Alistair Carmichael ‘leaked Sturgeon memo thinking it was true’

We already know that the civil servant who wrote the controversial ‘Memogate’ memo believed that it was accurate. Now the MP who leaked it has said the same.

The only people who have cast any doubt on the document are those who have an interest in doing so.

If the civil servant had not declared his belief that the information he had written was factually accurate – by which, let’s by clear, he meant it was what he had been told by the French consul-general – then This Writer would be more willing to give Nicola Sturgeon the benefit of the doubt.

The civil servant did express concerns that the consul-general had misheard the information he had imparted – but, looking at the actual content of that information, it is hard to find any way this could be true. There is no language barrier between three people who are all perfectly fluent in English, for example.

So this issue still comes down to whether you believe a civil servant with an impeccable record for honesty, absolutely no reason to fabricate any information, and no reason to believe he could get away with any such fabrication at the time he communicated the message he did, or three people who were directly involved in what appears to be a politically incendiary conversation, all of whom would have had very strong reasons for being conservative with the truth, if that conversation really did take place as recorded.

You be the judge.

Alistair Carmichael has told a special court he leaked a confidential memo that claimed Nicola Sturgeon secretly wanted a Tory general election victory because he believed it was true.

The former Scotland secretary told an election court in Edinburgh he believed the so-called Frenchgate memo was “politically explosive”, because it confirmed that the first minister wanted David Cameron to win in the belief it would further her quest for Scottish independence.

Carmichael denied he had intended to smear Sturgeon when he authorised his special adviser Euan Roddin to leak the memo. He said that until she forcefully denied it was accurate within minutes of the Daily Telegraph publishing it, he felt it revealed facts that were of critical public importance.

“A smear is where you say something about somebody else, an opinion which is untrue and which you know to be untrue,” he said. The memo “was saying something about Scottish nationalists that I believed to be true”.

The case centres on Carmichael’s decision in March to allow Roddin to leak a memo that allegedly summarised Sturgeon’s comments to the French ambassador Sylvie Bermann. The first minister allegedly said she did not believe Ed Miliband, then the Labour leader, was prime ministerial material, and that she would prefer to see the Tories win.

Carmichael said he trusted the honesty of the Scotland Office civil servant who had drawn up the memo, and the account Pierre Alain Coffinier, the French diplomat who briefed the civil servant, gave about the ambassador’s meeting with the first minister.

Source: Alistair Carmichael ‘leaked Sturgeon memo thinking it was true’ | Politics | The Guardian

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  1. ian725 November 11, 2015 at 2:18 am - Reply

    I believe that Carmichael allowed the leak deliberately for Political Gain, just my own little humble opinion.

    • Mike Sivier November 11, 2015 at 2:52 am - Reply

      There’s no reason you can’t believe that and also believe that he considered the memo to be accurate, though, is there?

  2. rockingbass November 11, 2015 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Radio Scotland appears to have a News black out on this… can’t comment till i get my paper..they appear more interested in Russian Athletics

  3. Kohn Mcleish November 11, 2015 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    Why did he lie initially about when he was aware of the document and about its publication in the media. Maybe you like turning a blind eye to dishonest politicians when it suits your own agenda

    • Mike Sivier November 11, 2015 at 12:58 pm - Reply

      Why are you changing the subject?
      I’m not endorsing his dishonesty at all. No part of my article has suggested anything of the sort.
      Perhaps you like turning a blind eye to the possibilities mentioned in the article.

      • Joan Edington November 11, 2015 at 8:31 pm - Reply

        If that is the case, what is the point of this article, other than to have another go at the SNP? You’ve said all this before.

        The current case is about an MP who lied before the GE in case his lies lost him his seat. It has nothing to do with whether the memo was true or not. Even if he did believe it, he still lied, thereby misleading his voters.

        • Mike Sivier November 11, 2015 at 11:51 pm - Reply

          The point is to provide balance, because I expected the usual suspects to whip up a storm of pro-Sturgeon support.

          Yes, I have said most of it before, and it was met with absolute, blind-faith, denial from SNP/Sturgeon supporters. They would not accept what the evidence was saying and many of them pointed at Carmichael’s statement as proof that the memo was factually inaccurate. Now we have evidence that he believed it was accurate, contradicting what he appeared to be saying before.

          The SNP/Sturgeon supporters may fall back on their standby position – that he’s a liar and nobody should believe him – but, again, that’s just blind-faith denial of the facts of the situation.

          • Joan Edington November 12, 2015 at 2:24 pm

            Mike, you have not responded in any way to my comment. Merely reiterated your anti-SNP stance. I did say “whether the memo was true or not” so I hardly fit your “blind-faith” description. I did not comment on the content of the memo at all.

            The point is that Carmichael had it leaked and lied about that fact, presumably in order to ensure his seat. So, him saying in court that he believed it to be accurate is evidence, is it? Even if he did, that still makes him a liar for saying, prior to the GE, that he had no knowledge of the leak and now admitting that he did. That lie could well have lost him his seat since his majority was slim.

          • Mike Sivier November 13, 2015 at 12:42 pm

            You are not the only person reading these articles – and you know perfectly well the attitude to which I was referring.

            YOUR point may be that Carmichael leaked it and then lied about it; it’s a perfectly reasonable point. MINE is that it seems he believed he was doing it in the public interest. Do you have any argument against mine? No?

            Well then.

            As for his seat – didn’t I see a report showing support for the Liberal Democrats in his constituency offers an overall majority above any other comers? SNP was at 16 per cent, if I recall correctly.

          • Joan Edington November 13, 2015 at 8:14 pm

            I don’t know where you get your reports, Mike. I would try the official figures. Carmichael won 41.4% of the vote, just 3.6% ahead of the next candidate. His actions, which incidentally cost the tax-payer around £1.5m of official inquiry, could well have tipped the balance. At least one of the 4 constituents who have taken the action against him actually voted for him.

            I read an article today that really sums up the way I think about all this and current politics in general. An extract:

            “REGARDLESS of the outcome, the events and arguments of the past few days in the special election court held in Edinburgh, and the commentary that has accompanied it, have revealed something very important about our politics in the UK.

            Whatever the legal judgment on the action four constituents have taken against Alistair Carmichael MP under the 1983 Representation of the People’s Act is, the political norm has been exposed.

            That in politics people lie and that’s to be expected. That it is entirely par for the course that a politician will look down a camera lens and lie. And that it is somehow commendable that when it becomes clear he is going to be caught out, he finally tells the truth. All of this is simply “par for the course”, “part of the game”. And how foolish, naive, or perhaps plain spiteful, for any of us to challenge the rightness of that.”

          • Mike Sivier November 14, 2015 at 1:14 pm

            The comments you have quoted could easily be turned around on Nicola Sturgeon, of course, regarding her part in this story.
            We have no reason to believe she has told the truth about the contents of that memo other than her word and – as your commenter rightly states, “in politics people lie”. Your commenter is also right to say that politicians only tell the truth when it becomes clear they are going to be caught out.
            Think on that.

  4. ian725 November 14, 2015 at 1:14 am - Reply

    As far as I’m aware the seat has been solid Liberal since at least as far back as the splendid Jo Grimond. However I would think that this escapade may just cause a bit of a problem for the current MP and perhaps the future hopefuls. I do not know which party is closest perhaps it will be wide open next time around.

    • Joan Edington November 14, 2015 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      You’re right Ian that the seat has been a safe Liberal one since way back. However, this time round, Carmichael lost 20.6% of the vote share, mostly to the SNP. I think that was a combination of the LibDems losing out all over, due to their coalition with the Tories, and the horrendous drubbing he took in the head-to-head he had with Nicola Sturgeon during the referendum last year, after he replaced the rather more statesmanlike Michael Moore. Basically, he shouted a lot and said nothing.

      • ian725 November 15, 2015 at 1:47 am - Reply

        Joan, from what I have seen ‘On TV’ and heard in snippets. It appears that Nicola Sturgeon can hold her own with any politician even to the point that some are scared to confront her in public. It is the impression I get from down here in deepest Shropshire. in fact I know a number that would vote for her, and that really is some acclaim. Imagine the Headlines ‘True Blue Shropshire votes Scot Nat. Nicola’ !!!

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