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Holyrood presiding officer says no IndyRef2 legal advice taken in advance

Alison Johnstone is marking one year in the job as presiding officer at Holyrood.

The Scottish Parliament’s presiding officer, Alison Johnstone, confirmed no work has been sent across her desk ahead of the planned second independence referendum next year.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says Scots will be given another say as early as 2023 despite the UK Government’s opposition.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is opposed to any steps to hold another vote, which could end up tied up in court.

Ms Johnstone confirmed the lack of details in an interview for The Stooshie, the politics podcast from DC Thomson.

‘Normal practice’

Asked if she had seen any draft plan yet, Ms Johnstone replied: “No, I wouldn’t expect to see any Bill until the point at which it’s introduced.

“That’s the normal practice. I would never expect to see a Bill until it’s been introduced and the timing of any introduction of a Bill is a matter for the Scottish Government.”

Last month, it was reported the presiding officer would not confirm if draft legislation to enable a referendum had been lodged by the government.

Alison Johnstone was a Green MSP before she took on the neutral role of presiding officer in Holyrood.
Alison Johnstone was a Green MSP before she took on the neutral role of presiding officer in Holyrood.

Asked on The Stooshie if legal advice had been taken anyway, Ms Johnstone said: “Whenever a bill is introduced, at that point, I receive very good advice from expert lawyers, depending on the subject matter. We have a good chance to look at it then.”

The presiding officer was speaking in a wider interview published on Friday afternoon.

First year as presiding officer

In the 15-minute discussion, she reflects on her first year in the presiding officer’s chair at Holyrood where she oversees the running of business including chamber debates.

Most of that first year has seen parliament curtailed by Covid restrictions.

Ms Johnstone only experienced her first full debating chamber in April when restrictions were lifted on attendance.

She says: “It has been an interesting year. A challenging one. I think the Parliament and its staff team have really risen to the challenge of ensuring that business is delivered during all the many stages of Covid.

“It’s just a great privilege and an honour to be presiding over the most diverse Parliament to date.”


You can listen to the full interview on her first year in the post, the future of hybrid working, the impact of Covid, and plans for the future HERE.

You can also catch up on the previous episodes and our recent election specials.

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