Ruling on Kezia Dugdale homophobia claim to be made ‘within weeks’

A blogger who has taken Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale to court remains “deeply distressed” by the claim that he sent a “homophobic” tweet, a court has heard.

By Hilary Duncanson
Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 6:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 6:48 pm

The lawyer for Wings Over Scotland blogger Stuart Campbell said the activist is not a homophobe and that such an allegation is both “untrue” and “unfair”.

The pro-independence activist is seeking to protect his reputation as someone who has consistently supported the equal treatment of homosexual people, the court was told.

However, Ms Dugdale’s QC suggested that the blogger has a reputation for “bile and vitriol” and was not damaged by the article.

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Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale leaves Edinburgh Sheriff Court where she is facing a defamation action brought by pro-independence blogger Stuart Campbell. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Mr Campbell is suing former Scottish Labour leader Ms Dugdale, 37, for defamation over a column she wrote in the Daily Record on March 7 2017, referencing his “homophobic tweets”.

The tweet at the centre of the £25,000 action, made during the Conservative Party conference on March 3 that year, states: “Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had embraced his homosexuality sooner.”

Controversial pro-indendence blogger Mr Campbell, 51, from Bath, has denied that it was a homophobic reference to Scottish Secretary David Mundell being gay.

Lawyers for both sides summed up their positions on the third day of the civil proof at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Mr Campbell’s QC, Craig Sandison, said the blogger “is not a homophobe”, adding: “He continues to be deeply distressed by that allegation and by the insistence by the defender on its truth...

“He is not a polite man, he doesn’t restrain himself in setting forth his views. He is not circumspect.

“But none of those are aspects of his character he is seeking to protect by this action. What he is seeking to protect is his distinct reputation... as someone who has consistently supported equal treatment of homosexual people and indeed people generally. That’s why he’s so upset because this attack on him is so untrue, so unfair.”

Roddy Dunlop QC, for Ms Dugdale, described the Lothian MSP as “entirely credible and reliable”.

The true question in the case is whether someone was entitled to view the tweet as homophobic, he said.

The QC said: “The pursuer [Mr Campbell] quite clearly does not like the defender. He has been extremely rude about her on multiple occasions and on the one occasion she calls him out, he sues – and he sues her.”

Sheriff Nigel Ross will make his ruling within four weeks.