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.