Labour defend decision to stop covering Kezia Dugdale's bills in legal case with Nationalist blogger

Posted On: 
28th September 2018

Labour have defended their decision to stop paying their former Scottish leader's bills in a high-profile legal case.

Kezia Dugdale regularly clashed with Jeremy Corbyn when she was Scottish Labour leader.
PA Images

Kezia Dugdale said yesterday she was left "crushed" and accused party bosses of going back on a deal to cover her costs after she was sued by Nationalist blogger Stuart Campbell.

Mr Campbell, who runs the "Wings Over Scotland" site, launched a £25,000 defamation case after Ms Dugdale used her column in the Daily Record to accuse him of posting "homophobic tweets" about a Scottish Tory MSP. He has strenuously denied the allegation.

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She claims former Labour general secretary Iain McNicol agreed that the party would pay for her legal case, and even chose the lawyers who would represent her.

But his successor in the post, Jennie Formby, has informed Ms Dugdale that the party was scrapping the arrangement, having already paid out £94,000.

In a statement last night, a Labour 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."

Labour sources insisted they had found no evidence that the party had ever agreed to cover all her legal costs.

Speaking to the Daily Record political podcast, Ms Dugdale said: "There was no question mark over it, they were going to support this case.

"Fast forward 18 months - and it’s pretty shocking it’s taken that long to get to the preliminary hearing, we’re not even at the full proof yet - and I had to find out by email from my solicitor that the Labour party weren’t prepared to pay any more legal bills.

"Safe to say the one factor that’s changed in that time is the general secretary, it’s a woman called Jennie Formby.

"When I found that out by email, I was pretty crushed to be honest."

She added: "It’s enough to make me really worry about my personal financial security,” she said.

"I had a moment of crisis around how I’m going to pay, and secondly, how could my party do this to me?"

Ms Dugdale said she had texted Jeremy Corbyn personally about the situation, but he had failed to respond.

The pair regularly clashed when she was Scottish Labour leader and it was reported in February that she had quit over his stance on Brexit.