County MSP Iain Gray has slammed the complacency of Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill after he dismissed concerns raised by East Lothian Council about the capacity of Edinburgh’s courts to deal with additional cases from Haddington.
In his reply to Mr Gray and council Chief Executive Angela Leitch, the Justice Secretary confirmed that despite the concerns that have been highlighted by the council and legal experts, he has no plans to rethink the parliamentary orders which will close the court in January next year.
Iain Gray MSP said:
“This latest response underlines how blind the Justice Secretary has been to the very clear and evidence-based case against closing Haddington’s courts. It demonstrates once again just how unconcerned and complacent he is about the impact that closing Haddington’s courts will have on the delivery of justice here.
“Rather than addressing the serious concerns that have been raised, Mr MacAskill simply rehashed the same old excuses and justifications for going ahead with the closure. He has even tried to suggest that closing our court will be good for justice in East Lothian, and that victims and witnesses will be better off travelling to Edinburgh.
“I don’t think that many local people, particularly those in the east of the county, will share his optimism about the prospect of having to travel through to Edinburgh for court appearances.
“Worst of all, despite it being absolutely clear that the closure is ultimately down to the Justice Secretary and the SNP Scottish Government, Mr MacAskill still refuses to take responsibility for the decision, choosing instead to hide behind the Scottish Court Service.
“While it looks like the closure will now go ahead next January, I will continue to hold the Minister and his colleagues to account for their decision, and ensure that no-one in East Lothian is left in any doubt about who is responsible for ending the local delivery of justice in the county.”