Andy Wightman MSP bankruptcy threat set for court showdown 

750k legal threat against Green MSP set to progress to Court of Session

A CAMPAIGNER AND POLITICIAN who has repeatedly warned about the problems with legal power in Scotland is now facing his own court room battle after he received a Summons for a £750,000 defamation claim from a company he has written about online. 

Andy Wightman, a Green member of the Scottish Parliament and well known campaigner for land justice, confirmed he had received the summons from “legal agents acting on behalf of Wildcat Haven Enterprises” to appear at the Court of Session. 

The defamation case carries high costs, as well as substantial legal costs to simply mount an effective defence. Wightman confirmed he will be seeking public funding support in what is set to be a key test case at a time when defamation law is under legal review. Wightman has warned that incurring the full costs would mean bankrupcy, which by law means he would be forced from the Scottish Parliament. 

In a short statement, Wightman wrote: “Today [Tuesday 21 March] I was served with a Summons from legal agents acting on behalf of Wildcat Haven Enterprises CIC to appear in the Court of Session seeking interdict on a charge of defamation and claiming £750,000 damages (plus 8% interest from date of citation).

Jonathan Mitchell QC, a senior Scottish legal expert, said the case had no “proper legal basis” on the information available

“In light of the fact that defending this action will be very expensive, I will be launching a crowd-funder shortly to seek assistance with meeting the likely costs. I will be meeting with my legal advisers as soon as I can and will be making no further comment until then.”

Wightman has been a prolific campaigner on land reform, publishing research and books which has consistently challenged the wealthy landowning classes who continue to own much of Scotland’s land. He published ‘The Poor Had No Lawyers’, a seminal work explaining the various legally dubious means by which many landholdings were acquired, and how that power and wealth is maintained. 

Jonathan Mitchell QC, a senior Scottish legal expert, previously poured ridicule on the legal threat, stating, based on the information available, that it had no “proper legal basis” and that it was “the use of threats of litigation to shutup responsible journalism”.

Read more - "Barmy": Alarm raised over £750k legal threat that could force MSP out of office

Scottish PEN, which defends free expression, said the case highlights the need for legal reform. The Scottish Law Commission is gathering evidence before making recommendations to the Scottish Government on the issue this year.

Read more - Nik Williams explains why Scotland's defamation laws work in favour of the few instead of the many 

Picture courtesy of Simon Varwell/Benny

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Comments

Alasdair Macdonald

Sat, 03/25/2017 - 21:10

This is a paradigm example of "The Poor had no Lawyers". It is an example of how 'might' usually triumphs over 'right'.

Well, perhaps, not quite, because I am sure that many of us will seek to support Mr Wightman.

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