The UKSCBlog hears that Lord Steel has resigned as an independent adviser to the Scottish Government on the the ministerial code, in protest at the language used by Scottish Government ministers when criticising the Supreme Court.

Mr Salmond provoked widespread criticism in June when he said Lord Hope of Craighead, the deputy president of the court, made judgments in favour of the “vilest people on the planet”.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was also criticised after threatening to remove funding for the court, saying: “He who pays the piper picks the tune.”

Lord Steel explained:

“The reason I relinquished the role was that I was appalled by the language being used by Alex Salmond, Kenny MacAskill and an authorised spokesman towards the judiciary on the Supreme Court and the secretary of state.

“I told Alex that I hoped this was not the way they were going to continue now that they had an overall majority, because if so I expected a growing number of complaints against ministers.”

The other independent adviser, George Reid, has also relinquished his position, and former lord advocates Lord Fraser and Dame Elish Angiolini will take over.

The Scottish Government established a system of independent advisers in 2008 to enable the First Minister to refer complaints made under the Ministerial Code. The former Presiding Officers Lord Steel and George Reid have discharged the role since 2008.