Carmichael told ‘Homeric catalogue of untruths’

Alistair Carmichael at the Court of Session. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Alistair Carmichael at the Court of Session. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
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Former Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael told a “Homeric catalogue of untruths” after launching an “unguided missile” in the form of a leaked memo, a court has been told.

Judges sitting at a special Election Court in Edinburgh were also told the Liberal Democrat MP cannot be seen as a reliable witness and that his evidence should be treated with “extreme caution”.

The court further heard claims the Orkney and Shetland MP had “broken the 11th commandment: ‘Thou shalt not get found out’.”

The statements were made on the third day of the hearing in closing submissions by Jonathan Mitchell QC.

He is representing four of Mr Carmichael’s constituents who are behind a court bid to oust Mr Carmichael from his seat. The case has been brought under the section of the Representation of the People Act 1983 which forbids people from making false statements about the character and conduct of an election candidate.

It comes after he admitted responsibility for the leaked memo written by a civil servant, which incorrectly claimed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the French ambassador that she would prefer to see David Cameron remain in Downing Street at May’s general election.

The MP initially denied having prior knowledge of the memo leak, but following a Cabinet Office inquiry he later admitted he had allowed his special adviser Euan Roddin to release details of the document, which appeared in the Daily Telegraph towards the start of the election campaign on April 3.

Earlier this week, the court heard evidence from Mr Carmichael, during which he also admitted being “less than fully truthful” with the Cabinet Office probe initially.

Mr Carmichael’s counsel, Roddy Dunlop QC, later urged the court to refuse the campaigners’ petition and rule that the MP’s election was not void.

In his closing submissions to the court, he said Mr Mitchell had made an “unfair attack” on Mr Carmichael’s evidence.

He said the MP had given his evidence to the court “quite plainly in a candid manner” and had accepted a number of points against his own interests.

Mr Dunlop said at the heart of the case is an “allegation of criminality with swingeing sanctions attached to it”.

As a result, he said the four petitioners must demonstrate their case beyond reasonable doubt – the standard of proof in criminal cases.

“A man is not to be convicted on an ambiguity,” he told the judges.

The legal challenge is the first election petition brought in Scotland for 50 years. All the evidence in the current case has now been heard.

The two judges hearing the case, Lady Paton and Lord Matthews, will deliver their judgment to the House of Commons at a later date.

newsen@edinburghnews.com