21st May 2018
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Date set for next hearing on Carmichael case

The judges who will decide whether isles MP Alistair Carmichael broke strict electoral laws have set a date for when they will hear evidence in the case.

Election Court judges Lady Paton and Lord Matthews have set aside four days of court time for proceedings which will begin on 9th November in Edinburgh.

They also ruled that television company STV could show part of the proceedings next month. However, broadcasters will be prevented from showing live footage of witnesses giving evidence. They will only be allowed to show the legal submissions made by lawyers.

Lady Paton and Lord Matthews made their decision following a hearing which was held at the Court of Session in the Scottish capital.

It comes just weeks after the judges ruled that a politician could break the law by making a false statement about their personal conduct.

Lawyers acting for the former Scottish Secretary earlier this year argued that the terms of section 106 of the Representation of the People Act only applied to politicians who lied about rival candidates.

They were replying to claims which were made by a legal team representing four constituents from Mr Carmichael’s Orkney and Shetland constituency.

The electors want the election court to declare Mr Carmichael’s recent election to the Westminster parliament declared null and void.

Their lawyers argued that Mr Carmichael misled the public over a memo claiming Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would prefer to see David Cameron as Prime Minister.

Mr Carmichael claimed in an interview with a television journalist that the first he heard of it was when he received a telephone call from another reporter.

However, he later admitted responsibility for sanctioning the leak of the memo to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The constituents who brought the petition – Timothy Morrison, Phemie Matheson, Fiona Graham and Carolyn Welling – all Orkney residents, were aided by crowd funding.

They maintain that Mr Carmichael’s statement on when he first became aware of the leak of the memo took place before the election and his subsequent statement on television was untruthful.

The MP claims he didn’t breach election law because he didn’t make a false statement of fact with regard to the personal character or conduct of a candidate before or during an election for the purpose of affecting votes.

The Representation of the People Act states that a person will be guilty of an illegal practice if before or during an election, for the purpose of affecting the return of a candidate, they make or publish a false statement of fact over a candidate’s personal character or behaviour.

The judges decided today that they could hear the case in Edinburgh and that it could be partly televised.

The lawyers representing the constituents have until later this month to submit a document in which they will detail the witnesses they intend to call.

James Mulholland

15 comments

  1. Kathy Greaves

    I am not a great fan of Alistair Carmichael, but I do wonder why this court case was deemed to be necessary at all. Prior to the election there were so many statements flying around, stories, accusations, lies, promises, threats, which we could read or hear in the media from all political parties, that it was up to the individual to read between the lines, to work out what was true or not. I did not believe the story that Carmichael believed that Sturgeon would prefer Cameron as prime minister for one moment and just put it down to another electioneering story.

    Why can’t they just leave it at that. It has made absolutely no difference to the voting results.

    Reply
    • Robert Duncan

      The case does not relate directly to comments about Nicola Sturgeon, it relates to Carmichael’s own denial of wrongdoing, whereby he sought to protect his reputation by denying any culpability in the leak.

      In an election with a majority of less than 4% of the vote, it’s very presumptuous to say it made no difference.

      Reply
      • iantinkler

        Now something that actually matters. The SNP care so much about the Scottish steel industry that they bypassed it and instead placed an order with the Chinese worth £790 Millions for steel to build the new Forth Road Bridge.

        I hope the Trade Unions and workforce in Cambuslang and Motherwell remind them of this when they troop along to offer crocodile tears and glean political capital by blaming others. hell of a lot more important than a few idiots trying to score political points. Would you agree, Robert Duncan?

      • James Watt

        In what way did the SNP bypass the Scottish steel industry, what exactly are you trying to accuse the Scottish government of doing? As far as I was aware, there was no interest from Scottish steel to be bŷpassed.

        “No Scottish firms bid to supply the huge amount of raw steel required by a project of this scale”

        http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/news/steel-suppliers-announced-new-forth-crossing#.dpuf

  2. Leslie Lowes

    Four people in Orkney got excited about reducing Alistair Carmichael’s majority from an easy win, to just past the post at eight hundred-odd votes and decided to exercise a democratic right to try to attack the result legally, because they hope it might result in a re-run of the contest. They all declare what they say are their motives, but I think the correct term for them all is bad losers.

    I doubt if anything Alistair Carmichael said about anything would have affected the result. A lot of voters post-referendum swung to SNP, enough to almost wipe out his majority, but then we run into the lemon pip-squeezing brigade and they have certainly tried their best at squeezing Alistair’s pips.

    What Alistair did, was a mistake and left a bad taste behind and I am sure he regrets it bitterly, but this persecution of him by the lemon squeezers is an affront to all the voters who supported him to become once again, their elected representative to Westminster. We may well see the electoral disgust at this mis-treatment of their MP by only four disenchanted folk, reflected in a future poll.

    I hope so. I don’t want to see Alistair pipped at the poll any time soon. He has always been very helpful to me when I have asked him to assist me, or a member of my family if they have had problems. He never lets us down ever. He always stepped up to the plate and looked after our problem, with the sort of tenacity you would expect from a good lawyer. He has always been active and on the ball in looking after Orkney and Shetland interests. I still think he has a great deal to give this constituency and I think the course his protagonists have pursued is petty and vindictive. As I said, bad losers.

    Leslie Lowes

    Reply
    • Robert Duncan

      How amusing that you choose to insult the other side as driven by bitterness, while yourself authoring an incredibly bitter take on the matter.

      If Carmichael still has the support of the majority regardless of his impropriety having been confirmed post election, he would have had nothing to fear in a by election to confirm that position.

      Reply
  3. Mark Fraser

    Kathy,

    I really question how you can say it made no difference to voting results.

    Does this mean the people that voted for Carmichael totally accept that he is a liar and are fully accepting of that?

    Electioneering story of whatever, we deserve a political system where the truth and integrity are paramount.
    Sleazy dirty scare stories stirred up should not be accepted just because some may favor the agenda they are initiated for.

    Reply
    • iantinkler

      All totally academic, whatever happens the Tories will still hold a majority in Westminster.If nothing else it has been a good display of just how nasty and divisive “Nationaism” is. It really has lifted a few stones and shown the mentality of the creatures skulking below. Some of the anti Carmichael tweets and bile are infinitely worse than a politician’s lies, after all we have plenty of those to see, from all sides.

      Reply
      • Robin Stevenson

        I think we’ve already seen who is the true “Divisive” one here Ian?…Do you remember what you wrote the other day?

        “And we could ignore once and for all Robin Stevenson, SNP mouthpiece Glasgow Whoop, whoop, whoop”.

        Dear o dear, would that be Xenophobic and racist too then?

  4. iantinkler

    Just a little bit irrelevant for Shetland Robin Stevenson. sorry about that, you do not really cut much ice here, perhaps a comic sideline. No wonder SNP members are endorsing Shetland Devolution. Whoop whoop.

    Reply
    • ROBERT SIM

      You spend a lot of time and energy answering someone who is “a comic sideline”, Ian.

      Reply
  5. Brian Smith

    I am baffled. During the election campaign David Cameron said that he wasn’t going to cut tax credits. It was a fib, one that arguably won him the election. But there have been no complaints in the Shetland Times or News about the matter; no marching on Commercial Street; no lavish subventions to solicitors; no more learned pronouncements by Lady Paton. Not a peep. I wonder why?

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Readers may well ask, Brian.

      Reply
    • Robin Stevenson

      Brian

      In Cameron’s case, it was a promise that was never fulfilled, it can only be a lie IF it can be proved he never intended to fulfil it in the first place. Had he intended to cut tax credits? Of course, but can you prove it?

      In Ali Carmichaels case it was an out and out lie, which he himself has already admitted to.

      If every politician was held responsible for not delivering on promises or indeed “Vows”, there’d be very few politicians left.

      Reply
  6. iantinkler

    Children please “wee alex” and “wee nippy” both said the Indy ref was for a generation!! Heavens above, politicians telling porky pies, whatever next !!!

    Reply

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