Kezia Dugdale may have to shell out for legal bills over a pro-independence blogger’s defamation claim after it was reported that Labour has limited its support.
The former Scottish Labour leader said she hoped Labour would honour its promise to meet her costs after reports suggesting UK Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby is likely to refuse further funds.
According to the Huffington Post, the party has provided around £90,000 so far for the case brought by Stuart Campbell, who runs the Wings Over Scotland blog. HuffPost UK yesterday said it was understood supporters of Ms Formby’s decision believed that party members’ subscriptions would be better spent on campaigning in a potential snap election year.
A spokesman for Ms Dugdale said: “Given the principles on which it was founded - equality, fairness and justice - the UK Labour Party wholeheartedly committed to paying all legal costs associated with this case from start to finish.
“It is very much hoped that all promises will be kept.”
The court case arose after Mr Campbell, who runs the controversial Wings Over Scotland website, tweeted about Tory MSP Oliver Mundell. His father, the Tory Scottish Secretary David Mundell, came out as gay in 2016. Mr Campbell wrote last year: “Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had embraced his homosexuality sooner.” In a newspaper column, Ms Dugdale said she was “shocked and appalled to see a pro-independence blogger’s homophobic tweets”.
Mr Campbell’s legal team argues her article was defamatory and implied he is homophobic.
Ms Formby, who is close to Jeremy Corbyn, succeeded Iain McNicol as General Secretary of the Labour Party in March this year. It is understood that the decision to fund Ms Dugdale’s court case was taken under Mr McNicol’s leadership. Some Labour MSPs are understood to be angry that the party is not following through with its promise. Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has been informed of the situation. Ms Dugdale is known to have received a fee of £70,000 for her appearance on ITV reality show “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”. She took part in the programme after stepping down as Scottish Labour leader. After tax, the amount is said to have been around £30,000. She also declared between £10,000 and £15,000 worth of travel, accommodation and living expenses, which were paid by ITV. Ms Dugdale donated £5,100 of her appearance fee, as well as £2,500 of her MSP’s salary,