Man jailed for naming women who gave evidence in the Alex Salmond trial

Lady Dorrian gave Thomson 48 hours to hand himself inLady Dorrian gave Thomson 48 hours to hand himself in
Lady Dorrian gave Thomson 48 hours to hand himself in
A man who named women who gave evidence against Alex Salmond has been jailed for six months.

Clive Thomson ,52, breached a strict court order which prohibited the identification of the complainers who gave evidence at the former First Minister’s trial last year.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Thomson, of Rosyth, 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 which resulted in Mr Salmond being acquitted of all charges - had passed the order during trial.

Alex Salmond speaks outside the High Court in Edinburgh after he was cleared of all chargesAlex Salmond speaks outside the High Court in Edinburgh after he was cleared of all charges
Alex Salmond speaks outside the High Court in Edinburgh after he was cleared of all charges

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

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

The court heard that he knew that he was not supposed to name the women but did so anyway.

He believed he was safe from prosecution because he was holidaying abroad at the time of one of the offending tweets.

The court also heard that he also sought advice from other Twitter users about how he could get around the court order.

On Thursday, defence advocate Mark Stewart QC urged Lady Dorrian, Lord Pentland and Lord Matthews not to send his client to prison.

Mr Stewart said Thomson cared for his wife who was currently shielding from the Coronavirus pandemic. He also was the family’s main bread-winner.

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But Lady Dorrian said what Thomson did was so wrong that jail was the only option available to the court.

She said: “The court has taken account of the fact that this was a deliberate and indeed planned contempt of court. It is a very serious matter. There are very good reasons why complainers in sexual offences cases are given anonymity. “The protection is extended by convention to complainers in all cases - not just the one which we are concerned.

“It so happens that the protection in this case was backed up by a specific order by the court to underline the importance and you knew that this order had been made

“Nevertheless you deliberately took it into your own hands to flout that order and post the names of those involved believing the second time that you believed you were safe from proceedings from contempt of court by being abroad.”

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

The former SNP leader, MSP and MP had maintained his innocence throughout the two week long trial which was held in March 2020.

At proceedings last month, Mr Stewart told the court that 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.

Sentence had been deferred for the court to obtain reports about Thomson’s background.

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On Thursday, Mr Stewart told the virtual hearing that his client had been suspended from his job at Babcock’s in Rosyth.

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