Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Expert panel to guard legal system

A group of experts has been appointed to ensure Scotland's independent legal system is "fully protected" in the wake of a constitutional row over the impact of the UK Supreme Court.

Four figures, including a former Solicitor General, will review the jurisdiction of the High Court and Supreme Court in the application of human rights law, particularly in light of changes brought about by devolution.

Initial findings by the group will be brought forward for debate at the Scottish Parliament in time for the summer recess.

First Minister Alex Salmond established the group after raising his concerns about the role of the London-based Supreme Court in Scottish criminal law.

He was highly critical of the court when it ruled on Wednesday last week that Nat Fraser's conviction for murdering his estranged wife Arlene is unsafe.

The Supreme Court also sparked controversy for a ruling, known as the Cadder judgment, on the rights of suspects to legal representation in Scotland.

For Scottish criminal cases the court can be used only when cases relate to "devolution matters", a term covering the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament in dealing with human rights issues.

The members of the new review group were announced as Lord McCluskey, former Solicitor General and Senator of the College of Justice; Sir Gerald Gordon, described as an influential figure in Scottish criminal law and procedure; Charles Stoddart, a former sheriff, sheriff principal and director of judicial studies; and Professor Neil Walker, described as an expert in constitutional law at the Edinburgh School of Law.

The group will examine the emerging implications of the 1998 Scotland Act, the 1998 Human Rights Act and the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 on the current roles of the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh and the UK Supreme Court in London, and advise on possible options for reform.

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph