The war of words over the Supreme Court’s involvement in the Scottish legal system continued today, with an SNP backlash over the Government’s proposed amendments to the Scotland Bill, warning that they would further embed the role of the Supreme Court in Scots law.

In a written ministerial statement, Advocate General the Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC, explained that amendments to the Bill would be placed to “preserve the role of the Supreme Court  in relation to human rights matters, while recognising the role of the Lord Advocate as head of criminal prosecutions in Scotland”, by:

– removing acts of the Lord Advocate in his capacity as head of criminal prosecutions in Scotland and that are incompatible with any rights conferred by the ECHR or Community law from the category of  “devolution issues” for which special court procedure is provided for in the Scotland Act;

– creating a statutory right of appeal from the High Court of Justiciary to the Supreme Court in relation to matters where it is alleged that the Lord Advocate has acted incompatibly with any such Convention right or Community law.

However, The Scotsman reports that a Scottish Government spokesman responded that:

“These proposals from the Advocate General mean that the role of the Supreme Court in Scottish criminal cases will be maintained and possibly even extended.

“This is unacceptable – we believe the final arbiter in Scottish criminal cases should be the Scottish courts. “

And First Minister Alex Salmond continued in his attacks on Lord Hope – who had suggested the MSP might have misunderstood the Nat Fraser case – telling the Holyrood magazine:

“All I would say to Lord Hope is that I probably know a wee bit about the legal system and he probably knows a wee bit about politics, but politics and the law intertwine and the political consequences of Lord Hope’s judgments are extreme, and when the citizens of Scotland understandably vent their fury about the prospect of some of the vilest people on the planet getting lots of money off the public purse, they don’t go chapping at Lord Hope’s door, they ask their parliament what they are doing about it.”