21st November 2018
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First stage of Carmichael court challenge looms

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Campaigners who have lodged a legal challenge against Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael have thanked the thousands of donors who pledged an average of about £15.50 each.

The fund-raiser, to allow the legal case under the Representation of the People Act 1983, closed just before the news came that the first stage of the case, which is being defended by the Liberal Democrat MP, will be called at the Court of Session next week.

The group raised a total of £61,448 over the month that the campaign was live on a crowdfunding website. Representing 102 per cent of the target, the cash came from 3,968 individuals.

Those behind  “The People Versus Carmichael” say the legal case is necessary to hold Mr Carmichael to account over his behaviour before, during and after the General Election campaign. The group wants the election result in the Orkney and Shetland constituency overturned.

The campaign began after Mr Carmichael admitted his part in the leaking of a memo from the Scottish Office which led to reports in a national newspaper claiming that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon favoured the return of David Cameron as Prime Minister. Mr Carmichael had previously denied knowledge of the leak.

 

A “by order” hearing will be held in Edinburgh on Thursday by Lady Paton. This is a hearing of a case called by the court and not on motion by either of the involved parties.

Legal arguments are likely to be heard on Thursday on the procedural aspects of the case, and a date could be set for a full hearing. If it proceeds it is likely that any hearing will be held in the Orkney and Shetland constituency.

The People Versus Carmichael spokesman Tim Morrison said: “We have been overwhelmed not just by the level of financial support that we have received but with the messages of support that have come from Orkney and Shetland, all over the UK and from abroad.

“We knew that a significant amount of money needed to be raised quickly to make the action possible as with all legal cases there is no guarantee of winning. However, there is also a comprehensive programme in place for distribution of any unused funds to Scottish food bank charities.

“We await with interest the outcome of the first stage of the case.”