9 December 2015

No vindication here. Only survival.

"We had no concerns about the credibility and reliability of the witnesses, with one exception." A teller of "blatant" lies. "Unimpressive," his behaviour demonstrating "a lack of candour", "at best disingenuous, at worst evasive and self-serving" in his actions. These are not descriptions of a man vindicated. But the conclusion cannot be avoided: today is a good day for Alistair Carmichael. He survives. The thread which held the sword over his head since May's general election has finally snapped -- and he has dodged the falling blade. But only just. By a hair's breadth. 

At the outset of the case, many scoffed that the action was doomed, a baseless, tissue-paper thin witch hunt that the courts would junk at the first available opportunity. Many of these prophets will feel vindicated in their cynicism today, but they are mistaken. Against all prophecies to the contrary, the petitioners scored point after legal point, persuading Lord Matthews and Lady Paton that this wasn't a tenuous frolick - or a pop-eyed interpretation of the Representation of the People Act - but a serious, arguable challenge, well-founded in law.

They persuaded the court that the penalties of election law should not only strike those who blacken the characters of others, but in principle, can be used to hold politicians to account for whitewashing their past behaviour. They successfully rebutted, too, Carmichael's argument that section 106 couldn't apply to lies candidates might be tempted to tell about their own "personal character and conduct." 

Rejecting Carmichael's evidence as lacking credibility and reliability, the judges also concluded that the northern isles' MP's lies were motivated by his tough election in Orkney and Shetland. Lady Paton writes: "the inescapable inference, in our opinion, is that if the SNP became a less attractive prospect, the first respondent’s chances of a comfortable majority in what had become a “two-horse race” in Orkney and Shetland would be enhanced," holding that she was "satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the false statement of fact was made for the purpose of affecting (positively) the return of the first respondent as a Liberal Democrat in the constituency of Orkney and Shetland." A strange kind of vindication to be trumpeting from the lawns of Parliament Square, you might well think. 

But the petitioners' case stumbled on the question of proof. Was it proved to the criminal standard, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Carmichael's lies had "related to his personal character or conduct"? The key paragraphs are [57] to [59] of the determination:

[57] If a candidate, in the course of an election campaign, made a false statement to the effect that he had “never been convicted of forgery/bribery/extortion” (when in fact he had been so convicted), it is likely that we would be persuaded that the words amounted to a false statement “in relation to [his] personal character or conduct”. Again, if a candidate made a false statement that he “would never be involved in any type of fraudulent or dishonest financial dealing” (when in fact he had), it is likely that we would be similarly persuaded. 
Bringing matters closer to the present case, if a candidate made a false statement that he “would never leak an internal confidential memo, no matter how helpful that might be to his party, as he regarded the practice of leaking confidential information as dishonest and morally reprehensible (all the more so if the information was inaccurate), and he personally would not stoop to such tactics”, when in fact that candidate had leaked an internal confidential memo containing material which was inaccurate and highly damaging to an opponent, we would be likely to conclude that the candidate had given a false statement “in relation to [his] personal character or conduct”, because he would be falsely holding himself out as being of such a standard of honesty, honour, trustworthiness and integrity that, in contrast with what others in Westminster might do, he would never be involved in such a leaking exercise. 

[58] In the present case, when speaking to the Channel 4 interviewer, the first respondent did not make such an express statement about his personal character or conduct. He did not, for example, describe himself as a trustworthy, straightforward, and honourable individual who would not be involved in any leak, far less an inaccurate leak. His constituents might, as a result of their own experience of him as their MP over the past 14 years, have formed their own view about his character and conduct, and might have thought that he was indeed of such character that his code of conduct would not permit him to be involved in such a leak. 
They would, of course, be entitled to that view. But on 5 April 2015 in the Channel 4 interview, the first respondent did not expressly make a false statement to the effect that his personal character and conduct was such that he would never be involved in a leaking exercise. What he said was a blatant but simple lie about his lack of awareness of one particular leak. We accept that the lie was intended to imply his non-involvement in that leak. What is less clear, however, is whether his lie can be construed as proof beyond reasonable doubt that he was making a false statement about himself to the effect that he was someone who was upright, honourable, trustworthy, and straightforward, and therefore would not be involved in the leak. 
[59] On this matter, we are left with a reasonable doubt. That doubt is whether the false statement was a general one in relation to his personal character or conduct, or whether it was more specific and limited to a false statement that he was not involved in that particular leak. Put another way, insofar as this issue is a legal one, or rather a question of mixed fact and law, we are not persuaded that the false statement proved to have been made was in relation to anything other than the first respondent’s awareness (or lack of awareness) of a political machination. Accordingly we are not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the words used by the first respondent amounted to a “false statement of fact in relation to [his] personal character or conduct.”

The Court's most critical observations on the former Secretary of State's conduct are reserved for how he comported himself during the Cabinet Office leak enquiry. 

[69] In evidence, the first respondent gave the impression that the timing of his admission was purely as a result of the rate of progress of the Cabinet Office inquiry. In our opinion however, the first respondent’s approach to the inquiry was at best disingenuous, at worst evasive and self-serving. We consider that he could and should have been straightforward and candid in his response to the inquiry. 
That would have been likely to reveal his involvement in the leak at some time prior to the election, so that his constituents, when voting, would have been “in full possession of the facts during the election” (in the third petitioner’s words, transcript 9 November 2015 page 20). It is our opinion that his failure to be straightforward and candid with the inquiry resulted from his hope that he would not be identified as being involved in the leak – preferably not identified at all, but at least not identified until after the election on 7 May 2015, as otherwise his chances of electoral success might be prejudicially affected. 
[70] On the evidence, the subsequent revelation of what could be seen as a deliberate “cover-up” by the first respondent very much enhanced the shock, outrage and upset felt by his constituents when the inquiry published its results on 22 May 2015, a fortnight after the election. We refer to the comments of the third petitioner and the Independent Highlands and Islands MSP, quoted in paragraphs [37] and [38] above. 
Ultimately however the first respondent’s unimpressive response to the inquiry, although showing him in a bad light, and resulting in his constituents being initially misled and then justifiably shocked and dismayed on discovering that they had been so misled, cannot alter our conclusion that section 106 does not, on a proper application of the law to the facts proved, apply in this case.

A victory for Carmichael, then, and uncertain times for the four petitioners who now face the prospect of a very substantial legal bill. But no vindication here. Only survival.

75 comments :

  1. What effect does the fact that the petitioners proved their case in certain respects (but not enough to win the case, obviously) have on a possible claim by Carmichael that his costs should be covered by the petitioners?

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    1. I have been wondering the same thing. Normally 'expenses follow success' but that is not automatic. The Court could decide that in all the circumstances Carmichael put himself in jeopardy by his dishonest conduct and that the honest constituents had no alternative remedy but to raise this action, which was so rare there was no precedent for these circumstances to show them in advance that it was unfounded. In such a situation the Court could decide that each side should bear its own expenses. Here's hoping.

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  2. "put against me by nationalists"

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  3. This is the link to the fundraising page for the petitioners: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-people-versus-carmichael#/

    Please donate to help them pay that 'very substantial legal bill'.

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  4. If Carmichael had any honour he would decline to enforce any costs order against the petitioners and offer to pay their costs himself.

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    1. Carmichael and Honour are unacquainted.

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    2. By that reasoning will you be asking Alex Salmond to pay £19.5K back to the Public purse that was incurred by us when he already knew he had deliberately lied and was trying to cover it up by not having to provide an honest answer to the Government Information officer ? "On almost every critical point raised during the debate about Scotland’s future, Salmond was deliberately misleading. I’m not just thinking of his claim that he’d received legal advice reassuring him that an independent Scotland wouldn’t need to reapply for membership of the European Union. When the Information Commissioner ordered the Scottish government to respond to an FOI request to disclose the advice it had received, Salmond’s ministers spent £19,452.92 of public money appealing the decision, only to admit later that the ‘advice’ was a figment of Salmond’s imagination. So the First Minister misled the Scottish people on this point and spent taxpayers’ money to try to conceal the fact." If Salmond was an honest man that £19.5K of Public money would not have been wantonly wasted. http://goo.gl/hEJ6Qp

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    3. Yaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnn.

      Salmond told no lies about EU advice whatsoever. Go troll somewhere else.

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    4. A by-product of the judgment of Lord Matthews and Lady Paton is that they discuss Alex Salmond's statement about the legal advice on EU accession where they imply it was a lie, but not one of a nature that would count towards the judgment they were making

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    5. Word is apparently that he intends to push for the Orkney 4 to pay his costs. Therefore indeed he is thereby proven to be without honour.

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    6. "RevStu9 December 2015 at 15:47
      Yaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnn.
      Salmond told no lies about EU advice whatsoever. Go troll somewhere else." ...." 15 months and still waiting for anyone to identify a single factual inaccuracy in the Wee Blue Book. " http://chokkablog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/wings-and-his-wee-blue-book-of-errors.html

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    7. "The arguments in the Wee Blue Book are exactly that: no sustained economic argument, but just a collection of random quotes and debating points to make a problem go away. When the future fiscal position is raised, we are so often told about the past. I too think past North Sea oil was squandered, but grievance does not put money into a future Scottish government’s coffers. I read that forecasting the future is too uncertain, from people who I am sure think about their future income when planning their personal spending. I read about how economists are always disagreeing, when in this case they are pretty united"http://mainlymacro.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/scotland-and-snp-fooling-yourselves-and.html

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    8. @Jock Tamsons Bairn: I think you've posted in the wrong thread. This one's about the legal battle to hold Alistair Carmichael to account.

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    9. https://ahdinnaeken.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/exclusive-fake-reverend-exposed-as-self-serving-sham/

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    10. This is quite a record for someone who calls someone else a "Troll" https://ahdinnaeken.wordpress.com/category/wangs-watch/

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  5. The sticking point for me has been Carmichael's own comments - those listed on the People v Carmichael indiegogo fundraiser page - that "The right to smear an opponent is not one we should be defending."
    Surely, by admitting that he had himself lied in order to smear a political opponent, the matter becomes personal? In short, by Lady Paton's reasoning, Carmichael has held himself out to be above smearing political opponents. He acted in a manner inconsistent with that appearance. Was the case solely concerned with the detail of the channel 4 interview? I still find it difficult to see how lying about the fact that the memo was leaked pertained to anything other than Carmichael's personal integrity.

    That aside, the astonishing lack of humility that Carmichael has shown will... Well, it won't sound the death knell for the Scottish Lib Dems, since that tolled long ago, but by my estimation it may signal oblivion for the party in Holyrood's election. Particularly if, as indicated, Carmichael does seek to recover expenses from his own constituents.

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    1. If the court had been able to take this comment, and any similar comments made by Carmichael, into account, it may have been able to reach a different conclusion on the personal conduct/personal character element of the case. But the petitioners' case that Carmichael lied about his personal conduct or character largely rested on the Channel 4 interview.

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    2. There doesn't appear to be any "humility" in Politics nowadays,particularly within the SNP, it takes some gall to invent a forthcoming Oil Boom when no one else in the market did. Senior SNP MSP and MP's continue to make false statements that the UK Gov used higher Oil price predictions than the SNP used in the White Paper which can easily be disproven . The SNP hasn't yet apologised to the nation for cobbling together a false prospectus that would have led to a £67Bn shortfall (on current 10 year North Sea Oil revenue predictions) in the Scottish spending budget for the next decade (against predicted Tory Austerity of £3.9Bn for the same period.) The White Paper was on a completely different level of dishonesty compared to Carmichaels mistake. SNP MSP Joan McAlpines complete lack of any humilty whatsoever in making these hugely misleading and knowingly false statements is "lack of humility" on an industrial level. http://chokkablog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/joan-mcalpine-in-daily-record.html

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    3. The purported 'lies' of the whitepaper are demonstrably political, unlike Carmichael's. It's an obvious example of why that line was drawn by s.106 in the first place. You can choose to view any guarantees implied by the paper as an implicit indication of the purported trustworthiness of the politicians involved, but the law makes a clear distinction. Carmichael's actions fell absolutely on the borderline of acceptability, as the judgement notes.

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    4. Surely, by admitting that he had himself lied in order to smear a political opponent...

      As far as I know he didn't admit this and, also as far as I know, the case turns on the consequences of Mr Carmichael lying about himself

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    5. He admitted that he allowed the memo to be leaked. The leaked memo was designed to damage the SNP leader, a political opponent. He then lied about his involvement in leaking the damaging memo. The court held that Carmichael had not lied about his own personal character ONLY because he had not overtly held himself out as being 'above' leaking in the course of the channel 4 interview. I simply postulated that Carmichael had, in fact, held himself out as someone who was 'above' smearing political opponents in his 2010 article and questioned the relevance of this. Obviously, it was not held to be significant in the judgement, but whenever I bear prior statements made by Carmichael in mind, I find it very difficult to see how lying about his involvement in the memo, while holding himself out as a man of integrity, is anything other than a lie pertaining to his personal, rather than political, conduct.
      Plainly:
      2010 article = Carmichael insinuates that he would never seek to smear a political opponent
      Leaking the memo = political act, not covered by 106
      Lying about the leak = personal character invoked per 106 if 2010 article is taken into account, (obviously) not if all that is pertinent is Carmichael's conduct surrounding that narrow lie itself.

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    6. David Cameron if you vote No there will be a £200 billion bonus to Scotland
      For some reason Unionists who after all won and as such should keep promises have conveniently forgot suggesting they really are willing to accept Lies and liers

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  6. Any comments on this?

    Carmichael might not be out of the claggy
    http://wingsoverscotland.com/an-abuse-of-trust/

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  7. Any thoughts on this Mr. T? http://wingsoverscotland.com/an-abuse-of-trust/

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  8. Is he entitled to compensation, sorry I find it difficult to extrapolate anything from the legal papers?
    As a mark of honour, I know he has none but even from the point of rehabilitation you would think someone would tell him to let this matter of money go. I have doubts as to how this man can continue to hold a position as a solicitor who would use him.

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    1. No compensation: He may be entitled to (some) legal expenses.

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    2. From the last two lines of the actual Blog i suspect he is allowed to claim all his legal expenses back. If he hadn't been taken to court on this he wouldn't have incurred any of them in the first place.

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    3. https://twitter.com/fergusonelaine/status/674578480516964352

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    4. Yes, he should let it go. It is the only way he can salvage some grace from this sordid business.

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    5. Carmichael and grace in the same sentence? Insanity.

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    6. Why then isn't Carmichael the liar made to repay the cost of the enquiry which forced him to confess? If he had come clean sooner he could have saved the public purse over a million.

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  9. If I have this right, if every candidate for an election is publicly interviewed and asked one single question: "Are you a truthful person?", then if they lie at any time during or even before the election, the Carmichael Alibi "I never said I wasn't a liar", is closed to them.

    If I have this right, what a dooming of politicians is to come!

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    1. Make that "The Carmichael Defence". You read it here first!

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    2. Indeed, that will of course include all those who swore allegiance to the Queen but didn't really mean it ? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3084674/Scottish-MPs-plot-spoil-swearing-oath-Queen-SNP-members-speak-Gaelic-just-cross-fingers-protest.html

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    3. Jock, "candidates" for an election don't swear allegiance to the Queen.

      Candidate: a person who applies for a job or is nominated for election.

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    4. Don't feed it. It'll have your hand off.

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    5. Troll meat is a bit grisly but helps to sharpen the teeth. Much better than gnawing on tree bark. The DM species is particularly chewy and good for the muscles.

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    6. Hah, this one won't have your hand off.. ,point taken about candidates but the people who did this action were candidates at one time too, does anyone think that making them swear to answering"Are you a truthful person" would really make any difference anyway ?. As in my staement about "lies" made in the white paper..don't we all really expect to eb told the truth in thse matters or else what the hell are we voting on in the first place ? UK politics surely shouldn't have sunk to these levels should it. Surely it hasn't always been like this throughout History ? I certainly like to see some sort of change that would mean any sort of deleiberate lie meant they were out on their backsides no matter who they were ...only then it may start to draw some real quality trustworthly people back into politics. Personally sick of the people who make their life employement and living out of the brainwashing of the misleading of people who can't or won't think for themselves. The one swho won't think may bring it on themselves but taking advantage of people who cannot is hardly honest or doing your country any real favours.

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  10. I am put in mind of an ex para friend who was acquitted of a crime and was quoted in the press as saying 'My faith in British justice has been vindicated'.'Did you really say that?' I asked. He replied 'Well just about, I said Thank fuck i got aff'.

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  11. It seems to be a very narrow interpretation of personal character and conduct.

    That lying and cheating in itself doesn't count - unless it is in the context of contradicting yourself if you previously claimed you would never do such a thing.

    It's like a thief escaping justice because he never claimed he wouldn't steal.

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    1. I agree .. by not challenging all lies and holding them to account properly just gives them reason to do it in the first place if its to their political or carreer advantage. Honest Politics would be a real boost for any country.

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  12. So: because Carmichael never claimed to be honest in the first place, and because his constituents already knew what he was like, he is free to be dishonest without sanction?

    We need stronger laws and a specific offence of political fraud which at the very least applies to behaviour during an election or referendum campaign with penalties such as lifetime ban from political office or even a few months in jail.

    You can't have a real democracy if voters don't have access to clear, accurate and extensive information on which to base their decisions. We have too many politicians who see themselves as rulers not public servants and see us as sheep to be herded around.

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  13. Looks like they were told to find a 'get out of jail card' for him no matter what evidence or law was brought in. Lets just hope his consituents show him how they deal with deceit in the next election!

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  14. Whew! Tough going above! Couple of comments; don't have go at the judges. They have interpreted the law as it stands and, it seems to me, done a fair and thorough job. We can't show our feelings at the next election as Alistair said a long time ago that this would be his final term. That makes this even more galling really because his constituents cannot make their feelings known - either way. I love the idea of every candidate for an election being publicly interviewed and asked one single question: "Are you a truthful person?", then if they lie at any time during or even before the election, the Carmichael Alibi "I never said I wasn't a liar", is closed to them. It would be fun watching that...

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    1. Very good idea! I would like to see that adopted wholesale. Let his name become part of the political language, like "-gate" (Watergate, Frenchgate etc etc). "Mr./Ms. Politician, before we continue this interview, please confirm to the audience that you forswear the Carmichael alibi"....

      Excellent!

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    2. "That makes this even more galling really because his constituents cannot make their feelings known"

      The obvious way is to disown his party for considering him to be an acceptable representative - i.e. turfing out Tavish Scott and Liam MacArthur next May. Both MSPs have been loud in their defence of him, particularly Scott.

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  15. That tired old legal chestnut "implied, not expressed" is trotted out yet again, this time to stop a lying politician being properly held to account by his constituents.

    According to these “judges”, as Carmichael did not EXPRESSLY utter “I regard the practice of leaking confidential information as dishonest and morally reprehensible” but merely IMPLIED it by claiming he was unaware of the memo, he did not falsely hold himself out to the public to be honest and trustworthy.

    This patently absurd distortion of reality requires a mental contortion of such magnitude that it literally boggles the mind.

    It is self-evident that by making a false statement that he was unaware of the memo, Carmichael DID hold himself out to be honest and trustworthy when only he and a few others knew he was not.

    Any pretence that this is some sort of respectable "justice" is risible.

    The law, far from being used to protect electors, is here being narrowly interpreted to protect a lying politician from being held to account, with the "reward" for those brave souls who tried to do so being possible bankruptcy.

    It is simply impossible to explain this baffling “judgement” as anything other than a purely politically-motivated action, devoid of any logic or morality. Absolutely disgraceful.

    Today may be a good day for Alistair Carmichael.
    But it is also the day when any remaining modicum of trust in lying politicians, or the corrupt legal system that protects them, died forever.

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  16. Did Carmichael breach the Official Secrets Act by leaking the memo? See;

    http://www.thenational.scot/politics/release-of-carmichaels-leaked-memo-blocked-because-it-would-damage-french-relations.4156

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    1. Writes someone who 'liberally' quotes Chokkablog and Ahdinnaeken...

      That was poked towards you on a stick.

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  17. The problem with having a political fraud charge is that the sanction is disproportionate. It is not for judges to throw out a politician, but for the people.
    the most that a judge should be able to order is the rerunning of the election.

    The main point/question I want to make is "what is the consequence of Carmichael being called a liar in a court judgement?"

    Should he be struck off by the law society?
    Should the Church of Scotland remove his status (he's some sort of elder isn't he?).
    Has he committed perjury - the judges seemed to think that his evidence was not truthful?
    finally is WoS right in thinking that he has shown himself to have committed the offence of malpractice - were the judges suggesting this such as a judge will suggest that a witness has perjured themselves?

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    1. Eldership in the Church of Scotland is for life. I'm not sure if a process exists for making elders non-elders.

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    2. The general assembly could pass a censure motion.
      His behaviour was unbecoming of his position during an election not to mention bearing false witness.

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  18. Liked wounded animals, I wonder if Carmichael might come to think that political death now, will be much more pleasant than the one he he will experience in the future

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  19. If I were Carmichael,I would be planning for going back to the day job in 4 years time.
    People will forget most things but not this.
    Will the voters in the Northern Isles continue to vote for "Liberal" candidates whoever they put up and whatever their failings?

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    1. He was a solicitor. On the proven facts he's already done enough to be barred from practising so the day job may not be an option.

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  20. No source is unbiased. Chokkablog (see your comment above) was a source you cited and very biased. Is that source invalid?

    Some media outlets are more open about the bias than others. You simply have to be aware of that and factor it into your thinking.

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  21. It is Nicola Sturgeon and not Alastair Carmichael who should be under the spotlight in this ‘affair’.

    There was it appears no official note taken of the meeting held between the First Minister and the French Ambassador on or about 26 February 2015. And the Cabinet Secretary's inquiry has found that the writer of the 'leaked memo' 'accurately wrote down what he was told by the French Consul-General. The French Consul-General has stated that his own notes of the meeting do not show anything being said by Nicola Sturgeon about Ed Miliband and David Cameron and her preference for Cameron as PM. One would not expect him to have written that down. What the Cabinet Secretary’s Inquiry shows however is that the Consul-General’s Scotland Office contact wrote down what the Consul-General said to him, so it included those comments.

    Nicola Sturgeon would not have ended up in this difficulty if she had simply produced the normal 'official' note by her Private Secretary taken of the meeting between her and the French Ambassador. By all normal civil service protocol, a Private Secretary would have been present (accompanying the First Minister) and would have listened to and noted down what was said at the meeting.

    Had such a note been taken, the First Minister could, and surely would, have made it public, to show what was said in the conversation. Private Secretary’s notes of Ministerial conversations are by convention accepted as the record of what was said (even when they aren’t). So if the official note of the conversation had not included what the leaked memo reports her as saying, the leaked memo would have been discredited straight away. So why didn't the First Minister simply have her office circulate to the press the text of the official note of her meeting, when the story broke on 5 April during the General Election campaign?

    The truth appears to be that she had this conversation without a Private Secretary being present, and no note was taken and put on the file for the record. If that is correct, it is quite a serious failure of her and her staff.

    For some reason the press has not asked these questions of Nicola Sturgeon: Where is the note taken by your Private Secretary? Was your Private Secretary not present? Why if not did you talk to the French Ambassador without your Private Secretary being present?

    The Foreign Secretary himself would not meet an Ambassador without a Private Secretary to take notes. Nicola Sturgeon was Health Minister for some years before she became First Minister so she knows the form.

    The absence of an official note makes it unjustified to pursue Alastair Carmichael. And its absence leads one to conclude that Nicola Sturgeon did express to the French Ambassador the views about Ed Miliband and David Cameron that were noted in the leaked memo. That she said this would be quite unsurprising as it was at the time (and into the election campaign) a view held by a great many electors (and ‘opinion formers’) across the UK.

    It is not at all surprising that all parties decided to assert that the First Minister did not make the comments that the leaked memo reports. That is the only way that a diplomatic problem between Britain and France has been avoided. Lieing is normal in diplomatic practice where admitting something was said would be harmful to international relations. This makes pursuing Alastair Carmichael's small lie the more unjustified: the circumstantial evidence suggests that Nicola Sturgeon told a bigger one.

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    1. The absence of an official note makes no difference to anything. Lack of knowledge of something does not make it an open season to lie.

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    2. Are you calling the French Ambassador a liar?
      That's a strong charge - you better be able to back it up with more than insinuation...

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    3. Nine paragraphs worth of trying to nail jelly to a wall.

      You do know you hit your thumb several times though?

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    4. Where is the official note of the conversation between the First Minister and the French Ambassador at Holyrood in the last week of February 2015? Was one taken? It has not been produced in 8 months since the story appeared; that must indicate that Nicola Sturgeon met the Ambassador without a Private Secretary being present. Without that note being produced, her denial that she made the comment or remark that was reported to the writer of the leaked memo cannot be substantiated.
      See above for why all parties needed to deny it afterwards - diplomatic relations between Britain and France made that essential.

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    5. If you had said "I have psychic powers and I telepathically heard the meeting from many miles away" at least that would be an argument. Not a very good one but there's always an outside chance that you really do have psychic powers.

      However, even if you had established that Sturgeon cannot prove she didn't say something that does not permit you to claim anything about what she did say lacking any evidence of your own. You can't just make stuff up because you want to be true. That kind of narcissistic detachment from reality is the very definition of insanity.

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    6. This is verging on trolling... Obstinately denying what actually happened, relying on a second hand account from a UK civil servant who wasn't present, who also doubted its veracity, yet somehow it is Nicola Sturgeon and the French officials who are lieing [sic].









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    7. You are questioning it because it wasn't minuted, yet the two people present deny your allegation and the fabricated memo doubts it too. You're not on very strong grounds and you ARE calling the First Minister of Scotland and the French Ambassador liars.

      Has it not occurred to you that maybe she was discussing how France might aid Scotland to stay in the EU in the event of a Brexit??
      There are good reasons for things not to be minuted. They might have even just been discussing their partners, who knows.

      Then again why don't GCHQ just provide the recording of the meeting - they will have one.

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    8. The fact remains that in 8 months the First Minister has not produced an official note taken by a Private Secretary of her conversation with the French Ambassador at Holyrood in the last week of February 2015. The question remains: Where is the official note of the conversation between the First Minister and the French Ambassador at Holyrood in the last week of February 2015, taken by the First Minister's Private Secretary? Was one taken? Without that note being produced, her denial that she made the comment or remark that was reported to the writer of the leaked memo cannot be substantiated. The press still have not asked the questions of Nicola Sturgeon about this that one would expect.

      It would have been damaging to UK-French diplomatic relations if either Nicola Sturgeon or the French Ambassador or both had confirmed that the remark was made. As stated above, in diplomacy denials are sometimes necessary and no one is surprised when that happens.

      It would not be an issue in this case now, if SNP supporters were not pursuing Alastair Carmichael, yet not asking their party leader for the official note of the meeting taken by her P/S.

      The comment just above this post appears to accept that the conversation between First Minister and French Ambassador was not minuted.

      The memo was not fabricated - it is a genuine document and its full text has been printed in the national press on a number of occasions.

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    9. The memo - or at least the addendum on it is a fabrication. It is even doubtful of the events (something you are in denial of).

      Nonetheless Sturgeon's denial is substantiated by both the French ambassador and (ironically) the memo itself. In Scots law that is enough and you couldn't protect yourself from a suit of libel if you based your defence on that.
      I quote from the memo:
      " I have to admit that I’m not sure that the FM’s tongue would be quite so loose on that kind of thing in a meeting like that, so it might well be a case of something being lost in translation."

      A clear piece of arse-covering from the person who fabricated that part.

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    10. The leaked memo was written by a civil servant who spoke to his contact, the French Consul-General, about one week after the meeting in the Scottish Parliament had taken place. The Cabinet Secretary's inquiry found that the writer of the memo was an accurate recorder of conversations and did not doubt that he had recorded what he had heard from the French Consul-General.

      The memo has been published in full in a number of newspapers. No part of it is 'fabricated'; if it was, the Cabinet Secretary's inquiry would have stated that. The quote from the memo given above was well-reported and indeed dissected in the press during the General Election campaign.

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    11. Your faith in the UK govt is touching but utterly naive.
      Read the memo, it just doesn't scan right at all. The second part looks like it's been inserted.

      Even if it were a true govt record then it still doesn't support your case.

      It is at best hearsay yet that doesn't even prove what you want it to.
      You really are clutching at libellous straws here.

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    12. This is utterly irrelevant. The Carmichael case revolved around his denial of involvement in the leak of the memo, not the veracity of the contents of the memo itself. Didn't you get that?

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    13. Yes, he does.

      Which is 'exactly' why he's doing this.

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    14. The first of the three commenters just above asserts that the memo is a 'fabrication'. The First Minister, the Cabinet Secretary's Inquiry, and the Petitioners (or at least the lead petitioner) all consider it to be a true document written by the civil servant who spoke to the French Consul-General about a week after the conversation between the First Minister and the French Ambassador. The memo has been published in full in a number of newspapers. No part of it is 'fabricated'; if it was, the Cabinet Secretary's inquiry would have stated that.
      As there is no official note taken by Nicola Sturgeon's Private Secretary of the conversation between her and the French Ambassador the leaked note's content is not at odds with any other written description of the meeting.

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    15. John; your argument is facile, with a wee straw man shoved into it, just to make it squeal a a bit further.

      Could you go back to the Daily Mail editorial team and tell them your phishing expedition didn't work?

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  22. OK John you tell me how you can prove Nicola Sturgeon did not say "I'm thinking of joining the conservative party".

    I'm a Russell's teapot
    Short and stout
    Truth I mangle
    Off I spout

    ReplyDelete