A blogger who has taken former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale to court said it was “absurd” to interpret one of his tweets as homophobic.
Stuart Campbell, who runs the blog Wings Over Scotland, is suing the MSP for £25,000 after she criticised him in a newspaper column.
The dispute stems from a piece written by Ms Dugdale in the Daily Record.
Mr Campbell appeared as the first witness in the defamation case at Edinburgh Sheriff court on Monday.
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His remarks were posted on his Twitter feed on 3 March 2017 as he was live-tweeting about the Scottish Conservative conference.
Pro-Scottish independence campaigner Mr Campbell wrote: “Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had embraced his sexuality sooner.”
Mr Mundell’s father, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, came out as gay in January 2016.
Ms Dugdale wrote in her column in 2017 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”.
Ms Dugdale later called on SNP politicians to “shun” Mr Campbell during First Minister’s Questions.
Mr Campbell subsequently launched a legal action, arguing that his tweet was intended “though caustic, to be jocular” and saying Ms Dugdale had defamed him by suggesting he was homophobic.
Ms Dugdale’s legal team submitted to the court that the article was a “fair and honest comment” criticising Mr Campbell for “giving voice to homophobic sentiments”.
The UK Labour Party previously paid for Ms Dugdale’s representation in court, but cut this off in September last year.
Equal rights ‘advocate’
Mr Campbell told the court that his tweet was making a “commentary” that Oliver Mundell was “a very very poor public speaker”.
He said: “I don’t think any intelligent person could honestly interpret that tweet as being homophobic.”
Mr Campbell likened it to another online comment where the writer wished controversial columnist Katie Hopkins had never been born.
The blogger agreed “very much” with his QC that it was unacceptable for someone to be mocked on the basis of their sexuality.
He added that he was a “firm advocate of equal rights for gay people”.