Isles MP Carmichael ordered to pay his own expenses

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael will have to pay a £80,000 legal bill following a ruling by election court judges on the so-called “Frenchgate” scandal.

Lawyers acting for the former Scottish Secretary asked judges Lady Paton and Lord Matthews on Monday to order Mr Carmichael’s opponents to pay the bill.

Members of the public from Mr Carmichael’s Orkney and Shetland constituency had gone to court last year to complain about the Liberal Democrat politician’s conduct during the 2015 general election.

The constituents claimed that Mr Carmichael allegedly breached the Representation of the People’s Act.

They claimed that he broke the law when he told a television journalist that he didn’t know anything about a confidential memo that had been leaked to The Daily Telegraph.

The document was leaked by Mr Carmichael’s special adviser Euan Rodden and the MP authorised the leak.

It was then used by the newspaper as the basis for a story which told of the claims surrounding the contents of a conversation between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the French ambassador to the UK.

Ms Sturgeon allegedly told the diplomat that she wanted the Tories to win the general election.

Mr Carmichael was cleared of breaching the Representation of the People’s Act in December 2015. But judges criticised his conduct.

In a written judgment Lady Paton stated: “In our opinion, however, the first respondent’s approach to the inquiry was at best disingenuous and at worst self-serving.”

Mr Carmichael’s advocate Roddy Dunlop QC returned to court today and asked the judges to order the constituents to foot his client’s legal bill.

However, judges refused the request. Lady Paton said she and Lord Matthews couldn’t find any evidence that the constituents’ claims were malicious.

She said: “Expenses are neither liable or due to any party in the case.”

Mr Dunlop had earlier told the court that Mr Carmichael wasn’t a wealthy man and it wasn’t fair for him to pay the bill because he hadn’t broken the law.

Mr Dunlop also said that the constituents had raised significant amounts of cash from crowd funding and that they didn’t have the same financial pressures as his client.

He added: “The petitioners raised a significant war chest through crowd funding. My client is not a wealthy man.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to have their cake and they shouldn’t be allowed to eat it.

“He is not a rich man. To force him to endure yet more distress – it has affected both him and his family – would be wrong.

“It would not not be in the interests of justice and it would not be fair.”

Advocate Jonathan Mitchell QC, who represented the constituents who brought the case to court, said his clients were acting in the public interest by using the legal system to hold their MP to account.

He said Mr Carmichael had showed himself to be a dishonest man who only told the truth because he had been placed on oath.

Mr Mitchell added: “There was an odd feeling that when Mr Carmichael was giving evidence it was as if he was in confession.

“He gauchely said he was he was telling the truth because he was oath and he did not want to be like Tommy Sheridan.

“Mr Carmichael is shocking, outrageous, dishonest and lacking in candour. He is also unimpressive.”

Lady Paton ruled that because there was no evidence that the constituents had brought a “vexatious” case to court, they wouldn’t have to pay Mr Carmichael’s bill.

James Mulholland


Add Your Comment
  • iantinkler

    • February 8th, 2016 14:48

    That seems fair. What a lot of money wasted though, would have paid for a few food banks. Maybe the Orkney four are happy with their stand, waste of money, waste of time over a wastes of space on all sides is my view. All come out smelling a bit of something nasty. Only winners, the lawyers!

    • BIll McLean

      • February 8th, 2016 16:57

      “all come out smelling a bit of something nasty” – odd that people following their democratic right to be represented honestly should be described in this way. Mr Carmichael’s hubris and arrogance led to this there was no need for him to lie – as the judges described his behaviour. Any criticism should be directed at him not those who demanded justice – unfortunately only partly met!

    • Chris Johnston

      • February 8th, 2016 22:54

      I suspect none of his expenses will be paid out of his pocket. Politicians have been employing crowd funding for decades.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • February 8th, 2016 20:23

    The sad thing is that the 4 and their bank rolling fans are down £208K Carmichael £150k so that is a total of £358k gone to lawyers. This does not include the actual court time and costs, so effectively we could say that 1/2 a million (at least) thrown down the pan just to keep the nats happy. As Ian says the food banks could have used that kind of donation to support people with real needs, but hey why spoil a hate campaign just because someone in real need could have used that money.

    • BIll McLean

      • February 9th, 2016 11:29

      What absolute twaddle. You’d rather we allow politicians to lie in their teeth all the time? Your nasty, juvenile use of “nats” tells us all we need to know! This was not a “hate campaign” – just a campaign for decency in out politics which unionists seem not to want for obvious reasons. “Someone in real need” could also use the money that the warmongers at Westminster waste every day in their ongoing bid to appear important to anyone but themselves!

      • Gordon Harmer

        • February 9th, 2016 13:53

        Bill how does one lie in their teeth? This was a hate campaign and if you had researched what you claim by looking on all social media sites you would read the hateful comments. As you condemn lying will you condemn the lies of Sturgeon and Salmond when they both proclaimed the referendum to be a one in a lifetime/generation event. What is wrong with referring to nationalists as nats, please explain how it is juvenile. For some reason you have forgotten to attribute any waste of money to the Scottish Government in Holyrood, who have wasted billions over the past nine years, while using the poor as political pawns in the process.

      • iantinkler

        • February 9th, 2016 17:38

        “Someone in real need” could also use the money that the warmongers at Westminster waste every day in their ongoing bid to appear important to anyone but themselves!” How very NAT!!! no only anti Westminster but does not actually make any sense. Could someone explain what Bill is actually trying to say with, “in their ongoing bid to appear important to anyone but themselves!” and how is spending money on warmongering supposed to achieve that?

      • Brian Smith

        • February 9th, 2016 21:05

        The impetus for the Orkney campaign was a view that Mrs Sturgeon was a candidate for sanctity. I have nothing much against the SNP (although they are more and more becoming an austerity party), but I don’t go that far.
        You only have to read that marzipan-like newspaper the National to realise that the campaign as it developed was an outburst by outraged Sturgeon-worshippers.
        David Cameron told a whopping lie about tax credits during the election – probably an election-winner – but neither the National nor Mr McLean uttered a single word about that, as far as I have noticed.
        I have never voted for the LibDems. I’ve taken issue with Alistair Carmichael often – about politics. But he isn’t the devil incarnate. He played a part beyond the call of duty in the Shetland anti-deportation campaigns of 2004-8. I don’t remember many communications in the local media about his good work then!
        There are plenty of things to get worked up about in the world. We have the most reactionary government for eighty years, and it is making life unbearable for the poor. So please drop this utterly unimportant business now, comrades, and turn your attention to that!

      • John Tulloch

        • February 10th, 2016 10:15


        I would support most of what you say here but add this:

        Tories are Tories and their modus operandi is to keep a tight rein on public spending so they are, as you point out, contributing to the current discomfiture of the less well off.

        However, what is a much greater cause of life becoming unbearable for the poor – people are dying of cold – is the price of energy, the blame for which lies squarely at the doors of Labour, who kicked it off with the ridiculous Climate Change Act, 2008, the SNP who copied them (2009) and the Lib Dem faction of the 2010-2015 Coalition.

        The statutory requirement for CO2 emissions reduction resulted in soaring energy costs and soaring numbers of “fuel poor” who can’t afford to both heat their homes and eat, giving rise to the notorious dilemma “heat or eat” and long queues at food banks.

        The worst fuel poverty levels are found in the island councils’ jurisdictions with the SIC challenging the Shetland estimate of 40+percent as possibly too low?

        The great irony is that Shetland accommodates vast oil and gas terminals which supply other parts of the country with fuel yet the gas passes us by – shipped south and then back again!

        That gas should be available to Shetland directly from the Sullom Gas Plant, at the international market price, for use in power generation, direct and indirect distribution to homes and businesses and motor fuel.

        That would cut fuel poverty “at a stroke”.

    • John Jamieson

      • February 9th, 2016 18:37

      What about the cost to the public of the civil service investigation, said to be over a million pounds, due to the Secretary of State authorising the leak ?

    • John Jamieson

      • February 10th, 2016 6:59

      What about the million pounds it cost for the civil service investigation ?
      That could all have been avoided if he had admitted right away that he was responsible for the leak, in fact the entire sum spent on this debacle would have been saved if he’d not sanctioned the leak.

      • Robert Duncan

        • February 10th, 2016 9:24

        The civil service investigation did not cost £1 million pounds, that figure was a complete fabrication.

      • Ian Tinkler

        • February 10th, 2016 12:25

        It simply did not cost millions, that was just a bit of disinformation from a rival disingenuous source, another politician. Plenty of liars in politics.

  • Bill McLean

    • February 8th, 2016 21:35

    It seems you are not prepared for an honest democratic response to “iantinkiler” if that is his real name!
    Too Bad! Shame on you!

    • iantinkler

      • February 9th, 2016 14:34

      Now calm down Bill. If you are worried about honesty look to Salmond’s false statements. Not the least being “once in a generation”. I did not take him long to backtrack on that! Never mind, all a bit irrelevant as the latest polls show support for independance less now than at the time of the referendum, 43% and going down. The latest polls show even know, after “The Orkney Four” PR charade, the SNP would still lose in Orkney and Shetland. It really does look as if all the fuss and wasted money has achieved Sweet Fanny Adams. Just a nasty little storm in a teacup (an expensive one), a politician got caught porky pieing, well there is a surprise! Incidentally Bill, you can look me up on facebook, I really do exist, lol.

      • Bill McLean

        • February 10th, 2016 16:53

        See today’s Ipsos Mori polls re independence and Europe , and don’t be too surprised when the SNP take Orkney and Shetland – not everyone is prepared to put up with dishonesty in politics. People expressing their own opinions is not necessarily a precursor to/or is party policy. It appears, and there are countless examples, of unionists lying being OK. Of course Westminster had 300 years experience of it as countless all over the globe know! I don’t use Facebook and wouldn’t pander to your ego even if I did! The Tories and their allies in Labour are screwing working people into the ground – yhou support them if you wish but the SNP won’t and hasn’t. Time will show where the dishonesty lies! If some of my post re Westminster showing off makes no sense to you then I suspect nothing will – excuse me that may have been someone else!

  • Brus MacGallah

    • February 8th, 2016 21:35

    The good thing about Crowdfunding is that for the many it’s a few pounds here and there. Best £10 I ever spent, cheaper than a round of drinks, and much more entertaining!

  • john irvine

    • February 8th, 2016 22:11

    If it wasn`t a vexatious case then what was it?


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