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Business as usual for isles MP

Alistair Carmichael MP

NORTHERN isles MP Alistair Carmichael has said he is getting on with winning back the trust of the people who voted him back into office last month after he admitted lying about a leaked memo ahead of the general election.

He said he had received a tremendous amount of support over the past few weeks since his confession, but understood there were still people who needed their faith in him restored.

His comments come after it was revealed that the Daily Telegraph, to whom Carmichael authorised the controversial memo to be leaked, are set to be reprimanded over their story by the newly formed press watchdog, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

The SNP had complained to IPSO that the Conservative-supporting national newspaper had failed to meet “expected journalistic standards” when it published the leaked memo in April.

The story was potentially damaging as it claimed that first minister Nicola Sturgeon privately supported David Cameron becoming prime minister, while publicly stating she wanted him “locked out” of No 10 Downing Street.

Sturgeon immediately denied there was any truth in the report, saying she would have told the journalist had he bothered to contact her before publishing.

Carmichael accepted this when he apologised to her and the French ambassador last month.

The MP has since described his own denial that he knew anything about the leak during a television interview as an “error of judgment on a matter of politics”.

Since then the Parliamentary standards commissioner has announced an inquiry into the Carmichael’s behaviour, and he faces legal action after constituents in Orkney have raised more than £61,000 to lodge a petition in the Court of Session to unseat him.

Carmichael formally opposed the petition and said he had no intention of standing down as the Liberal Democrats sole MP in Scotland.

This week he told Shetland News that he had been getting down to business as usual, holding surgeries, meeting constituents and attending meetings.

“It’s the work I’ll always do, and will still do. I’ve never stopped focusing on this,” he said.

Regarding the ill feeling he had generated in the isles, he said: “There are a range of views, but I’ve had a tremendous amount of support and people are pleased to see me getting on with the work that I’ve done over the last 14 years.

“I understand that there are a few people who have lost a bit of trust in me.

“I am to get that back by getting on with the job that I’ve always done, a job on their own admission that I’ve done very effectively over the last 14 years.”

He added: “I said I’ll co-operate with the inquiry. It’s not for me to pre-judge what will come up.”

Meanwhile the UK government has refused to publish the contents of the original memo that Carmichael’s advisor leaked to the press with his approval, saying that it could harm Britain’s relationship with France, after the SNP lodged a freedom of information request.

The memo was a third hand report of a conversation between Sturgeon and the French ambassador, which the civil servant who wrote it admitted could be inaccurate.

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