Judge sets date for Carmichael legal hearing

A date has been set for a legal debate into whether Alistair Carmichael should continue as Scotland’s only remaining Liberal Democrat MP.

Lady Paton decided today that the hearing should take place at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on 7th and 8th September.

The judge made the decision after being addressed by Mr Carmichael’s QC Roddy Dunlop. She was also addressed by QC Jonathan Mitchell, who has been instructed by a number of constituents from the Northern Isles.

The residents want Mr Carmichael’s election to the Westminster Parliament in May declared null and void because he allegedly breached the Representation of the People Act.

They have taken legal action because of a leaked Scottish Office memo which formed the basis of a story in the Daily Telegraph on 3rd April.

The article, headlined “Nicola Sturgeon secretly backs David Cameron”, claimed the Scottish First Minister had told the French ambassador to Britain that she preferred to see the Tory leader continue as Prime Minister.

Two days later the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, ordered an inquiry into the leak and Mr Carmichael was also interviewed on the subject by Channel 4 News.

The probe later concluded that Euan Roddin, a former special adviser Mr Carmichael in his role as Scottish Secretary, had his permission to lead the story to the Telegraph.

Mr Carmichael, who won Orkney and Shetland with an 817 majority, left his government role without severance pay.

The constituents who brought the petition, Timothy Morrison, Phemie Matheson, Fiona Grahame and Carolyn Welling, all from Orkney, 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 was untruthful.

The MP, who was elected in 2010 with a 9,928 majority, claims that 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 action called last week at the Court of Session for a procedural hearing. Mr Dunlop told the court that his client believed he didn’t break election laws.

Mr Mitchell told the court that it was common ground that the legal arguments should be dealt with in Edinburgh rather than in the actual parliamentary constituency.

The court heard that live links to the constituency could be provided.

The case was continued until today for another procedural hearing.

Mr Mitchell told the court that he and Mr Dunlop would liaise with each other in the time leading up to the September hearing with regard to legal matters.

He also told the court that commercial broadcasters STV were interested in helping providing television or internet streaming coverage to the Orkney and Shetland constituency.

Mr Dunlop told the court that the broadcasters should receive legal guidance from a senior judge on what they could film.

Telling the court that it was illegal to film proceedings without receiving permission from a senior judge, Mr Dunlop added: “Some guidance would be helpful. It is contempt of court to film proceedings.”

Lady Paton also fixed a hearing into the matter regarding filming in court for 31st August.

James Mulholland


Add Your Comment

    • July 8th, 2015 14:41

    Alistair Carmichael should do the honourable thing and resign. He is a disgrace and is unfit to be a MP. How anyone could do what he did and still think anyone could look up to him as a public representative must be insane. I noted this week that he tried to cosy up to the SNP but most people can now see through him. Typical Lib Dem that the people of the UK rejected in May.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • July 9th, 2015 13:43

    Mr Thomas, Mr Carmichael showed the slow 56 SNP MPs how parliament works something even the bold Salmond has not grasped.
    The campaign against Mr Carmichael in his constituency has been personal and bitter. The SNP are aiming to obliterate the Liberal Democrats from the political landscape of Scotland, which in many cases they have graced; and to take another Westminster seat at a by-election, should the case to unseat him succeed. This would take their tally to 57 out of 59 Scottish seats.
    Whether what Mr Carmichael has done is technically sufficient to declare his election unable and whether the most senior figure in the SNP , former leader Alex Salmond MP, is guilty of even more substantial deception, Mr Carmichael has unquestionably been culpable of a somewhat muddy trick in the General Election campaign but Sturgeon was not a candidate.
    An SNP branch in Moray – Lossiemouth, Hopeman and Burgh Head, used its Facebook page to campaign even to get Mr Carmichael thrown out of his position as elder of a church in Orkney. When this foray was made public, the SNP tried to scrape it off their shoes and had the website smartly shut down.

  • Brian Smith

    • July 9th, 2015 18:09

    It’s a funny thing, George Osborne has been uttering dreadful lies over the past 24 hours about his budget; but I hear nothing from the local splutterers about that situation …

  • Alvin Leong

    • July 12th, 2015 10:49

    This is why I vote only for the Conservatives, at least with the Tories, they are consistent.


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