innocent and had ‘got away with it’.
Sturgeon had stayed tight-lipped, this was a bad outcome for her. She knew that Alex Salmond was well aware of who was behind the trumped-up charges and through defence disclosure, he had the evidence to back it up. Sturgeon had to stop the real truth from coming out.
The complainants against Salmond are close friends or colleagues of Sturgeon. In Scotland, complainants in trials of sexual crimes do not automatically have anonymity but by convention, the media do not name them. However, Lady Dorrian the trial judge had made an anonymity ruling, making it a crime to identify any of the complainants. This ruling meant that the wider public would not know just how close the complainants are to Sturgeon.
Back in 2005, in order to comply with the European Court of Human Rights, the UK parliament passed the Constitutional Reform Act which ensures separation of powers in the UK, but Scotland was not included. In Scotland, the executive (government) and the judiciary (Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)) are not separate, as the head of COPFS Lord Advocate Lord Wolfe is a member of Sturgeon’s cabinet. This gives rise to the possibility of the executive using the law for its own political benefit, such as hiding executive wrong-doing, or to the possibility of the executive carrying out political prosecutions.
Craig Murray is a former British ambassador and a human rights advocate. He writes an online blog and was one of the few journalists to report the Salmond defence case. In early 2021 he is awaiting a verdict after being charged with contempt of court for jigsaw identification. He is later found guilty and sentenced to eight months in jail. He will be the first person in the world to be jailed for jigsaw identification and no one knows who he supposedly identified. Murray, once freed, plans to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.
In March 2020, shortly after the Salmond verdict, another journalist Mark Hirst had been charged under a catch-all law – Criminal Justice and Licensing Act 38(1) also known as Breach of the Peace. The charge pertained to Mark Hirst using the term ‘reap the whirlwind’ in relation to the complainants in the Salmond case. One of the Salmond complainants, a friend of Sturgeon, had made a police complaint that Hirst’s words amounted to a threat. In late January 2021 the case was heard at the Sheriff Court and dismissed as no case to answer. Hirst is currently raising funds to sue the COPFS for malicious prosecution.
This pattern is to be repeated with other opponents of Sturgeon. Dave Llewelyn, a prominent independence campaigner and supporter of Salmond, is arrested during the Holyrood election campaign on the same charge as Mark Hirst: section 38(1) Breach of the Peace. The complainants in Llewelyn’s case are close friends of Sturgeon. Llewelyn's case is being heard next June.
Unrelated to the Salmond case, but with noticeable similarities to Hirst and Llewelyn, is the case of Marion Millar. Millar is a feminist campaigner who is fiercely opposed to the Sturgeon government’s gender ideology. In May 2021 Millar is charged under section 38(1) Breach of the Peace and a complainant in her case is SNP councilor and Sturgeon protégé Rhiannon Spear. The case is eventually dropped, but not before Millar is put through months of stress.
Even if a case does not make it to court or result in a conviction, the process is a punishment; with computers and phones seized; negative publicity in the media leading to loss of earnings; the stress and worry; and the cost of defence lawyers.
Prior to his court case, Alex Salmond had won a judicial review against the Scottish Government and an inquiry is set up to determine why the government lost hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money defending a process which in early 2019 was judged unlawful and biased by a judicial review.
Sturgeon has appointed a close colleague, Linda Fabiani, to Chair the inquiry. Lord Wolfe, assisted by John Swinney, can prevent evidence from being heard due to the anonymity granted to the complainants by Lady Dorrian. Journalists can be threatened with contempt of court if they publish. And Sturgeon can use her popularity to present her narrative which is that she is an honourable woman whose principles would not let her cover-up for her friend.
During the early months of 2021, mostly unreported by the MSM, the drama played out and despite the best efforts of Sturgeon and Swinney much of the truth did come to light.
So, what is the truth behind the Salmond case?
Find out more in Part 5
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