Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, told the chamber today that the Scottish Government had, in fact, not previously sought legal advice from its own law officers on whether or not an independent Scotland could be regarded as a ‘successor state’ to be given automatic EU membership.
On the heels of this, Mr Salmond told the chamber that ‘under the terms of the ministerial code neither myself nor other ministers can comment on the existence or the content of legal advice without prior permission from the law officers.’
There can be nothing to stop ministers from saying that they themselves have not sought legal advice. That is not an issue for law officers in any way. There is nothing legally compromising or embarrassing about this – but it may be politically embarrassing if you have already stated or implied the contrary position, as Mr Salmond and other ministers have indeed previously done.
Then there is the small problem that, on camera, when interviewer Andrew Neil had asked the First Minister the straight question: ‘Have you sought advice from your own Scottish law officers on this matter?’, Mr Salmond had answered, without equivocation, ”We have, yes, in terms of the debate and the…’ [Ed: our emphases]
But now we know they hadn’t.
And then there is the large problem that the First Minister had commenced expensive legal proceedings to stop the revelation of something that could not be revealed because it had never existed.
This is unhinged.
Note: Unsurprisingly, the Scottish Government has made it known that this legal action is no longer being pursued.