A former Liberal Democrat MP has defended the party’s sole representative in Scotland, Alistair Carmichael, who has been called on to step down, by saying that all politicians lie.
Sir Malcolm Bruce, former Deputy leader of the party, was defending the Orkey and Shetland MP’s decision not to resign over the leaked memo about Nicola Sturgeon when he told the BBC that Carmichael had no reason to resign over lying because “lots of people have told lies and you know that to be perfectly true.”
Former Scottish Secretary Mr Carmichael is under fire after he admitted allowing his special adviser to leak a memo to the Daily Telegraph saying that Nicola Sturgeon told the French ambassador she would prefer David Cameron as Prime Minister to Ed Miliband. He initially said he was only made aware of the situation after being contacted by journalists, but following a Cabinet Office inquiry and report, admitted the part he played in the story.
After the truth was revealed, Carmichael apologised for his role but the SNP have asked the parliamentary inquiry standards commissioner in parliament to formally rule on his conduct.
He told BBC Radio Orkey: “I have said already that I very much regret the position I am in. I have been the Member of Parliament for Orkney and Shetland for the last 14 years. I have worked hard for local people and believe that’s the record on which I am entitled to rely and that’s the job that I am now going to be getting on with. None of that has changed.”
But Sir Malcolm chose to defend his former colleague by saying that lying in public life is widespread, saying: “If you’re telling me that every MP who hasn’t quite told the truth, or even told a brazen lie [should go], including cabinet ministers, including prime ministers, we’d clear out the House of Commons very fast.”
“Alistair has recognised that he made a mistake,” he said. “He’s apologised, he’s foregone his severance pay.”
Sir Malcolm also attacked the SNP’s motives in leading calls for the MP of the UK’s most northerly constituency to step down, saying: “The SNP are quite clearly wanting to extinguish all opposition in Scotland, that’s their objective, and they will stop at nothing to do it.”
He also pointed out that they themselves been involved in behaviour in parliament which ‘didn’t bear scrutiny.’
He went on to say that as far as he understood, Mr Carmichael “hadn’t read the memo, he was aware of its existence” and turned attention instead to the SNP including claims by the former leader Alex Salmond that he had legal advice saying that an independent Scotland would remain in the EU.
Mr Salmond spend public money fighting a freedom of information act request asking him to make this advice public, before admitting that no such advice existed.