Alistair Carmichael: Lib Dem minister who leaked Sturgeon memo should resign, says First Minister

A resulting by-election could see the Lib Dems losing their only seat in Scotland

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A Liberal Democrat politician who leaked a sensitive diplomatic memo about a conversation involving Nicola Sturgeon should consider resigning, the Scottish First Minister has said.

Alistair Carmichael, his party’s only remaining MP in Scotland, has admitted ordering his special advisor to leak an account of a conversation between Ms Sturgeon and the French ambassador.

The account, released to the Daily Telegraph newspaper during the general election campaign, was politically sensitive because it suggested that Ms Sturgeon has said David Cameron would be a better prime minister than Ed Miliband.

Both Ms Sturgeon and the French Ambassador deny the second-hand version of events presented in the document.

She said Mr Carmichael should consider his position and that he had only admitted his deed after it was revealed by a Cabinet Office inquiry.

“Mr Carmichael said at the time that the first he was aware of this matter was when he received a call from a journalist, but we now know that this is simply untrue. The false memo was leaked by a special adviser acting under the authority of Mr Carmichael,” she said in a statement.

 

“He knew all about it, but said in public that he knew nothing until a journalist phoned him. As well as the original dirty trick, which was bad enough, Mr Carmichael then tried to cover it up - and is only admitting it now because he got caught.

Ms Sturgeon concluded: “He needs to seriously reflect on that - and reflect on whether his actions and attempt to cover them up are consistent with his position as an honourable member of the House of Commons.”

Mr Carmichael’s resignation as an MP would trigger a by-election in his Scottish constituency of Orkney and Shetland which could leave his party with zero seats north of the border.

He has a majority of 817, down from 9,928 at the 2010 general election. The seat has been Liberal-held since 1837 apart from a decade in the early 20th century.

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