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Judge not?

As regular blog visitors must know by now, I’m a fervent supporter of a fully independent Scottish government, within a United Kingdom and the European Union. But that doesn’t mean I believe that everything my party’s leadership does is correct by definition. For example, the threat by the Scottish Justice Secretary to withhold funding for the UK Supreme Court is a piece of bombastic, blustering nonsense. Kenny McAskill has a reputation for shooting from the lip that extends beyond Scotland, but normally he thinks issues through more clearly before  pushing the ‘intemperate’ button. From what I’ve read of the judgement of the Nat Fraser case he’s chasing the wrong hare. Jurisdiction is a side issue, and not the first that should concern him. The unanimous finding of five Supreme Court judges, who included two last holders of Scotland’s highest judicial office, was so obviously correct that not a single voice has been raised against it since it was handed down. The question that the Scottish public are entitled to ask is; why did Mr Fraser’s lawyers have to go to London in the first place? Why didn’t our senior judges reach the same conclusion?

Alex Salmond, our First Minister, has a point when he expresses concern that the UK Supreme Court appears to have backed into criminal appeal matters that were meant to have been reserved for the Scottish Bench, and he has done the right thing by asking people who know what they’re talking about to consider the issues and report back to him, prior to a Scottish parliamentary debate. But he would be helped by two things, the first being, a clearer recognition by Scottish judges of the implications of European human rights provisions, the second being that Kenny McAskill should stop chasing headlines.

 

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