Scottish independence: Edinburgh-based academic to advise Scottish Government on referendum
ALEX Salmond today announced that a leading Edinburgh-based academic has been appointed as the Scottish Government’s key adviser on the independence referendum.
• Expert to offer ‘independent advice’ on Scottish independence referendum
• Holyrood and Westminster differ in their views on the legality of the poll
Professor Stephen Tierney is to provide technical advice on referendum consultation responses ahead of the 2014 vote.
Professor Tierney has argued that the Scottish Government could hold its own legally binding referendum without permission from Westminster.
But Coalition ministers insist this would be open to legal challenge and that Westminster must transfer the legal authority for Holyrood to stage the poll.
The First Minister said the appointment will ensure the referendum, expected to be held in Autumn 2014, will meet the “highest international standards.”
He said: “Professor Tierney is an internationally recognised expert on referendums and I am delighted that he has agreed to provide advice on issues arising from the consultation responses, including those from organisations and civic Scotland representatives.
“He will also advise on the design of the ballot paper and the structure of the referendum, including the question or questions. I would like to thank Professor Tierney for agreeing to become an independent expert advisor to the Scottish Government.”
Professor Tierney is Professor of Constitutional Theory and Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law at Edinburgh University and is an internationally recognised expert on referendums.
The Scottish Government has already outlined its preferred question in the consultation paper which asked “Do You Agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”
But suspicions remain that Mr Salmond wants a third option included on the ballot paper of more powers for Holyrood after he described this as a “very attractive” option at the weekend.
This has been rejected by the Coalition and has proved a barrier to Westminster transferring the legal power for Holyrood to stage the referendum.
The SNP says that ministers will come up with their preferred question after the consultation. The Electoral Commission will then advise on, and test the intelligibility of the question, including the recommendation of any changes. The SNP-controlled Parliament will make a final decision.
Professor Tierney said: “I am honoured to accept the role of independent advisor to the referendum process.
“I will provide independent, objective and publically-available advice on international best practice in the conduct of referendums. I hope that my research in this area will also help to inform public debate more widely.”
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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