Opposition MSPs push minister for release of indyref2 legal advice


Opposition MSPs have pushed for the Scottish Government to release legal advice regarding a second independence referendum.

Ministers have said they are “carefully” considering a ruling from the Scottish information commissioner which was issued last week.

It follows a Freedom of Information request from The Scotsman newspaper, which asked for any legal advice provided to ministers on the topic of a second independence referendum in 2020.

Information commissioner, Daren Fitzhenry, said some information could be made public by June 10, though Scottish ministers could still appeal against the decision.

Stephen Kerr asked if the Government would go to court (Fraser Bremner)

(PA Archive)

The issue was raised during Topical Questions in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, with Conservative MSP, Stephen Kerr, asking Constitution Secretary, Angus Robertson, if the Government intended to go to court to prevent the advice being made public.

Mr Kerr said: “This Government is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds, maybe millions, on its referendum obsession, and refusing to allow any of it to be open to public scrutiny.

“Does the minister recognise that all of this is an insult to Scottish taxpayers, who are being forced to pay for secret preparations for a referendum next year they do not want?”

Mr Robertson said the Government would respond within the deadlines set by the information commissioner. Such legal advice is subject to professional privilege, he said.

The Constitution Secretary added: “This is a significant ruling by the commissioner. And, given that, we want to consider it carefully.”

Sarah Boyack said the advice would have significance for all of Scotland (Lesley Martin/PA)

(PA Archive)

Scottish Labour MSP, Sarah Boyack, also asked the minister about the legal advice.

She said: “Does the Cabinet Secretary not agree that the people of Scotland, regardless of their views, have a right to see this legal advice to enhance public debate in line with the information commissioner’s ruling?

“And will he not make arrangements for the immediate publication of this legal advice, given its significance to the whole of the population of Scotland?”

She accused the Government of having a “pattern of behaviour” of hiding significant advice and documents.

Mr Robertson repeated that the ruling was “significant” and the Government continued to consider it.

He continued: “What I find quite interesting about the tone so far, both from the Labour Party and the Scottish Conservative Party, is that there seems to be a willingness to depart from the established customs and practice in relation to legal advice.”


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