Monday, November 21, 2011
Lord Hope fires a legal broadside that 'anti English sentiment’ is threat to legal reform, the SNP Government needs to publicly back UK Supreme Court
The UK Supreme Court is one of the benefits that Scottish people enjoy as part of the United Kingdom.
For those who follow the work of this body, it is hard to see a verdict delivered that was absolutely in tune with the both the letter of the law and the spirit.
Lord Hope, one of Britain’s most senior judges is in my mind heading towards the same status as Lord Denning, the former Master of the Rolls.
I regard his work so highly that if Scotland was independent I would wish Lord Hope to head up Scotland’s judiciary in a body similar to the UK Supreme Court.
Quite simply the seven judges who denied appeals on such issues as the Cadder case and Fraser have no place sitting doing appeals.
Lord Hope has warned of “corrosive anti-English sentiment” operating in Scotland’s courts; which I would agree with, he describes it as an obstacle to legal progress.
As a Scottish judge and deputy president of the UK Supreme Court, his words carry weight, but it is unfortunately that he has launched this unprecedented counter-attack on the Scottish Government.
We wouldn’t be in this situation if the Scottish Government led by Alex Salmond had cleaned up justice in the first place.
The spin by the SNP is that Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill are fighting to protect the Scottish justice system.
But you could look at this in another way that Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill are fighting to deny the human rights of ordinary Scottish people in taking their case to the UK Supreme Court.
That means that people wrongly convicted would be imprisoned because it is politically inconvenient.
It is never politically inconvenient to give people every chance if they claim a miscarriage of justice has taken place, quite the opposite in fact.
Many will see the comments by Lord Hope, a Scottish judge and deputy president of the UK Supreme Court, as an unprecedented counter-attack on the Scottish Government for its assault on the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court earlier this year.
Lord Hope warned against moves to limit the court’s ability to hear appeals against Scottish convictions.
Moves to make such appeals possible only if cases are sent to the Supreme Court by Scottish judges through a process known as certification have been backed by the Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill.
How wrong and out of touch he is morally.
After the row broke out publicly, the Scottish Government got four ‘wise men’ together to look at the issue.
I prefer to call them the four sycophants.
Their conclusions were predicted and cheap.
Bitch about the problem, deliver no real reform and go with the ‘poundland’ version of justice.
Cheap and not cheerful!
They came up with a Certification idea which is used by courts in England and Wales.
In other words the Appeal Court or other which has already denied justice then sits to see if a certificate is granted to go to the UK Supreme Court.
Human rights taken away and replaced by a certificate is bollocks.
Lord Hope said:
“Much has been made of the unfairness of the lack of certification in Scotland when such a system is in place in the other two jurisdictions [England and Wales, and Northern Ireland] but the comparison is not as sound as has been suggested. There is [in England and Wales] none of the feeling of antipathy towards cases being sent to London that lies just below the surface here in Scotland.”
It is unusual for someone as senior as Lord Hope to speak out and in such a fashion.
One of the wise men appointed by the Scottish Government was the retired high court judge Lord McCluskey who also criticised the Supreme Court.
The review followed the Cadder decision, in which Peter Cadder brought a challenge under the human rights act, which gave Scots the right to get immediate access to a lawyer, something that English people have enjoyed since the mid 80’s.
When the SNP took over Government in 2007 due to the implosion of the labour vote, they never carry out a review to fix this problem to bring Scotland into line with England.
We now have the hypocrisy that the Scottish Government want to bring Scotland into line with England when they were quite happy to deny justice and act as de facto an arm of the Crown and Procurator Fiscal Service.
The job of the Justice Minister is to be impartial, completely impartial and not side with either the defence or prosecution because of the issues of clarity and due process.
Lord Hope said the Cadder case had been a “catalyst” for change but said Lord McCluskey’s approach had not been “tactful” and that is quite right.
McCluskey’s ‘poundland’ solution is regrettable but understandable it is the politics of cleaning the toilet bowl, do it quickly, cheaply and with little regard to the outcome, be seen to be doing something and achieving nothing.
The Certificate scheme is bollocks, the Scottish Government can’t stop people going to the UK Supreme Court, the Westminster Government won’t back such an anti human rights move and this places the entire thing in a legal no man’s land.
In a finally parting shot, Lord Hope strongly disagreed with suggestions made by Scottish ministers that the Supreme Court was “routinely interfering in the Scottish system”.
Lord Hope said that it was never and is still not the intention of the court to be a “court of last resort in matters of Scots criminal law”.
The UK Supreme Court is only looking at miscarriages were there is a challenge under human rights.
So far, they are batting 100 over 100.
As a member of the Scottish National Party, I am signed up to fairness and equality while I remain a member; I prefer to leave the toadying and asslicking to others in my party who are so ably suit to the job, let them do the cheer leading around Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill.
I will not campaign against the UK Supreme Court because I could not in good conscience, justice seen to be done is far more important that internal party politics.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University