yesterday decision by Lady Paton and Lord Matthews on liabilities for legal expenses brings the Alistair Carmichael election petition saga to its conclusion. In the National this morning, I have a wee reflection on the whole enterprise, and its various twists and turns. An excerpt:
"IT seems apt that the last act in the long-running Carmichael election court drama should take you by surprise.
The ordinary position in law is that “expenses follow success”: the loser pays. But during its many twists and unexpected turns, the fate of this election petition has been anything but ordinary. Starting from a small, improbable place, it has been quite the saga. Expectations, upended. Outcomes, surprising everyone. New precedents – legal and political – set.
On the May 23 last year, in the aftermath of the General Election, a confession finally having been coaxed out of the former Secretary of State, I sat down to write what I thought would be a mischievous, hypothetical blog. “Is Carmichael vulnerable to an election petition?”, I asked. Having alighted on this little-known and little-understood corner of election law, I concluded that it might – just might – be worth a punt.
But I didn’t expect anyone to play Don Quixote, and to brave the costs and the uncertainties of litigation to put Carmichael in the witness box and this speculative legal theory to the test."