Carmichael probe dropped over Frenchgate remit issue

Alistair Carmichael

A probe into Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael over Frenchgate has been dropped after the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards said it was outwith her remit.

Mr Carmichael permitted the leak of a memo falsely stating the First MinisterNicola Sturgeon told the French ambassador she would like to see David Cameron returned as Prime Minister in last year’s general election.

But the commissioner has now abandoned the case because Mr Carmichael became aware of the memo via the Scottish Office and not in his capacity as an MP.

The commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, said: “I have established that the conduct which led to my inquiry falls outside my remit. I do not, therefore, make any criticism, or indeed any other comment, on Mr Carmichael’s conduct in this affair.”

Mr Carmichael said in response: “I am pleased that this is now resolved and will continue to focus on getting on with my job as MP for Orkney and Shetland.”

Ms Hudson also said the Cabinet Office did not give her enough information to answer questions about Mr Carmichael’s involvement in the matter.

She added: “On the same day that I initiated my inquiry, I wrote to the Cabinet Secretary to ask if he might release to me a full copy of the report of the leak inquiry carried out by Cabinet Office officials.

“On June 16 2015, the Cabinet Secretary told me that he did not think it would be appropriate to release a copy of the investigative report.”

Ms Hudson also suggested the MPs’ code of conduct should be reviewed to determine whether members seeking re-election should not be governed by it while a general election campaign is ongoing.

The memo had contained a disclaimer that parts of the “conversation” between Ms Sturgeon and the ambassador may have been “lost in translation”.