FORMER Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael will appear in court tomorrow for the start of a four-day hearing which could end his political career.

The LibDem MP for Orkney & Shetland has been cited as a witness in Scotland’s first election court in 50 years, over claims he misled the electorate in the Frenchgate affair.

The case has been brought by four of his constituents, who say his election should be overturned because he lied about a leak memo in the run-up to polling day.

Carmichael, a former lawyer who became the MP for the Northern Isles in 2001, is expected to take the stand on Monday or Tuesday.

As a party to the action, he is expected to be in court from the outset of the proceedings, which are being held within the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The first two days have been earmarked for witness testimony, with the closing two allotted to rival submissions from the QCs representing Carmichael and the four petitioners.

The submissions will be broadcast on TV and online, however the witness testimony will not, sparing Carmichael the humiliation of a televised grilling about why he lied.

The costs of the case are expected to be astronomical.

The People Versus Carmichael crowdfunding campaign has so far raised around £125,000 on behalf of the petitioners, but their final bill could be around twice that.

Meanwhile a crowdfunding exercise to help Carmichael has raised less than £8000.

The ‘Frenchgate’ affair stems from a misleading memo based on a second-hand account of a meeting between Nicola Sturgeon and French Ambassador Sylvie Bermann in February.

According to the note, the French Consul General in Edinburgh told a Scotland Office contact that Sturgeon had said she wanted David Cameron to remain in Number 10 and did not think then Labour leader Ed Miliband was prime minister material.

The official who wrote the memo admitted this sounded dubious and warned something might have been “lost in translation”.

Despite the caveat, Carmichael and Euan Roddin, his special adviser at the Scotland Office, leaked the memo to the Daily Telegraph in April in order to damage the SNP.

Had the claims been true they would have been devastating to Sturgeon, who had publicly supported Miliband as PM and campaigned vigorously against Cameron.

However within hours of the Telegraph publishing, the memo was exposed as false.

Carmichael denied on TV that he was involved in the leak, but a Cabinet Office enquiry later found he and Roddin were the culprits, and he apologised to Sturgeon.

The legal case turns on whether Carmichael broke Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act, which makes it illegal to publish false statements about a candidate’s “personal character or conduct” for the purpose “of affecting the return of any candidate at the election”.

In most cases, this refers to smear attacks on rival candidates.

However in an initial hearing in September, the petitioners’ QC Jonathan Mitchell argued it could also apply to candidates making false statements about themselves - in Carmichael’s case, a lie which made him appear more honest than he really was.

Carmichael’s QC, Roddy Dunlop, had argued the petition was “irrelevant” and “bound to fail” and the case ought to fall at the first hurdle.

But the election court judges Lady Paton and Lord Matthews refused to dismiss the case and said they wanted to proceed to further evidence.

Central to this week’s hearing will be whether Carmichael’s lie is deemed to be “personal” or “political” in nature - for the petitioners to succeed, they must show it was personal.

Carmichael is the last surviving LibDem MP in Scotland, and one of only eight in the UK.

His majority over the SNP in May was just 817, down from 9,928 in 2010.

If he loses in court, there would be a by-election for his seat and he could not re-stand.