Man who named women in Alex Salmond trial jailed for six months

Lucinda Cameron, PA Scotland
·3-min read

A man who tweeted the names of women who gave evidence against former first minister Alex Salmond at his trial has been jailed for six months.

Clive Thomson, 52, carried out a “blatant and deliberate” breach of a contempt of court order banning the identification of the complainers by naming five of them on social media.

The former first minister was cleared of all 13 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and attempted rape, following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh last year.

At the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday, Lady Dorrian said that Thomson knew the order had been made but decided to flout it, believing at the time of his second post that he might be safe from proceedings from contempt of court by being abroad.

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond was on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh last spring (Jane Barlow/PA)

She said: “You had thus given thought to how you might get away with it, going as far as to seek advice about that on Twitter. You decided to take a calculated risk.

“This was a blatant and deliberate breach of the order, which was likely to cause serious stress and concern to the complainers and interfere with the protection extended to them by the order.”

She said that his actions were “clearly politically motivated, with a small ‘p'”.

Lady Dorrian, sitting with Lord Pentland and Lord Matthews, said the court took account of the fact it was a “deliberate, and indeed planned” contempt of court and described it as a “very serious matter.”

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In a sentencing statement also published after the hearing, she said: “There are very good reasons why complainers in sexual offence cases are given anonymity.

“The protection is, by convention, afforded to complainers in all cases, not just the one with which we are concerned.

“Moreover, the reason for such protection extends beyond the complainers in the present case.

“One reason for it is that the risk of public knowledge of their identities can operate as a severe deterrent to others against making complaints to the authorities in sexual cases.”

Thomson admitted contempt of court at a previous hearing in January.

Lady Dorrian said that for such a “premeditated contempt” there is no alternative to a custodial sentence and jailed him for six months.

A Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service spokesman said: “The Crown has considered a number of potential instances of contempt of court arising from the prosecution of Alex Salmond.

“Where action was justified, either to protect the right of the accused to a fair trial or the identity of the complainers, action has been taken.

“The decision in each instance was reached after applying the same professional, independent and impartial approach which the Crown takes to all its decisions.

“Where the Crown takes formal action, it is for the court to rule if a contempt of court has taken place and to determine the appropriate response.”