Access to justice for Scottish citizens
We, the petitioners, believe that the European Convention on Human Rights protects the fundamental rights of Scotland's citizens. The UK Supreme Court is our swift, effective and authoritative court of appeal on Scottish human rights issues.
We consider it regrettable that the Scottish Government has chosen to personally attack Scottish judges on the Supreme Court whilst they discharge their judicial function with distinction. Not only is it deplorable that Scotland's Justice Minister has chosen to threaten the Supreme Court with the withdrawal of Scottish funding, but it is unconstitutional. Kenny MacAskill's position must now be untenable. What must international observers think when they see a Scottish Government Minister threatening an impartial court of law in such a boorish manner?
No system of law can afford to remain isolated. Indeed, Scots Law developed historically, in no small part, thanks to the exchange of ideas and procedures with England, Italy, the Netherlands and France. We believe that the Scottish Government's notion that the Supreme Court might well get it right, but should not be allowed to get it right, is dangerous. The administration of justice must be based around high-level principles, for the good of the people.
In our opinion, the UK Supreme Court has done its job and applied the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and Scotland's legal system has been found wanting. The ECHR in Strasbourg would have done no different, albeit it would have taken considerably longer to do so given its huge backlog of cases. Victims, appellants and litigants cannot be best served by adding to such a backlog. None of this presents a good reason to attack judges who are upholding the rule of law.
The Scottish Government should be concerned with why the Cadder judgment was necessary in the first place . Other European states acted to change their legal systems in light of the Salduz case, but not Scotland. Why not? Blame for the systemic failings in our legal system, or errors of judgment, should be apportioned with those who are responsible, whether Scottish Government civil servants, Scottish law officers or members of the Scottish Government.
We call upon the Scottish Government to desist in its unprecedented personal attack on Scottish judges and the UK Supreme Court. The failure to do so can only shame Scotland internationally, undermine the rule of law, and threaten access to justice for Scots.
(signed) Brian Fitzpatrick Advocate, John McGovern Solicitor-Advocate, Mike Dailly Solicitor, Patrick McGuire Solicitor-Advocate, Marie MacDonald, Solicitor