Letter: Justice cannot be bound by national identity

Since I'm not a lawyer, I can't help Barry Lees (Letter, 28 May) on the differences between criminal and civil appeals to the House of Lords. However, the Supreme Court, as the successor to the House of Lords, has a long and honourable history of bringing justice to the people of Scotland.

In the early days immediately after the Union, the law lords were all English but since 1876 there has always been at least one Scottish Lord of Appeal in the House.

Many Scots, particularly nationalists like our First Minister, have little grasp of Scottish history and deeply regret that unionism brought a loss of independence, saltires, bagpipes etc, etc.

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This is all quite understandable, but 1707 also brought freedom to the Scottish people. When Scotland united with England, there was a paradigm shift in the quality of life enjoyed by the people of both countries. And as 18th century Scotland was further behind England, the leap forward for Scots was infinitely greater.

In many ways, the lives of ordinary Scots was determined by the Kirk and it's not unfair to say that the Church's rule was comparable in many ways with the Taleban of today. All religious rule eventually ends up being dictatorial in the extreme. One young man was hanged for blasphemy in the years just before 1707, but after Union, as the Church's influence waned, all this changed.

Similarly, the power of the landed upper class was equally oppressive. No English craftsman would cross the Border without an assurance that he wouldn't be treated like some Scots were treated; i.e. seized and made to work as a slave. I could recommend a visit to the Scottish Mining Museum at Newtongrange for any doubters on this point.

I am always left bemused by those like Alex Salmond who claim that the concept of justice has a national identity. The fact is that many lawyers of all nationalities, but including many Scots too, have spent their lives proving that justice is much more important than that.


Paisley Drive