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Judge rejects legal challenge to prevent suspension of parliament

House of Commons - Image credit: UK Parliament Flickr

Judge rejects legal challenge to prevent suspension of parliament

A judge has rejected a legal challenge to prevent the suspension of parliament.

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Lord Doherty ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament is lawful.

The decision to suspend parliament was a political rather than a legal matter, Doherty said.

But with parliament to be suspended from next week until 14 October, the cross-party group of MPs who brought the case have vowed to appeal.

Explaining his ruling, Doherty said: “I am not persuaded that any of the matters relied upon by the petitioners or the Lord Advocate result in the claim being justiciable.

“In my view, the advice given in relation to the prorogation decision is a matter involving high policy and political judgement.

“This is political territory and decision making which cannot be measured against legal standards, but only by political judgements.

“Accountability for the advice is to parliament, and ultimately the electorate - not to the courts."

He added: “Parliament is the master of its own proceedings… It is for parliament to decide when it will sit.”

The case to try to prevent the Prime Minister was brought to Scotland’s highest civil court by a cross-party group of 75 MPs, including SNP MP Joanna Cherry, Labour MP Ian Murray and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson.

Responding to the ruling, Cherry said: “The idea that if the PM suspends parliament the court can’t get involved looses some ugly demons.

“If he can do it for 34 days, why not 34 weeks, or 34 months? Where does this political power end?

“It’s not the law, as I understand it.”

Cherry said the group would appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session, “hopefully later this week”, followed by the UK Supreme Court on 17 September.

Murray said: “The fight against Boris Johnson’s assault on democracy and his plan to crash the UK out of the EU goes on.

“There will be an appeal on this ruling, and there is another court case taking place in England.

“But the main battle is currently in Parliament, where the Prime Minister has lost his majority and does not have the support of the House for his dangerous plan to impose a no-deal Brexit on the country.”

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