One of the things that makes Scotland a nation is that it has its own legal system. This is not only quite separate from the English legal system but has a distinctly different origin, in Roman as opposed to Anglo-Saxon Law.
Lord Goldsmith was never Attorney General in Scotland. His legal writ carried not a milligram of weight in Scotland.
Scotland has a Lord Advocate.
It speaks volumes about the reality of the so-called Union, that the English Attorney General advises the Cabinet on whether to go to war, and in so doing he travels to Washington to consult the opinion of US legal authorities, but he does not travel to Edinburgh to consult the opinion of Scottish legal authorities.
As a matter of urgency, the Scottish parliament should now request the Lord Advocate to produce a review of Lord Goldsmith’s opinion on the Iraq War in the light of the Scottish understanding of international law. He should also produce views on the constitutional questions which may arise when the Scottish Lord Advocate takes a different view on the legality of war to the English Attorney General.
The Parliament should make plain that the notion that Scotland does not have a view on the legality of a war in which Scottish troops will be involved, but is bound to follow the English Attorney General, is not an acceptable position.
(I initially proposed that the Advocate General undertake this, as he is the officer who normally advises the UK government on Scots law. It has been suggested that the Lord Advocate would be more appropriate, and after consideration I agree, despite sharing the concerns about the wide range of the Lord Advocate’s powers. The key point stands that Goldsmith’s writ did not run in Scotland).