[The following are excerpts from a report in today's edition of The Herald:]
Kenny MacAskill wants to cancel Scottish funding for the UK Supreme Court.
The Justice Secretary has ordered civil servants to investigate whether the Scottish Government can pull the financial plug on Britain’s most senior justices over what he sees as the threat they pose to centuries-old Scots Law.
Scotland currently contributes just under £500,000 a year to the London-based court but it is far from clear if the Scottish Government could stop its cheque.
The unprecedented threat to do so underlines just how angry Mr MacAskill is over two humiliating defeats at the UK Supreme Court, including last week’s decision to overturn the conviction of Nat Fraser for murdering his wife Arlene. (...)
Some lawyers last night warned that Mr MacAskill, an experienced defence solicitor, was risking a major constitutional crisis just by giving the impression of trying to undermine the finances of the UK Supreme Court.
Professor Tony Kelly, who acted for human rights group Justice in backing the Cadder appeal, said: “This is a politician interfering with the judicial branch of government. That is simply constitutionally impermissible. [RB: Tony Kelly is a visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde.]
“It’s an attack on judicial independence which we have never seen the like of in the UK. We have a politician issuing threats against a court because he does not like its decisions.”
Mr Kelly added: “I don’t see any evidence that the Supreme Court has committed any grievous error. If there were English judges importing English doctrines into Scots Law, I am sure there would be a raft of evidence for Nationalist politicians. But there isn’t.”
Solicitor-advocate John Scott said he did not believe withdrawing funding from the Supreme Court would have any impact on the court’s jurisdiction over Scottish matters.
He said: “This is just political tub-thumping. It is a bit like somebody withholding part of their taxes because they don’t want to pay for nuclear weapons. It doesn’t work like that.”