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.
Clive Thomson, 52, admitted breaching a strict court order which prohibited 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 Thomson, of Rosyth, named the women on Twitter on two occasions last August.
Lady Dorrian presided over the trial, which resulted in Mr Salmond being acquitted of all charges. She passed the order during the trial.
Mainstream journalists working in Scottish courts cannot name complainers in sexual assault cases in order to prevent their privacy being breached.
However, former defence industry worker Thomson ignored the order and named the women.
The court heard he knew he was not supposed to.
Yesterday, after Thomson admitted a contempt of court charge, defence advocate Mark Stewart QC urged the judges not to send his client to prison.
Lady Dorrian said: “The court takes the view that this is a very serious contempt of court.
“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.
“The option of a custodial sentence is very much an open one at the moment,” she said. “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 maintained his innocence throughout the two-week long trial last March.
In a post 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 yesterday 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.
He said Thomson “has always sought to work hard to contribute to his family, to society and, in the nature of his work in the defence industry, to the public good”. He said Thomson had health problems.
The case comes just days after Twitter was criticised for failing to remove a post by an anonymous user that identified one of the women who accused Mr Salmond.
In response to a complaint from the woman, who said she believed her safety was at risk, Twitter said: “We’re writing to let you know that after reviewing the available information, we didn’t find a violation of our rules in the content you reported.”
Thomson is expected to be sentenced on February 25.