Miller fails in bid to gag fellow councillor and local news website
An attempt by Lerwick North councillor Caroline Miller to gag fellow SIC member Gary Robinson and local news organisation Shetland News has been rejected by the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Acting on behalf of Mrs Miller and Judane Shetland Ltd., the knitwear company owned by her husband Frank Miller and for which she acts as an adviser, solicitors Morton Fraser had sought an interim interdict on 23rd December.
They wrote to the news organisation stating they believed it had published articles containing defamatory statements and were seeking to prevent it from publishing information about Mrs Miller’s relationship with Judane. The Court of Session confirmed on Thursday that the interdict had not been granted, but was unable to give reasons why.
Shetland News issued a statement saying it was “pleased” to learn that Mrs Miller’s interdict had been denied. It stated: “We were not legally represented in the court and therefore did not defend ourselves against the application for an interdict, which lawyers do not normally find hard to obtain.
“Though we have been given no explanation by the Court of Session or councillor Miller’s lawyer who was present in court for the reasons behind the decision, the fact that the court refused to grant the interdict demonstrates how weak her case must have been.”
Mrs Miller was seeking to prevent the two parties from making statements to the effect that she had engaged in criminal activity or conduct that gave rise to a suspicion of criminality; had knowingly involved herself in business dealings to defraud creditors of Judane; enjoyed the benefits of monthly rental payments from Judane, or was in breach of the councillors’ Code of Conduct.
The Shetland Times revealed in December that councillors had agreed to write off two-thirds of Judane’s £600,000 debt amid concern over the potential of a £2 million insurance claim from Judane for losses it allegedly incurred as a result of bad planning advice from the SIC.
The Shetland News statement continued: “In our eyes it is astonishing that Mrs Miller has not only refused to answer any questions from the media about her involvement with Judane, but has sought to stop us from asking those questions in the first place and to stop councillor Gary Robinson from commenting on her behaviour.”
The SIC was this week still refusing to comment because the matter remained in the hands of lawyers.