Alistair Carmichael told “catalogue of untruths”
Former Scottish secretary Alistair Carmichael told a “Homeric catalogue of untruths” after launching an “unguided missile” in the form of a leaked memo, a court has been told.
Judges sitting at a special Election Court in Edinburgh were also told the Liberal Democrat MP cannot be seen as a reliable witness and that his evidence should be treated with “extreme caution”.
The court further heard claims the Orkney and Shetland MP had “broken the 11th commandment: ‘Thou shalt not get found out’.”
The statements were made on the third day of the hearing in closing submissions by Jonathan Mitchell QC.
He is representing four of Mr Carmichael’s constituents who are behind a court bid to oust Mr Carmichael from his seat. The case has been brought under the section of the Representation of the People Act 1983 which forbids people from making false statements about the character and conduct of an election candidate.
It comes after he admitted responsibility for the leaked memo written by a civil servant, which incorrectly claimed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the French ambassador that she would prefer to see David Cameron remain in Downing Street at May’s general election.
The MP initially denied having prior knowledge of the memo leak, but following a Cabinet Office inquiry he later admitted he had allowed his special adviser Euan Roddin to release details of the document, which appeared in the Daily Telegraph towards the start of the election campaign on April 3.
Earlier this week, the court heard evidence from Mr Carmichael, during which he also admitted being “less than fully truthful” with the Cabinet Office probe initially.
Summing up, Mr Mitchell told the judges: “In my submission the court cannot accept Mr Carmichael as a reliable witness. It might be going further than one needs to, to say that the court could not accept him as a credible witness.
“Nevertheless it was striking that his position as to his own credibility was that he accepted effectively that he had repeatedly lied on the matters in question.”
Mr Carmichael’s counsel, Roddy Dunlop QC, later urged the court to refuse the campaigners’ petition and rule that the MP’s election was not void. In his closing submissions to the court, he said Mr Mitchell had made an “unfair attack” on Mr Carmichael’s evidence.