Alex Salmond blogger wants contempt hearing in court

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Mr Salmond was cleared of 13 sexual assault charges in March

Lawyers acting for a former UK diplomat accused of contempt of court while blogging about the Alex Salmond trial say he does not want a virtual hearing.

Craig Murray attended two days of the trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in March before writing a blog about it.

Prosecutors claim some of his comments breached strict legal guidelines about what could be reported during the trial.

Video conferencing is being used in Scottish courts because of coronavirus.

John Scott QC, who is acting for the 61-year-old, said Mr Murray wanted proceedings to take place in a physical court room.

Experts fear that given the nature of Covid 19, restrictions need to be put in place in court buildings to prevent the spread of the virus.

Mr Murray - an ex-UK ambassador to Uzbekistan - is accused of breaching strict legal guidelines about what could be reported during Mr Salmond's trial.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal confirmed proceedings against Mr Murray were active in April.


Mr Scott told judges Lady Dorrian, Lord Glennie and Lord Turnbull that the continuing coronavirus crisis would place restrictions on how Scottish courts functioned because of social distancing.

However he said: "It is the position of Mr Murray - and my submission - that when the time comes that the hearing takes place in a court."

Lady Dorrian - who presided over the Alex Salmond trial- said it would be "premature" for them to discuss the matter during the procedural hearing on Wednesday.

She fixed another procedural hearing to take place on 7 July.

Ex-first minister Mr Salmond was cleared of 13 sexual assault charges in March.

A further charge of sexual assault had previously been dropped by prosecutors.

The former SNP leader had said he was innocent of all the charges against him throughout the two-week trial in March.

The women who made the allegations against Mr Salmond included an SNP politician, a party worker and several current and former Scottish government civil servants and officials.