SNP MSPs ‘ignoring criticisms of independence’

Holyrood is not listening to criticism of independence, a legal expert has said. Picture: Andrew Cowan
Holyrood is not listening to criticism of independence, a legal expert has said. Picture: Andrew Cowan
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HOLYROOD committees are not willing to listen to critical evidence of the Scottish Government proposals for Scottish independence, a leading legal expert has claimed.

The allegation came in a hearing of the Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee with Adam Tomkins, Professor in Public Law at Glasgow University, who claims he was “silenced” by SNP MSPs Holyrood’s external affairs in a round table discussion on 12 June.

Mr Tomkins insisted that he was trying to explain why the Scottish Government’s white paper “is legally flawed” but was twice interrupted by SNP MSP Willie Coffey.

The SNP convener of the Christine McKelvie then stopped Prof Tomkins from giving his evidence.

MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee invited Prof Tomkins to complete his evidence and discuss problems around “free speech” in the referendum campaign.

But the hearing itself was questioned by Jonathan Mitchell QC from Lawyers for Yes, who wrote to the committee chairman Ian Davidson MP asking whether - in the interests of fairness and balance - Mr Davidson might also extend an invitation to himself or a colleague to give evidence to the committee.

Asked during the hearing why he thought he was stopped from speaking by Ms McKelvie, Mr Tomkins said: “I think there is an unfortunate pattern emerging in the Scottish Parliament of committees not wanting to take adequate or sufficient account of evidence that suggests that core elements of the Scottish Government’s proposals for independence are flawed.”

He went on to claim that the Scottish Government’s proposals are a “fantasy” replete with legal and economic errors, a legal academic has told a Westminster committee.

He said claims that the Scottish Government would be entitled to overseas properties owned by the UK state had “no basis in law”, while its proposals to increase immigration and maintain a common travel area were “incompatible policies”.

“There are no states in existence that provide their neighbours with shared access to their public institutions on the scale the Scottish Government are promising on behalf of the rest of the UK,” Prof Tomkins said.

Ms McKelvie has declined to apologise and said that she drew the discussion to a close because it was “becoming heated”.