A MAN wrongly branded a murderer is to become the first person in Scotland to sue for defamation with the help of legal aid.

Danny Wilson has been fighting for almost six years for the right to take a council to court after it described him as a convicted killer in its files.

Mr Wilson's partner was unable to receive fertility treatment on the NHS because documents held by Edinburgh City Council that were shared with other public bodies falsely described him as a criminal "lifer" who had spent time in prison.

Social work files are routinely shared – even across the Border – under guidelines put in place following the Soham killings.

How and why the false information was added to Mr Wilson's file has never fully emerged.

Mr Wilson only discovered the error when he and his partner were denied fertility treatment.

Until now he has been unable to sue for defamation of character because legal aid funding was not available for such a case.

After the case emerged, the Scottish Government amended the law on legal aid for those who want to go to court when their names are blackened.

Government lawyers issued a new legislative direction on Scotland's civil legal aid law in 2010, outlining exactly when litigants can expect to get state funding for defamation actions.

But it has still taken two years, and "many battles" for Mr Wilson's lawyer to get funding from the Legal Aid Board.

Cameron Fyfe, of legal firm Drummond Miller, said: "This is a great victory for Danny Wilson. The defamation against him had a really devastating effect on his life and without legal aid he would not have been able to progress his case further.

"It says a lot for his courage that he has kept at this for so long. On another level, this opens the door for people who are no so well off to pursue a defamation case."

He added: "The value of the claim will be high. As a result of the defamation, the client's fertility treatment was stopped and as a result of that he broke up with his partner.

"This also led to psychological difficulties and he had to give up his business, which was quite profitable - His life collapsed as a result of the defamation."

He added that the Scottish Government previously made it too difficult to get legal aid in defamation cases, but he does not expect a flood of claims now the way forward is clear.

He said: "The Government made the conditions too restrictive. They were basically saying you could apply for legal aid but you would not get it.

"But all you have to prove now is that there's a public interest and that the case is complex.

"This will stop frivolous cases and allow those with genuine claims to take action. It is not going to allow people to pursue a defamation case for something as simple as an argument over a garden fence."

Mr Wilson, who lived in Edinburgh for many years, has now moved to Wales. His partner later successfully conceived after visiting a foreign clinic."

At the time, he said: "Everything should be fine, perfect. But it's not. The social work department has destroyed us. I've been neglecting my firm, I've been suffering depression. The whole thing is contemptible."

A spokesman for the Scottish Legal Aid Board said a delay in approving Mr Wilson's legal aid was down to the new regulations taking time to filter through.

The spokesman added: "This is the first defamation case granted by the board's Legal Cases Committee. All others having been refused."