Alistair Carmichael election petition hearing to be broadcast live tomorrow

Two days of legal argument beckons as the next stage in the election petition against Alistair Carmichael in Edinburgh.

We won’t have to rely on journalists recounting the evidence, either. We’ll be able to see it all for ourselves as it’s broadcast live on STV. Here, from the STV website, is how to watch.

Broadcast You can watch on television on STV Glasgow and STV Edinburgh. These can be found at Freeview channel 23, Sky channel 117 and Virgin channel 159 in both city TV broadcast areas.

The programme will start at 10am and feature full and uninterrupted coverage from the court.

There will be special coverage of the court case in STV News at Six and on Scotland Tonight from 10.30pm.

Online Visit the STV Player to watch the live programme from 10am. This is available on the STV Player app for both iOS and Android.

The Player stream is available only in the UK.

If you’re not already signed up to use the STV Player, now would be a good time to join.

STV News will offer live text updates from the court on this page.

Other media STV is making the broadcast footage available to other broadcast media via satellite link.

Those of us who are on a train to London for a Federal Finance and Administration Committee meeting will miss out, of course and will have to rely on Twitter and old fashioned news sites.

Euan McColm had an interesting column in the Scotsman this week, musing on the Pandora’s Box which could be opened if the petition were to succeed, particularly with regard to Alex Salmond’s conduct over whether the Scottish Government had obtained legal advice on an independent Scotland’s position vis a vis the EU:

Mr Salmond told Mr Neil that the Scottish Government had, indeed, received legal advice that supported its position.

In fact, no such legal advice existed. Mr Salmond’s reply was a deception, just as Mr Carmichael’s denial of any knowledge of the leak of the Sturgeon memo was.

Should Lady Paton and Lord Matthews agree that Mr Carmichael’s election should be rerun, then SNP supporters will have opened a box that they will not be able to close.

During any campaign, SNP politicians will be as bound as any other to give direct answers to often difficult questions or face devastating, career-ending consequences.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Carmichael could have done the honorable thing, apologized, stood down and fought a by-election .

    Let’s face it, if this had been a Tory,SNP or Labour MP the Lib Dems would have been all over it like a rash and pulled the same stunt as the SNP.

  • I would be very surprised if Carmichael loses the petition, but you never know… Electoral Law deals with candidates and does not mention parties, so Sturgeon would normally be considered totally irrelevant to Orkney and Shetland… It will set a big big precedent if he loses…

    I guess if is is shown to have lied in his leaflets maybe? That could trigger a whole rash of challenges up and down the country… Is it too late for that re. this year’s election? If not there could be quite a few MP’s tuning anxiously into STV tomorrow…

  • Alastair Campbell 6th Sep '15 - 5:17pm

    The SNP have nothing to do with this action, in fact they have kept themselves distant.
    This action is by 4 Orkney constituents who have ephasised from the start, and to the 5,000 plus people donating £88,000 plus by crowd funding the action is by individuals and not the SNP.
    The Salmond case is not the least bit comparable and Salmond instigated and submitted himself to an enquiry which exhonourated him.
    The media however constantly serve up a fiction of the facts.

  • Alistair,

    The SNP have nothing to do with the election petition in the same way that Henry II and nothing to do with the death of Thomas a Becket…

    “Who will rid me of this troublesome MP?” says Nicola, and some Nats in Orkney and Shetland oblige

  • Andrew,
    Your link to the BBC article has no relevance to the reasons and actions of why and how 4 constituents in Orkney have raised the action putting their homes and financial future at risk. This will be my last post on the subject. All the facts are on the web if you care to do your own research and not take as fact either deliberate or second hand misrepresentations.
    The Petitioners own postings may be a good place to start.

  • Carol,

    Thanks to you and fellow contributors for allowing my posts putting an alternative view.
    Thats open democracy.

  • Alastair,

    Sorry I mis-spelt your name

    I actually agree with you that it would have been better if Alistair Carmichael had resigned. He should have apologised to the electorate and fought the by-election himself. Who knows, he might have won…

    On the other hand he had every reason to believe that the memo was true at the time because anyone can see that a Tory government in Westminster does indeed increase the likelihood of Scottish Independence… (the European referendum alone does that). And since Nicola Sturgeon is one of the smartest politicians in the UK I am sure she could see it too..

    Of course it has all been strenuously denied by everyone concerned (except the person that listened to the conversation, whoever that was, but they are certainly not someone who can file an election petition to get their point of view heard) so it can’t possibly be true. …

    Many people think Nicola Sturgeon should have resigned as an MSP in 2010 over the Abdul Rauf affair. But she made a fulsome apology to the Scottish Parliament, and for an SNP politician, that was enough, it seems..

  • Peter Watson 6th Sep '15 - 8:49pm

    So if Tony Blair simply apologises for any misleading comments that lead to war in Iraq, will Lib Dems will just excuse him with a cheery “Fair enough, we all do that sort of thing occasionally.”?
    Vacating the moral high ground and accepting that it is okay for a politician to lie to us is a step in the wrong direction for Lib Dems, no matter who the politician is.

  • Peter Watson

    Once again, your comments are the voice of reason.

  • @andrewmcc

    “Of course it has all been strenuously denied by everyone concerned (except the person that listened to the conversation, whoever that was, but they are certainly not someone who can file an election petition to get their point of view heard) so it can’t possibly be true. …”

    Actually it’s been strenuously denied by the three people who took part in the conversation: the French Ambassador, the French Consul General and the First Minister. So no it isn’t true unless you wish to call all three liars?

    There was no Abdul Rauf “affair”. Surgeon made a mistake in dealing with a constituency matter in providing on public record a request to a Sheriff Court for a non custodial sentence for a constituent . She apologised. She did not secretly leak a document to obtain unfair electoral advantage during a GE, deny it and only admit it and apologise after an expensive enquiry gave no option but to do so .

  • The Lib Dems currently have 5 MSPs in Scotland, 2 representing constituencies in the Highlands and Islands, and 3 list MSPs in other regions. The 3 list seats outside Scotland probably would all be lost on the Lib Dems share of the regional vote in 2016 falling by 1.5 points since 2011. One of the seats in the Highlands and Islands could easily be lost too.

    Fifth place behind the Greens looks likely in 2016, but fifth place with only one MSP would be another matter entirely. Could even be sixth place if CISTA can win some list seats.

    If the party don’t handle this properly that could be their future in Scotland in less than a years time. I know it’s a risk, but I think Carmichael should have stood-down and the Lib Dems should have fought the by-election with another candidate.

    Is it heads in the sand time again? Just hold firm, everything will be OK?

  • Peter Watson

    “So if Tony Blair simply apologises for any misleading comments that lead to war in Iraq, will Lib Dems will just excuse him[…]”

    Is there a single voice of the Lib Dems who can speak for all the individuals to ‘excuse’ them?

    On the more general point. Many people do treat Blair unfairly on this point. There were many bad decisions which he is accountable for (therefore will leave alone) but the deception claim is more complex, there were exaggerations which are obviously wrong. However some people allocate dishonesty to all of the inaccuracy in the government’s pro-war case when some of it was but some of it was bad information along with a lot of very bad techniques for analysing infomation which will give you a bad basis for making decisions.

    We would do well to seperate the three problems.

  • Peter

    It is quite a while since Tony Blair was in a position to resign his seat over Iraq. His crime was rather greater than Alistair Carmichael’s however, if he really exaggerated the reports of WMD knowingly… You can hardly pretend that Carmichael’s leak had any negative impact on the SNP, so the issue is purely the lie… So really it is “I am sorry I lied about leaking a memo that had no effect on Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP” Not quite on a par with taking Britain into war!
    I think actually that if he had resigned and fought his own seat the independent-minded electors of Orkney and Shetland would have returned him, saying “what a storm in a tea cup”. But we will never know.

  • DavidW,

    In 2011 the Liberal Democrats got 7.9% of the constituency vote and 5.2% of the regional list vote. In the Ipsos Mori poll this week they were on 7% in each. It all depends on how the votes are split regionally of course, and Mori do not seem to give that data.. But that looks like an increase in 1.8% in list votes currently (other polls have been worse, of course)

    The Greens are currently slightly ahead on 8%, but do you really have any evidence whatsoever for a CISTA breakthrough??

    We may well lose our seats in Orkney and Shetland, but would almost certainly get them back on the Highlands and Islands list vote. Meanwhile if the swing in that poll was applied uniformly we would probably get a seat in Lothian. I agree that it is small margins and a small fall in vote would lead to the loss of several seats.

  • Peter Watson 6th Sep '15 - 11:00pm

    @AndrewMcC “So really it is “I am sorry I lied about leaking a memo that had no effect on Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP””
    This seems to be a defence that acknowledges problems with Alistair Carmichael’s honesty (“lied”) and his ethics (“leaking”) while calling into question his competence (“had no effect”). I doubt he will be taking that approach this week!
    If the party accepts that this sort of behaviour can be acceptable then it is very difficult, if not impossible, to criticise politicians in other parties for doing the same, even when the magnitude is much greater. Unfortunately, now that it has been allowed to reach this stage it is probably too late for the party to avoid being characterised as no better than its opponents so ploughing on and hoping for a good result for Alistair Carmichael is probably the best strategy.

  • “The SNP have nothing to do with this action, in fact they have kept themselves distant.”…………………….hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  • Peter,

    As I said above, I think it would have been wiser to have resigned and fought a by-election. All i am saying is that the campaign against him is out of all proportion to the gravity of the offence… Personally I thinking breaking the tuition fee pledge was worse, but we don’t want to go down that alley do we?

  • John Marriott

    “They don’t seem to have deterred that many people from applying for university ”

    They do, however, seem to have deterred people from voting Lib Dem.

  • It says much about our promise of a ‘New kind of politics’ (or was that just for 2010) when his action is defended by “It’s no worse than, etc.” and to try and use it as a stick to beat the SNP…

  • Expats

    Yes indeed.

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Sep '15 - 10:26am

    @ John Marriot,
    We don’t ‘send’ too many young people to universities. Young people make a choice.

    ‘ I think we send too many people there is any case’. In the words of Jayne Mansfield, ‘Quelle surprise”.

  • Tsar Nicholas 7th Sep '15 - 10:48am

    @Jayne Mansfield

    I think we DO send many young people to university in that they do not see an alternative, even if they are massively in debt and unable to find work at the end of it.

  • Tsar Nicholas 7th Sep ’15 – 10:48am………..I think we DO send many young people to university in that they do not see an alternative, even if they are massively in debt and unable to find work at the end of it…

    If the alternative is JSA then why not? Eventually ‘things’ will get better and, as I was once told, “A good degree is forever”…

  • the Honourable thing to do would have been to resign and have another election and let the people decide on the character of the candidates.

  • Tsar Nicholas

    Yes I agree. Our daughter is off to University next week for the first time. The fact that she is doing so in no way means that we have forgiven the Lib Dems.

  • Tsar Nicholas 7th Sep '15 - 1:07pm

    Back on topic, I have been watching the livestream from the election court, courtesy of the BBC.

    I think that Alistair’s counsel, Roddy Dunlop QC, has done an excellent job so far in seeking to dismiss the petition. He is quite correct in saying that if this petition is granted, it will make every public utterance in a public capacity prior to an election a matter that could lead to an election petition overturning the election result. a recipe fro chaos, I would think.

    If the court grants the petition and it is not overturned by a higher court, I can see emergency legislation being passed at Westminster as everyone – SNP included – could fall foul of this.

  • John Marriott,

    It is not the policy on tuition fees I am talking about… That broke a manifesto commitment but in the circumstances of coalition that was certainly not a resigning matter (otherwise the entire Tory Party would now be fighting by-elections)

    It is holding up a big placard saying “I promise to vote against any increase in tuition fees in the next parliament”, and then breaking that promise, made to individual electors…That promise was always in the power of any MP to keep… I am a bit surprised there are people who still do not seem to see the difference

  • David Wallace,

    Yes, I agree, the available evidence on Scottish polls since the election is that the Liberal Democrats are about where they were in 2011, and will get a similar result. I am hopeful that things will be better by next May.

    If CISTA get as much as 1% next May I would eat my hat (so probably they will get 5% as you predict!).

    The next round of Scottish by-elections include places where the Liberal Democrats actually still have councillors, so performance in them will be a decent guide to what is happening (better than these polls)

  • My son and my daughter both went to university and paid £3000 fees. Both still have sizable debts they are paying off…

    My daughter did marine engineering and has a good job for which her degree is absolutely necessary.

    My son has an MPhys but has never managed to get a job remotely connected with it and after several years of drift and an MSc (paid for my me) now has a good job that objectively does not require a degree (although you needed to be a graduate to get it, and I guess the MSc was relevant). He is quite disparaging about the abilities of many of the graduates in his company…

    There a lot of “graduate jobs” that only require graduates because it is a filter the employers can use to cut down the number of applicants… It is still the case that graduates are on average more intelligent than non-graduates but in many cases looking at the A-level results would be quite enough. Of course I am a University Lecturer so I am very happy for my salary to be paid by all these people who perhaps do not really need to be at university. And to be honest it is hard to predict at the start who will benefit and who will not in the end. Possibly we provide some generic benefits too (certainly we say we do!)

  • BTW I am AndrewMcC on another computer!

  • John Marriott 7th Sep ’15 – 1:44pm……………..It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the one thing the great British public seem keen to beat us up over, namely the tuition fees pledge, has hardly affected student numbers at all. That’s the point I was trying to make, which says more about the public than it does about the policy………

    No! It says far more about the character of MPs who signed individual pledges and then broke them….Manifesto promises are different in that they are a ‘wish list’ from the party and cannot be tied to individual members…. If I get a letter on behalf of my local council I treat it differently than a letter signed by an individual councillor…
    It seems you, like those MPs, don’t see the difference…

  • Firstly, on the content of the memo. It’s much easier just to quote from the Cabinet Secretary’s report (my highlighting.)

    “The investigation team interviewed the civil servant in the Scotland Office who produced the memo. He confirmed under questioning that he believed that the memo was an accurate record of the conversation that took place between him and the French Consul General, and highlighted that the memo had stated that part of the conversation between the French Ambassador and the First Minister might well have been “lost in translation”.

    Senior officials who have worked with him say that he is reliable and has no history of inaccurate reporting, impropriety or security lapses. The Cabinet Secretary has concluded that there is no reason to doubt that he recorded accurately what he thought he had heard. There is no evidence of any political motivation or ‘dirty tricks’.

    Secondly, I suspect the SNP have kept well clear of this because if it succeeds, they know what the outcome will be. It will effectively gag any candidate from criticising another politician, so would have messed up their anti-Tony Blair or anti-Miliband campaigns. This could potentially include criticising policy too.

  • Honestly, this chap should just have resigned as a point of “honour”. It seems there really are no honourable people left in politics.

  • SIMON BANKS 7th Sep '15 - 3:29pm

    I can’t see that this should have been a resigning as an MP issue. Unfortunately, many ministers, MPs and no doubt MSPs lie. If they’re caught out just before an election it may cost them. It should have been a resigning as a minister issue – it was as a minister that Alistair Carmichael misbehaved – but he did not remain a minister. If, say, Eric Pickles had been shown to have leaked some information from the DCLG, we’d have wanted his scalp if he’d still been a minister and would have used it against him in elections in Brentwood, but I can’t imagine it would have occurred to us to petition for his re-election as an MP to be overturned.

    What would be much more reasonable is a recall provision which would require a large number of constituents to call for an MP to face the electorate again or stand down.

  • .It is not just the leaking of the memo it was his lies, on a TV interview, which required an expensive investigation. It was only after the investigation that the leak and the lie were admitted……………….
    What is so sad is the LibDem response to this matter…It has been said before, but I’ll say it again, had it been an MP of any other party, the calls for a resignation would have been deafening!

  • Expats

    You are absolutely right. It’s very disappointing that the Liberal Democrats, who used to have “personal integrity” as their USP, have descended to the point that they can excuse this behaviour with a shrug and ” everyone does it”.

  • Denis Loretto 7th Sep '15 - 5:13pm

    @Tsar Nicholas

    I too have watched substantial sections of the live broadcast. There is no doubt that if the case against Carmichael succeeds the flood gates will open, as Alistasir’s counsel has said. I have been fighting in election campaigns for over 50 years. I think it is not an exaggeration to say that in every one of them I have detected at some point untrue allegations in literature and/or statements by parties or individual candidates. There is a lot of cut and thrust in political activity in free countries. The test for activity or comment deemed sufficient to unseat an elected candidate needs to be set very high.

  • Bruce Hosie 7th Sep '15 - 6:24pm

    I really feel that a Liberal voice is vital in Scotland, we are not a one party state as many ill informed posters would have you believe, but we are not being listened to. We are not trusted because we are not seen to be listening to the voters in Scotland who made it very clear that the old ways are just not good enough anymore, so therfor they are no longer listening to us. This issue will define the party in many ways as we move ahead in the next five years. For Holyrood next year we sit at around 6% in the polls, I expect that to fall even lower if we are not seen to take this issue seriously and take the voters concerns seriously. The SNP 56 are a warning shot to all of the unionist parties, you have been warned, get it wrong and the result will be the break up of the United kingdom when I believe that the majority would be perfectly happy with a real federal UK.

    The Liberal Democrats have a role to play but right now no one is listening and AC has made that all more difficult no matter how decent or hard working an MP he has been.

  • Peter Watson 7th Sep '15 - 7:17pm

    @expats “What is so sad is the LibDem response to this matter…It has been said before, but I’ll say it again, had it been an MP of any other party, the calls for a resignation would have been deafening!”
    We can only reminisce about the sort of Liberal Democrats party that used to promote the idea of being able to recall an MP who misbehaved, e.g.

  • Peter Watson 7th Sep ’15 – 7:17pm…

    Thanks for the link…I noted one comment missing from the “selection of your comments” section; the one that says, “This should not apply to LibDem MPs”

  • John Marriott 8th Sep ’15 – 7:51am …………..Dear ‘Expats’, Regarding the question of when is a pledge a promise, had it been standing for parliament in 2010 (something I have only done once back in 1997) there is no way I would have pledged to abolish tuition fees…………

    John, but we did promise. In fact we promised in the most public manner; our MPs carried these ‘pledges’ like medieval religious icons from meeting to meeting and college to college. The thing is, they worked; we got the youth vote and then, at the first hurdle, we did the opposite.
    I’ve written this before but, before the election, I engaged with a large number of 18-25 yo’s ….There were two parties they unanimously said they would not vote for; UKIP-“racist’ and LibDem-“untrustworthy”….

    Anyway, back to the subject…It is not just about this one MP it is what the publicity of this case (win or lose) will do to the party locally in Scotland……and BTW who is paying for Alistair’s counsel ( Roddy Dunlop QC)?

  • John,

    Following on from what expats said, of course you would not have pledged to “abolish tuition fees”. That was NOT the pledge, since it would have been undeliverable other than by a majority Lib Dem government.

    If you had been in a winnable seat you would almost certainly have pledged like all the others to “vote against any increase in fees in the next Parliament”. I am sure party HQ encouraged candidates strongly to sign that pledge and shout about it as loudly as possible. A pledge that was clearly deliverable under any circumstances, as Tim Farron, and 20 others demonstrated. And a major plank of our “no more broken promises” election strategy.

  • Andrew McC

    Thank you for that clarification, it amazing how many posters try to re-write history.

    Expats the reason why people think Lib Dems are “untrustworthy” is not just because of the broken pledge. It is also because of the justifications for breaking the pledge which are given by senior Lib Dems and posters on here. Really there is no way to defend it, it was just wrong. The same is true of Carmichael. What he did was totally wrong, and he should have ‘fessed up right at the start, instead he only ‘fessed up after he had forced an expensive investigation – that makes him untrustworty. The more people on here defend his behaviour, the more they make Lib Dems as a whole seem untrustworthy. A moral compass seems to have gone missing!

  • I actually think it would suit the SNP for the case not to proceed- the shadow of Carmichael will hang over next year’s Holyrood elections, and as long as he is in place, he will be used to show the Lib Dems as dishonest and untrustworthy.

    Strategically, I think it would have been better had he voluntarily resigned- I think the political fallout from not doing so will be significant.

  • Peter Watson 29th Sep '15 - 12:11pm

    “Legal challenge over MP Alistair Carmichael’s election to proceed”

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