May 3, 2017
Crowdfunding started out as a platform for budding musicians seeking donations from their fans in order to fund digital recordings. It subsequently exploded into multiple platforms that are used by anyone needing to raise funds for virtually anything. In some cases, crowdfunding campaigns assume a significance that extends beyond the original purpose. Andy Wightman has done more than anyone to advance the cause of land reform in Scotland and when his investigative work resulted in him being sued for libel, he put out a call for help. Within hours his funding target had been smashed.
A defamation case against a Green MSP for a “substantial” sum of money has begun at the Court of Session.
Wildcat Haven Enterprises has taken Andy Wightman to court over posts he published on his personal blog.
The Lothians MSP and land reform campaigner has crowdfunded more than £30,000 to fight the case.
Wildcat Haven have been ordered to put up a security of £50,000 in order to push on with the action, with defences to be lodged after this is paid.
The company sells “souvenir” plots of land measuring one square foot, which it says can allow backers to “help us by actually buying part of the land we plan to conserve”. Mr Wightman had written a blog questioning their approach.
The MSP has said losing the case could force him into bankruptcy, potentially costing him the seat at Holyrood he won in 2016.
Mr Wightman is being represented in court by Roddy Dunlop QC, who said it appeared the pursuers had assets of less than £5,000. Due to this, he asked for them to put up a “caution”, a bond of security, of £50,000 for the case.
This was not opposed by lawyers for Wildcat Haven Enterprises, and Lord Uist approved the motion. He said if the caution was produced, defences should be lodged in the first week of May.
Mr Dunlop described the damages being sought by the pursuers as “substantial”. Mr Wightman has previously stated that the claim against him is of up to £750,000, plus interest.