Opponents of Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament have been denied an interim interdict (injunction) by a judge at Scotland’s highest civil court.
A cross-party group of MPs and peers filed a petition at the Court of Session in Edinburgh earlier this summer aiming to stop Johnson being able to prorogue Parliament.
They called for an injunction – known as an interim interdict – until a final decision has been made on the case after Johnson went ahead and announced that parliament was being suspended for five weeks from September 10.
On Friday, judge Lord Doherty dismissed the action ahead of a full hearing scheduled for next week.
He said: “I’m not satisfied that it has been demonstrated that there’s a need for an interim suspension or an interim interdict to be granted at this stage.”
He said a substantive hearing was already set to place on September 6 “before the first possible date parliament could be prorogued”.
But he brought that hearing forward to September 3 “in the interest of justice”.
Aiden O’Neill QC, representing those for the action, had argued for the substantive hearing to be moved forward.
There is an urgency to this – any delay is prejudicial – not just to the prejudice of the petitioners, but to the country as a whole.
Lord Doherty said:
I’m going to move the substantive hearing forward to Tuesday.
Weighing consideration in the balance, it’s in the interest of justice that it proceeds sooner rather than later.”
The decision came after the queen approved Johnson’s request for parliament to be suspended for five weeks from September 10.
On Thursday, the judge heard arguments from a lawyer for the campaigners – led by SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC and aided by Jo Maugham of the Good Law Project – and from a legal representative for the UK Government.
O’Neill QC, urged the court to step in and stop the suspension of Parliament, arguing it would prevent an “abusive” and “unconstitutional” use of government powers.
However, Roddy Dunlop QC, representing the government, called on the judge to reject the request, as the queen has already prorogued Parliament and there is “no reason” to have an interim decision on such an important matter.
Responding to Lord Doherty’s decision on Friday, a government spokesperson said:
As we have set out, the government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda and MPs are not prevented from scrutinising our withdrawal from the EU.
We are glad the court found against the interdict – there was no good reason to seek one, given the full hearing is due to take place next week, and the process of bringing the session to an end will not start until the week commencing September 9.
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