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Ex-Lib Dem minister Alistair Carmichael admits he ordered leak of 'bombshell' memo claiming Nicola Sturgeon was backing David Cameron for PM

Published 22/05/2015

The leak came at a crucial time during the election campaign
The leak came at a crucial time during the election campaign

A Liberal Democrat minister ordered a civil servant to leak a memo recounting a conversation between the French ambassador and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, he has admitted.

Alistair Carmichael described the move, made during the general election campaign, as an “error of judgement which I regret”.

The leaked document contained a second-hand account of the conversation and claimed that Ms Sturgeon had said she would prefer David Cameron as prime minister compared to Ed Miliband.

Both Ms Sturgeon and the French ambassador denied the version of events presented in the document.

“I had not seen the document before it was published in the Daily Telegraph, however I was aware of its content and agreed that my special adviser should make it public,” Mr Carmichael said in a statement.

“I should not have agreed this. It was an error of judgement which I regret. I accept full responsibility for the publication of the document.

“I have written today to the First Minister and to the French Ambassador to apologise to them both; had I still been a Government Minister I would have considered this to be a matter that required my resignation.”

Mr Carmichael’s statement came the same day as the Cabinet Office published the results of its inquiry into the document’s release.

The leak, made to the Daily Telegraph newspaper on 3 April, was politically crucial at the time of release as it potentially affected perceptions of who Ms Sturgeon’s party would do a post-election deal with.

Polls at the time showed the SNP holding the balance of power in a hung parliament. In the actual event, the Conservatives won a narrow majority.

The Cabinet Office’s inquiry found that “there [was] no reason to doubt” the accuracy of the memo’s record of Ms Sturgeon and the French ambassador’s conversation, however.

Independent News Service

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