Scottish independence: Killers fail to get referendum vote

Scottish and UK flags The two prisoners claimed they should be allowed to vote on Scotland's future

The UK Supreme Court has dismissed a bid to overturn the ban on convicted prisoners being able to vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

Two killers, serving life sentences, had launched an appeal having already had their case rejected by judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Leslie Moohan, 31, and 46-year-old Andrew Gillon claimed the voting ban infringes their human rights.

Supreme Court judges will issue their reasons for dismissing the case later.

The Scottish government welcomed the ruling.

A spokeswoman said: "This confirms that the approach taken in the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Act 2013 is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and European Union law, and that convicted prisoners currently serving a custodial sentence will not be able to vote in the referendum."

Lawyers acting for Moohan and Gillon argued the Scottish judges including the Lord President, Lord Gill, were wrong when they ruled the ban on convicted prisoners voting did not infringe European Human Rights laws.

The judges said although the European Court has made rulings on prisoners voting in national and local elections, it had made no decision concerning referendums.

The right to vote in the referendum on September 18 is detailed in the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Act passed by Holyrood in 2013.

'No such right'

It says: "A convicted person is legally incapable of voting in an independence referendum for the period during which the person is detained in a penal institution in pursuance of the sentence imposed on the person."

Issuing the Court of Session judgement, Lady Paton said: "We take the view that there is no clearly identifiable common law fundamental right to vote in the UK and certainly not a clearly identifiable common law fundamental right to vote in a referendum.

Start Quote

A convicted person is legally incapable of voting in an independence referendum for the period during which the person is detained in a penal institution”

End Quote Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Act, 2013

"Thus, in our opinion, no such right is contravened by the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Act 2013."

A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said no arrangements had been made to help convicted prisoners vote.

But he said: "Prisoners on remand, awaiting trial are allowed to vote in any case.

"But many will not, because of course they would not have expected to be in prison on the day of the referendum, and therefore won't have registered for a postal vote before they were arrested."

He said the SPS had provided special courses and material for young offenders aged between 16-18 who would be eligible to vote for the first time if they are released in time for the referendum.

The two men behind the appeal are both serving life sentences for brutal murders.

Blanket ban

Gillon was jailed in 1998 for the murder of his friend, Gary Johnstone, 25, who suffered repeated blows to the head with a spade in Bathgate, in West Lothian.

Moohan was ordered to serve a minimum of 15 years after murdering father-of-two David Redpath, from Peterhead, at a hostel in Edinburgh in 2008.

Britain is one of only three EU countries where prisoners are banned from voting, with the others being Hungary and Bulgaria.

Successive Westminster governments have wanted to maintain that position but the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has said a blanket ban on prisoners voting is disproportionate.

Last year, the UK government conceded that it would have to change the law to allow some prisoners to vote.

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    07:53: Historic treasures go online

    Historic Scotland has launched an online database cataloguing 400 objects from dozens of historic sites in Scotland.

    Artefacts, paintings and items spanning 200 years are available to view at the touch of a button.

    Historic archive

    The searchable online gallery includes the story of each item on display.

     
  77.  
    07:48: More M8 conjestion BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Glasgow #M8 1 lane shut RTC w/b J29 St James/ J30 Erskine Bridge. Lane two (Of two) is closed. Adding to routine congestion.

     
  78.  
    07:42: Read all about it

    Police Scotland's policy on arming officers, the experience of Scotland's asylum seekers and Harrison Ford's plane crash all make this morning's front pages.

    Paper collage

    Read our full newspaper review here.

     
  79.  
    07:34: M8 delays BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Slow traffic #M8 Eastbound at J4 A801 (Whitburn). In the roadworks area. Travel time is ten minutes.

     
  80.  
    07:33: 'Rangers can soon be number two'

    Dave King has been speaking to BBC Scotland about his immediate plans for Rangers ahead of today's key meeting on the future of the club.

    Dave King

    He said: "Stage one, within a short time, is to have Rangers as the number two club in Scotland - that can happen very quickly."

    But he admitted it would take "some time" for the club to fully challenge Old Firm rivals Celtic.

     
  81.  
    07:25: New island ferry breaks down

    A new £42m ferry built for the Stornoway to Ullapool route has broken down forcing operator Caledonian MacBrayne to get its predecessor to take over sailings across the Minch.

    The MV Loch Seaforth only made its first passenger sailing on 13 February.

    Ferry

    It was built with three back-up engines which led to claims the ship was unlikely to ever break down.

    The ferry was stuck in Ullapool on Thursday night and the replacement was sent to take passengers to Stornoway.

     
  82.  
    07:18: Deal on power stations Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    The closure of Longannet or Peterhead power stations is set to be postponed by a deal to secure generating back-up.

    The giant coal-burner in Fife was facing earlier closure than expected, with its owner, Scottish Power, blaming the expense of connecting to the grid.

    Longannet

    However, National Grid has conceded it needs back-up to avoid power failures if the wind drops and Scottish wind turbines do not produce energy.

    It is negotiating with owners of gas and coal-burning power stations.

     
  83.  
    07:15: Rangers latest Chris McLaughlin BBC Sport

    Rangers announce Sandy Easdale's voting rights in company have fallen 6% to just over 20%.

     
  84.  
    Ferries cancelled BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    All #Uig - #Lochmaddy sailings have been cancelled today due to the high winds.

     
  85.  
    07:10: Today's weather BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    A cloudy, mild day to come, with outbreaks of rain across the north and west. Across southern Scotland we may see a few spots of rain but it will remain largely dry.

    A southwesterly wind will gradually strengthen during the day, reaching gale force in exposed parts of the west coast and Shetland. Temperatures will reach nine to 12 Celsius.

     
  86.  
    07:04: Rangers shareholders gather

    Rangers' extraordinary general meeting at Ibrox on Friday is expected to be swift, but with far-reaching consequences for the club.

    Shareholder Dave King is believed to have more than enough votes to secure the simple majority required to have his five resolutions passed.

    Ibrox

    He wants chief executive Derek Llambias and finance director Barry Leach voted off the board.

    And King is nominating himself, Paul Murray and John Gilligan as directors.

     
  87.  
    07:00: Welcome Marianne Taylor BBC Scotland news

    Good morning and welcome to BBC Scotland Live. We'll be here till 19:00 with all the latest news, sport, travel and weather from across Scotland.

    Stay in touch on Twitter using @bbcscotlandnews or by emailing newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk.

     

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