‘Orkney Four’ could face large legal bill despite having won two of three legal points in election court case
EDINBURGH’S Court of Session will today [8 February] rule on whether the four petitioners in the ‘Frenchgate’ case against MP Alistair Carmichael must pay his legal costs.
Tim Morrison, Fiona Grahame, Cary Welling and Phaemie Matheson raised the petition in the Election Court last year after it was revealed that Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, had lied about leaking a memo during the General Election campaign.
The petitioners were successful on two of three legal points but failed to prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that Carmichael was guilty under the Representation of the People Act; consequently Carmichael did not face a re-run of the northern isles seat contest.
In January this year it was revealed that Carmichael was seeking costs with a “punitive” element from the four defendants, who have said they could lose their homes if burdened with costs they cannot meet.
Lady Paton and Lord Matthews presided over the Election Court trial in September, and gave a damning verdict , saying that the MP had told a “blatant lie” when covering up his role in the leaking of the ‘Frenchgate’ memo, which alleged that Nicola Sturgeon had said she would prefer a Tory government to a Labour one, and was later shown to be fabricated.
The petitioners will soon discover whether or not they must meet Carmichael’s legal costs. Their own legal bills came to PS185,000, and they have accused Carmichael’s team of deliberately extending the legal process to increase costs.
Speaking to The National on 27 January , petitioner Tim Morrison said: “It’s inconceivable to me that their costs are what he’s told the press they are – he said PS150,000 and I just don’t believe that.”
A crowdfunding campaign to meet the petitioners’ costs has so far raised PS209,775.
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Picture courtesy of Liberal Democrats