FORMER UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, is to begin an eight-month jail term after being found guilty of contempt of court after an appeal bid was refused.

Murray was sentenced to eight months imprisonment after a judge ruled that he had unlawfully published details about the identities of female witnesses in Alex Salmond’s criminal trial on his blog last year. But he was released on bail in order to launch an appeal bid that has now failed.

Murray continues to deny intent to breach the court order protecting their identities, and that such a breach took place.

Lady Dorrian laid down her verdict in May, saying that Murray’s blog could lead to jigsaw identification of four of those involved, if read with other published materials.

A statement released yesterday said the 62-year-old would “surrender himself to police shortly and begin to serve the custodial sentence handed to him”.

That comes after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal.

Sentence was deferred for that purpose but will now begin.

READ MORE: Anger at Craig Murray's eight-month sentence for Alex Salmond trial reports

Last month Murray’s wife Nadira urged against a custodial sentence in an open letter published on his blog.

She argued that his health conditions, including “pulmonary hypertension, APS and atrial fibrillation, among other illnesses” mean he is “not suitable for prison”.

Murray watched two days of the former first minister’s trial from the public gallery of the High Court in Edinburgh in March 2020 and wrote about it on his website.

Salmond was not convicted of any of the charges against him in a case that gripped Scotland.

The Lord Justice Clerk told the court that the former diplomat had deliberately risked jigsaw identification, and that revealing complainers’ identities was “abhorrent”. The blogger was warned that the material, including tweets, could potentially lead to jigsaw identification.

Passing sentence, the judge said: “These actions create a real risk that complainers may be reluctant to come forward in future cases, particularly where the case may be high profile or likely to attract significant publicity.

“The actions strike at the heart of the fair administration of justice.”

It’s understood that a public protest against Murray’s incarceration is planned.

Preparing for jail, Murray maintained he has a “clean conscience” and remains unsure who has been identified or through which phrases.

In a separate prosecution earlier this year, Clive Thomson was given a six month prison sentence for publishing the names of women who gave evidence at the Salmond trial on his Twitter account.