Politician who told ‘blatant lie’ faces £150,000 legal bill

Alistair Carmichael

Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael faces a legal bill of £150,000 following his victory in the Election Court which saw him defeat a bid to unseat him as MP for Orkney and Shetland.

Mr Carmichael confirmed he will seek to recoup the fees from the pursuers.

He said: “Yes. It has cost me £150,000 in legal fees.

“I did not ask to be taken to court but I was advised right at the start that we would ultimately win and, ultimately, we have.”

The judicial expenses he can recover will, however, amount to two-thirds at most.

“So it could cost me £50,000. I do not come from a rich background. Everything we have, my wife and I have earned. So the financial aspect of this could be with us for some time to come,” he said.

He added: “I will not be bullied out of Parliament.”

The case resulted from Mr Carmichael sanctioning the leak of an official memo which falsely stated the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told French ambassador Sylvie Bermanne she wanted Prime Minister David Cameron returned to power after the general election this year – in contradiction to what she was publicly saying.

Mr Carmichael subsequently lied in a TV interview regarding the leaked memo, saying he only found out about it after a journalist approached him.

In reality, he had sanctioned the leaking of the memo.

The court ruled under the Representation of the People Act 1983 that it was not proved beyond reasonable doubt Mr Carmichael had committed an “illegal practice”.

After the ruling, he said: “It was a deliberate attempt by nationalists to remove the last Scottish Liberal voice at Westminster and is a mark of the unhealthy polarisation of Scottish politics since the referendum.”

The SNP said: “While he prevailed in the election court on a strict interpretation of the law, it is much more doubtful he or his party will survive the court of public opinion.”

Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrats leader, said: “The Scottish judicial system has vindicated Alistair’s election as MP for Orkney and Shetland.”