A former UK ambassador has named one of the women involved in the sexual assault claims against Julian Assange during a debate on BBC Newsnight, urging viewers to look online and find out about the women in question.
Craig Murray, the former ambassador to Uzbekistan and a human rights advocate, was a guest on the programme with Independent columnist Joan Smith.
He said: "I think incidents, which are dubious themselves as to what has happened, and Julian Assange has denied the accusations against him, are being seized on as a political agenda.
"It's well worth people going online to discover what they can about the allegations, about how they were made, who made them, what the people who made them did afterwards, and look at what happened."
Smith said that comments about the women "remind us is that there are a lot of people on the left who are unable to separate political conduct from personal conduct.
"All these men, and it is mainly men, on the left, are queuing up to cast aspersions on these women."
Murray named an alleged victim, claiming the name was in general circulation, but was challenged by host Gavin Esler, who said: "You should not be naming a potential rape victim. Please do not do that on television."
Smith turned to Murray and said: "Why would you do that? You see how little respect this man has for women who have made serious allegations?"
She later tweeted:
On the programme, Murray retorted that Smith's claim was "absolute nonsense, I am married to a rape victim."
Neither Murray nor the BBC violated any law in naming the alleged victim, whose name is widely available online, because she lives in Sweden.
The debate sparked furious reaction on Twitter.
Murray later wrote on his blog: "The furore that I “revealed” her name on Newsnight is a pathetic spasm of false indignation by establishment supporters.
"Literally thousands of newspapers and magazines all over the world have named her, including the New York Times and the Times of India, aside from those near 200,000 internet entries.
"Gavin Esler, Joan Smith and I all knew her name – what special rights do we three enjoy that entitle us to know that, but would intend to debar the viewers from knowing that?"
The row came after Respect MP George Galloway caused angry debate by suggesting WikiLeaks campaigners Julian Assange had been accused of no more than bad "sexual etiquette".
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