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Dundee law expert: SNP independence date could slip in Supreme Court wrangle

Nicola Sturgeon's independence legal bid hopes could face major hurdles.
Nicola Sturgeon's independence legal bid hopes could face major hurdles.

The UK’s Supreme Court could delay Nicola Sturgeon’s preferred October 2023 date for a referendum, a Dundee University expert has warned.

Law lecturer Dr Tarik Olcay said the country’s top judges might put too many hurdles in the way of the timetable, set out by the first minister on Tuesday.

Even if the Supreme Court agrees to rule on the legality of a ballot, it could still get bogged down and run too close to the deadline.

But Dr Olcay said it is “difficult” to predict whether the Lord Advocate’s legal referral is likely to succeed or fail.

During her speech in Holyrood, the first minister said she is determined to secure a “legal, constitutional referendum”.

A referendum could be held next year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to grant the SNP a second vote on leaving the UK.

‘Back to square one’

Dr Olcay told The Courier there will be major legal hurdles.

And he warned Ms Sturgeon’s hopes for securing a legal referendum would be set back to “square one” if her appeal is unsuccessful.

The issue of independence cannot be suppressed.

– Nicola Sturgeon

On when the case would be heard, he said: “It’s very difficult to predict because there is no timetable for the Supreme Court to hear this case.

“There is obviously a possibility that any delays or late decisions by the Supreme Court may make it really difficult for the Scottish Government to abide by their timetable.”

Earlier Ms Sturgeon said: “The issue of independence cannot be suppressed. It must be resolved through a process that is above reproach and commands confidence.”

Unionist rivals warned against a second referendum and claimed the first minister is “obsessed” with independence.

Ms Sturgeon warned that if she cannot secure a 2023 vote, the SNP will use the next Westminster election as a “defacto referendum”.

7th time lucky? Nicola Sturgeon’s eight-year search for a route to independence

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