A PRO-INDEPENDENCE blogger is suing Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale for £25,000 after she accused him of homophobia.

Wings Over Scotland, run by Bath-based Stuart Campbell, upped the amount from £10,000 after Dugdale repeated the allegation at First Minister’s Questions in May.

He told this newspaper he is pursuing Dugdale at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and said she has to launch a defence against the defamation claim within days.

Loading article content

The row began after Wings Over Scotland, a controversial website which combines support for independence with staunch backing for the SNP Government, tweeted about Tory MSP Oliver Mundell: "Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had embraced his homosexuality sooner."

Mundell’s father David is a senior Tory MP and UK Cabinet Minister who revealed last year that he is gay.

In her weekly newspaper column for the Daily Record Dugdale condemned the tweet and criticised SNP politicians for “promoting” his work. Days later Dugdale raised the blogger at FMQs and revealed he was pursuing her for £10,000 in damages.

“The remark that I am referring to was posted on Twitter by Stuart Campbell, who writes for the website Wings Over Scotland. In the Daily Record, I called out Mr Campbell for his homophobic comments—[Interruption.] Members should listen if they are serious about tackling homophobia and abuse in all its forms.

“Mr Campbell has written to me via his lawyer to demand a £10,000 payment for ‘damage to reputation’. I stand firmly by my comment: I have never kowtowed to a bully, and I will not start today.”

After FMQs, Campbell/Wings Over Scotland told the BBC: "I absolutely and categorically reject any accusations that I'm a homophobe – it's an outrageous and completely false allegation and we'll be pursuing the case in court.

"It's correct that we initially offered to accept £10,000 for a quick settlement, but received no reply, and on the advice of counsel it's likely that we'll seek a higher figure, particularly now that Ms Dugdale has compounded the offence by repeating the defamatory statements on national television and involving the First Minister."

He told the Sunday Herald that he had now increased the sum he is pursuing in damages.

“We've just had the timetable in from the judge a couple of days ago. Dugdale has to have her formal defence in by Aug 1. We're seeking £25,000.”

A defamatory statement is one that is harmful to the character, honour or reputation of the affected person. Dugdale made her remarks in a newspaper, but a writer can be sued as an individual.

Simon Westrop, head of legal at Newsquest Media Group, said: "Though newspapers and broadcasters are usually the ones who get sued for publishing something that is alleged to be libellous, it’s not widely appreciated among the general public that it is open to the person who claims they were defamed to sue anybody who can be shown to have been responsible for the publication.

“It is unusual for the original speaker or a journalist or editor to be sued as individuals, largely because they are less likely to have enough money to be worth suing and employed journalists and editors will usually have indemnity from their employer if they are acting in the normal course of their employment.”

Scottish Labour declined to comment.