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Leading Scottish QC says: '(Scots) Independence referendum is probably illegal'.

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Jonnie Goodboy
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« on: February 08, 2012, 01:37:56 pm »

Aidan O'Neill QC: Independence referendum is probably illegal.

Alex Salmond’s planned independence referendum has a “high chance” of being struck down by the courts as illegal, one Scotland’s leading QCs has said.

Aidan O’Neill said only Westminster has the authority to hold a vote on breaking up Britain, but Mr Salmond may seek “political advantage” by crying foul when his proposals are declared unlawful.

The UK Supreme Court would ultimately decide on whether the referendum was legal, but Mr O’Neill noted that both the First Minister and Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Minster, have “form” in attacking its judges.

David Cameron yesterday used his first Downing Street meeting with Ruth Davidson, the new Scottish Tory leader, to hint he will take charge of the referendum if Mr Salmond continues to refuse to ask a single “straightforward” question.

The Coalition Government is also examining the legality of the First Minister staging the vote amid widespread expectations of a third-party legal challenge on the grounds constitutional affairs are reserved to Westminster.

Mr O’Neill is a member of both London’s Matrix Chambers and Edinburgh's Ampersand Stable and has appeared as senior counsel before the European Court of Justice, the House of Lords and the UK Supreme Court.

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