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Court hears bid to prevent Boris Johnson suspending Parliament

A group of around 70 MPs and peers are backing the action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry is leading the legal challenge (Jane Barlow/PA)
SNP MP Joanna Cherry is leading the legal challenge (Jane Barlow/PA)

By Lucinda Cameron, PA Scotland

A legal bid seeking to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson from suspending Parliament has begun in Scotland’s highest civil court.

A cross-party group of around 70 MPs and peers are backing the action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh after beginning a legal move earlier in the summer when they filed a petition aiming to stop Mr Johnson being able to prorogue Parliament.

They are now seeking an interim interdict, which would stop the Prime Minister taking the option of suspension until a final decision has been made on the case.

The power of prorogation is not one which is unlimited or unfettered but has to be used in accordance with public trust Aidan O'Neill QC

The hearing on Thursday comes a day after the Queen approved Mr Johnson’s request for Parliament to be suspended for five weeks from September 10.

Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the petitioners, said the prorogation was “unprecedented” and the petitioners are invoking the court’s “constitutional jurisdiction.”

He said: “Prorogation is being used to create something which is irreversible, that the UK will be made to leave the EU deal or no deal, do or die, and Parliament is being prevented by abuse of the power of prorogation from doing anything about it.

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The case is being heard at the Court of Session by Lord Doherty (Jane Barlow/PA)

“There are no precedents for the abuse of prorogation.

“The power of prorogation is not one which is unlimited or unfettered but has to be used in accordance with public trust.”

The case is being heard by Lord Doherty.

Mr O’Neill said the Queen should be obliged to recall the prorogation order if it turned out to be based on an error of law.

He said: “If the court is satisfied that the advice to the sovereign given yesterday that Parliament be prorogued is in fact found to be an abuse of power based on an error of law, then there should be an obligation on the sovereign to recall that order of prorogation because the sovereign is not above the law.”

The group had already filed a petition at the Court of Session as part of an effort to stop Mr Johnson from being able to prorogue Parliament, with a hearing scheduled for Friday September 6.

The legal challenge is being led by SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, aided by Jo Maugham of the Good Law Project.

Campaigner Gina Miller has meanwhile made an urgent application for a judicial review at the High Court in London.

Ms Miller previously won a landmark ruling that MPs would have to vote before the Government could invoke Article 50 to formally start the UK’s exit process from the EU.

A judiciary spokeswoman said on Thursday that the application was being considered.

At Belfast High Court, campaigner Raymond McCord also launched a legal bid to issue an injunction against the move by Mr Johnson.

Mr McCord, whose emergency injunction application was adjourned for 24 hours, was already pursing legal proceedings against the potential proroguing of Parliament.

Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, who sat for the short hearing on Thursday, agreed to give the legal parties a further day to prepare for a substantive hearing on Friday morning.

PA

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