Parliamentary Standards commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, has launched a formal inquiry into the isles MP’s Alistair Carmichael’s involvement over a leaked memo.
Mr Carmichael, who narrowly won the Orkney and Shetland seat in last month’s General Election, has faced repeated calls for him to stand down after he admitted authorising the leak of a private memo to smear the First Minister.
The memo, written by a Scotland Office civil servant, was a third-hand account of a conversation between Nicola Sturgeon and the French ambassador. It suggested Ms Sturgeon would prefer David Cameron over then Labour leader Ed Miliband as Prime Minister. The First Minister and the ambassador both insisted this was not the case.
Mr Carmichael is now being investigated under the terms of paragraphs 10, 14 and 16 of the code of conduct for MPs.
• Section 10: Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest.
• Section 14: Information which members receive in confidence in the course of their parliamentary duties should be used only in connection with those duties. Such information must never be used for the purpose of financial gain.
• Section 16: Members shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its members generally.
It comes after this weekend’s protest at the Market Cross in Lerwick. Campaigners calling for Mr Carmichael to stand down have also launched a challenge against the election result at the Court of Session, after raising more than £50,000 to help finance the bold legal move.
Member of the group The People versus Carmichael, Orkney man Tim Morrison, flew to Edinburgh on Friday to put forward the paperwork which, he hopes, will support the argument in favour of a by-election being held in the Northern Isles.
His journey came after campaigners raised over £50,000 to finance the legal argument, following a rush of online donations.
“We wouldn’t be pushing this forward if our Advocate didn’t think we have a strong case,” Mr Morrison said.
“It would have been struck down immediately in the Court of Session if they thought it was inappropriate.”
Mr Carmichael was not available for comment. Scottish Lib Dem spokesman, Adam Clarke, said: “Alistair Carmichael will cooperate with the investigation. He has accepted responsibility, apologised and declined his ministerial severance payment. He is now getting on with his job – working for the people of Orkney and Shetland.”