Legal challenge to Alistair Carmichael's re-election will proceed

Written by Alan Robertson on 29 September 2015 in News

Judges wish to take further evidence before issuing a determination in the case

A legal challenge to the re-election of Scotland’s sole Liberal Democrat MP will proceed to its next stage.

Two Court of Session judges have said they intend to take further evidence before issuing a determination in an action raised against Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael under the Representation of the People Act 1983.

Carmichael, who has been an MP since 2001, could now be called to court to give evidence as part of the case.


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The case had been raised by four of Carmichael’s constituents, who argued that he misled the electorate over a leaked memo claiming that SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon told the French Ambassador to the UK she would rather have seen David Cameron remain prime minister.

The First Minister labelled the leak a “blatant election dirty trick” while Carmichael later accepted “the details of the account are not correct”.

If the petitioners claimed are upheld, the former Secretary of State for Scotland could be removed as an MP. 

A preliminary legal debate at a special Election Court earlier this month saw Carmichael’s QC ask the judges to dismiss the case on the grounds the MP’s initial statement that he had no idea where the leak had come from did not fall within the scope of the 1983 Act.

However, the two Court of Session judges have ruled that the Act does apply with the case now to be put out to a ‘By Order’ hearing to discuss the next part of the trial.

Lady Paton said: “Circumstances can be envisaged where a false statement of fact is of such a nature that the effect in relation to a candidate’s personal character or conduct transcends the political context.

“The question of the type of relationship between the statement and the personal character and conduct of the first respondent is one which requires evidence, including evidence as to the motive or reason for giving the false statement.”

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