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Kezia Dugdale ‘crushed’ by Labour pulling legal support

The former Scottish party leader claims Jeremy Corbyn has not responded to requests for assistance as she fights a defamation case against her.

Kezia Dugdale has said she was left “crushed” by Labour’s move to withdraw financial support for a legal fight against a pro-independence blogger.

The former Scottish Labour leader said she found out by email via her solicitor of the move, which left her fearing for her financial future and “unable to cope” for a period.

Speaking to the Daily Record’s Scottish Politics podcast, she said she texted Jeremy Corbyn for support but the national party leader has not responded.

When I found out by email I was pretty crushed to be honest... I probably had one of the lowest personal moments in my life Kezia Dugdale MSP

She said the Labour Party had promised “unequivocal support” after Wings Over Scotland blogger Stuart Campbell launched a defamation case against her.

The case concerns a column she wrote in the newspaper in March 2017 when she was Scottish Labour leader, but she said 18 months on the party pulled its financial backing.

“I had to find out by email from my solicitor the Labour Party weren’t prepared to pay any more legal bills,” she said.

“When I found out by email I was pretty crushed to be honest… I probably had one of the lowest personal moments in my life… I lost the ability to cope with this for a few days.

“First of all how was I going to pay – that could be my house, my livelihood.”

She said Mr Campbell is seeking £25,000 and if she loses the case she could also have to pay his legal fees, with her own fees, which the Labour Party covered, reaching £90,000 so far.

“I had a moment of crisis around how am I going to pay and then secondly how could my party do this to me?” she added.

“I’ve twice tried to contact Jeremy Corbyn, somebody I used to be in regular contact with, would regularly exchange texts with. I know he’s read those messages but he’s yet to respond.”

Scottish Labour Parliamentary Group chairwoman Mary Fee MSP said Ms Dugdale updated the group on the status of the legal action against her on Tuesday.

She added: “The Labour group expressed full support and solidarity for Kezia in the case.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “Kezia Dugdale has received significant support from the Labour Party.

“The party has a responsibility to all our members and that must mean spending our members’ fees responsibly and appropriately.

“We have to present and campaign around our message of hope and the need to rebuild Britain and that is where we believe our members wish to see their fees spent.”

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