A SHERIFF ruled that “the facts must be heard” as he rejected an attempt by Kezia Dugdale to have Stuart Campbell’s defamation action thrown out.

The pro-independence blogger, who runs the Wings Over Scotland site, is suing the former Scottish Labour leader for £25,000 in damages, accusing her of “defamatory innuendo”.

Dugdale now faces a court battle over the comments in her Daily Record column last March, in which she wrote that one of his tweets was “homophobic”.

Campbell’s tweet read: “Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had embraced his homosexuality sooner.”

Dugdale’s “fair and honest comment” defence included bizarre comparisons being made to other possible tweets.

It argued: "If, as the pursuer claimed, his intent in publishing the Tweet, was to highlight his view that Oliver Mundell was an appalling public speaker and that 'had Oliver Mundell not been born, the pursuer would not have to listen to his speech' he could have said this in so many different equally caustic ways without referencing his father’s sexuality, e.g. by expressing regret that the speaker’s mother did not abort him when carrying him, or that his father had not undergone a vasectomy or his mother a hysterectomy before the speaker was conceived. Instead he chose to reference the sexuality of the speaker’s father because he thought that was funny, suitable as something to be laughed at or about."

However, Sheriff McGowan ruled that while Dugdale had not explicitly accused Campbell of being a homophobe, the pursuer’s case that the innuendo could be drawn from the words used must be heard.

In a written judgment, which you can read in full by clicking here, he explained: “I am not saying that the defender defamed the pursuer. I am simply saying that as a matter of law, the words used may carry the defamatory meaning complained of by the pursuer.

“Accordingly, on this issue the pursuer is entitled to an evidential hearing to establish the facts. It will be a matter for whoever hears the evidence to determine whether the words used did as a matter of fact bear that defamatory meaning, taking account of the circumstances and the other lines of defence taken.”