“We wish to hear evidence…”It’s perhaps appropriate that I didn’t have time to blog about the election court’s Carmichael judgment this afternoon. I was giving a lecture to our young lawyers on Socrates, Plato, and that most basic and most intractable of questions, “what is justice”? Cast your mind back, if you can, to the two days of hearings earlier this month. The petitioners’ case is based on section 106 of the Represention of the People Act, which penalises making “false statements of fact” in relationship to the “personal character and conduct” of a candidate during a general election. The petition has next to nothing to do with Nicola Sturgeon, or at least not directly. Mr Carmichael is the candidate. By advising Channel 4 and the nation that he hadn’t the foggiest clue how the Scotland Office memo found its way into the public domain, the Orkney four argue that Mr Carmichael lied about his own personal character and conduct during the general election campaign.
The decision of the Electoral Court in the ‘People versus Carmichael’ case was published today. The judges have agreed that Mr. Carmichael’s behaviour may be covered by electoral law and have dismissed most of the arguments raised in his defence.
So, thanks to you, the law is being clarified – and this is a real victory – candidates can no longer make false statements about themselves at a General Election – they must tell the truth.
The judges now want to hear evidence about the nature, purpose, and context of Mr. Carmichael’s lies and this will probably involve him having to testify on oath.
A key plank of former Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael’s defence against allegations that he lied about leaking a memo smearing SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has been dismissed by judges.
They ruled a law designed to prevent lies about other candidates can encompass a false statement about himself.
Mr Carmichael, who was re-elected Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland in May, is the subject of a court bid to oust him after he denied but then subsequently admitted allowing the leak of a confidential memo in the run-up to the general election
Judges dismiss key Alistair Carmichael defence
Truth they say, comes of out the mouth of a baby, or as we discovered today, in the mouth of Babe. Ed Miliband was subjected to endless abuse by the media because he couldn’t gobble bacon without making a weird face, and then we discovered that David Cameron got gobbled by a pig. History does not record whether the pig was making a weird face at the time. Jeremy Corbyn has been subject to dog’s abuse for not doing his tie up properly and not singing God Save the Queen – although in the presence of all those upper class refugees from public schools he was probably very wise to keep his mouth firmly shut. Nothing that the media ever drags up ever again as a stick with which to beat Jeremy Corbyn or Nicola Sturgeon will ever compare to the retort we can now make to the Conservative establishment…
View original post 1,199 more words
This headline appeared today in ‘the Orcadian’ over Carmichael’s fortnightly column. He was talking about assisted death. It is impossible to read this without thinking of the political situation he has landed himself in and then to not laugh.
This is his problem, even when he is talking about the most serious subjects of all he has become a joke.
He walks into a room and says anything at all, his audience will need to know if he is talking politically or personally to gauge whether he should be believed – and don’t forget that is part of his defence. He is claiming that he is personally honest but tells political lies.
He did that to himself, without help from us. This has nothing to do with our legal case, even if we had not managed to get into court, he would still appear ridiculous this morning. He is not credible as our MP. He must stand down now. If he does, he may even be able to be a candidate in the by-election, if he goes now.
He is an inept politician – forgetting everything he done, his crowdfunder shows the weakness of his position – it has forced him to come clean that no one else is paying his bills and that he has almost no support – at least people prepared to put money into his fund. In 8 days he has only managed to raise £7,710 from just 168 people. His supporters have attacked us for allowing people from outside the constituency to contribute to the People versus Carmichael yet nearly everyone who has put their names to his fund are Liberal Democrat activists who live mostly in England. Less than 20 (not 20%) of them are in Orkney and Shetland. He is relying on double standards to survive. One of the reasons many activists on his own side think he should stay is that his party would lose his seat, they are putting their own interests before ours, the islanders. That is not acceptable. No one has the right to be an MP, no one deserves it. He is not entitled. I think they are wrong. A credible local candidate could save the seat for them – Liam is the obvious choice, should he chose to leave our Parliament to serve in that discredited institution on the Thames. Danus will have my vote
His own party are not paying for his defence – Mr. Carmichael has refused to answer questions about who is paying his defence in the past. One of the things caused worry about his crowd fund was that if his party or the State were paying his legal bills, this attempt to raise cash appeared fraudulent. Her own ineptitude has forced Ms Ritchie to be clear about what he has to do – she said,
“Winning this ridiculous case has been the least of his worries – paying for it has been. Don’t be fooled by baseless claims and attacks. Alistair must find the money to pay for this case. The liability is his and his alone.”
The State won’t pay. It appears that as Mr. Carmichael was in breach of the Ministerial Code of Ethics, he has accepted this by declining his severance pay, that the Cabinet Office will not fund his defence. Because he has acted unethically, his employers did not have to support him.
He does not accept the seriousness of what he has done. Again Ms. Ritchie, “
Many people out there know that this challenge is baseless, but Alistair must defend it regardless. Not admitting he knew what his SPAD had done was a mistake that did not influence his election in Orkney and Shetland.”
So his supporters are still blaming the staff. Mr. Carmichael is responsible for his actions and those of his team. This was not a wheeze or a jape but a serious attempt to attack opponents using cabinet secrets that caused a diplomatic incident.
He still tells lies – he has not learned. He thinks opposition to him is wicked and conspiratorial. Again and again, he and his supporters state that we are partof a “a ruthless attempt to eliminate any remaining opposition to the SNP in Scotland. “ They even put it in bold type on the website which he has endorsed. . We have asked Ms. Ritchie again and again to change the wording to something that is both honest and less inflammatory.
None of this is to do with the merits of the case. This is all about his behaviour since the hearings – about the tone of the language that he has endorsed from his supporters and what he himself has admitted. If we lose, and of course we may, then he must still resign.
We deserve better.
The National has reported that the Save Carmichael fund has reopened under a new name and with a few extra paragraphs. Mrs. Vole and I are both very pleased.
A lot of people were concerned about would happen with the money. Ms Ritchie, who set up the fund says,
“The costs of his defense [sic] are considerable and 100% of the money raised will go towards this. I will transfer the money as Alistair directs, to his solicitors. Not a penny is retained for me or for overhead. It all goes to help pay his costs (which I now understand are likely to be closer to £80k than £50k.”
We would suggest that unused funds should, as with us, go to food banks or to the refugee crisis.
Little Sweyn asked me if this means Mr. Carmichael is going to have to pay his own fees. I gave his paw a tiny tap and told him not to be cheeky. Not many people have paid money in so far to his fund-its about 162 who have raised under £7,000, one contribution was for £1,000. Mrs. Vole looked at the computer screen and muttered it must have been Himself doing it. I was shocked that my wife, my own flesh and fur could be so cynical. It certainly wasn’t one of the members of the House of Lords who coughed up so much; Chris Rennard thought Mr. Carmichael was only worth £40 but did pay this impressive tribute,
“Alistair Carmichael is a good bloke who should be allowed to get on with his job, without this and without cyber bullying.”
All us voles are concerned about the costs of justice too. The Coalition in England introduced a compulsory levy that must be paid by everyone found guilty of a criminal charge irrespective of their ability to pay.
They also reduced legal aid entitlements especially around employment law. Very few of those people will benefit from a crowd fund although Wings over Scotland has been doing its best.
Ms. Ritchie has still not responded to the message I sent through the campaign website. I wanted to welcome the creation of the fund and ask her to remove it erroneous statements. In case of doubt let me clarify, voles are entirely autonomous vermin who do not need permission from any political party to do anything at all. The SNP is not involved in anything we are doing. We are not in a conspiracy. Rather than driving the opposition out of Scotland, we want to see an end to entitlement and the sense that certain parties own certain constituencies like medieval barons.
Little Sweyn showed me this extract from the constitution of the Liberal Democrats today – we thought you would like to see it.
“The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.”
Sounds almost too good to be true.
Britain has a new and serious threat to national security and the welfare of your family! Jeremey Corbyn’s runaway victory of the Labour Party leadership contest certainly has David Cameron in a fluster, but then, according to the Tories, Britain is faced with so many threats that we can’t be sure how exactly to take his hysterical outburst on social media about Labour’s new leader. It can only reassure us that Cameron’s alarmist remarks – placing the new leader of the opposition up there with Osama Bin Laden and Jimmy Savile – were met with a healthy mixture of mirth and condemnation. Not nearly enough people take David Cameron seriously enough for us to take seriously. The reality is that Cameron and his ilk have become complacent after almost two decades of Thatcher’s greatest success; a neo-conservative lapdog parody of Socialism known as New Labour and its progeny. Corbyn’s promise…
View original post 684 more words
On Monday and Tuesday, the legal debate took place in the Court of Session in Edinburgh before two judges. The whole process was televised live and broadcast online. This meant that anyone, for the first time, could follow the proceedings and hear the full arguments presented on behalf of Mr. Carmichael and ourselves. The judges will deliver their ruling at some point – it may be in weeks or months. Both sides hope that the matter will be resolved quickly but accept that further hearings may be necessary.
Inflammatory actions by Carmichael supporters
Since the events in Edinburgh, Mr Carmichael’s supporters have been very active. Sheila Ritchie, a lawyer in Aberdeen initiated a crowd fund campaign to help with his legal costs. Its existence was promoted on Liberal Democrat websites and received widespread press coverage.
I was very glad to see the fund come into existence. This process we are engaged in is burdensome and raises huge financial risk for the petitioners and any MP whose election is being challenged. There is a ‘but’ and its big. Ms. Ritchie cast Mr Carmichael as a hero who was being punished by a totalitarian regime for a simple mistake. They claimed that my colleagues and myself are part of an SNP attempt to crush any opposition to one party rule.
We are not. Our politics are well known now and our party affiliations are all in the public domain. This inflammatory language provoked considerable outrage. Numerous complaints were made on the website itself and to its owners about what appeared to be attempts to raise money through misleading statements that breached its own terms and conditions. I wrote to Ms. Ritchie through the site and asked her to moderate how we were described.
Mr. Carmichael seems have no problem with how the fund has represented him. He was asked to disassociate himself from the language used but refused to do so.
As my colleagues and myself have been attacked consistently for our support being both partisan and outside the constituency, we could have assumed that our opponents would have been careful to demonstrate wide spread local support from a range of political backgrounds. On the contrary, it showed how little actually does exist for Mr. Carmichael both within the constituency and within his own party and nationally.
Although nearly 20% of the money raised came from councillors, ex MPs and members of the House of Lords, the list of supporters had numerous omissions. No donations came from Nick Clegg, Norman Lamb or Tim Farron. Some well-known local Liberal Democrats contributed but not many and not very much. The total amount raised before the campaign closed late on Saturday night was less than 15% of the target with 154 donations. It is hard not to contrast this with the People versus Carmichael fund which has raised £89K from 5,200 people.
Carmichael claims threats of intimidation
On Saturday, the ‘Aberdeen Press and Journal’ reported claims by Mr. Carmichael that his office staff were receiving threatening messages and he was concerned for their safety, alarmed enough to tell journalists but not the Police. This worries me. Everyone has as absolute right to expect their employer to ensure that they are able to work in a safe environment. MP’s staff are no different.
Mr. Carmichael must pass his concerns on to the appropriate authorities forthwith or perhaps he is… , no he wouldn’t, … not again….?
None of this is relevant to the merits of the case. I have total confidence that the judges will administer the law fairly however they decide. The legislation they must use is from the 19th century and so predates universal suffrage. It is hardly fit for purpose, but such as it is, there are rights under it granted to us as voters. The four of us and our 5,200 funders are pursuing these as citizens in a democracy. Mr Carmichael and his supporters are entitled to a vigorous and strong defence to our challenge. It should go without saying that no intimidation is acceptable at all from either side and that we must ensure that the rest of this affair is conducted calmly and in a peaceable way.
No more talk of conspiracies please.
No more threats from either side.
When all this is done, we have to continue to live together.
Alistair. Just go. You have a lovely big pension that you’ve paid into for the last 15 years. You can probably do well on the pundit circuit. Hey, we can even talk about you writing for us once every month or so (perhaps not). Your memoirs might even sell well. You could go back to practising law. Get more involved in Up Helly Aa. Or maybe start something new. Turn over a whole new leaf and go and do something different like tightrope-walking or stamp-collecting. But for the sake of your constituents, your party, the Parliament, please just go.