This week the husband of Alex Salmond accuser Woman F spoke of how her experience had left her a shadow of her former self.
He said it felt like watching the woman he loved self harm when she scrolled through Twitter feeds filled with bitter vitriol directed at her and the other complainers.
Imagine, he contemplated, if these strangers had known her name, if even one had taken their grudge to her doorstep. If Salmond fanatics had their way, the women who accused him would be dragged to a public square for a head shaving.
Despite being entitled to the lifelong protection of anonymity, a core of Salmond complainers were outed by former diplomat Craig Murray on his blog. Yesterday Murray was sentenced to eight months in prison for breaching a court order protecting the women’s identities.
Murray is already being lionised by his supporters as a “political prisoner” before he has even served a day in jail.
I am not convinced jail is the appropriate punishment for Murray, and it will only enhance his new found martyrdom. But he has been granted three weeks to appeal and is unlikely to serve anywhere near that sentence.
Those who are now campaigning to “free” him are middle-aged or elderly men – the type who think that pesky Metoo nonsense “went too far”.
We are now in “any old white man will do” territory, tweeted one oppressed old white bloke in response to Murray’s conviction. Journalist John Pilger, a man I once idolised, said: “In these dark times, Craig Murray’s truth-telling is a beacon.”
It is certainly no beacon for any woman contemplating the report of rape or sexual assault.
Murray’s name is being heralded in the same breath as Julian Assange and while both have been hailed, often rightly as human rights activists, they have little regard for the human rights of women daring to speak their own truth to power.
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As British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Murray exposed violations of human rights there by the Karimov administration.
Yet his ethics were tossed aside when he abused the legal right to anonymity of the women who accused Salmond.
Salmond was cleared of all 14 assault charges levelled against him, after a high court trial last year. But he was forced to apologise to Woman F, after he exploited his power over her as her employer and behaved inappropriately towards her in a hotel room.
According to Pilger, Murray is “owed our debt of gratitude”.
For what? Standing by a man who was cleared as a criminal but whose behaviour towards women was sleazy, exploitative and morally repugnant.
There will be no “gratitude” from Salmond’s complainers, whose lives have been torn apart by their experience of the justice system.
Their experience has already been discouraging enough for any rape or sexual assault victim, especially of a powerful man.
Thanks to Murray, victims will have no confidence in their legal right to anonymity, making them even more fearful to come forward.
Murray could easily have made his point without effectively naming and shaming the women.
The courts warned him to take his blog down or face the consequences of identifying the women but he refused.
There was no principle at stake. He acted maliciously, to demonise the women and parade them across the internet like treacherous collaborators, who should be subjected to the jeers of the twitterati.
Only a tiny percentage of rape and sexual assault is reported to the police and conviction rates in Scotland are at their lowest level in a decade.
Victims are terrified of being identified and thanks to men like Murray, they have every right to be.
Far from being an activist who holds power to account, he has left victims of sexual crime feeling more powerless than ever.
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