Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The SNP are the Real Plague of Scotland; Alex Salmond supporter Mark Hirst is blasted by Rape Crisis Scotland charity over alleged "threatening" comments about female witnesses of Salmond trial, chilling youtube video talks about there is “going to be a bit of a reckoning” when the Coronavirus pandemic is over.

Dear All

There have been several sad stories of people who have lost their lives in the corona virus pandemic; each life lost is a tragedy in itself for society. Three deaths caught my eye while scanning the news, In Italy a 72 year old Priest gave up his ventilator so a younger patient could live, an ENT surgeon who saved many lives contracted the virus and passed away, a 13 year old boy died.

Whether you are young, whether you are old, the message is clear…… stay at home!

Stay at home to save lives, the life you save might be your own, a family member or a neighbour. Shop for essentials then get back indoors. Being isolated is hard, people by nature are social beings, after several days inside, I did some shopping; it was a surreal experience after being stuck at home. More surreal was the fact that the panic buying had eased off, I put this down to people who hoarded being stocked up rather than them coming to their senses.

It is a time of fear, but also a time of resolve, where we have to dig in as the number of people dying climbs; people infected weeks ago paint a grim picture, but it can get a lot grimmer. Today, we learned nearly four hundred souls had lost their lives; we can expect many more to add to that UK total hovering around 2,000 mark.

Defeat has been fought off but we are far from victory, this is a time of bitter endurance.

One issue in Scotland amid the concerns of coronavirus is the aftermath of the Alex Salmond trial. Although Salmond has postponed his day of reckoning, his supporters are as keen as mustard to show their vocal support. Kenny MacAskill, Alex Neil, Joanna Cherry, Wings over Scotland, Craig Murray, all have something to say about what transpired re Salmond. There is a lot of anger, and with the victory by Salmond, their cause has a spiritual zealot zeal to it while at the same time Sturgeon’s ‘allies’ if that term has any meaning seem to have melted away like snowdrops. Salmond’s 9 accusers penned a letter, but you get a feeling other than organisations like Rape Crisis Scotland who get the bulk of their funding from the Scottish Government, support for them is like the non-existent footfall on a Scottish street. 

Rape Crisis Scotland is headed up by former Glasgow University student called Sandy Brindley. I remember her from Glasgow University as she used the QMU and for some reason always seemed to be wearing a blue duffel coat, rain or shine. Why Rape Crisis Scotland is putting them forward into what is seen as an internal SNP civil war is something for them and Brindley to come to grips with. One thing is certain, in this scenario, there are no winners, no upside and negatives will come out later. In a post Salmond world, the Scottish political landscape will change because people attached to Salmond never forget and never forgive.

Present day, in the ‘phoney war’, an Alex Salmond supporter has been blasted by the rape crisis charity over alleged "threatening" comments about female witnesses who testified against Salmond. One chap on the radar is Mark Hirst, he is a former SNP candidate who said that he suspected the "precious anonymity" of Salmond's accusers would "not be continued".
Of course, people will continue to play the guessing game into the identity of  these women are, but even from the trial coverage by various people including the BBC, some people have pieced together who testified against Alex Salmond. And others from got it on tape apparently from the mouth of Salmond’s QC, Gordon Jackson. One wonders if the 9 women are also waiting for corona virus to be over before they also go public and reveal themselves. They may wish to do this before Mark Hirst gets to see the events that happen in which there is “going to be a bit of a reckoning”.

Sandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland said:

“These comments are sinister, threatening and to identify the women would be illegal. This behaviour should be condemned in the strongest possible terms by all parties — it serves no-one and damages an already fractured and fraught public conversation.”

When she says all parties, does she mean political?

I am sure all political parties will condemn violence, sexual assault and rape against women, but in the Salmond case, a jury found him innocent of all charges, 12 not guilty and one not proven. However much Sandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland might want other parties to stand as united front, she might find the ‘frontlines’ rather empty.

And I hope she isn’t a woman to trust Nicola Sturgeon.

For the record, a court order issued by trial judge Lady Dorrian means it is a criminal offence for anyone to publish the identities of the women.

In a YouTube video, Hirst said:

“I suspect very strongly that as this rumbles on, that precious anonymity that they’ve sought will not be continued. Because these women, and not just these women, some of the people involved in this, are senior members of the Scottish Government, senior members of the SNP.”

He continued:

“And they’ve been involved in this active collusion to try and destroy Alex Salmond’s reputation and there’s not a cat’s chance in hell that they’re going to get away with that. So they’re going to reap a whirlwind, no question about it. As soon as this virus emergency is out the way, then there’s going to be a bit of reckoning takes place. We’ll clear out the soft independence supporters which are currently leading the party, that’s why we’ve seen no movement in nearly six years.”

You might be unaware but Hirst has worked for several SNP MSPs over the years and also worked for Russian state news agency Sputnik. As well as accepting the Scottish rouble like Alex Salmond, he also contributed to programmes for The Alex Salmond Show which can be seen on Russian state broadcaster RT. In a game of winners and losers, it is clear that Mark Hirst thinks that Salmond’s camp are destine to be the victors in an SNP civil war. We will have to wait and see, because despite Salmond winning, the road back into the SNP maybe very bumpy for him if at all.
One word stands in the way of his application……… no!

Nicola Sturgeon is rumoured to stepping down after the 2021 election if that happens, when she goes, what future for the 9 professional women who gave evidence against Salmond. I would say their future doesn’t look bright post Sturgeon. A key test of the ‘war’ is the fight for selection at Edinburgh Central, between Joanna Cherry and Angus Roberston, a Sturgeon ally. I think we can expect a really dirty fight for the seat between these two and worse from their supporters.

Finally, as much as everyone loves a popcorn night in watching others destroy themselves, spare a thought for those who are dying, and going to die from corona virus. It is important to rout for the real victims in life, and not the made up ones. What some have expressed over the Salmond is a sincere hope that Sturgeon and Salmond groups destroy each other, wishful thinking maybe, because just as revenge is important in the SNP, so is greed, money, power, position and perks. Which is why I doubt that anyone will shed a tear for the internal civil war in SNP regardless if anyone considers themselves worth of victimhood in that fight!
Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Monday, March 23, 2020

Freedom For Alex Salmond; SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon faces 'profound questions of integrity' after Alex Salmond is dramatically acquitted, Scottish jury doesn’t believe the testimony of 9 female accusers who are allegedly closely linked to Nicola Sturgeon, already there are calls for resignations, Salmond says he is victim of a political plot and information will be made available in due course, “Alex Salmond is back from the dead and he will have his revenge.”

Dear All

I first met Alex Salmond  during the 2008 Glasgow East By-election, that election saw John Mason beat Margaret Curran by 365 votes. I spent 16 days on that campaign and saw a fair bit of how the SNP operated as a campaigning machine. After a session out in Glasgow East, I was told to go grab a sandwich and a drink, so I wandered into the kitchen and sat down. Not along after tucking into a few ham salad sandwiches, in popped Alex Salmond and just sat down beside me. He immediately struck up a conversation where we talked about politics, university and the campaign. 

We chatted for about 10 minutes before someone called Austin Sheridan who later would be an SNP Cllr turned up. Sheridan declared he wanted to be ‘Prime Minister of Scotland’, me and Salmond just looked at each other and settled back. Over the next four years, I would see him at various by-elections where he would say a few words to me, unlike many who rushed over to him, I didn’t but he always acknowledged me in passing.

I make no bones about how I was badly treated in the SNP, after I put in a complaint after being contacted by someone about being smeared as a sexual pervert, the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell and Iain McCann did absolutely nothing. It seems that smearing someone as a sexual predator or a sexual pervert is a modus operandi in the party. The year was 2012, but it appears the same tactics are alive and well under the tenure of Nicola Sturgeon. As Alex Salmond has found out, the SNP has fallen very far from grace into a nasty vicious petty organisation steered from the top. 

What I didn’t know was how far the rottenness had set in until it was leashed on me, I guess Alex Salmond now knows what and why I blog the way I do about the SNP senior leadership.

Today sees a jury deliver what many people expected and others didn’t expect, Alex Salmond has been found innocent of all charges that he is a sexual predator, he has described the last two years as a "nightmare" and promised to reveal evidence of a conspiracy against him. Under Nicola Sturgeon some see the SNP as a party which is very much anti heterosexual, pro women (nationalist), pro man hating feminist and pro Lgbt. 

For years I highlighted the four main groups that make up the SNP, Muslim, Lgbt, the rich and Sein Fein lite, although feminism is a ‘thing’ now that is because Nicola Sturgeon controls the party. 3rd wave Feminism now is as Tv commentator Milo Yiannopoulos aptly says as a vicious nasty man hating movement and Sturgeon herself is keen to tell people she is a feminist.

After hearing the verdict, Alex Salmond spoke briefly outside the High Court in Edinburgh after being acquitted of 13 sexual offences charges.

He said:

“Ladies and gentlemen, just over a year ago when we finished the civil action and judicial review, I said I had great faith in the court system of Scotland. That faith has been much reinforced today. So I’d like to start by explaining that faith and thanking the jury for their decision. I’d also like to thank the court service; who have been courteous beyond limit over the last two weeks and to the police officers who’ve manned this trial under these extraordinary circumstances.”

He added:

“Obviously above all I’d like to thank my friends and family for standing by me over the last two years. I would like to thank my brilliant legal team, who are absolutely exceptional. And I’d like to thank all of the people who’ve sent so many messages over the last 18 months or so, but particularly in recent days. As many of you will know, there is certain evidence that I would have liked to have seen led in this trial, but for a variety of reasons we were not able to do so. At some point that information, that facts and that evidence will see the light of day. But it won’t be this day, and it won’t be this day for a very good reason, and that is whatever nightmare I’ve been in over these last two years it is as of nothing compared to the nightmare that everyone that every single one of us is currently living through. People are dying. Many more are going to die. What we’re doing just now, and I know you [the media] have got a job to do, is not safe. I know it’s your job, but it ain’t safe, and my strong, strong advice to you is to go home, those who can and are able to, take care of your families and God help us all.”

The trial maybe over but what isn’t over is Alex Salmond wanting his pound of flesh, during his trial, we heard his legal team had wanted to question witnesses about an alleged political plot to "discredit" him. Judge Lady Dorrian refused to allow it for legal reasons. During his two-week trial, Salmond said some of the allegations against him were "deliberate fabrications for political purposes".

If you check twitter, you can see already that Wings Over Scotland tweeted;

“James Matthews on Sky News reporting what nobody was allowed to say before now: it's the view of Alex Salmond, and others, that Nicola Sturgeon was at the heart of a conspiracy against him”.

Well there you have it folks, two buddies and one allegedly saying “it's the view of Alex Salmond, and others, that Nicola Sturgeon was at the heart of a conspiracy against him”.

For many years, I said that there was something wrong about Nicola Sturgeon, she isn’t likeable, but it is more than that, this is a woman who lives a fake persona of being a ‘caring individual’. We see the mask slip when she resumes her normal personality which is rather ugly.

Here is a quote I found:

“Alex Salmond is back from the dead and he will have his revenge.”

And now having been found innocent, could the SNP refuse him membership or standing as a candidate? 

Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Petere Murrell control the party machine, but the grassroots will not follow them as Salmond makes public matters that he wasn’t allowed to speak of in the trial. Corona virus takes precedent as Salmond says, but the reckoning is coming, postponement matters not a jot. 

The thing about revenge it is like food, quality matters but quantity is as equally important if not more so. Given the accusers are high profile SNP and Scottish Government women, one thing they will know or I suspect that they will come to the conclusion is that ‘Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t have their back’.

People are already calling the nine women who accused Alex Salmond of sexual offences…. Liars! 

Every accusation had come from people who’d been on Alex Salmond’s own team which he must have found disappointing to say the least, these women were either his political colleagues or his own staff it appears. Every single accuser came from a very small circle within the SNP, or civil servants very closely connected to that circle. 

Already, the rumour mill at Wings Over Scotland is churning out that at that circle in its centre sits Nicola Sturgeon and Leslie Evans. He also ‘notes that no evidence directly links the First Minister to the events of the case, just as no German government document from 1939 to 1945 exists which explicitly connects Adolf Hitler to the Holocaust’.

Wings also wrote that ‘Readers may or may not draw their own conclusion from those facts’.

Being the victim of an injustice is bad enough if accidental, but the fact that nine women all allegedly close to Nicola Sturgeon have not been believed by a jury is quite extraordinary. This case is however an extraordinary case, which in the fullest of time post corona virus we will see more information put into the public domain by Alex Salmond. In an STV interviewed, you could clearly see a very unhappy and rattled Nicola Sturgeon.

Please watch the Milo video in full.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Normal service will be resumed after Corona Virus, in the meantime, I am switching to a once a week post, sadly no internet at home and libraries closed has taken its toll, stay safe, keep warm and see you on the other side

Dear All

Due to the libraries being shut down to stop the spread of coronavirus, I am not able to do a normal blogging service, basically no internet, so I am borrowing my brother's device to write this to you.

The libraries are supposed to re-open at the end of April, so the story goes!

In light of this, I am going to be doing a weekly blog, sorry about this, but I don't have the internet at home and without the library, I am stuffed.

Anyway, stay in, keep warm, and hopefully see you all on the other side.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Monday, March 16, 2020

Fending off Alex, Woman B alleges an assault by Alex Salmond was 'like wrestling with an octopus', in glorious evidence it was said Salmond feared 3 women, one being woman B, the others his wife and Nicola Sturgeon, his fear didn’t stop him having alleged multiple sex contacts behind his wife back, so it seems Alex Salmond has the ability to overcome his ‘fears’ at least according to his lawyers!

Dear All

Start of another week and the Alex Salmond trial just keeps on getting better in terms of the high drama. I think there is a TV series to come out of this yarn whatever way this trials ends or at least a high profile documentary. As we start a new week, a woman has described fending off an alleged assault by Alex Salmond as “like wrestling with an octopus”. The analogy is pretty straight forward from his accuser. Woman B is alleging Salmond the former First Minister grabbed her wrists and attempted to kiss her. She alleges this was done in a bid to recreate an “inappropriate” Christmas card scene.

What I find interesting in terms of evidence is that three civil servants told the court that staffing rules were “changed” to ensure key female staff did not work alone with Alex Salmond in his official residence in the evening. This begs several questions like how come Salmond’s deputy Nicola Sturgeon, SNP Ministers and Salmond’s army of special advisors didn’t know about the rule change? Are we to believe that the entire senior SNP right up to Nicola Sturgeon didn’t know a thing?

If this type of behaviour was going on following complaints you would think that such a situation would be common knowledge, one civil servant said staff were “frightened” of Alex Salmond, while another said the civil service considered withdrawing some support altogether "under the circumstances". You would think with such talk that there must be a paper trail especially leading to the change in staffing as it related to Salmond logged somewhere.

Did the Civil Service log such a change?

The court heard claims Salmond indecently assaulted a female civil servant known as Woman B, in Bute House, his official residence in Edinburgh, in late 2010.  The assault allegedly happened after a meeting during which senior staff had raised concerns that a Christmas card due to be sent out by the first minister and his wife was too “sexualised”.  The card apparently depicted a painting by the artist Jack Vettriano, showing a “quite scantily clad” women reaching up to kiss an older man in glasses.

Was this card shown to the Court and the jury for them to judge?

After the meeting finished at around 11pm, the woman was left alone with the first minister in the drawing room of Bute House, and he allegedly said,

"Let's recreate the pose on the Christmas card."

I don’t care who you are but saying this to me seems rather strange especially to someone who is a female member of staff

The woman said: 

“He grabbed my wrists and pulled me towards him and I was just shocked. It felt like every time I managed to get a hand off, another hand would appear.”
Woman B said he was “persistent”, adding:

“It felt like I was wrestling with an octopus.”

The civil servant said it felt like this went on "forever" but it probably lasted for seconds or a minute, I assume that if this alleged assault happened the woman must have felt everything was moving in slow motion and was surreal.

She added;

“He was leaning towards me, trying to pull me in to him, and because he had said, 'Let’s recreate the pose on the Christmas card,’ I knew it was a sexual approach.”

The woman said she “absolutely” did not consent, adding: 

“I felt alarmed and I wanted it to stop.”

The jury where then told the alleged assault only ended when a colleague came to the door.  

She said:

“I spoke to my line manager but I don’t think there was really an option to take things further at that time in the Scottish Government, because of the relationship that existed between the civil service and the First Minister."

If the line manager is still alive, then surely this person would have to give evidence to back up the woman B’s claim that she did speak to them in their capacity as line manager?

She added:

“I felt that if I had complained formally, I would have been the problem and I would have been removed – and I had worked really hard. If I had complained, I think it would have been swept under the carpet, and I think I would have suffered in my career as a result.”

One thing I do recognize which woman B is speaking about is the vindictive nature and modius operandi of the SNP to target people who make complaints, I know because this happened to me. I put in a complaint asking for an investigation because I was passed information that certain SNP members were allegedly smearing me. Nothing was done, then when I complained about how the SNP was operating publicly, I was targeted no less by William Henderson, the Nationalist Sec, when I went public, Henderson resigned and disappeared.

Later I decided not to be involved in the SNP phoney complaint against me setup by Henderson who was not only the complainer but also setting up the hearing against me; he was talking to the judges outside the process.

Totally against natural justice and human rights!

Woman B also said she never saw anybody in a senior position in the Scottish Government tackle the First Minister about his behaviour. If you understand how the SNP works you could be tempted to believe this. The SNP is run on the lines of the cult of personality, everything, but everything is done to protect the ‘Great Leader’ at all costs.

The same doctrine still exists today in the party, Nicola Sturgeon was “transformed” from an angry vicious wee Nat into a caring superwoman, a Chief Mammy, a benevolent "guide" for the nation without whom the transformation to a better future could not occur without her presence. And that is all bullshit, the SNP plastered over the flaws but you can see the through the cracks, Nicola Sturgeon can't fake being caring, she can't fake being concerned, and she can't fake being a Chief Mammy, no matter how many kids she hugs or has surrounding her.

Under cross-examination, Shelagh McCall QC, Salmond's lawer, suggested the First Minister’s behaviour was “hijinks”. 

Woman B responded:

“I would say that it was 11 at night in an empty room at Bute House, and I don’t think that can be described as hijinks.”

Salmond, 65, faces multiple charges of sexual assault and one of attempted rape. He denies all the allegations but he has got some good news, he has been formally acquitted of a charge of sexual assault after the Crown offered no evidence.

Judge Lady Dorrian told Mr Salmond:

"In light of the decision of the advocate depute, I formally acquit you of charge six on the indictment."

Finally, although the corona virus is getting big media attention, this trial is worth a watch, sadly it is not televised which is a great shame. Along with this post, I found an interesting take on the SNP as a party lacking in moral values in the youtube video, take the time to watch it and ponder. 

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Roller Coaster Ride of the Alex Salmond Trial, 14 charges against Salmond include one of attempted rape, one of sexual assault with intent to rape, ten others of sexual assaults and two of indecent assault, he has pled not guilty to them all, it is claimed that women told not to work alone at Bute House with Alex Salmond after an alleged late night sexual assault, Woman G claims she was “frightened”

Dear All

It is nearly the end of the first week of the Alex Salmond trial, and what a week it has been in terms of evidence put before the Court. Salmond fighting against 14 sex charges involving ten women is maintaining his innocence. The women who testified so far have given their harrowing accounts of what they alleged happened. One interesting revelation which came out in evidence was that women told not to work alone at Bute House with Alex Salmond. The reason for this told to the jury was after an alleged late night sexual assault

One official known as Woman G told how she felt “trapped” after Mr Salmond insisted she go back with him to Bute House after a dinner at a restaurant in Edinburgh in April 2014.
She said he had got her to sit next to him on a sofa, made inappropriate remarks, put his arm around her and “leaned in” for a kiss.

Salmond’s QC, former Labour MSP Gordon Jackson after her revelations suggested to her the matter may have been inappropriate, but had not been viewed as being very serious. Her reply to Jackson’s comment was

“It was serious enough for us to change our staffing practices.”

Asked by Alex Prentice QC, for the prosecution, what had changed, she said:

“The specific change was that women were not to be alone with Mr Salmond in Bute House.”

She said there was also to be no civil service support for Mr Salmond after a certain time in the evening – 7pm or 9pm – unless there was specific government business to attend to.

If this evidence was true, there would be a record, a paper trail to follow and most importantly people at the other end of the trail to question, such as Alex Salmond’s Chief of Staff, Geoff Aberdein.

Here is an interesting article written in 2019 about Holyrood’s Salmond probe for reference.

Woman G told the court she felt like a “play thing” for Salmond after an earlier incident when he had smacked her on the bottom as they left a restaurant in Glasgow after a dinner in 2012.

She said:

“Mr Salmond ushered people out ahead of him and I was standing back. He gestured for me to go ahead of him and as he did that he smacked my buttocks.”

In recent footage of the trial we see Alex Salmond gesturing to the two women with him to go in front of him as he walks into the Court building.

Alex Prentice for the Crown asked how she reacted.

“I was shocked. It had not happened to me before. We were in a public place and I remember feeling like I had to make sure I didn’t react visibly. I didn’t want to look embarrassed, so I carried on leaving the restaurant. It felt demeaning and it made me feel I was a play thing to him.”

After the 2014 dinner in Edinburgh, she said she had papers for Mr Salmond which he could have taken himself, but he wanted her to go back to Bute House with him.
Inside, she had left the papers on the table in the second-floor sitting room and asked if she could leave.

She said:

“He said I wasn’t to leave. He beckoned to me to sit next to him on the sofa.”

Mr Salmond had gone to the drinks cabinet and poured two glasses of limoncello.

She added:

“He wanted me to drink some shots with him. I told him I wasn’t going to be drinking, I didn’t like limoncello.”

She said Mr Salmond told her to call him Alex and put his feet up on the coffee table.

“I began to feel slightly intimidated and trapped,” she said.

She said he had made inappropriate comments such as “what I would do to you if I were 26”.

She said:

“I thought it meant that he would try to have sex with me, to have sexual relations with me. He had his arm around me and at that point I started to feel panic and he leaned in to kiss me.”

Mr Prentice asked if she had agreed to any of this or any signal which invited it. She said:

“No, I had been trying to leave and had been saying it in many different ways.”

She had tried to make up an excuse about a guest needing to get into her flat and made her ringtone go off so it sounded as if they were trying to contact her. She said she had sat with “my legs closed tightly and my arms closed around me”.

Prentice asked:

“Were you frightened?” She said: “Yes, I was frightened. It was at that moment I knew if I didn’t get out that something serious might happen, so I just stood up and said ‘I have to go’ or ‘Can I go now?’ I just grabbed my coat and walked to the door.”

Asked about Mr Salmond’s reaction, she said:

“He was frustrated and almost defeated and said something along the lines of ‘fine, go’.”

She said she messaged a colleague saying she wouldn’t do her shift the next day because Alex Salmond had “been out of order” or “inappropriate” and she stayed off work for a few days. She said she was “extremely embarrassed” and “confused” and “hated him for what he had just done”.

Cross-examining, Gordon Jackson said Mr Salmond’s behaviour had been “thought of as nothing at the time”, but years later had become a “criminal thing”. Woman G rejected a suggestion by Mr Jackson that when Mr Salmond put his arm around her on the sofa he was attempting to comfort her because she seemed upset.

“No, not at all,” she said.

She said she had viewed it as “a move with romantic intentions”.

Mr Jackson also suggested to Woman G that when Mr Salmond allegedly smacked her bottom he was being “playful – even if you didn’t take it that way”.

She replied:

“I think it was extremely inappropriate.”

The trial is said to have been slotted to run 4 weeks, but apparently this trial is moving quickly and could end a week earlier.  Like many people, I am wonder when Moira Salmond, the wife of the accused will make an appearance to come down and standby her husband. I suppose this will be painful for her given Alex Salmond’s special defence that several women had consensual sex acts with him.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Corona virus is a Pandemic, 460 cases in the UK, we know about, Italy is in lockdown, in Scotland the number of positive tests spikes to 60, large Scottish gatherings over 500 to be banned, and actor Tom Hanks and his wife have been infected in Australia, is the information we are being told enough to really educate ourselves to how much danger we are in?

Dear All

Coronavirus is a rather nasty bug which is going to kill a lot of people, at present; you get the impression that some parts of the world are taking the threat more seriously than others. Italy is on lockdown, borders are being closed; entire cities are staying indoors. Large gatherings are banned but one place stands out as taking the threat more seriously, that is Russia. Russia closed their borders really quickly and has had few cases despite being one of the biggest countries in the world. In the West, the thinking of business as usual has prevailed which in retrospect shouldn’t have happened because some feared the ‘hit’ to the financial markets.

Coronavirus is grim and the chance to isolate it has gone, we have a pandemic, no one is safe, no matter how much soap or toilet roll they buy. You get a sense that the virus is being downplayed in certain countries. People getting off planes from Italy just breeze back into the UK, no health checks which is contrary to information like this news report put out.

So, a question is why?

In the UK, we are expecting things to get worse, we are seeing businesses suffer, but isn’t a short term hit better than a long term tragic human outcome? Already the airlines are seeing a huge drop in business. And this will have a ripple effect in business and in people having to cancel holidays to places like Italy.

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

a cough
a high temperature
shortness of breath

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu. What we don’t could fill a library such as how the virus is transmitted. Is it by contact or is it airborne? If it is airborne, this is a real problem, it means it will spread faster. We are told that doing certain things will limit our chances of catching it such as;

wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
always wash your hands when you get home or into work
use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

And we are told; don’t touch your face, mouth or eyes if your hands are dirty because this allows a fast route into the body. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor because we all have an equal chance of being infected. One person who is infected is award winning actor Tom Hanks, he and his wife have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The Oscar-winning actor, 63, has been in Australia filming an upcoming Elvis Presley biopic and said he started experiencing symptoms of the virus. After tests, he and his wife got the bad news, in a statement, he said:

"Well, now. What to do next? The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks' will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? We'll keep the world posted and updated. Take care of yourselves!"

US President Donald Trump addressed the US and announced a host of new measures, notably suspending all travel from Europe, excluding the UK, for 30 days starting from Friday.  In Scotland, we are told the number of known cases has topped 60. The true number will be higher because there will be people infected just moving around the population just thinking they are okay or have a mild cold. Gatherings of over 500 are now banned in Scotland from next Monday, but will that measure be enough and also who came up with that number and is there any science behind it?

What needs to happened is the public being told more information in order to keep them save, so far, we have been told about crowds and hand washing, but you get a sense of phased denial is coming to an end. We are told that governments are working to find a cure but how did this virus suddenly get so widespread? The obvious answer is airplanes, in a global world, the spread of virus and disease is so fast, especially with open borders. As of Wednesday, there were 460 confirmed cases in the UK and eight people had died after contracting the disease. We haven’t turned a corner with the virus so that it has run its course, and we don’t know if the authorities get it wrong it could spring up again and mutate to another strain.

So far, we have been told there are two strains.

I don’t think people should feel safe at present, economies can be rebuilt, but this virus kills, I think we need to know and be told more. Tom Hanks and wife hopefully will make a full recovery. If someone like Tom Hanks who lives a comfortable life can be infected, then what hope is there for the rest of us?

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Let Justice be done and seen to be done, Woman H tells High Court in Edinburgh that she felt 'hunted' by former SNP First Minister Alex Salmond before alleged attempted rape, first day of Alex Salmond trial, the jury of nine women and six men face possibly the most high profile case they will ever have to judge

Dear All

We may be in the middle of a corona virus epidemic, we may be can’t get our hands on loo roll for panic buying, we may be seeing countless SNP MPs and MSPs play the mental health card but as the apocalypse and the end of the world beckons, the Alex Salmond trial is rolling on. Alex Salmond’s have lodged special defences of consent and alibi, Alex Salmond is denying all criminal charges.

Yesterday, the trial kicked with a former Scottish Government official telling the Edinburgh High Court her evidence of what allegedly happened to her Bute House after an allegedly drunken Alex Salmond tried to rape her.

The woman said she felt “chased” and “hunted”.

In her evidence she said the alleged assault in an upstairs bedroom in June 2014 happened when one of her arms was incapacitated by a recent fall. The woman listed on the trial simply as Woman H said:

“He full-on pounced”.

She added:

“I wish in hindsight I had just screamed or kicked him in the nuts, but I was so frozen I was panicking inside. He would not stop. He was not listening.”

After Salmond fell asleep she claims she went to another room and waited “till the coast was clear” before leaving by the back door. 

Her evidence said:

“I remember curling up on the floor in the foetal position thinking, ‘Just be quiet. Be really quiet. He will hear you. I was scared. I was in shock for a long time after this.”

She said she did not tell anyone about the attack because she did not want the “humiliation” of being thought of as one of Mr Salmond’s “other women”.

This bit above interests me, here is a former Scottish Government employee saying that she did not want the “humiliation” of being thought of as one of Mr Salmond’s “other women”. This tends to suggest that prior to Salmond’s admission of cheating on his wife repeatedly that it was common knowledge about Salmond among staff. If this was common knowledge among staff, how exactly did the entire SNP stasi including Nicola Sturgeon not know?

Woman H gave her evidence from behind a screen at the High Court in Edinburgh on the first day of Mr Salmond’s trial for a series of alleged sex crimes.

Alex Salmond has lodged a special defence of consent in relation to four charges involving three women and alleged incidents at Bute House between 2010 and 2013; in total he faces 14 charges from 10 women. The jury of nine women and six men heard his defence against one charge of indecent assault, two of sexual assault, and one of sexual assault with intent to rape was that he “reasonably believed” the women "to be consenting throughout". Nine of the charges relate to alleged incidents at Bute House, his former official residence in Edinburgh.  To get a sense of what she is saying, you have to read the transcript, Alex Salmond isn’t just a guy from down the street, he is arguably one of the most high profile people of the SNP and independence movement in recent memory, even although he cancelled his SNP membership, he is still seen as the SNP.

Judge Lady Dorrian described Salmond as a “well known political figure” and asked the jury whether they had any strong feelings, either of support or animosity, towards him which would stop them acting in an “unbiased” manner. She stressed they had to reach a verdict solely on the basis of the evidence in court and they should “cast aside entirely” any political feelings they had. She also warned them not to access any material about Mr Salmond or the trial on social media “in the interests of justice”.

Nine women and six guys of the jury don’t have an easy task.

Now, leaving the trial to one side, it runs for several weeks, one thing I have noticed is the remarkable mental health problems that serious SNP politicians and former SNP politicians claim to suffer from.

Former SNP Minister Derek Mackay attempts to “groom” a schoolboy, needs mental health treatment.

Former SNP Minister Mark McDonald harasses a woman assessed for mental health treatment.

Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry confesses to embezzling more than £25,000 from pro-independence campaign groups, pleads guilty and then decides she doesn’t like jail so appeals to get verdict overturned, jumps on the mental health bandwagon.

How many more times does this need to happen before people start to recognize a pattern? It seems in the case of the three above, Mackay, McGarry and McDonald that this is an attempt to paint themselves as victims. I had to watch the McDonald interview with some bemusement as he talked about his mental health assessment and thoughts of saying goodbye cruel world. The world is cruel when you get outed, especially in the press. One thing is certain, sex and politics don’t mix and neither does embezzlement and politics. Natalie McGarry is apparently in Court in April; this is for me a more important trial than Salmond’s.

Finally, I met Alex Salmond several times, we even had reasonably long talks since I was quite active in campaigning for the SNP prior to being smeared; I still have trouble wrapping my head around this trial. Met him in 2008 in Glasgow East, he came into the kitchen at the Glasgow East by-election and sat down to strike up a conversation with me as I was having lunch. He was very friendly, and he liked to talk to people even although he didn’t know me from Adam. Day two of his trial, and let justice be done.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University