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Rennie challenges Salmond over role of Supreme Court

September 15, 2011 6:17 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP urged the First Minister today to drop his threats he made on cutting the Scottish Government's slice of the UK Supreme Court's funding.

Willie Rennie MSPWillie Rennie MSPMr Rennie's calls, made during First Minister's Questions, came after the final report on the role of the UK Supreme Court in Scotland, conducted by Lord McCluskey, was published.

The First Minister and his Justice Secretary welcomed the report, even though the Review Group did not support the First Minister's preference for the Court in Strasbourg to be first point of call for Scottish Human rights cases.

Only months ago, his Justice Secretary said that he who pays the piper, calls the tune, indicating that the Scottish Government would withhold funding for the UK Supreme Court if it did not comply with the Scottish Government's wishes.

The Review actually concluded that not only did the UK Supreme Court have a vital role to play in the Scottish Criminal Justice system but that access to it should be widened.

Commenting Mr Rennie said:

"Before the summer, the First Minister made comments about the role of the UK Supreme Court which can only be described as a toxic mix of prejudice, ignorance and nationalism.

"Unbelievably the First Minister and his Justice Secretary said that some of the top judges and lawyers in the country were nothing but ambulance chasers, only got their knowledge about the Scot laws from visiting Scotland for the Edinburgh festival and that the Supreme Court was a court in a foreign land.

"Yesterday the First Minister welcomed his Expert Group's conclusions that the Supreme Court did have a role to play for Scots and is well qualified to do that.

"But today the First Minister ducked and dived as usual on making any apology over his previous threats and did not represent his own Expert Group fairly in the chamber today.

"How can we trust a First Minister who wilfully misrepresents issues only for the SNP's sole benefit."