Lord Goldsmith Was Never The Attorney General 35

…in Scotland.

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).

Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

35 thoughts on “Lord Goldsmith Was Never The Attorney General

1 2
  • brian

    Excellent, you’re devious enough to be a politician. Will Salmond unsheathe his sword of truth?

  • David McCann

    Excellent point Craig. Looking forward to seeing you next Thursday at the Scottish Parliament. Ill be bringing legal (Scottish) opinion with me!

  • Rob Lewis

    Ah, I see it’s that time of year again. Burns night rolls around and the Saltire starts to unfurls in many a Scottish mind.

    Good luck.

  • stephen

    Goldsmith was the British Attorney General – as you well know foreign affairs and defence are reserve matters for the British Parliment only.

  • Craig


    wrong wrong wrong

    There is a British foreign secretary and a British defence secretary, for the reason you state. There is no such thing as a British attorney general.

  • stephen

    For the Scottish Parliment to request the Advocate General to undertake such a review would clearly be beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliment under the Act – and hence illegal. You don’t need a legal qualification to work this out just read the Act.

  • craig

    Even were that true, presumably you therefore deplore the fact that by a whole series of acts which at the time exceeded its powers, the English parliament vastly expanded its rights from about 1520 onwards?

  • Richard Robinson

    Now that you say it, it seems so obvious that I’m astonished I’ve never heard it mentioned before (and kick myself for not noticing). Was it discussed at all at the time ? Anywhere that actually got a say, I mean.

  • stephen

    the Attorney General is the legal adviser to the British Parliment and Governments – and he advises on matters which fall within their ambit.

  • stephen


    I think will you will find it very difficult to find an English Parliment against which you can now act. For better or worse English perfidy has now been accepted into International Law for quite a few years.

  • Craig

    He is the Attorney General for England and Wales. That is his full title. There is no Attorney General for Britain.

    He does not advise the Scottish Government or the Scottish Parliament. The Advocate General does.

  • Craig

    Which, when you think about it, the Attorney General for England and Wales is always an English or Welsh qualified lawyer. The position is not open to those prectising in Scots law.

  • Stephen

    And anyway wasn’t much of Scotland claimed by foreign invaders from the local Picts – probably in breach of current international law. Also looks as though your ancestors may have participated in this illegal occupation you Belgian/Norman swine.


  • Anonymous


    One of the things that has made Scotland a nation has been having to exist within the United Kingdom for two centuries. When we English leave, we hope we’ll part as friends, and we’ll be happy to send back north of the border all those wonderful Scottish politicians, even though I don’t know how we’re going to govern ourselves without them.

    It’s subjects like this ?” and railing against warmongers ?” that bring out the best in you. That’s plenty of reason why I think you are quite wise to keep well away from the black hole of “9-11 studies”.

  • Davie Park

    What is the constitutional position Craig? Why is it that the Attorney General has a seat in the cabinet but the Advocate General does not?

    Do you consider this indicative of the status accorded to Scots Law?

    Perhaps it’s indicative of the notion that there was no dissolution of the English Parliament in 1707 and that only the Scottish Parliament ceased to be.

  • Ruth

    Even though Scotland has its own legal system, in the Lockerbie case it was subservient to British political pressure. The so called independent judges brought in a verdict that was basically bizarre. (in legal terms unreasonable) So what does it really matter about the constitutional position, if the British government can get at those at the top, and this includes Salmond.

  • Craig


    your example pre-dates the SNP being the Scottish govt. Their actions on Lockerbie contradict your argument.

  • Subrosa

    The SNP have always maintained the Iraq war was illegal.

    Because of their stance and the determination of the unionist parties to keep the SNP at bay, I doubt if the then labour/libdem administration made any effort to tell Westminster Scotland’s view required attention.

    Lord Goldsmith said they had never been challenged in the courts. Is it too late for Scotland to challenge him?

    Forgive me for my complete lack of knowledge of anything other than basic domestic law.

  • Mark Golding


    Another complexion my simple mind refused to spot. Excellent; I look forward to your comments tomorrow. If you ever need a scientific advisor, I raise my hand.

  • craig


    yes, but many of them are backing away from him like crazy on this one.

    Fascinating that he’s appointed by the British PM not the Scottish First Minister. That’s disgraceful.

  • Strathturret


    I think you’re a little confused. The Advocate General is a new post, created after Scots Parliament set up. The holder Lord Davisson is a Labour advocate/politician with Scottish law qualification. He is part of UK Government.

    The Lord Advocate & Solicitor General for Scotland have existed for yonks and used to be part of UK Government but are now part of Scottish Government.

    So I think you really mean Lord Advocate. The Advocate General is not going going to disagree with Goldsmith who was several rungs up pay scale from him/her in same administration.

    The Lord Advocate is your woman.

  • Ruth


    I don’t understand what you mean by ‘Their actions on Lockerbie contradict your argument.’

    I put Salmond as an example of someone having been got at. I’m well aware that the SNP wasn’t in power at the time of the Lockerbie trial. I believe he was got at over the release of Megrahi, whose timely release scuppered the truth being discovered of who really bombed the plane but more importantly perhaps to Salmond it prevented the corruption of the Scottish judiciary being revealed to the whole world.

    And also do we really know what went on behind the scenes in the British government’s desperation to stop Megrahi’s appeal. There are little telltale signs that all was not quite above board.

  • Craig


    three quarters of the way through a reply on why you are wrong, i decided you are right and have amended my post.

  • Craig


    I know that wasn’t the SNP motive, though I agree it was the unfortunate result. The scandal is that the law did not allow him both to be released and to fight to clear his name. Veering OT.

  • Abe Rene

    I think you’ve made a very good point. For an Attorney General to be capable of advising the Cabinet in international matters, he needs to have a formal authority which goes beyond England and Wales, and should also have expertise in international law. Furthermore, for his advice to be independent, his post should not be that of a minister. Someone like Sir Michael Wood or the applauded Elizabeth Wilmshurst would appear to be far more suitable than Goldsmith.

  • mike cobley

    Wow, I cant wait for the corrupt Union settlement to get whats coming to it. Cant wait for Scotland to get cut loose from the stinky midden of Westminster politics, so that we can get our own navy and air force and army, and hey, a Scottish foreign office, too, and – and, embassies all of our own in other countries, and a seat at the UN that says ‘Scotland’ on it! Wow, that will be so cool.

    Oh, yeah, and since Scotland accounts for roughly 10% of the UK populations, I assume that we’ll be get 10% of the nukes as part of the divorce settlement. After all, wouldn’t that get us a seat on the Security Council? Wow, cool!

1 2

Comments are closed.