THE Orkney Four may have to relaunch their crowdfunding appeal as the bills for their groundbreaking court case against MP Alistair Carmichael start to drop through their letterboxes.

So far, they have raised more than £131,000 on the website, but the costs have been escalating because of a combination of factors, including several court hearings – apart from the actual “trial” – and the site’s fees, a percentage of cash raised.

Indiegogo is based in the US and charges fundraisers two percentage rates, depending on how much cash is involved.

Then there are third party fees for payment processors, which come in at three per cent plus 30 cents per credit card transaction, and up to five per cent for PayPal.

These charges can add up to more than 10 per cent of the total raised in any single campaign and, in this case, more than £13,000 is likely to be subtracted from the total fund.

However, legal fees – which the fund was set up to cover – will be causing the four petitioners most concern.

One legal source told The National: “In a case like this where the legal waters are largely uncharted, costs can mount up rather quickly.

“These proceedings don’t come cheap,” said the source. “There have been ‘by order’ hearings to set out the ground rules including the judges who would rule on the case and indeed if they would hear it; others to consider who would be called as witnesses, and to decide which parts of the case would be televised.

“Add to the total the cost of a three-day trial and all the attendant research and background work carried out by legal staff and you can quickly rise to £200,000 or more.”

The case came about when Carmichael, Scotland’s only LibDem MP, leaked a false memo aimed at damaging First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon. It wrongly claimed she had told the French Ambassador she would prefer David Cameron to remain in Downing Street.

Carmichael initially denied all knowledge of the leak, but a Cabinet Office inquiry established that he had authorised his special adviser Euan Roddin to pass the memo to a journalist at the Tory-supporting Daily Telegraph.

The MP told the election court in Edinburgh earlier thus month that he authorised the leak because he thought its “politically explosive” contents were true. He also admitted that he was “less than fully truthful” with the Cabinet Office probe.

The election court – the first hearing of its type in Scotland in 50 years – sat as a subcommittee of the House of Commons and the judges Lady Paton and Lord Matthews have still to deliver their verdict.

Meanwhile, the four Orkney petitioners await the verdict with tensions evident in some quarters.

One of them, Tim Morrison, told The National: “We are a small community. People who are Unionists are very angry with us indeed, and they want us to know about it in lots of devious and slightly sneaky ways. Trust matters here a lot and what we are seeing is how people have been prepared to manipulate it.

“One man started shouting at me in an art gallery the other day and those people won’t forgive us in a hurry.

“On the other side, people hug me and say they are incredibly proud.”

However, Cary Welling, another of the four, dismissed any notion of local divisions or tensions.

She said: “Close-knit communities have to live together, so on the whole they just don’t mention the things they don’t agree about and get on with it.

“In fact, before Facebook, Orcadians just didn’t discuss politics so they never found out whether they had different opinions in the first place.

“This deep division stuff is something (Orkney LibDem MSP) Liam (McArthur) has invented to make us look bad.”