COURT evidence given by an SNP MSP under oath has been labelled “unreliable, self-serving and evasive” in the closing submission of a £100,000 defamation case.

Uddingston & Bellshill MSP Richard Lyle was accused by a QC of giving “wholly unbelievable” testimony in a civil action brought against his office worker, Sheena McCulloch.

The claims were made on the bruising final day of a proof at the Court of Session by Kenny McBrearty QC, acting on behalf of former North Lanarkshire SNP councillor Julie McAnulty.

In reply, Roddy Dunlop QC, for Ms McCulloch, accused Ms McAnulty of being heedless of racial sensitivities, and accused her and her key witness of lying in court.

Ms McAnulty is suing Ms McCulloch for alleging she used the word “Pakis” in Ms McCulloch’s car in 2015 and saying she wanted Asian members out the local SNP.

Ms McAnulty denies making the remark.

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Ms McCulloch, who the court heard had a 2006 conviction for theft, has defended the case on the grounds of accuracy, fair comment and qualified privilege.

She initially said the conversation was in late May 2015, but it later emerged she and Ms McAnulty were in her car on 20 June.

Steven Bonnar, a current SNP councillor in North Lanarkshire, testified he was in the car on that date with the two women, and heard no racist remarks being made.

After four days of evidence in April, the case resumed - and concluded - yesterday.

The court previously heard Ms McAnulty and Ms McCulloch were on rival sides of a “toxic” turf war within the local SNP, with two camps vying for dominance.

Ms McAnulty was allied to former Coatbridge MP Phil Boswell, who wanted reform, while Ms McCulloch was allied to Mr Lyle, whose group wanted to maintain their grip on power.

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Ms McCulloch emailed the racism complaint from Mr Lyle’s office on 5 February 2016, and it then leaked to the press.

A Daily Record story three days later led to Ms McAnulty’s suspension by the SNP.

In his submission to Lord Uist, Mr McBrearty said Mr Lyle, who was not present in court, had been a “bit part player”.

However he criticised his evidence, including his attempt to “dissociate” himself from the feuding, and his claim he knew nothing about the racism complaint for three days, despite his childhood friend and employee sending it from his office.

He said it was “completely implausible” that Mr Lyle, who previously denied any “input” to the complaint or giving misleading evidence, had been unaware of it until it appeared in the Record.

Mr McBrearty said the email was part of a targeted campaign against Ms McAnulty that including two other damaging Daily Record stories about her and race in previous weeks.

He said Ms McCulloch could not credibly explain why she emailed 13 people, only three of whom dealt with party discipline, nor explain why she waited until February.

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He called her evidence incredible, untruthful, illogical and absurd.

Mr McBrearty said it would make no sense for Mr Bonnar, who told the court he “abhors” racism, to concoct a story about being in Ms McCulloch’s car to help a racist.

Calling his evidence “straight-forward and compelling”, he asked: “Why would Mr Bonnar risk everything in giving evidence in support of someone who has made racist statements?”

He said it was very difficult to think Mr Bonnar could be mistaken about being in the car, not least because the day in question was the launch of his successful by-election campaign.

However he said some of Ms McCulloch’s witnesses, who said Mr Bonnar may have been in a different car, were understandably mistaken in recalling small events from 2015.

Summing up, he invited Lord Uist to find Ms McAnulty did not make the remark attributed to her, and that Ms McCulloch knew the allegation to be untruthful.

READ MORE: SNP MSP Richard Lyle challenged over credibility of court evidence

He said Ms McCulloch’s actions could not be defended on the basis of accuracy, or veritas; or as qualified privilege to interested parties because they had been so widely circulated; or as fair comment, as she stated as fact that Ms McAnulty had made racist remarks.

He suggested compensatory damages be set at £100,000 if Lord Uist accepted Ms McCulloch intended the complaint to leak to the press, or would have expected it to leak, causing Ms McAnulty greater damage and upset, or at around £40,000 otherwise.

In his submission, Mr Dunlop attacked Ms McAnulty’s evidence, saying problems with in it cast doubt on her whole case.

He said that at an SNP meeting in 2012 she was “heedless of racial sensitivities” by questioning whether a senior Asian member, Dr Imtiaz Majid, later an SNP councillor, directed the votes of other Asian members.

He said Ms McAnulty was also prepared to “sully the reputation” of other witnesses by accusing them of perjury, fabrication and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He said her “demonstrable mendacity… taints her evidence irretrievably”.

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He said there was a “very clear lack of motive” for Ms McCulloch to act as Ms McAnulty’s “political assassin”, given the two women barely knew each other, other than a “fanciful” theory about helping Mr Lyle’s re-election to Holyrood in 2016.

He also said Mr Bonnar had been “lying” about being in the car, and that there had been no room in it for him as the back seat was full of campaign materials, and that his evidence conflicted with there being child locks on the back door.

He said it was “remarkable” he had waited “months” after the Daily Record story about the racism complaint to tell SNP HQ that he had been in the vehicle.

He said the evidence demonstrated convincingly that Mr Bonnar had not been in the car, and that was “fatal” to Ms McAnulty’s case.

He said Ms McCulloch’s evidence had been “credible” and “reliable”, and it made no sense for her to concoct a lie about a talk in a car if Mr Bonnar had been there too and could simply contradict her.

Mr McBrearty said that assumed Ms McCulloch was a “good liar”, not a bad one.

He also rejected Mr Dunlop’s assertion that Ms McAnulty made a racist remark in 2012, merely an ambiguous one, and denied she lied under oath in court.

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On the subject of damages, Mr Dunlop suggested that Ms McAnulty had so reduced her own reputation in court, that if even she won she would deserve only “nominal” damages of £1.

Otherwise damages should be limited to £30,000 if Lord Uist accepted Ms McCulloch was responsible for her email reaching the media, or to £5000 if he did not.

Lord Uist, who said he now had “a great deal to read about and to write”, is expected to give his judgment in two to three months’ time.