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Protesters vow to keep going until MP goes

Protesters gather outside Alistair Carmichael's constituency office on Saturday afternoon to call for his resignation. Photo Shetnews

PROTESTERS calling for northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael to resign have pledged to hold more demonstrations after around 50 folk turned out in Lerwick on Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile the SNP nationally have called for a formal investigation into Carmichael’s leaking of a controversial memo by the Parliamentary Commissioner of Standards.

Local Liberal Democrats have kept their heads down during the row that blew up on Friday afternoon, only saying they were “very disappointed”.

The MP came under fire when he admitted authorising the leak of a private government memo during the general election campaign whilst Secretary of State for Scotland.

The Lerwick protest group marched from the Bank of Scotland to Carmichael’s constituency office where they rallied and collected signatures from passers by.

Protests were simultaneously held in both his Shetland and Orkney constituencies at 1pm in an effort to put pressure on the politician to “consider his position” after the leak.

In Lerwick banners were held aloft calling for Carmichael’s resignation, and branding him “a liar” for denying he was aware of the memo that implied Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon told a French ambassador that she would prefer the Conservatives to win the election before it was leaked.

The demonstration started with a short march from the Bank of Scotland.

The protest ended with chants of “Ali Ali Ali, out out out!”.

Local SNP member Logan Nicolson, who helped organise the Lerwick demonstration, said that more events will be held in the isles to exert pressure on Carmichael.

“A lot of people are saying they are going to Carmichael’s surgery next week to present petitions and voice their opinions,” he said.

“And we have had so many people saying they would have come today if they had been able that if he is still in his position next week we are going to hold another event.”

Nicolson stressed that the protest did not purely involve people aligned to the SNP, and that supporters of other political parties were making their voice heard.

“It was a good turn out, as we only put it only online at 8pm on Friday night.” he said.

“This is not the way that folk conduct themselves in Shetland – it’s a place where folk are honest, play fair and play by the rules.

“I think that this isn’t in the spirit of Shetland, or Orkney either, and I think it’s important that we make Carmichael realise that we do not want to be represented by someone who conducts his official business in that manner.

“So we’re going to keep doing events until Carmichael reconsiders his position.”

Nicolson said that he felt other members of the Liberal Democrat party may encourage Carmichael to resign.

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“The longer he stays in his position with the amount of discontent in the isles for him, the harder it makes Tavish’s job next year,” he said, referring next May’s Scottish elections.

Meanwhile Shetland West councillor Theo Smith, a former chairman of the local Liberal Democrats who served as Carmichael’s election sub agent during the general election campaign, said: “At the moment all I am prepared to say is that I am just very disappointed with the situation.”

Shetland Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott declined to comment.

On Saturday afternoon SNP depute leader Stewart Hosie said he would be reporting Carmichael to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

“Mr Carmichael has no credibility in continuing as an MP and in my opinion he should stand down. It is appropriate for the Standards Commissioner to get involved and arrive at her own conclusions, having investigated the full facts,” Hosie said.

“Had Alistair Carmichael admitted the truth before polling day, he would have been a discredited candidate and the result may well have been different – it’s possible he would have gone the same way as every other Lib Dem MP in Scotland and been turfed out by the voters.”

Carmichael himself has said he would have resigned as Scottish secretary had he still been in post, but he did not consider it appropriate that he cease representing the northern isles in the House of Commons.