Home Brexit Judges will decide if PM is in contempt of court over the Benn Act

Judges will decide if PM is in contempt of court over the Benn Act

by Mark
21st Oct 19 11:20 am

On Saturday Boris Johnson had yet another blow in the House of Commons as MPs voted against the prime ministers new Brexit deal by a majority of just 16.

Under the Benn Act, Johnson had to ask the European Union for yet another extension to Article 50.

However, the prime minister sent three letters to the EU asking for an extension, one of which was unsigned, the Court of Session in Edinburgh in Scotland will decide if the prime minister is in contempt of court.

Judge Lord Carloway and two other judges who are the most senior judges in Scotland will decide at a hearing on Monday.

Joylon Maugham QC and founder of the Good Law Project is leading a petition behind the legal challenge at the Court of Session on Monday.

It has alleged that the prime minister has attempted to avoid requesting an extension under the Benn Act by sending an unsigned letter. Johnson also sent a second letter contradicting the first, which raises the question, has Johnson disobeyed the law?

Maugham QC explained, “The court’s role is to uphold the law – not to act as parent to a stroppy child.

“The question whether the prime minister is in contempt of court – as many commentators have argued – is really one for it.

“But we will supply the court with a transcript from the Inner House hearing.

“The hearing tomorrow will go ahead.”

Adding, “But the PM has made the request for an extension he promised he wouldn’t make, the EU is considering that request, and the question whether the PM and Advocate General for Scotland are in contempt of court is one for the Inner House.”

Joanna Cherry QC, SNP and MP described Johnson’s actions as a “childish trick of not signing the letter and sending a contradictory covering letter.”

Cherry QC added, “Our legal team are instructed to remind the court that as well as promising to comply with the letter of the Benn Act, the PM also promised not to seek to frustrate the purpose of the legislation.

“It will be for the court to decide whether his actions in failing to sign the letter of request and sending a letter setting out his contrary intentions are in breach of the undertakings he gave them or a contempt of court.”

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