THE Frenchgate trial has heard that self-confessed liar Alistair Carmichael had admitted to a “catalogue of untruths” about his role in leaking a memo aimed at damaging Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

Jonathan Mitchell QC, who is appearing for four Orkney residents who have raised more than £128,000 by crowdfunding to bring the case, said the MP had lied to Channel 4 News and the Daily Record, and misled the initial stages of a Cabinet Office inquiry.

He also misled Liberal Democrat officials and his then-party leader Nick Clegg, and admitted putting misleading information into his statement of evidence to the court.

Mitchell said: “You made false statements in relation to your personal character and conduct. Why should we expect the court at this stage to accept anything you say?”

The MP only admitted to a senior Cabinet Office civil servant on May 12 – five days after he narrowly held the Orkney and Shetland seat – that he had authorised his special adviser Euan Roddin to leak the memo to the Daily Telegraph.

That memo wrongly claimed that Sturgeon had told French ambassador Sylvie Bermann that she did not believe Ed Miliband – the then-Labour leader – was prime ministerial material, and would prefer to see David Cameron remain in Downing Street.

The accuracy of the contents of this memo was immediately denied by the First Minister and the ambassador.

However, Carmichael denied lying to protect his reputation and said he authorised the leak because he thought its “politically explosive” contents were true.

The former Scottish Secretary denied that he had intended to smear Sturgeon, and until she denied its accuracy within minutes of it being published, he thought it was of critical public importance. He said: “A smear is where you say something about somebody else, an opinion which is untrue and which you know to be untrue.”

The memo, he said, “was saying something about Scottish

Nationalists that I believed to be true”.

Carmichael said that after Roddin had briefed him on the memo’s contents, he “immediately realised this was immensely significant information”.

The court heard his claim in a Channel 4 interview that he had no prior knowledge of the leak was “false”, but he told Mitchell the denial was to protect Roddin and the interests of his party.

“We were still wanting to keep the focus on the story and not on the leak,” he said.

Carmichael agreed the focus would have moved to him had he initially admitted knowing about the leak.

Mitchell suggested that would have been “destructive” of his reputation, but the MP responded: “It was nothing about my reputation.”

Mitchell continued: “You’re assuring the court this is nothing to do with protecting your reputation?” Carmichael replied: “The question of my reputation was not the consideration that we had. This was about keeping the focus on the political story, the purpose of the leak in the first place.”

On Monday, Carmichael said he was “less than fully truthful” with the Cabinet Office inquiry, and yesterday admitted that he tried to mislead the investigation.

Mitchell said his response to the probe was “calculated and intended to mislead”.

Carmichael replied: “Yes, truthfully I would have to say that.”

He denied a suggestion from the QC that he was using

Roddin as “an insurance policy”, and said: “I have never regarded my special adviser in that way.”

Carmichael told his counsel Roddy Dunlop QC that it had been “a difficult few months” for him.

Dunlop asked him: “Do you r egret getting involved in this in the first place?”

“Enormously,” Carmichael replied.

The last witness in this evidential part of the hearing was Strathclyde University polling expert Professor John Curtice.

He told the court that Orkney and Shetland was widely seen as the safest Liberal Democrat seat in Scotland and one of the safest in the UK.

But he told Mitchell that results could vary, depending on the MP’s local reputation.

He said he accepted that a candidate’s trustworthiness would influence local voters, and that the SNP might only have needed a swing of four points – based on his analysis – to win the seat.

The case has been brought under Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, which forbids people from making false statements about the character and conduct of an election candidate.

The court is sitting as a sub committee of the House of Commons and if Lady Paton and Lord Matthews uphold the allegations against Carmichael, a re-run of the election would be ordered.

This latest stage of proceedings is expected to conclude today with closing submissions from Mitchell and Dunlop, which will be televised. The case continues.

Andrew Tickell: MP’s evidence reveals a bungling Machiavelli, with an ill will and no talent for political tricks