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The independence activist who named the accusers of Alex Salmond on social networks is jailed

A Scottish independence activist who named the women who testified against Alex Salmond has been jailed for six months.

Clive Thomson, 52, has broken a strict court order barring the identification of plaintiffs who testified at the former prime minister’s trial last year.

Edinburgh High Court learned of how Thomson, of Rosyth, Fife, twice named women on Twitter in August last year.

Lady Dorrian – the judge who presided over the trial which resulted in Mr Salmond’s acquittal of all charges – made the order during the trial.

Mainstream journalists working in Scottish courts do not name complainants in sexual assault cases in order to prevent complainants’ privacy being violated.

However, the defense industry worker ignored the order and named the women on the social media network.

The court heard he knew he wasn’t supposed to name the women, but went ahead and did it anyway.

He believed he was immune from prosecution because he was on vacation abroad at the time of one of the offending tweets.

The court also heard that it had also sought advice from other Twitter users on how to get around the court order.

Defense lawyer Mark Stewart QC on Thursday urged Lady Dorrian, Lord Pentland and Lord Matthews not to send his client to jail.

Mr Stewart said Thomson was looking after his wife who is currently protecting herself from the coronavirus pandemic. He was also the main breadwinner.

But Lady Dorrian said what Thomson had done was so wrong that jail was the only option available to the court.

She said: “The court took into account that this was a deliberate and planned contempt of court. This is a very serious matter. There are very good reasons why complainants in sexual offense cases enjoy anonymity. “Protection is extended by convention to complainants in all cases – not just the one that concerns us.

“It turns out that the protection in this case was backed up by a specific court order to stress the importance and you knew that order had been made.

“Nonetheless, you have deliberately taken up this order and posted the names of those involved, for the second time thinking that you thought you were safe from contempt of court proceedings by being abroad.

“You had been thinking about how you were going to get by – you went so far as to ask advice about it on Twitter.

“Obviously, you’ve decided to take a calculated risk. The reason for such protection extends beyond the complainants in this case is that the risk of the public knowing their identity can have a significant deterrent effect on others against filing complaints with public authorities.

“This was a blatant and willful violation of the order which was likely to cause serious stress and concern to complainants and interfere with the protection afforded them by the order.

“We have listened to the points made on your behalf this morning.

“We are aware of the effect prison will have on your life and the lives of your family members.

“However, for such premeditated contempt, we are convinced that there is no alternative to a custodial sentence and we therefore propose to impose a sentence of six months imprisonment from the date of ‘today.”

Mr Salmond was cleared of 13 counts of sexual assault earlier this year. Another charge of sexual assault had already been dropped by prosecutors.

The former prime minister proclaimed his innocence throughout the two-week trial held in March 2020.

The women who brought the allegations against Mr Salmond included an SNP politician, a party member and several current and former Scottish government officials and officials.

In an article posted on a fundraising website, Mr Thomson requested financial assistance for his case, saying he needed a QC and a legal team “regarding a contempt of court charge , in the Alex Salmond case “. Last month he had raised £ 275 of a £ 5,000 goal.

During proceedings last month, Mr Stewart told the court that the first post was deleted shortly after it was posted. The second post was deleted within 24 hours of posting.

The sentence had been postponed for the court to obtain reports on Thomson’s background.

Mr Stewart told the virtual hearing on Thursday that his client had been suspended from working at Babcock’s in Rosyth.

He also said that Thomson had played a key role in his family, taking care of his wife and being an important breadwinner.

Mr Stewart also said that Thomson felt remorse for his conduct.

He said: “As a result of the process, he fully understood both the importance of his conduct; the potential effect his conduct might have on those involved in the criminal justice process and also the seriousness of the conduct.

Lady Dorrian interrupted Mr. Stewart’s submission at that point and asked him, “That’s what they call barring the stable door once the horse is locked.”

Mr Stewart then referred to a report by a court appointed social worker and continued: “My lady, there has to be an element of that and I have to accept it but as far as this process goes, it has one that he has now accepted the gravity of the situation – though that doesn’t excuse him not fully appreciating the gravity of his conduct – it’s something in my opinion that he fully understands and that he fully understands what he has done.

“He has, according to the senior social worker, someone who feels remorse and understands that it is important that these rules are in place and that these rules are followed as well.

“Mr. Thomson appreciates and understands that police custody is a significant risk in relation to the resolution of this case.

“He understands the nature of his offense and he understands his position in this court.

“I would respectfully ask the court to accept that this was an act of extreme madness on the part of someone acting in a way that was not calculated but was in fact an act madness and bravado and I would ask the court to take into account his remorse, guilt and immediate recognition of his wrongdoing when considering his elimination.

Twitter was criticized last month for failing to remove a post by an anonymous user that identified one of the women who accused Mr Salmond.

A friend of women told the Daily Record: “Twitter is extremely irresponsible and ignores its responsibilities to uphold the law.

“It is frankly shocking that they continue to allow trolls to name witnesses whose anonymity has been guaranteed by the courts.”

Responding to a complaint from the woman, who said she believed her safety was in danger, Twitter said: “We are writing to inform you that after reviewing the available information, we found no violations. of our rules in the content you have posted.

Earlier this year, blogger Craig Murray appeared in court accused of posting information that could have led readers to identify women who have testified against Mr Salmond.

He denied the allegation. His lawyer, John Scott QC, described Murray as a “beacon of integrity”.

The court will make its decision on whether Mr. Murray violated the contempt order in the near future.

Earlier this month, Rape Crisis also urged Members of the Scottish Parliament not to release information that could identify the women who have testified against Mr Salmond.

Spectator magazine also went to court to try to have the contempt order amended.

Lady Dorrian told Thomson, who watched the virtual hearing from another location, on Thursday that she had 48 hours to get to a police station to be taken to jail.

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “The Crown has reviewed a number of potential cases of contempt of court arising from the prosecution of Alex Salmond.

“Where measures were warranted, either to protect the accused’s right to a fair trial or the identity of complainants, measures were taken.

“The decision in each case was made after applying the same professional, independent and impartial approach that the Crown takes to all of its decisions.

“When the Crown takes formal action, it is for the court to rule whether contempt of court has occurred and to determine the appropriate response.”

Tags : independence activistprime minister
Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera