KEZIA Dugdale has said she was “as close to a breakdown” as she has ever been in her life during her £25,000 defamation battle with a pro-independence blogger. 

The former Scottish Labour leader said she feared losing everything when the Labour Party decided to withdraw its funding for her defence. 

And she said Stuart Campbell, who runs the Wings Over Scotland website, is now appealing after losing the case earlier this year.

She said: “In the past few days, I’ve discovered that Wings Over Scotland has intimated to the court that he intends to appeal. 

“So it’s going to come again. It’s going to go to the Court of Session and cost tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds again.”

Ms Dugdale made the comments during an on-stage interview with the journalist Graham Spiers at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

She said she was “very upset” when the Labour Party pulled its legal support, adding: “I thought my entire world was caving in at that moment. I thought I could potentially lose everything – my house, everything I had. 

“The Labour Party I had committed my whole adult working life to, and much of my spare and free time as well, I felt was badly letting me down.

“It wasn’t just me it was letting down, it was this idea that you don’t stand up to what I considered to be a bully. That really hurt.”

Asked if she was ever in tears at that time, she said: “Oh yeah. I’ve been very open about it. I was as close to a breakdown as I have ever been in my life, because I felt utterly alone.

“I had written this newspaper column whilst I was leader of the Labour Party in the Daily Record, I had written it as Labour leader, and I had suggested that something somebody had tweeted was homophobic. 

“And as a young gay woman, I thought the party of equality might have my back on that.

“And I also thought the precedent that it set for the future was really bad. 

“If you want people to speak truth to power, then they need to know that there is something bigger than them behind them.”

She added: “It wasn’t just about me, it was that wider message it sent about Labour’s willingness to stand by one of its own that I thought was so damaging.”

She later said: “That was the point when I felt extremely stressed and I was not coping with that stress.”

Ms Dugdale, who quit frontline politics in July to take up a new role at the John Smith Centre at Glasgow University, was the subject of a legal action by Mr Campbell after she accused him of writing “homophobic tweets”. 

Following a three-day hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court earlier this year, Sheriff Nigel Ross ruled Ms Dugdale would not have to pay damages. 

He later ordered Mr Campbell to pay Ms Dugdale’s full legal expenses – plus a 50 per cent “uplift”. 

The former Labour MSP said she won the case “emphatically”, adding: “I won it on every aspect of the law – the judge is very clear about that. 

“He said that he didn’t agree that what I had considered to be homophobic was homophobic, but that was secondary to my right to say it. 

“Fair comment was the defence to defamation which won through. So I won it on every aspect of the law. It was a home run in that sense.”

Ms Dugdale said her relationship with her father – who “cheered” for Wings Over Scotland during the case – had ended as a result of the legal battle. 

She said she did not know if they would reconcile, adding: “It’s undoubtedly incredibly difficult.”

The former politician also admitted she was partly motivated by money when she appeared on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! in 2017.

She said: “I had the Wings case hanging over my head, and I had also split from my partner and we were in dispute over a flat we had bought together, and I really needed to sort myself out.

“The show gave me the ability to do that.”

Ms Dugdale was paid £70,000 for a three-week stint in Australia.

She said she understood why some colleagues were angry, but did not regret it.

Elsewhere, she insisted the SNP cannot rely on a backlash against Boris Johnson to push independence over the line. 

She said: “Because we live in such unpredictable times, I don’t think you can just assume that Boris is going to be consistently bad news and win the case for independence.”

She added: “Hoping Boris Johnson is going to do it all for [Nicola Sturgeon] I think is a folly.”

The ex-MSP also reiterated her argument that Labour’s UK leadership has deliberately said it will not block a second independence referendum in order to tee-up SNP support to get Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10.