Carmichael: An Extraordinary Lack of Humility 240

Given that the election court had just found that he told a “Blatant lie”, Alistair Carmichael struck absolutely the wrong note in his statement after the case. He could have said:

“I did tell a lie, and it is something I deeply regret. I apologise to my constituents, to my family and to the people of Scotland for all the trouble my lie has caused. I have learned from it. I am grateful to the court for giving me aother chance, and I have now learned never to indulge in that kind of bad behaviour again.”

Instead, with extraordinary arrogance, Alistair said this:

“I am pleased with the decision of the court.

Although I was always confident of winning the last few months have been a difficult and stressful time for me and my family.

We have been enormously grateful for the tremendous levels of support received from local people, in both Orkney and Shetland, regardless of which political party they normally support…

This case was politically motivated. It was a deliberate attempt by nationalists to remove the last Scottish Liberal voice at Westminster, and is a mark of the unhealthy polarisation of Scottish politics since the referendum.”

Co-ordinated statements were put out by Willie Rennie and “Bomber” Tim Farron saying much the same thing. So the utter lack of any humility must have been deliberate. This is an orchestrated act of arrogance.

You will recall that I predicted that there was no way that Scotland’s deeply conservative and unionist judiciary would find against Carmichael. The reasoning behind their judgement is intellectually risible. They say that Carmichael only lied in denying a specific leak; he was therefore not making a false claim about his general character. If he had specifically stated that he never leaked he would have been making a false claim and disqualified.

Here is the pathetic “reasoning” of the judge Lady Paton:

They explained that 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, and he 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, they 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.

“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,” Lady Paton continued. “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’. It follows that we are not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that an essential element of section 106 has been proved.

There are several glaring errors in this reasoning. The first is that if I denied knowledge of a murder I had in fact committed, I would be making a false statement about my general character whether or not I had added a condemnation of the morality of murder.

The second is that Lady Paton ignores the “conduct” in “false statement in relation to his character or conduct.” In denying knowledge of a leak he had in fact made himself. Carmichael was beyond any reasonable doubt making a false statement as to his conduct, even if we accept Paton’s argument it did not go to his character. Note that there is no reference to his “general” or “usual” conduct.

This is the judgement of a woman justifying a pre-determined stitch-up.

Despite al this, I would not be tremendously concerned about the result if Alistair had the decency to be a bit chastened by it. It is only because of our ridiculously undemocratic electoral system that representation is so skewed. You didn’t ought to get over 95% of the seats on 52% of the votes, and I am not sure what is gained by magnifying that other wrong. But any mixed feelings I have on those grounds are dispelled by the utterly inappropriate triumphalism the Lib Dems are displaying, as though to be found a blatant liar by a court is something to be proud of. The brass neck of it all is sickening.

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240 thoughts on “Carmichael: An Extraordinary Lack of Humility

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  • Tony

    This is a stunning example of double speak. The judges ruled that the lie was not intended to mislead. If a lie is not intended to mislead then what is it for? And if the lie is not intended to mislead why make it?

  • MBC

    You are absolutely right about the arrogance. What does it tell us? That the Unionists establishment feels that they have Scotland so under their control that they can get away with anything. Be afraid, be very afraid. I have always feared that it might be impossible to gain independence peacefully through the ballot box. Even if we vote SNP en masse next May it will make no difference as to how the Unionist UK establishment will treat Scotland.

  • MBC

    So the judges ruled that he was not EXPLICITLY making a false claim about his character in denying being behind a leak.

    He was simply EVIDENCING his dishonest character by claiming innocence as to his involvement.

    On that sleight of hand he was cleared.

    You are right that this judgement is intellectually risible.

  • Tony M

    The election of one MP each from the one unionist party, posing as three, is itself looking very suspect now. The electoral system is riddled with holes and backdoors, through which the nefarious elements (that is all of it) of the British state can slip through at will.

    This verdict is so perverse it cannot be allowed to stand. In spite of it, and if Carmicheal finds within himself any sense of decency, there would be, must be a by-election. We still don’t know which individual in the “Better Together” confidence trick was the driving force behind what is a clear cause of forgery and fraud, with the highest stakes at play. A Jury trial would no doubt have given a unanimous verdict against sleazy worm.

    My loathing for Carmicheal, Mundell (for whom Carmicheal in this affair was a scapegoat, though Mundell very much not the ‘mastermind’, this goes back to Downing Street) and that Labour tosser in Edinburgh, knows no bounds.

  • Gillian Williams

    Very strange reason for decision. I did however think the whole court case was a waste of time. It was always going to be this result. If every person who had lied about other politicians for their own agenda the courts would be full

  • Tony M

    It’s not dishonest, to deny then be forced to admit dishonesty. Well I never, that’s disgraceful. Then right and wrong are alien concepts to the trained legal mind, and to law in general, protecting privilege and giving due regard to ‘rank’, come first. Judges, as a rule, as a pre-condition, are incompetent, but where mistakes are made of course, invariably they always fall down on the side of power and authority.

  • Ishmael

    law is a rich mans game, a poor persons oppression. Nothing more.

    I wonder what I would get for falsifying a death threat. Stitch up’s are all the rage nowadays.

  • MBC

    Can they appeal? It seems to me this rests on interpretation and argumentation.

    There are flaws in logic here.

    Paton is saying that Mitchell failed to prove that Carmichael lied to his constituents specifically. Therefore he did not lie to them about his personal integrity as ‘a candidate’ in an election contest, thus invalidating Section 106.

    But Paton affirms that by denying the leak Carmichael lied to ‘all voters’.

    Yet surely ‘all voters’ includes voters in Orkney and Shetland? Surely the defence must be able to disprove that ‘all voters’ ought to exclude voters in Orkney and Shetland? Or the defence falls?

  • fred

    “Fred What can you tell us about the other judge, Lady Paton?”

    I think both judges had only one concern, interpretation of electoral law and deciding if Carmichael had broken it.

    The judges ruled he hadn’t. If we live in a country governed by the rule of law that is all that matters. Attempts to claim that the judges were biassed just undermines the rule of law and undermines our society.

    Now let’s hope Mr Carmichael receives adequate compensation for the substantial expenses incured defending himself from those who brought this action against him

  • Ishmael

    ‘Attempts to claim that the judges were biassed just undermines the rule of law and undermines our society.’

    Prisons are built with stones of law, and there is little that undermines society as much as locking human beings in cages.

  • Tony M

    This case was too politically important to go any other way. Any two-bit Banana Republic has nothing they could teach us about underhand shenanigans.

  • Mary

    It was called a ‘fascinating case’ by Paton apparently.


    Michael Settle: Alistair Carmichael’s survived legal challenge… but he’s not out of the woods yet

    ‘But the ex-Cabinet Minister is not yet free from the shadow of expulsion.

    Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, is investigating Frenchgate and Mr Carmichael’s role within it.

    But this throws up another conundrum. Why is she investigating the Lib Dem, when at the time, he was not an MP? The controversy occurred after Parliament was dissolved for the General Election. Her remit is to look into the behaviour of MPs. When I tried to find out the reason for this, the commissioner’s office drew up the drawbridge and said she did not comment on her investigations in any regard.

    So, we have to wait. It is likely Mr Carmichael and his family will spend Christmas with the shadow still over them. Ms Hudson’s report to the standards committee could come before then but is likely to be early in the New Year.

    But, of course, the former Secretary of State will have a defence if the standards watchdog finds against him; namely, he was not a member of parliament at the time, so any negative finding will be nugatory.

    Yet this will not stop his opponents from using Frenchgate to seek to undermine him whenever they please.

    The Carmichael saga grinds on.’

  • Tony M

    Not so much a shadow, as a black-spot. Cringe-inducing gloating article from the creepy unionist lickspittle Herald.

  • fedup

    The wider implications of this ruling of course is;
    any tow bit politician can lie through his/her teeth is an acceptable and tolerable conduct, that is normal to politicians. IE politicians by definition are liars!

    Now back to “democracy” dunchyouluve it smell in the morning?

  • Alastair

    I atended the witness session. Perhaps I am too black and white but Carmichael admitted a “Homeric” catalogue of lies. Lies after lies after lies. Self protection and promotion. The Orkney4 QC suggested that he was an unreliable witness and all his evidence should be see as so.
    So having seen and heard him admit lie after lie how do the judges come to base judgement based on Carmichael evidence. Selective memory from a serial lier believed.
    Now how will the Parliamentary Enquiry go. Hansard recorded the case so they now clear evidence of lie after lie. 2 out of the 3 Election Court determinations against him. Mis-leading and not being fully truthful to the Cabinet Office Enquiry conducted by the most senior Civil Servant in the UK.
    How much shit must this man cover himself in before he realises he stinks.
    I wait with interest.

  • bevin

    Putting partisan feeling aside I’m sure that we all join with Fred, in hoping that our poor wee brother Carmichael does not suffer any financial loss for his part in confirming the legal principle that if you are on the right side you can get away with anything. It’s the Andy Coulson principle: its OK to lie if you’re fighting dissidents.

  • (The real) Bert

    There is no way that the ‘Right Honourable’ [i.e. Privy Counsel member] Judge Lady Ann Paton would have found against the establishment.

    From an article ‘My experiences, the Scott Inquiry, the British Legal System By Gerald Reaveley James’

    “The other area which is key to overall secret control outside Parliament is the Privy Council. It is important to note that all main members of the Cabinet become members of the Privy Council as do leaders and sometimes the deputy leaders of the opposition parties.

    The Privy Council oath which all members take means they cannot freely discuss any matter they are informed of or told of “Under Privy Council terms”. This means that the Cabinet and opposition leaders cannot discuss freely in Parliament or elsewhere any matter told to them on “Privy Council terms”. This means in practice that the key MPs cannot discharge their democratic duties. It is in effect a gagging system like Public Interest Immunity Certificates dispensed by Judges on application of Government and its agencies. All senior Judges and Appeal Judges are Privy Councillors as is the Lord Chancellor, The Attorney and Solicitor General and other invited and key persons. This secret unelected body has a wide range of powers. On the surface other permanent secretaries, sometimes the Cabinet Secretary and certain members of the established aristocracy are Privy Councillors.”


  • Tony M

    As WoS or a commenter there pointed out a while ago: It’s not that he was no longer an MP, the election having been called, but that he was still a government minister, in the coalition, which is of a whole order of increased significance, remaining Minister until the present Cameron government cabinet positions were distributed, mainly to Cameron’s chums from yooni.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    We live in a cruel, challenging and at times chaotic world. However, at times, as Monica Lewinsky just showed me – we can still occasionally laugh ( read on)…

    Monica Lewinsky released the following statement on Hilary Clinton’s run for President:

    “I will not vote for Hilary Clinton. The last Clinton presidency left a bad taste in my mouth. As we get closer to the 2016 election year, citizens must remember that they cannot even trust Hillary Clinton to create American jobs. The last time she had a meaningful job, she outsourced it to me and I simply blew it”.


  • fred

    When the wording of a law could be taken out of context judges will usually look at the reason for the law and the debate in parliament when it was passed.

    If a candidate were to invent a damning lie about one of their opponents during an election, particularly about their personal lives which would be impossible to disprove before the election date, then they would be gaining an unfair advantage. That is the reason why section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 was passed.

    That is clearly not what happened in the Carmichael case so as what else can be said about it what he did was not illegal under UK electoral law.

  • lysias

    The way Ireland won its independence in 1918-22 was for its elected parliamentary representatives to refuse to go to Westminster and for them and most of the Irish public to refuse any longer to recognize the right of Westminster and of officials of the British government to rule over them. Instead, they set up their own institutions.

    Eventually, they won out. It required guerrilla war, but in the end it worked.

  • Kempe

    ” Eventually, they won out. It required guerrilla war ”

    Followed by a vicious and bloody Civil War which left thousands dead, the economy in ruins and a bitter legacy that lasts to this day.

  • Republicofscotland

    How the self confessed liar Alistair Carmichael can go back and face his constituents and not break step is beyond me. That man has lost all credibility and should do the decent and honourable thing and resign. But then again the words honesty and decency can’t really be associated with an ex-Secretary of State for Scotland.

    Meanwhile the neocons are looking after their ex-politico buddies.

    Jim Murphy, conflict adviser.

    Wee Dougie Alexander advisor to Bono.

    Labour’s ex-messiah, and closed shop speaker, Gordon Brown, globe trotting financial advisor to Pimco.

    It doesn’t matter how shit these men were in their political careers, they served their neocon masters well, and now they’ve been welcomed back into the fold.

  • lysias

    Ask Irish people today, and an overwhelming majority thinks Ireland is better off independent.

    I have asked that question when I have visited Ireland (well after the Irish Civil War). And, as the son of a man who supported Redmond’s Nationalist Party, believed in Home Rule (autonomy) for Ireland, and very much doubted whether Sinn Fein was right in seeking independence, I wasn’t sure what I thought. But the answers we got and what we observed in Ireland persuaded both my father and me that independence had been good for Ireland.

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