Scottish activist who named Alex Salmond complainers on Twitter faces possible jail sentence

A Scottish nationalist activist has been told he faces a possible prison sentence for naming the women who claimed they had been sexually assaulted by Alex Salmond.
Former first minister Alex SalmondFormer first minister Alex Salmond
Former first minister Alex Salmond

Clive Thomson, 52, admitted breaching a strict court order that prohibited the identification of the complainers who gave evidence at the former first minister’s trial last year.

Judges Lady Dorrian, Lord Pentland and Lord Turnbull heard how Thomson, from Rosyth in Fife, named the females on Twitter on two different occasions in August last year.

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Lady Dorrian – the judge who presided over the trial that resulted in Mr Salmond being acquitted of all charges – had passed the order during trial.

Mainstream journalists working in Scottish courts do not name complainers in sexual assault cases to prevent complainers privacy being breached.

However, the former defence industry worker ignored the order and named the women on the social media network.

The court heard that he knew that he wasn’t supposed to name the women, but went ahead and did so anyway.

On Friday, moments after Thomson admitted a contempt of court charge, defence advocate Mark Stewart QC urged the judges not to send his client to prison.

But Lady Dorrian said: “The court takes the view that this is a very serious contempt of court Mr Stewart.

“The second post, in particular, is clearly a deliberate post, it is clearly done in the knowledge that it should not be done.

"It is clearly done for political – with a small p – purposes and any reasonable person would understand the reason why complainers are expected to be given anonymity in records and the effect that naming them might have.

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“The option of a custodial sentence is very much an open one at the moment. It is a live issue for the court and we are considering that.

“In order to assist us with determining what is the appropriate sentence, we consider that we do have to obtain a report concerning the circumstances of the accused and we will do that at a further hearing.”

Mr Salmond was cleared of 13 charges of sexual assault last year. A further charge of sexual assault had previously been dropped by prosecutors.

The former first minister had maintained his innocence throughout the two-week-long trial, which was held in March last year.

In a post made on a fundraising website, Thomson requested financial assistance for his case, saying he needed a QC and legal team “regarding a contempt of court charge, over the Alex Salmond case”. As of Friday afternoon, he had raised £275 of a £5,000 target.

Mr Stewart told the court the first post was taken down a short time after it had been published. The second post was taken down within 24 hours of its publication.

The advocate also told the court his client was aware that jail was an option, but urged the court to either fine Thomson or give him community service.

He added: “As far as the disposal is concerned, Mr Thomson is fully aware that custody is a very live option. It’s my submission, however, that custody is not the only option in respect of Mr Thomson.

Thomson is expected to be sentenced on February 25.