FREEDOM of speech campaigners have condemned a £750,000 defamation action threatened against an MSP.

A business offering “fun” titles – the Lord or Lady or Wildernesse – in exchange for just £30 has accused Andy Wightman of damaging its reputation in blogs written before he was elected as a Green MSP in 2016.

The firm, called Wildcat Haven, wants “substantial compensation” from the politician, who has cam- paigned and written about environmental and land rights for years.

Mr Wightman last night went public about the action in a blog where he points out that in England – where defamation laws have undergone reforms not enacted in Scotland – the matter would now be time-barred.

The MSP has been backed by Scottish Pen, part of the global freedom of expression movement, which is campaigning, alongside this newspaper, for defamation reform.

A spokesman for the organisation said: “Scottish Pen condemns the action brought against Andy Wightman and calls for reform to adequately protect free expression and public interest reporting.

“Free expression in Scotland is done a dangerous disservice by the outdated and inadequate defamation laws that are currently in place.

“Nowhere is this more apparent than in the claim made against Mr Wightman for his public interest reporting made as an independent advocate for land reform in Scotland.

“While many facts remain unpublished due to the severity of the threat against Mr Wightman, what is known demonstrates the need for a more robust public interest defence that can ensure issues of importance for communities across Scotland cannot be stifled by entities trying to avoid public scrutiny.”

Mr Wightman, in his blog, said he would not be able to pay compensation. Wildcat Haven has suggested its damages as £750,000.

So losing an action, if it were ever to materialise, would mean his bankruptcy and disqualification as an MSP.

The MSP added: “The significance of today’s date is that, were these allegations to be made against me under English law, I would now be free since a pursuer has one year in which to raise an action.”

The Herald’s Freedom of Speech campaign has always stressed that campaigners and bloggers are particularly vulnerable to legal threats under Scotland’s unreformed defamation regime.

Scottish Pen, in its statement of support for Mr Wightman, added: “Public interest protections as they currently stand are far too narrow to defend the multitude of individuals and organisations who can inform the public of key issues including journalists, campaigners, scientists, bloggers and community activists.

“This narrowness breeds uncertainty and any defence that is uncertain will chill public interest discussions because many publishers would rather settle claims out of court or avoid publication than face the legal uncertainty of mounting a complex and unpredictable defence.

“While defamation laws are vital to protect the reputation and private lives of people from all backgrounds, this cannot come at the expense of free expression and the ability to inform the public and hold the powerful to account.”

The Herald asked Wildcat Haven for comment, but it did not respond.

The firm’s website says that it carries out wildlife conservation in the western Highlands. It seeks support from people by offering to sell them £30 plots of land and the titles it claims go with them.