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Scottish court rules Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament "unlawful"
11 September 2019, 10:29
Judges at Scotland's highest civil court have ruled that Boris Johnson's suspension of the UK Parliament is "unlawful."
A legal bid to challenge the Prime Minister's decision to suspend Parliament has succeeded at the appeal court in Edinburgh, with judges ruling against the government.
The official summary of the decision read: "The Court will accordingly make an Order declaring that the Prime Minister’s advice to HM the Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect."
A group of around 70 parliamentarians had appealed against a ruling by a judge at the court that Boris Johnson's prorogation of Parliament is lawful.
Judge Lord Doherty originally dismissed a challenge against the suspension - which went ahead in the early hours of Tuesday - at the Court of Session last Wednesday, saying it is for politicians and not the courts to decide.
But three judges of the Inner House, the supreme civil court in Scotland, disagreed with Lord Doherty's ruling.
The Government said it is "disappointed" by the decision of the senior Scottish judges, adding proroguing Parliament was " legal and necessary".
SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC, who was among the cross-party group of politicians that brought the action, tweeted: "All 3 judges in Scotland's Highest court of appeal rule #Prorogation #unlawful! #Cherrycase succeeds.
"Huge thanks to all our supporters & our fantastic legal team who have achieved the historic ruling that #prorogation is #unlawful #Cherrycase #Brexit."
Statement from me. We have won. Appeal begins in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.— Jo Maugham QC (@JolyonMaugham) September 11, 2019
Jolyon Maugham QC, the anti-Brexit barrister who was second petitioner in the case, said the Supreme Court would hear the case next week.
He tweeted: "We have won. Appeal begins in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
"We believe that the effect of the decision is that Parliament is no longer prorogued.
"I have never been able to contemplate the possibility that the law could be that our sovereign Parliament might be treated as an inconvenience by the Prime Minister.
"I am pleased that Scotland's highest court agrees. But ultimately, as has always been the case, it's the final arbiter's decision that matters.
"We will convene again in the Supreme Court next week."
Labour MP Ian Murray tweeted: "Great result from the Court of Session. The contempt that the PM has shown to Parliament and the public is unprecedented. The advice given to the Queen was not the reason wanted for a 5 week prorogation."
A summary of the court opinion, published by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, states: "The Inner House of the Court of Session has ruled that the Prime Minister's advice to HM the Queen that the United Kingdom Parliament should be prorogued from a day between 9 and 12 September until 14 October was unlawful because it had the purpose of stymying Parliament."
It continues: "All three First Division judges have decided that the PM's advice to the HM the Queen is justiciable, that it was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament and that it, and what has followed from it, is unlawful."
It went on: "The Court will accordingly make an Order declaring that the Prime Minister's advice to HM the Queen and the prorogation which followed thereon was unlawful and is thus null and of no effect."
At the hearing, Judge Lord Carloway told the court: "We are of the opinion that the advice given by the Government to her majesty the Queen to prorogue parliament was unlawful and that the prorogation itself was unlawful."
He referred the matter to the UK Supreme Court for resolution.
Campaigners said their understanding is that Parliament can now reassemble if it so wishes.
The UK Government said it would appeal against the court's decision.