SNP hypocrisy over human rights law

Responding to the Tory Government’s proposal to replace the Human Rights Act with a UK Bill of Rights, Nicola Sturgeon opined: “The Scottish Government will oppose any weakening of human rights protections, not just in Scotland but across the whole of the UK.” (Your report, 24 September)

In the context of the Peter Cadder case, that defence emits more than a whiff of offensive hypocrisy.

Cadder, a petty criminal, was arrested, detained, interrogated, charged and ultimately convicted without timeous access to a lawyer – as required by human rights law and the precedents generated by that law.

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Cadder appealed, contending that the failure to provide timeous access to a lawyer was a breach of his human rights. A full team of Scotland’s most senior judges marginalised human rights law when considering the appeal – and thereby proceeded to practise the art of untenable reasoning to reject the appeal. Cadder’s appeal was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court, forcing the Scottish Government to amend the law to facilitate the application of human rights law when a citizen is detained by the police.

Confronted with the clear, tenable and therefore unchallengeable, reasoning of the Supreme Court, the SNP hierarchy descended into fits of barn dance fury. Inflamed by the fact that the Supreme Court judges had overruled the “reasoning” of the Scottish Judiciary by simply applying the law, the hierarchy deployed fits of playground petulance to attack the Supreme Court judges.

Clearly, human rights were irrelevant when an “English” footprint made its mark on the sacred soil of Scotland’s legal landscape. The “weakening of human rights protections” was rife in Scotland, prior to the intervention of the Supreme Court.

Denying a suspect timeous access to a lawyer subsequent to being arrested did not merely “weaken human rights protections”, it eliminated them. Ms Sturgeon’s “Joan of Arc” defence of the Human Rights Act is liberally tainted with hypocrisy, given the reaction of the SNP Government when the Supreme Court did us all a favour by ensuring that Scotland’s parochial judges would in future “embrace”, in appropriate circumstances, human rights law.

Thomas Crooks

Dundas St