A FORMER diplomat has instructed his lawyers to begin preparations for an appeal to the Supreme Court after learning he had lost a contempt of court case over his reports from the trial of Alex Salmond in March last year.

Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, attended two days of the trial – at which Salmond was found innocent – and sat in the public gallery, later writing about it for his blog.

However, in January he faced a virtual contempt of court hearing before Lady Dorrian, the Lord Justice Clerk, at the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh.

It is now understood that a session for judgement to be delivered will be held at the High Court before Lady Dorrian, Lord Turnbull and Lord Menzies on Thursday – exactly eight weeks after the initial 90-minute hearing.

Sources close to Murray, 62, indicated that he was advised by court staff and his legal team that if he won the case, the judgement would simply be published.

However, if he lost, and particularly if a custodial sentence was probable, there would be a new hearing of the court – which has now been called.

Contempt of court carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and an unlimited fine.

Last month, Clive Thomson, a 52-year-old from Rosyth, was jailed for six months for contempt in the same case.

Murray is expected to stand as a candidate for Action for Independence (AFI) on the Lothians list in May’s Holyrood election.

READ MORE: Craig Murray bids to lead Action For Independence’s list in the Lothians

However, if sentenced to a year or more in jail, he will be disqualified from standing.

Murray was accused of contempt over publications likely to influence the jury and with jigsaw identification of complainants.

His defence argued that if the Crown believed these were likely to influence the jury, then action should have been taken before the trial and not after.

On jigsaw identification, his counsel, John Scott QC, argued that Murray had known the identity of all the complainants for months and had taken care not to give them away.

He argued: “[Murray] was aware of the names of the complainers, even when there was no court order regarding them. But he said it would not be responsible journalism to have named them.

“The Crown appears to say there must be a deliberate campaign to drop enough hints so that the complainers can be identified.

“There is a great deal of evidence showing he was not someone who was fixated on naming the complainers and dropping hints to identify.

“The fact alone is that he knew about the names and if he wanted to name them, he could have done so.”

In the two months between the hearing and judgement, he has said on social media that the delay was taking a toll on his family and on his mental health.

One member of the Murray family told The National: “Objective evidence shows that mainstream media published far more jigsaw identification pieces than Craig and were not prosecuted.”

Asked how Murray felt about the possibility of being jailed, they said: “Well, obviously not happy.

“Nadira and he have a one-month-old son and he’s not in good health nor getting any younger.

“But never underestimate his commitment and principle – he is a lot tougher than he looks.”