Former Scottish Labour leader ‘relieved’ after winning court battle over ‘homophobic’ tweets

Kezia Dugdale

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has shared her relief at winning a legal battle against a blogger who spread “hatred and homophobia” online.

For the past two years Dugdale has been embroiled in a defamation row with pro-independence blogger Stuart Campbell, who sued her for £25,000 claiming she’d made false statements about him.

Writing in her Daily Record column in 2017, Dugdale had said that Campbell sent “homophobic tweets” and that he spouted “hatred and homophobia” towards others.

Dugdale, who is gay, was referring to a tweet in which Campbell described the Conservative MSP Oliver Mundell as “the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had embraced his homosexuality sooner”.

Campbell strongly denied his tweet was a homophobic reference to Mundell’s father being gay and claimed it was actually “satirical criticism” of his public speaking skills.

He told the court that the Daily Record column had given an incorrect description of his tweet and would lead readers to believe, “wrongly”, that he did not like gay people.

Kezia Dugdale celebrates ‘free speech’ being upheld.

When Edinburgh Sheriff Court ruled against him in April 2019 Campbell appealed to Scotland’s highest civil court, the Inner House of the Court of Session.

In its final verdict, the court ruled in Dugdale’s favour once again, agreeing that her statement was indeed fair comment.

“The pursuer’s tweet was a derogatory remark containing a gratuitous reference to Oliver Mundell’s father’s homosexuality,” the judgement read.

“The defender’s comments may have been expressed in strong, if not inflammatory, language. The fact that they are in ‘vituperative or contumelious language’ does not avoid the defence.”

In a statement on Twitter, Dugdale said she was “delighted” with the news.

“I feel a huge sense of relief this saga is over,” she wrote. “I cannot thank the Daily Record enough, for the opportunity to write and their willingness and determination to defend the words written.

“At the heart of this case was the right of all Scots to freely express opinion; this important right has been upheld today.”

She also thanked Stonewall Scotland for standing by her throughout the ordeal.