A JUDGE has dismissed a £750,000 defamation claim against Scottish Greens MSP Andy Wightman over his blog and social media posts about a wildcat business.

Lord Clark found Wightman questioning whether Wildcat Haven Enterprises was a “tax haven” did not constitute defamation, although he had made untrue statements in his blog posts. Wildcat Haven Enterprises had been demanding £750,000 plus interest from the politician.

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The judgment from Lord Clark said: “I conclude that the pursuer has failed to prove any loss.”

Paul O’Donoghue had claimed blog posts written by the Lothian MSP about his business contained false statements and damaged the firm’s reputation.

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The firm sells souvenir plots of land to members of the public, although Wightman argued buyers did not actually own them as they could not register them with the Land Registry of Scotland. He also raised questions about where the firm was registered.

The judge found Wightman “in the various publications founded upon, the defender made four untrue statements” but they had not amounted to defamation under Scots Law following a hearing at the Court of Session.

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In the 64-page judgment, Lord Clark wrote: “The defamation claims made by the pursuer fail because the meanings alleged are not made out, or available defences apply.

“The pursuer’s claim for damages (in the sum of £750,000) must fail.”

On the issue of damage or loss to the company, the judgment states: “In his evidence, O’Donoghue stated that the impact of the defamatory imputations was still being felt and the relationship between the pursuer and the press, media and local schools had changed completely.

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“As to loss of sales, there was no satisfactory evidence of a downturn in sales, or that it was caused by the blogs or other publications, or to what extent any such downturn had resulted in actual loss to the pursuer.

“The fact that the defender has made certain statements which are untrue does not itself mean that the defamatory allegations complained of by the pursuer were made.”

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Wightman, who raised £116,417 in crowdfunding from 3202 donations to fight the defamation claims said an expenses hearing will take place “but donors will be pleased to know that I will be able to refund them a substantial part of their donation and will be in touch in due course on this”.

In a statement following the judgment, Wightman said: “I’m delighted with this judgment from Lord Clark.”

He thanked his legal team, family and colleagues for “their support and understanding”, as well as the National Union of Journalists and Scottish PEN.

The MSP continued: “I want to pay particular thanks to the thousands of people who generously contributed to my crowdfunder, without whom I would simply have been unable to defend myself. I have been hugely encouraged by their ongoing support.

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“I have maintained throughout that I did not defame the pursuer and that this action should never have been brought against me.”

He also called for Holyrood to reform defamation law “to ensure that the law provides the right balance between freedom of expression and the rights of people not to have their reputations tarnished”.

Wightman added: “It is also important that the law is clear, so that writers and journalists can write confidently and provide the freedom of expression that is so important in any democracy.”