WINGS Over Scotland has had his attempt to sue Kezia Dugdale for defamation rejected by the courts.

The pro-independence blogger was seeking £25,000 in damages from the former Labour leader.

He said he’d been defamed after she used her column in the Daily Record to accuse him of sending “homophobic tweets”.

In a lengthy written statement, Sheriff Nigel Ross said it was incorrect for Stuart Campbell, who runs Wings Over Scotland, to be labelled as homophobic but that Dugdale’s comments were “fair”.

Back in March, 2017, Campbell had tweeted: “Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had embraced his homosexuality sooner.”

Mundell’s father, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, had come out as gay in January 2016.

Dugdale wrote that she was “shocked and appalled” about what she described as “homophobic tweets”.

She added that “such comments are of course not unique to the man who tweets as Wings Over Scotland”, saying the account “spouts hatred and homophobia towards others”.

In his judgement, Sheriff Ross said Wings “does not hold homophobic beliefs or feelings” and that “he has demonstrated by his conduct over many years that he supports equality for homosexual people”.

Ross continued: “The tweet was not motivated by homophobia and did not contain homophobic comments.

“The comments were intended as an insulting jibe about Oliver Mundell. The tweet was not motivated by fear, hatred or dislike of homosexuals.”

The sheriff said that Dugdale’s opinion that Campbell was homophobic was “genuine and honestly held but is, in fact, not correct”.

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He added: “The parts of the article complained about were comment or opinion, not statements of fact”.

“Ms Dugdale’s article contained the necessary elements for a defence of fair comment. It was based on true facts, the statements complained about were comments, not facts, it concerned a matter of public interest and the comments were fair.”

Ross said Campbell’s tweet contained a “derogatory joke” which depended on a reference to homosexuality.

“The comments were fair because the content of the tweet formed a basis of fact for a rational belief that it was derogatory about homosexual people,” he said.

“Ms Dugdale honestly and rationally formed the view that it treated homosexual people as inferior because same-sex relationships do not directly result in pregnancy.

He continued: “As one witness said, homosexuality provided the punch line of the joke.

“Mr Campbell was not motivated to write the tweet by fear, hatred or dislike of homosexuals. His motivation is not relevant in assessing whether Ms Dugdale’s comments were fair.

“Ms Dugdale formed a different but fair opinion that he did act out of such motives.

“Accordingly, despite Ms Dugdale incorrectly implying that Mr Campbell is homophobic, her article is protected under the principle of fair comment.

“She is not liable to pay damages to Mr Campbell.”

Campbell said he was “surprised and disappointed” by the judgement.

“I’m not a homophobe, she did defame me, but she gets away with it,” he tweeted.

In a statement, Dugdale thanked the Daily Record for standing by her and covering costs. Initially, Labour had vowed to back their former Scottish but then scrapped the agreement last September.

“I cannot thank the team at the Daily Record enough. They stood by me as I stood up to him and won. Their support has been fulsome and unwavering throughout such a difficult time,” she said.