Alistair Carmichael’s SNP opponent at this year’s General Election has hit back at claims by the Lib Dem MP that the legal battle brought against him was politically motivated.
Danus Skene, who is now standing as the nationalist’s candidate in next year’s Holyrood elections, says justice has not been done.
He was commenting after the Election Court case brought against Mr Carmichael by four of his Orkney constituents failed.
In an earlier statement, the former Scottish secretary said the case heard in Edinburgh was “a deliberate attempt by nationalists to remove the last Scottish Liberal voice at Westminster”.
Mr Skene, who reduced Mr Carmichael’s majority to one of just over 800 in the election, has insisted the petition raised against Mr Carmichael had nothing to do with the SNP – or any other political party.
“I am disappointed, as justice has not been done. The court has said plainly that Alistair Carmichael lied ‘for the purpose of affecting (positively) his own return at the election’.
“Such a person is not fit to be our MP, and should have resigned.
“That the facts established in the case have not led to an annulment of the election is not a failing of the court, or of the petitioners. It is because the obscure letter of the law does not allow a verdict to be drawn from damning evidence.”
He added: “I salute the four true citizens who raised the petition challenging the election. It is worth emphasising that the election petition was a personal initiative by four people of varied political opinions who shared a concern that little can be more important in a democracy than that elections are conducted with integrity.
“The petition had nothing whatever to do with the SNP or any other party or organisation.”
His comments came as Highlands and Islands Green MSP, John Finnie, called on Mr Carmichael to reconsider his position in light of the court’s “hair-split decision”.
Mr Finnie highlighted that, while the legal action against Mr Carmichael failed, the lies told by the
MP regarding a leaked civil service memo had shattered the trust of the electorate.
“A lie is a lie. Whatever the result of this case was going to be, Mr Carmichael’s integrity was shot to pieces when he admitted after the election that he had lied, not only to his constituents but to the whole country.
“I believe Mr Carmichael should seriously consider his position following this hair-split decision by the court. Perhaps he wants to consider resigning and go into a by-election to allow him to face his constituents with the full facts and the opportunity to regain their support.”
Meanwhile, the man who stood as Labour candidate in the General Election, Gerry McGarvey, says it was votes for him – rather than any wool-pulling exercise by Mr Carmichael – which prevented the SNP from gaining a Westminster foothold in the Northern Isles.
“I have intentionally refrained from making any public comment on this case because it has been sub judice until now. Regardless of that, I wished to maintain a distance between myself and any possible accusation of political opportunism, unlike SNP activists who have actually funded the legal challenge as it was perceived their party would stand to gain most from any rerun.
“Whilst fully appreciating why the four chose to challenge the election result, I am of the opinion that they have been used by SNP activists to promote their political agenda, and thus, this Election Court hearing has been politically motivated.
“The place for politics is the ballot box – not the courts. I never personally believed that the charges being levelled at Mr Carmichael impacted significantly upon the election result.
“Arguably, it was the vote I received which prevented the 57th SNP candidate from wandering to Westminster, and not any deception on the part of Mr Carmichael.”
He added that “great play” had been made about Mr Carmichael having misled the public.
“Whilst not condoning that, I believe that is as nothing in comparison to the truths and half-truths that have been the hallmark of the SNP government’s period in office.”