Pro-indy blogger launches court action against Kezia Dugdale

Kezia Dugdale outside the Palace of Westminster. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Kezia Dugdale outside the Palace of Westminster. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

A PRO-INDEPENDENCE campaigner has begun court proceedings over claims that Labour politician and I’m a Celebrity star Kezia Dugdale defamed him in a newspaper article.

Lawyers acting for Stuart Campbell have started an action at Edinburgh Sheriff Court claiming Ms Dugdale made comments in a newspaper column which damaged his personal reputation.

Mr Campbell, who runs the Wings Over Scotland website, is suing Ms Dugdale for £25,000 after she accused him of homophobia.

Ms Dugdale told MSPs at First Ministers Questions on May 18 that she “called out” Campbell in a newspaper column because of “homophobic comments” he had made about Tory MSP Oliver Mundell, the son of Scottish Secretary David.

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Mr Campbell rejects the claims of homophobia and has started proceedings in a bid to secure damages from Ms Dugdale.

The former Scottish Labour Leader is currently taking part in ITV reality TV show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

The MSP for Lothian became involved in a row with Mr Campbell, of Bath, after Wings Over Scotland tweeted about Tory MSP Oliver Mundell: “Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had embraced his homosexuality sooner.”

Mr Mundell’s father David is Secretary of State for Scotland. He announced in January 2016 that he was gay.

In her weekly newspaper column for the Daily Record, Ms Dugdale condemned the tweet and also criticised SNP politicians for “promoting his work”.

Days later she raised the matter at First Minister’s Questions. She told the Scottish Parliament: “The remark that I am referring to was posted on Twitter by Stuart Campbell, who writes for the web site Wings Over Scotland.

“In the Daily Record, I called out Mr Campbell for his homophobic comments. Members should listen if they are serious about tackling homophobia and abuse in all its forms.

“Mr Campbell has written to me via his lawyer to demand a £10,000 payment for damage to reputation. I stand firmly by my comment: I have never kowtowed to a bully and I will not start today.”

Mr Campbell then increased the amount he was seeking from £10,000 to £25,000.

After Ms Dugdale made the comments, Mr Campbell denied any wrong doing.

He told the BBC: “I absolutely and categorically reject any accusations that I’m a homophobe - it’s an outrageous and completely false allegation and we’ll be pursuing the case in court.”

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Mr Campbell then launched an online fund raising campaign to pay for lawyers.

During a short procedural hearing on Thursday morning, Ms Dugdale’s lawyer, advocate Duncan Hamilton, told Sheriff Norman McFadyen that his client believes that her comments were truthful.

Mr Hamilton, who was a SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands from 1999 to 2003, told the court that another procedural hearing had to be called to deal with legal matters.

He said this hearing would take “one or two days to hear”.

Sheriff McFadyen gave permission for the hearing to take place sometime in the new year. The exact dates have still to be arranged.