KEZIA Dugdale has secured a fresh source of legal support to defend a case brought by a Nationalist blogger after being abandoned by the UK Labour party.

The former Scottish leader is being aided by the Daily Record as she defends a £25,000 defamation suit brought by Stuart Campbell, who runs the Wings Over Scotland website.

In a Record column last year, Ms Dugdale accused Mr Campbell of making a homophobic remark about gay Tory MP David Mundell - something Mr Campbell vigorously denies.

The development comes amid growing division in Scottish Labour over the party’s decision to end funding to Ms Dugdale, and criticism of current leader Richard Leonard.

Many in the party are appalled at Mr Leonard’s apparent failure to stand up to Labour HQ on Ms Dugdale’s behalf.

One source said: “People are starting to wonder if he’s spineless or powerless. It’s probably a bit of both. He could pick up the phone to Jeremy Corbyn at any time, but he seems to think he won’t be listened to.”

Clare Lally-Steel, Scottish Labour’s Carer’s Champion under leader Johann Lamont, publicly announced on Friday that she was leaving the party over Ms Dugdale’s treatment.

She tweeted: “This makes me weep!! I am appalled that the Labour Party have treated her like this after everything she has done & continues to do. This was the final nail for me, I will be cancelling my membership.”

But the pro-Corbyn Campaign for Socialism said it supported the withdrawal of funding.

“The use of vast amounts of money to fight a court case that was triggered by an MSP in their own private column is neither prudent nor fair,” it said in a statement.

After Mr Campbell, 50, launched a defamation action at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, the Record initially offered to support Ms Dugdale, but Labour took over the case.

Ms Dugdale says then general secretary Iain McNicol agreed all her costs would be met.

However earlier this month, with the legal bill approaching £100,000, new general secretary Jennie Formby pulled the plug.

It left Ms Dugdale facing large fees to carry on, as well as potentially ruinous costs for Mr Campbell’s damages and expenses.

It is understood the Record’s support for Ms Dugdale’s defence is step-by-step, starting with an appeal against a recent sheriff’s decision to hold an evidential hearing, and does not cover damages and expenses if she loses.

Ms Dugdale, a Lothians list MSP since 2011, this week said she felt “crushed” and suffered one of her “lowest personal moments” when she heard Labour had ended its support.

She said she feared she would be made bankrupt and be disqualified as an MSP.

She also revealed she had texted Mr Corbyn about the matter, but he had not replied.

Ms Dugdale opposed Mr Corbyn becoming UK Labour leader, and her supporters suspect the end of the party’s legal support is connected to her lack of support for Mr Corbyn.

Amid accusations of a “betrayal”, and facing calls to reverse the decision in a high-profile vote at the party conference in Liverpool, Labour bosses this week agreed to reconsider the decision, referring it to the National and Scottish executive committees.

However this is likely to take several weeks.

Labour defended its action, and said party funds were better spent on campaigning,

A spokesperson said: “Kezia Dugdale has received significant support from the Labour Party. The Party has a responsibility to all our members and that must mean spending our members’ fees responsibly and appropriately.

“We have to present and campaign around our message of hope and the need to Rebuild Britain and that is where we believe our members wish to see their fees spent.”