A political trust has defended its decision to give Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael £50,000 to help with his legal costs in the so-called “Frenchgate” affair.
The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust said it acted because if the former Scottish Secretary had been forced to quit his Orkney seat then Scotland’s Westminster representation would have been further skewed towards the SNP.
Carmichael is facing legal costs of around £150,000 after an election court case on his decision to leak a Scotland Office memo that recorded allegations that Nicola Sturgeon wanted David Cameron to win the 2015 general election. Sturgeon has denied the allegations. The court considered claims the MP had misled voters, but found he couldn’t be proved to have committed an “illegal practice”.
The JRRT said: “Thanks to the perversities of the UK’s electoral system the 50 per cent of Scottish voters who supported unionist parties at the general election are represented by only three MPs.
“Had nationalists succeeded in their case against Alistair Carmichael, they would have worsened further the current misrepresentation of voters’ views in Parliament.
“Worse still, the effect on case law would have been to subject many more MPs to the risk of personal bankruptcy in defending themselves in court against vexatious claims.”