A FORMER diplomat jailed for contempt of court in relation to the Alex Salmond trial has been released after serving half of his eight month sentence. 

Blogger Craig Murray was met by his family and a crowd of around 100 supporters when he was liberated from HMP Edinburgh this morning.

He was met by his wife Nadira, sons Cameron and Jamie and daughter Emily.

Leaving the prison, he said it had been "horrible in there" and "prison is not a pleasant place".

He said: “Scotland should be ashamed of his antiquated, old fashioned and retrograde justice system”.

Almost breaking down in tears, Mr Murray thanked his wife,  his children, and his supporters, some of whom waved Saltires and handed him gifts of whisky and flowers.

He said he had thousands of letters from across the world, including ones which said they were “appalled at this attack on freedom of speech and this miscarriage of justice”.

In a 16-minute speech, he also welcomee the Republic of Barbados into existence after it had “shaken off the British monarchy”, attacked Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP for not making a “scintilla more progress than they have on the day I went in”, and called for prison reform.

He claimed some of his prison guards told him they didn't think he should be in jail.

“A couple of them went further and stated straight out that they did not sign up to join the prison service in order to keep political prisoners,” he said.

“It’s been a hard four months. I’ve learned a lot, one thing I have learned is that dignity comes from inside," he added.

“Nobody can take away dignity from you if you don’t allow them to do so and those in the Scottish establishment who attempted to humiliate and degrade me only succeeded in humiliating themselves and sadly in bringing shame on Scotland internationally."

The former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan was found to have published material capable of identifying four of the women who accused Mr Salmond of sexual assaults.

Mr Murray, who believed the prosecution of the former First Minister was unjust, attended two days of the trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in March 2020.

He then wrote about it on his website.

Three judges, including the trial judge the Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian, the second most senior judge in Scotland, later ruled he was was in contempt of court.

They said there had been a risk of jigsaw identification - publishing material which, when added to other information in the public domain, could have identified complainers.

At his sentencing in May, , Lady Dorrian said Murray appeared to have been “relishing” the potential disclosure of identities despite court orders granting the women lifelong anonymity.

HeraldScotland:

Mr Salmond was cleared of all charges of sexual assault at the trial.

Mr Murray, 63, tried unsuccessfully to appeal the decision to the UK Supreme Court, then handed himself into police in Edinburgh on August 1.

He said today that he now planned to relax for the next few days with his family.

Despite the court’s clear view of Mr Murray’s action, and despite previously saying he had full confidence in Scotland’s justice system, Mr Salmond said the jailing was shameful.

He told his new Alba party at the weekend: “In the treatment of Craig Murray, the Scottish judicial system has shamed itself internationally. 

“Recently our country welcomed delegates from some 200 nations and territories to our major city of Glasgow, to discuss the future of the planet.

"What would these delegates have thought of us, if they knew that we were a nation which jailed journalists, particularly one of the intelligence, track record and calibre of Craig Murray?”