30 Oct 2012
The Lord Advocate has rejected an invitation from the Scottish Conservatives to appear at Holyrood to clear up the row on EU legal advice.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson wrote to Frank Mulholland QC in a bid for clarification after Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and First Minister Alex Salmond gave contrasting accounts on whether legal advice had been sought on whether a separate Scotland would gain automatic entry to the EU.
But in a written reply received earlier today, the Lord Advocate said he did not consider it his role to enter “the political fray”.
The letter was revealed as part of a Scottish Parliament debate on the EU issue in which SNP MSP John Mason admitted it was not “certain” Scotland would automatically become part of the EU, and the position would be subject to negotiation.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said:
“The one person who could bring some clarity to all this confusion created by the Scottish Government is the Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC.
“Unfortunately, he has written to me today saying he has no intention of appearing before the Scottish Parliament to answer legitimate questions on the matter of EU legal advice.
“The Lord Advocate himself admits the issue of a separate Scotland’s place in the EU is a matter of ‘fundamental importance’ and the Parliament’s standing orders allow for him to address the chamber.
“This shambles, of the First Minister’s own making, has left the people of Scotland in the dark when they are looking for answers on the biggest decision facing the country in 300 years.
“But it seems we have a Scottish Government that will do anything, including going to court at taxpayers’ expense to supress information which doesn’t exist, to keep those facts secret.
“And the First Minister’s own investigation seems nothing more than a diversionary tactic.
“It’s one thing to appoint the judge, but to dismiss the jury and choose the charges on an issue entirely about trust, raises eyebrows in the extreme.”
Notes to editors
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed no legal advice had been sought on a separate Scotland’s admission to the EU, despite First Minister Alex Salmond saying differently in a televised interview:
Alex Salmond blocked calls at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday to invite the Lord Advocate to the Scottish Parliament:
Standing orders state that Scottish law officers “may participate in any of the proceedings of the Parliament as fully as any member”. Chapter 4, rule 4.5.2