Scottish judge has denied a legal bid to stop Boris Johnson suspending parliament

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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.”

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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.

He said:

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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  • Show Comments
    1. It’s interesting to see old school Tories and Labour chummily conspiring together along with Gina Miller, a wealthy business woman already renowned for her Brexit busting credentials, mounting another high court injunction against Brexit. There’s a separate one to be heard in Northern Ireland as well. And, arch Remainer Ken Clarke is holding his ginormous nose to support ‘the dangerous trotskyist, communist Jeremy’ as caretaker prime minister in the event of his (Ken Clark’s) Tory led government collapsing under the weight of a crescendo of Remain outrage at the prospect Brexit might win out at last. Will the other injunctions succeed where the Scots one didn’t? There really are some extraordinary alliances Tory with Labour with LibDems, etc. all in unlikely cahoots out to bust the people’s Brexit.

    2. How ironic. Tell politicians of all parties they should put more hours in, like Mondays or Fridays, and they all conspire to stop parliament staying open. A politician putting in a full week, imagine that!

    3. Sorry, this shows a lack of understanding of the Scottish Legal system which is rather different from the English one. What the judge has done is to bring forward the full hearing of the case to the 3rd of September. He has not yet ruled on an interdict. The important word here is “interim”. The full hearing has still to take place and the judge will then rule whether or not an interdict will be granted. Until then we do not know whether it will be granted or not. If anyone is interested, there’s a very good article in today’s “National” newspaper in which Joanne Cherry QC explains what is happening. Meanwhile, your headline is misleading. All is not lost yet.

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