March 09, 2014

#IndyRef - Trainee lawyer James Wallace fights for voting rights of Scottish expats

Aidan O'Neill QC produced a legal opinion (formal advice commissioned by James Wallace (@james_wallace1)) on the legality of the independence referendum. The legal opinion returned with the conclusion that Scotland’s first minister acted illegally by denying expatriate Scots a vote in the independence referendum. 
Aidan O’Neill QC is an expert in EU law said the decision had “good prospects” of being overturned in a judicial review on the grounds that it violated Scottish expatriates’ right to freedom of movement under European law. James Wallace is sending the legal opinion to Salmond and David Cameron demanding they enfranchise the estimated 1.15m Scottish expatriates in order to avoid court action that could delay the referendum due on September 18. The Sunday Times reported that the current arrangement discourages out-migration and penalises those who leave. 
James Wallace (@james_wallace1), 26, is a trainee lawyer of transparent initiative and ingenuity, previously said to Reuters:
"It's ridiculous, quite frankly, that Scottish soldiers based in England, 10 out of 11 Scottish Olympians and international rugby players who played for Scotland all their careers, cannot vote," Wallace, 26, told Reuters.
Aidan O'Neill QC of Matrix chambers told Reuters:
"The decision to exclude the Scots born non-resident (is) unlawful as a matter of common law, and contrary to fundamental common law constitutional rights implicit in any modern European democracy."
Jackie Moyes, a 45-year-old product developer who has spent the last 19 years in Australia, Singapore, and now New York, told Reuters:
"For me having a vote is important as the fact is that I could go back to Scotland to live at some point. This is not like an election where you vote in a politician for four years, as this reverses 300 years of history. Someone from France studying at university in Scotland has more rights than me," the 45-year-old product developer, told Reuters, adding that she would vote against independence."
Ian Gillies who is Scottish and due to become Lord Mayor of the English city of York in May said:
"It's appalling as it's taking away our birthright and is morally wrong. I may have lived in England since I was eight but I am still at heart a Scotsman. This is absolutely political. Expatriate Scots have broadened their outlook and I think most would vote against leaving the UK so they have been excluded."
Incidentally, one of Scotland's most famous expats Sean Connery supports independence. Previous report on the issue by the Sunday Times here and here.

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