Saturday, May 19, 2012
Scotland’s sham of a Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill is taken to task for continual failures in his ministerial brief, Justice brief is rudderless!
Under the SNP Government, law and order has been an omnishambles.
In 2007, Alex Salmond made the disastrous mistake of appointing his pal as Justice Minister.
He appointed his pal, Kenny MacAskill.
Instead of the people of Scotland getting a Justice Minister, we got a Minister for the Crown Office, a cheerleader, someone who wasn’t capable and was also biased.
What should a Justice Minister be?
They should be fair and impartial?
MacAskill is neither.
Where’s the proof?
The UK Supreme Court nonsense and disgraceful episode of the Cadder Case!
In the Cadder Case, an important legal principle was at stake regarding human rights which MacAskill failed the test miserably, he wrongly sided with the Crown Office and also couldn’t understand that human rights couldn’t be taken away by the Crown Office and replaced with ‘gifts’.
His embarrassing statement that he supported human rights was pretty feeble because the evidence spoke for itself.
If he supported human rights then why didn’t he fight for them in the Cadder Case, it was straightforward and backed up Case Law and European Court judgments.
Al Megrahi stands as his legacy, releasing the biggest mass murderer in Scottish history who has reached the 1,000 days mark just recently.
As well the above issues wrongly handled at every stage, concerns have been raised over the Scottish Government's record on modernising the law in Scotland.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill should be a proactive Justice Minister but isn’t, I would never have appointed MacAskill in the first place, but Alex Salmond has an incredibly small pool to draw on regarding talent in the SNP.
Anyway MacAskill is under pressure to respond to claims by the Scottish Law Commission (SLC) and the Parliament's Justice Committee that there has been a "relatively low implementation rate" on law reforms.
The truth is, and I have blogged on it previously the SNP Government is on the slide and is completely paralysed.
Justice Committee convener Christine Grahame is writing to MacAskill and query why there are delays in acting on recommended changes to contract, property and personal injury law.
Other issues remaining outstanding are issues on Crown appeals and the age of criminal responsibility.
When did MacAskill lose control of his ministerial brief?
To be honest, he never had control in the first place; he just fell into line behind the Crown Office as their man in government.
The SLC makes a point that instead of making it easier to modernise the law in Scotland, the formation of the Scottish Parliament has worsened the implementation rate.
The Justice Committee letter states:
"The committee noted concerns from the SLC itself at what it saw as a relatively low implementation rate since the advent of devolution compared to other jurisdictions with law commissions, particularly in relation to reports concerning civil law. We have sympathy with those concerns. One of the perceived advantages of the Scottish Parliament when it was set up was that it was expected to provide far more time to discuss and agree proposals emanating from the SLC and others to modernise and simplify Scots law."
So how far back does the mess that hasn’t been addressed extend?
Just lying about gathering dust!
Malcolm McMillan, SLC chief executive, said:
"Over the past few years, we have grown concerned about the implementation rate since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament. You would expect that having a legislature in your own country would provide some room to do a bit more work on modernising the law of Scotland, but that doesn't appear to have been the case. We actually began to see that our implementation rate was going down rather than up. We looked at how England, Wales and Ireland were performing, as well as places like New Zealand which also has a law commission, and we felt our rate was dipping lower than the comparative bodies."
"We very much welcome the interest of the Justice Committee in looking at the issue fully and taking it up with the Government. We ourselves have also raised these concerns with the Government and have been working with officials to see what can be done to implement more of our reports and there has been some progress recently."
Government isn’t just about passing law, it is also about identifying law that isn't effective and where need be, repealing it.
The Scottish Government response was typical of a government that is now seen as rudderless as more SNP Ministers abandon their duties in favour of the independence referendum.
A Scottish Government spokesman said:
"The Government shares the commitment of the Justice Committee and the Scottish Law Commission to keeping the statute book up to date. As the committee letter notes, the Government has consulted on some Scottish Law Commission proposals where consultees had mixed views and as a result we have not implemented the reports. Where appropriate, we will consult on other reports put forward by the commission. We will continue to work closely with the commission."
Short version, can’t be bothered.
I have previously blogged that Kenny MacAskill should be replaced as Justice Minister, the SLC and the Justice Committee make the case official by raising their concerns.
Last December, I wrote on his prison blunder, but there are other posts further back where I identify the problem.
But the important point for the SNP to remember is that George Laird was right and ahead of the curve.
First Minister Alex Salmond will come to regret not sacking Kenny MacAskill and replacing him with Alex Neil.
A key part of getting independence is the guarantee that law and order works, is based on justice, fairness and human rights.
So far that test has been spectacularly failed under the SNP Government’s watch, check the picture of MacAskill, everyone behind him and round him knows he is a dud, the look in their eyes gives it away.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University