Councillor faces second libel case over blog posts

Steve Cardownie is threatening to sue Jim Orr. Picture: Neil Hanna
Steve Cardownie is threatening to sue Jim Orr. Picture: Neil Hanna
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An OUTSPOKEN city councillor could now face a second legal action days after he was served with a £50,000 defamation writ.

Deputy Lord Provost Steve Cardownie is threatening to sue councillor Jim Orr for comments made in a blog which has now been taken down.

The ex-SNP councillor is already facing a separate libel claim from Tron leaseholder David Coutts for a letter published online which is critical of the way the venue is being run.

The politician has now removed the offending posts – which make a number of allegations – but Cllr Cardownie revealed he may still pursue legal action.

“These include raising an action for libel,” he said. “I will be discussing this with my lawyer. His latest blog has gone beyond the pale.”

It is understood that the Deputy Lord Provost – who announced on Friday that he was stepping down ahead of next year’s elections – has screen shots of the blog. Cllr Orr said that the decision to take down his posts had nothing to do with the threat of legal action from either party.

He insisted he had removed them after learning of Cllr Cardownie’s decision to stand down from the city council after 30 years.

Cllr Orr quit the SNP group in 2014 and is now an Independent but it is understood he may now seek to rejoin the party. “I have also taken the step to remove the blog to limit any reputational damage to the SNP,” he added.

Mr Coutts, who is fronting a campaign to oust Cllr Orr from his Southside Newington seat, last week served him with a writ.

The move comes after comments appeared online which he says suggest he is “not experienced, trustworthy or professional” in his management of the Tron. Both Mr Coutts and Cllr Cardownie said they would drop any legal action if he made a public apology and stopped making similar remarks.

This is not the first time councillors Cardownie and Orr have clashed.

The Deputy Lord Provost was quizzed by officers in March following a “cash gift” to Cllr Orr in early 2013.

Police later became involved when Cllr Orr lodged a wide-ranging complaint to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public life.

The cash handovers happened after both Cllr Orr and Cllr Gordon Munro – who were then SNP transport vice-convener and Labour economy vice-convener respectively – discovered they would lose a Special Responsibility Payment (SRA) given to those with “senior councillor” posts.

In an effort to plug the gap, the then SNP leader Cllr Cardownie and Labour leader Cllr Burns decided to hand their colleagues around £1500 each of their own money.