THE SNP have repeated their call for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to launch a formal investigation into the behaviour of Alistair Carmichael – after the former Scottish Secretary claimed he had not seen the details of the leaked memo about Nicola Sturgeon’s conversation with the French Ambassador before he authorised its leak.

However, the party insists that the memo was an official Scotland Office note written by a civil servant (on March 6), which suggests it would have been prepared for the purpose of sending to Scotland Office Ministers.

In an interview with BBC Radio Orkney, Carmichael repeated claims that the first time he saw the memo was when it was published in the Daily Telegraph, despite the fact he has admitted authorising its leak.

Carmichael was Secretary of State for Scotland at the time, and the SNP said he must explain if he was sent a copy of the memo and, if so, he must outline why he failed to read his own ministerial papers.

SNP MP Pete Wishart, the party’s Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, said: “The people of Orkney and Shetland need an MP who is fully focused on representing them and the needs of the constituency – not one who is fixated with saving his own skin.

“Mr Carmichael no longer has any credibility as an MP – the best course of action would be for him to stand down.

“His comments indicate that as Secretary of State for Scotland he was content to authorise a leak of a paper he now says he hadn’t even seen. But the assumption must be that the memo, which was an official note by a Scotland Office civil servant, would have been written for the purpose of sending to Ministers – during the period before the election campaign started on 30 March when Mr Carmichael was an MP.

“Mr Carmichael must now explain if he was sent a copy of the memo before authorising the leak. If he was, he must then explain why he apparently failed to read his own Ministerial Papers.”

Wishart added: “A formal investigation by the Standards Commissioner would help shed light on these matters, which encompass the period before the House of Commons was dissolved.

“Given that his majority plummeted from nearly 10,000 to just over 800, there is every possibility he would not have been re-elected if the truth had been known.

“The people in his constituency deserve an MP with their best interests at the forefront of his business, and would therefore be best served by Mr Carmichael standing down.”

In the radio interview, Carmichael was asked about an earlier statement that the first he knew about the memo was when a journalist phoned him about it. He replied: “What was true was that the first time I had seen that document in its detail, in its text, was when I saw it published in the pages of the Daily Telegraph.

“The proposal came to me by staff that said ‘this is what is in this document, we think it should be put into the public domain, we believe it is in the public interest to be put out there because there is something different being said in public compared to what is being said in private’.

“Now at that point, I should have said ‘no don’t do it’, that was the mistake that I made here, something that I cannot now undo. That is what I regret, that is what I’ve apologised for.”

He added: “The First Minister and French Ambassador have both said that was not part of the conversation and we have to accept that as being the truth. But the fact of the matter is the information that came to me, I had no reason to doubt.”

Carmichael insisted that he would not stand down as an MP.

He said: “I very much regret the position I’m in but I’ve been Member of Parliament for Orkney and Shetland for the last 14 years. I’ve worked hard for local people and I believe that’s the record on which I’m entitled to rely and that’s the job I’m now going to be getting on with. None of that has changed.”

Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, told the BBC that Kathryn Hudson, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards would consider “whether she should adjudicate on this issue or investigate this issue at all”.

He said: “If she decides it is within her jurisdiction, then she has to decide if there is a prima facie case for a substantial investigation.”.

However, he added: “This was clearly inappropriate behaviour which has been admitted by a previous Cabinet Minister, so it is a serious matter. And under paragraph 16 of the House of Commons Code of Conduct it does say a Member shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or its members generally.”

Logan Nicolson helped organise a protest march in Lerwick over the weekend, one of two demonstrations in Carmichael’s constituency which called for his resignation.

Nicolson said: “Alistair really needs to reconsider his position here because maybe he made an initial mistake in leaking a document that he didn’t realise was not true, but he later went on to say he had no awareness of the document whatsoever, he didn’t know how it had come into the public eye and it was in no way connected to him.

“I think that is what folk have an issue with – not the initial mistake but to go on and cover it up and lie about it.”