Alex Salmond has called for a posthumous pardon for a group of 18th century radicals he hailed as “founders of democracy in Scotland”.
Thomas Muir and his fellow radicals were tried for sedition in 1793 and 1794, but the ex-first minister last night insisted the charges were “trumped up.”
He was making the inaugural Thomas Muir lecture at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh last night.
“The exploits of Muir, a pioneer of democratic political reform and Scottish independence, are recognised in the monument at Old Calton Cemetery,” he said.
“However, the trumped up charge by the notorious Lord Braxfield of ‘unconscious sedition’ still stands against the names of Muir, Palmer, Skirving, Margarot and Gerrald. It is time to set the record straight”
The 250th anniversary of Muir’s birth is an opportunity to re-examine the historical record, Mr Salmond added. The ex-SNP leader said the writings of Robert Burns also show “clearest possible reference” to Muir’s trial and inspiration the Bard drew from the Friends of the People movement.
Mr Salmond added: “In his speech before the Court of Judiciary, Muir said: ‘Gentlemen, from infancy to this moment I have devoted myself to the cause of the people. It is a good cause – it shall ultimately prevail – it shall finally triumph’.
“His friend William Skirving said from the dock: ‘I know that what has been done these two days will be rejudged’.
“We have the ability to do this in Scotland and we should do it now to reclaim the position of these founders of democracy in Scotland.”