Court hears bid to prevent Boris Johnson suspending Parliament

A legal bid seeking to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson from suspending Parliament has begun in Scotland’s highest civil court.

A cross-party group of around 70 MPs and peers are backing the action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh after beginning a legal move earlier in the summer when they filed a petition aiming to stop Mr Johnson being able to prorogue Parliament.

They are now seeking an interim interdict, which would stop the Prime Minister taking the option of suspension until a final decision has been made on the case.

The hearing on Thursday comes a day after the Queen approved Mr Johnson’s request for Parliament to be suspended for five weeks from September 10.

Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the petitioners, said the prorogation was “unprecedented” and the petitioners are invoking the court’s “constitutional jurisdiction.”

He said: “Prorogation is being used to create something which is irreversible, that the UK will be made to leave the EU deal or no deal, do or die, and Parliament is being prevented by abuse of the power of prorogation from doing anything about it.

Lord Doherty
The case is being heard at the Court of Session by Lord Doherty (Jane Barlow/PA)

“There are no precedents for the abuse of prorogation.

“The power of prorogation is not one which is unlimited or unfettered but has to be used in accordance with public trust.”

The case is being heard by Lord Doherty.

Mr O’Neill said the Queen should be obliged to recall the prorogation order if it turned out to be based on an error of law.

In #Cherrycase currently in court we are seeking interim interdict (injunction) which failing suspension of the order setting out the intended #prorogation & interdict against UK Govt ministers acting in meantime on the basis of the prorogation order #Brexit

— Joanna Cherry QC MP (@joannaccherry) August 29, 2019

He said: “If the court is satisfied that the advice to the sovereign given yesterday that Parliament be prorogued is in fact found to be an abuse of power based on an error of law, then there should be an obligation on the sovereign to recall that order of prorogation because the sovereign is not above the law.”

The group had already filed a petition at the Court of Session as part of an effort to stop Mr Johnson from being able to prorogue Parliament, with a hearing scheduled for Friday September 6.

The legal challenge is being led by SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, aided by Jo Maugham of the Good Law Project.

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