A FORMER diplomat has been formally found to be in contempt of court over his reports from the trial of Alex Salmond last year.

Craig Murray – a former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan – sat in the public benches at the High Court in Edinburgh for two days of the trial and later wrote about it on his blog.

The former First Minister was cleared of 13 sexual assault charges involving nine women following his trial. At a virtual sitting of the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday, Murray was told he was in contempt of court over the reports, which a judge said were “capable of identifying four different complainers”.

Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian, sitting with Lords Menzies and Pentland, told Murray the court had concluded that his blog articles and related tweets in January, and articles on March 11, 18, 19 and April 3, along with a tweet on April 2, “must be considered to constitute contempt of court, relating to material capable of identifying four different complainers”.

“We therefore make a finding of contempt of court,” she said, adding that the reasons for the decision would be issued in full, “in due course”.

John Scott, QC, for Murray, said that despite not having seen the court’s opinion, he had taken down his blog page. “Steps will be taken immediately to communicate the detail of what has been found in contempt of court,” he said.

“In anticipation, despite not having seen the opinion of the court or being aware of the court’s conclusions, the respondent took down his blog page yesterday.”

Scott said 62-year-old Murray’s partner had recently given birth to his son, and added: “The respondent is also keen to communicate his anxiety and stress over these proceedings, especially the uncertainty of outcome, and also the possibility of very serious penalty, which clearly still exists.”

Dorrian continued the case to a hearing on May 7 and called for a social work report.

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

Just last month, Clive Thomson, from Rosyth was jailed for six months for contempt in the same case.

Murray has also been chosen as the lead candidate on the Lothians regional list for Action for Independence (AFI) in the Scottish Parliament election in May.

Hugh Kerr, the party’s regional secretary in Lothian, told The National: “Craig Murray could become elected to the Scottish Parliament on May 7.

“The same day he is likely to be sentenced to prison, he will become Scotland’s first political prisoner and can take up his seat, unless sentenced to more than one year imprisonment.”