Controversial blogger Craig Murray to stand for Scottish Parliament on Lothian list

Former UK ambassador and controversial blogger Craig Murray is to stand as a candidate in Lothian for Action for Independence at the Holyrood elections in May.

Mr Murray – who is currently awaiting the outcome of a contempt of court case relating to blogs he wrote on the Salmond trial – was adopted at a virtual meeting of AFI members in Lothian on Monday night and is tipped to be chosen as number one on the party’s list when a ballot is held to rank the candidates.

AFI urges people to vote SNP in the constituency vote but switch to AFI on the list to maximise the number of pro-independence MSPs elected. It argues the large number of MSPs which the SNP gets elected in constituencies makes it harder for the party to qualify for list seats, whereas by standing only on the list AFI needs only five or six per cent of the votes to get a candidate elected.

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Mr Murray, who was born in England but went to Dundee University and now lives in Scotland again, was British ambassador to the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan between 2002 and 2004 and spoke out against violations of human rights by the regime before he was removed from his post.

He has since campaigned on a number of issues, including in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Mr Murray joined the SNP in 2011 and last year stood for the post of party president, winning the support of one in five delegates. He is a board member of Scotland Now, an umbrella group for independence campaigners, alongside Western Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil and former East Lothian SNP MP George Kerevan.

Hugh Kerr, who is also standing for AFI in Lothian, said he was delighted Mr Murray could top the party's list.

"Craig is a great fighter for justice and civil liberties but he is also a great campaigner for independence. He returned to Scotland after he was sacked by Jack Straw specifically to campaign for Scotland's independence. He has campaigned widely in the Yes movement, he will be a great asset to AFI and would be a really interesting addition to the Scottish Parliament."

Craig Murray will be a Lothian list candidate for Action for Independence Pic: Carl Court/AFP/GettyImages

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