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UK NewsBoris Johnson's suspension of Parliament ruled as unlawful

15:05  11 september  2019
15:05  11 september  2019 Source:   scotsman.com

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A legal bid to challenge the suspension of parliament has succeeded at the highest appeal court in Edinburgh.

Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament ruled as unlawful © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

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.

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The judgement from the court said the the Prime Minister's advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament was "unlawful because it had the purpose of stymying Parliament".

It added that all three First Division judges decided that the Prime Minister's advice to the Queen "is justiciable" and "that is was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament and that it, and what has followed from it, is unlawful".

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Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament ruled as unlawful © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

The UK Government plans to appeal against the latest ruling to the Supreme Court.

The judgement also said that the prorogation was "a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behaviour of public authorities" and that the "principal reason" for the suspension of Parliament was to allow "the executive to puruse a policy of a no-deal brexit without further Parliamentary interference".

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It added that the "documents provided" from the UK government had proved there was no other explanation for the prorogation than a wish to "restrict Parliament".

The judges concluded the Prime Minister's advice was "unlawful and is thus null and of no effect."

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Opposition MPs who brought the case today are now calling for the immediate recall of Parliament.

This won't happen before the case is referred to the UK Supreme next week where a Government appeal to the decision will be heard.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry said the campaigners had been "completely vindicated."

"We've uncovered more and more evidence that this was a plot by Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg and others to prevent representing our constituents and to prevent us scrutinising them as they try to take us through a back door towards a No deal Brexit," she said after the ruling.

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"I would be confident that the UK Supreme Court will uphold this decision."

Fellow Nationalist MP Tommy Sheppard added "We ought to be in Westminster this morning representing our constituents and we're not because Boris Johnson has chosen to shut Parliament down.

"That has now been ruled to be against the law and parliament should be immediately reconvened so we can consider what Boris Johnson is doing to this country."

Liberal Democrats MP Luciana Berger tweeted: "As one of the Petitioners to this case, this is such an important ruling - although how awful that it's had to come to this. "

SNP Westminiter leader Ian Blackford tweeted: "This is great news, congratulations to you and all involved. This battle has further to run but my message to @BorisJohnson is you are playing fast and loose with the law. You have acted in an anti democratic manner and need to respond by recalling Parliament."

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The prorogation was "a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behaviour of public authorities", the ruling added, and that the "principal reason" for the suspension of Parliament was to allow "the executive to pursue a policy of a no-deal brexit without further Parliamentary interference".

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It added that the "documents provided" from the UK government had proved there was no other explanation for the prorogation than a wish to "restrict Parliament".

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."

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said the court ruling was "huge", and vindicated Labour's efforts to stop Parliament being shut down.

Speaking at the TUC Congress in Brighton, he said: "I need to get back to Parliament, to see if we can reopen the doors and hold Johnson to account.

"It was obvious to everyone that shutting down Parliament at this crucial time was the wrong thing to do.

"The Prime Minister was not telling the truth about why he was doing it. The idea of shutting down Parliament offended everyone across the country, and then they felt they were not being told the truth."

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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."

Liberal Democrats MP Luciana Berger tweeted: "As one of the Petitioners to this case, this is such an important ruling - although how awful that it's had to come to this. "

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie backed calls for a recall of Parliament.

“It’s extraordinary that the UK Government – even one which has descended ever further into minority status – should have the power to replace the Prime Minister, set the parliamentary agenda and even force MPs to pack up and go home to avoid being held to account," he said.

David Johnston QC, representing the UK Government, had argued it was not for the courts to get involved in what was a political decision.

Today's judgement came after 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 UK Government plans to appeal against the latest ruling to the Supreme Court.

The judgement from the court said the the Prime Minister's advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament was "unlawful because it had the purpose of stymying Parliament".

All all three judges today agreed that Mr Johnson's advice to the Queen "was motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament and that it, and what has followed from it, is unlawful".

The Government said it is "disappointed" by the decision of the senior Scottish judges, adding proroguing Parliament was " legal and necessary".

The Prime Minister claimed that he took the controversial decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks in order to reset the domestic agenda and allow a Queen's Speech to take place next month setting out a fresh programme of legislation. Mr Johnson has claimed that there would be "ample time" for MPs to debate Brexit.

But today's ruling found there was a "clear failure" to comply with the accepted standards of behaviour of a public authority."

"It's to be inferred that the prorogation was to prevent or impede Parliament from holding the executive to account."

Supreme Court to hear appeals over Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament.
A panel of 11 justices will hear appeals from two separate challenges brought in England and Scotland to the prorogation of Parliament.

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