More than 100 Scottish lawyers and academics have signed up to a pro-independence declaration as part of a ‘Lawyers for Yes’ Group launched in Edinburgh yesterday.
Independence will ‘lay down the foundations for a fairer, equal and more democratic Scotland in which the fundamental rights of all citizens are enshrined in a written constitution and protected by a constitutional court’, the group says.
Among the group’s members are solicitors Fiona Cook and Jamie Kerr, both prominent Scottish Labour Party members. Others include Edinburgh University constitutional expert Professor Christine Bell; Zenon Bankowski, professor emeritus of legal theory at Edinburgh University; and Aileen McHarg, professor of lublic Law at Strathclyde University.
The declaration is also backed by retired sheriff and former vice chairman of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Dr Robert McCreadie QC, who was one of the Lib Dems’ main negotiators on the Scottish Constitutional Convention between 1989 and 1992.
The veteran nationalist Ian Hamilton QC, known for his part in the removal of the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey in 1950, is another signatory.
Joanna Cherry QC, a former lead counsel for Scotland’s lord advocate and the group’s convenor, said: ’[We] set up this group to show that many in the legal profession support an independent Scotland. In a relatively short space of time more than 100 fellow lawyers have signed our declaration. We have encountered many more that, for a variety of reasons, are not able make a public declaration. As word has spread about our group, we are being contacted by other lawyers expressing an interest in joining us. I hope we will be able to assist in exploding some of the scare stories and myths perpetrated by the No campaign.’
Jonathan Mitchell QC, a member of the Lawyers for Yes steering committee, added: ’The referendum is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the people of Scotland to decide their own future under a modern constitutional framework rather than the outdated structure of the UK.’
Another signatory, solicitor Harvey Aberdein of Aberdein Considine, said: ’Independence and the setting up of the mechanisms of a new state will provide a huge boost to the corporate and commercial property sector, and provide spin-offs to the Scottish economy in a number of different sectors.’
In its Yes Declaration, the group states that a yes vote will give Scotland an ’enviable opportunity to draft a constitution which articulates the shared aspirations and values of the people who live in Scotland and protects fundamental rights, the separation of powers and the rule of law’.
Blair Jenkins, chief executive of pro-independence coalition Yes Scotland, said: ’Lawyers for Yes is an important new addition to the Yes movement and an expression of our depth, diversity and expertise. The group has enlisted some of the country’s most eminent legal brains and its authoritative statements on subjects such as citizens’ rights and EU membership are a vital and welcome contribution to the debate about Scotland’s future.’
The independence vote takes place on 18 September.