Angela Haggerty is well within her rights to use her Sunday Herald column to further exacerbate the feud between CommonSpace and Wings Over Scotland if that's what she wants, but in doing so she's made a number of dubious points - and one of them is downright reprehensible. At the start of the piece, she recalls the immense political and personal damage done to Tommy Sheridan as a result of his legal action against the News of the World. Later, she notes that Sheridan "took his ego with him" to court, and that Stuart Campbell of Wings is "displaying those same signs of hubris" in preparing a defamation action against Kezia Dugdale. This appears to be a weasel word-ish (ie. conveniently deniable) way of implying that Stuart is the sort of person who would either commit perjury, or commit a wrongdoing of equivalent gravity, to win his case. Angela has got no conceivable justification for that kind of nasty innuendo. Doubtless if Stuart suffers the embarrassment of losing his case, she'll claim that was the risk she was referring to, but there's a world of difference between losing a court case after pursuing it in good faith, and ending up in prison after being ruled to have misled the court.
Angela also draws a rather heroic comparison between the action against Ms Dugdale, and the one against Green MSP Andy Wightman, who she notes would be forced into bankruptcy if he loses, which would automatically cost him his seat in parliament. Again, this seems to be a way of implying that because one defamation case against a politician has troubling implications for democracy, the same must automatically be true of another defamation case against a politician. In reality, the differences between the two cases are not hard to spot. It seems unlikely that Kezia Dugdale would face ruin if she loses, given the more modest damages sought, and especially given that powerful and wealthy people presumably have her back. It's also not the case that Ms Dugdale is being hounded by a person or organisation that has unlimited access to the law due to their fabulous wealth. Indeed, one of the main criticisms of Stuart is that he isn't able to cover the costs himself and has had to run a fundraiser - something which anyone could theoretically do with the help of social media if they were persuasive enough. So which is it? Is it a good thing or a bad thing that the 'little guy' has the same access to the law as Andy Wightman's pursuers? The reason Stuart's fundraiser has succeeded is that the backers perceive Ms Dugdale as the establishment figure who thinks she can act with impunity - very much the reverse of the Wightman scenario.
Angela warns Stuart that his posting history will be dragged up in court - for example his controversial views on the Hillsborough tragedy, and his alleged "transphobia" in comments about Chelsea Manning. Well, that's as may be, but none of that will be directly relevant to the much narrower point being adjudicated upon. Stuart is specifically claiming that Ms Dugdale defamed him by calling him homophobic. Transphobia and homophobia are self-evidently not the same thing, and it's even harder to see how an opinion about the cause of a disaster in a football stadium twenty-eight years ago will constitute proof of prejudice against gay people. It's perfectly possible to think Stuart is offensive while still accepting he is not homophobic.
The conclusion of the article contains the standard warning that this whole thing is just oh so terribly damaging to the independence movement. Well, it's only a week ago that Angela said it was damaging to the independence movement that Cat Boyd was being criticised for pursuing her political objectives in her own chosen way (ie. by voting for an anti-indy party at the general election), so it seems pretty illogical that Angela now thinks savaging Stuart for doing his own thing is somehow helpful. She thinks the court case will be a "distraction" for the movement, and yet in the notorious attack piece she ran on CommonSpace the other day, Wings (an astonishingly popular website read by hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland) was sneeringly dismissed as "nothing more than a man with a blog...[with] a bit of a strange cult following".
How much of a "distraction" could anything done by such a 'fringe' figure ever be? Unless, of course, some people are determined to be "distracted" at great length in pursuance of their own agendas?