Judicial independence

The independence of the judiciary from political interference lies at the heart of the separation of powers which underpins democratic politics.

However, the newly-elected SNP administration became involved in a row with the UK Supreme Court.

It followed controversial decisions to overhaul the system of suspects’ right to a lawyer in Scotland and effectively quash the conviction of Nat Fraser for the murder of wife Arlene.

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Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill lambasted the Supreme Court judges’ knowledge of Scots law.

Former Holyrood Presiding Officer Lord Steel quit an independent panel advising Alex Salmond on ministerial conduct over the SNP’s government’s behaviour on the issue.