Monday, 28 February 2011

Love Thy Neighbour

UK disrespect for Scots Law

Commenting on the report in today’s Herald newspaper that the UK Tory/LibDem government’s Advocate General Lord Wallace secretly tabled clauses to the Scotland Bill to move appeals for Scottish criminal cases to the UK Supreme Court, SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell – a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee – said the move not only threatened the independence of Scots Law but put David Cameron’s so-called “respect agenda” at breaking point.

According to today’s report the Tory/LibDem UK government plans to usurp the Scottish High Court of Justiciary as the ultimate court of appeal in criminal cases and that they drafted a new clause on the role of the Supreme Court in Scotland last month to do so. Under the plans, the Advocate General would be able to refer such appeals to the UK Supreme Court, but the Lord Advocate would not.  The move would end centuries of tradition of appeals being held in Edinburgh.

Commenting Mr Maxwell said:

“So much for David Cameron’s ‘respect agenda’ and the Advocate General’s role as Scot’s Law’s man in the cabinet. This move just shows that the old centralising tendencies of the London-led parties are alive and well and have no respect for the independence of Scots Law.

“Traditionally, in criminal matters, the High Court of Justiciary had the final say but, as we have seen with the Cadder case, the route of raising devolution issues is already undermining its final authority. The UK Supreme Court is already taking on a much greater role in criminal matters than was anticipated at the time of devolution.

“It is unbelievable and astonishing that the Advocate General – who is meant to put the point of view of the Scottish legal system – is conniving in a move that will yet again erode that independence. Just what is he playing at?

“It is the SNP’s view that the centuries-old supremacy of the High Court of Justiciary as the final court of appeal in criminal matters must be restored and maintained.

“If David Cameron wishes to restore the respect agenda, and the Advocate General wishes to be seen as the spokesperson for Scots Law, they would drop this idea immediately, and I am calling on them to do so.”

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