[What follows is the text of a letter from John W Elliott published in today's edition of The Herald:]
Lords Hope and Rodger are two of our most distinguished Scottish judges. They have occupied the offices of Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice General before going on to safeguard the interests of our Scottish legal system first as Lords of Appeal in Ordinary in the House of Lords and now as Justices of the UK Supreme Court.
Kenny MacAskill, our Cabinet Secretary for Justice, is a solicitor by profession but he has reverted to type by barracking the UK Supreme Court.
This is rather sad. By his boorish interventions in this matter – comments about English judges and the Edinburgh Festival and accusations that the UK Supreme Court is some sort of ambulance chasing institution – Mr MacAskill has lost the dignity and stature he displayed when he released Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds according to the finest traditions of Scots law.
[What principally concerns me about the present brouhaha over the role of the UK Supreme Court is the failure to address the fundamental question about the performance of the Scottish criminal justice system in relation to human rights issues. Few, if any, Scots lawyers would say that the Supreme Court was wrong in its interpretation and application to Scottish practice of the European Convention on Human Rights in the Cadder and Fraser cases. There can be little, if any, doubt that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg would have reached the same conclusions. Our first concern should be about rectifying the deficiencies in the Scottish criminal justice system, not shooting whatever messenger has the temerity to point them out. But while the posts of Lord Advocate and Solicitor General are both occupied by legal civil servants, virtually the whole of whose working life has been spent in the Crown Office, reform -- or even recognition that it is called for -- is in the highest degree unlikely.]