The former deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats came to his colleague Alistair Carmichael’s defence over the leaked Nicola Sturgeon memo today by suggesting that lying in public office is a widespread practice.

Sir Malcolm Bruce’s 'but everyone else does it' defence is not the strongest of arguments:

Carmichael had misconducted himself as a minister and he has apologised for that. That does not prejudge his capacity to be a first-class MP… If you are suggesting every MP who has never quite told the truth or even told a brazen lie, including cabinet ministers, including prime ministers, we would clear out the House of Commons very fast, I would suggest.

  • Sir Malcolm Bruce, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme

Carmichael, the last remaining Lib Dem MP in Scotland and former Scottish secretary, is facing calls for his resignation for misleading the public over his role in authorising the leaking of an account of a meeting between Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon and the French ambassador during the run up to the election.

The document alleged that Sturgeon said she would prefer David Cameron to Ed Miliband as prime minister and was widely seen as an attempt to damage the SNP, although a parliamentary inquiry found that there was no “political motivation” from Carmichael’s office.

Carmichael wrote to Sturgeon last week to apologise, admitting the contents of the memo were “not correct".

While Sir Malcolm said getting rid of politicians who tell “brazen” lies would leave Westminster empty, lots of other people don’t think it’s a bad idea.

Tens of thousands of people signed a petition led by Jolyon Rubenstein of The Revolution Will Be Televised last year to make it illegal for politicians to lie in the House of Commons.

The petition cited the Liberal Democrats' broken promise not to raise tuition fees and the coalition government’s slogan of “we’re all in this together” as the motivation for starting a debate about trust in politics.

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