SCOTTISH Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has given money to shamed MP Alistair Carmichael to help him with his legal fees and gone on record defending him as “fundamentally decent”.

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, Rennie said he recently donated £750 to the former Scottish Secretary, who faced a crippling £150,000 bill after his “Frenchgate” court case.

Rennie said: “I contributed towards Alistair’s legal costs. It’s not a huge sum of money, but I wanted to make a token contribution... £750, I paid. I’m not a rich man but I felt it was important. He never asked. I gave it to him. I gave it to him in the last few weeks.”

Carmichael, the only LibDem MP in Scotland, was taken to court by four of his Orkney and Shetland constituents who tried to have his election overturned.

They argued he broke electoral law by lying to voters last year by denying he knew about a Scotland Office memo which was leaked to damage the SNP.

The document wrongly claimed Nicola Sturgeon told the French Ambassador she wanted David Cameron to stay in power.

It later emerged Carmichael and his special adviser had colluded in the leak to the Daily Telegraph, a fact Carmichael kept hidden for six weeks until after the election.

Following the first sitting of an election court in Scotland for 50 years, judges Lady Paton and Lord Matthews concluded Carmichael had told “a blatant but simple lie about his lack of awareness of one particular leak”, but it was not enough to overturn his election.

Lingering local anger over Carmichael may now help the SNP unseat LibDem MSPs Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott from Orkney and Shetland respectively in May.

Despite the prolonged cover-up, Rennie insisted Carmichael’s lie was an “aberration” and he still had “a hell of a lot” to contribute to the party in the future.

He said: “It was tough for Alistair. Alistair is fundamentally a decent person who’s got 14 years and a track record in the Northern Isles doing an exceptionally good job.

“He made a mistake. He’s been to court. It went much further than we ever thought it would go, much further… brutal. And it’s been very costly.

“But I stick by people if I believe they’re fundamentally good people. We all make mistakes in our life. I’m not going to dispense with somebody for short term aims.

“I know the cybernat army won’t approve of it. I’ll just let them howl in the wind.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “The fact Willie Rennie has helped bankroll Alistair Carmichael's defence shows that he tacitly condones Mr Carmichael's actions. This generous donation would have better going to a local food bank, or some other organisation bearing the brunt of cuts the LibDems helped the Tories inflict on Scotland."

Last week it emerged the LibDem-dominated Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust had given Carmichael £50,000 towards his legal bill, ostensibly “to uphold existing case law about the circumstances in which a legitimately elected MP can be unseated”.