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The Carmichael Case

Monday, September 7, 2015 5:02
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Former Ambassador, Human Rights Activist

I have been dipping in to the coverage of the Carmichael recall case. His lawyer is basing his argument heavily on a precedent that, while a candidate may adopt a political position that shows him to be a hypocrite, the law only applies to personal conduct and not political conduct. He then quotes a Channel 4 interview which says it is plain that Carmichael was answering questions in his capacity as Secretary of State for Scotland. “He did not say anything about his personal character or conduct.”

The fundamental flaw in this argument is that Carmichael cannot say that leaking the document was a function of his office of Secretary of State. It was a personal act, with a crooked political motive. Leaking the document, and then lying about doing it, is undoubtedly a matter of “personal character and conduct.” Carmichael’s lawyer is arguing that the fact Carmichael lied does not in itself make it a matter of personal character. But that is an Aunt Sally. Nobody said that it does. But it happens that it was a matter of personal character.

The whole very unedifying argument on Carmichael’s side boils down to “it is fine to lie if it is political”. How a decent man puts himself into this totally dishonourable position, instead of just resigning, is beyond me.

The court will find in Carmichael’s favour. The Scottish legal establishment is no more of the people now than it was in the days of Thomas Muir of Huntershill. That is something which will have to be vigorously addressed after Independence.


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