Alternative fact

THERE WAS really only one legal story this week, the Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday that saw the 11 judges find against the government by a majority of 8-3. The widely predicted decision means that Prime Minister Theresa May cannot trigger article 50 without a vote in parliament. The government seemed so relaxed about losing this historic case that many observers wondered why they had ever contested the original high court ruling 83 days before. The Scottish government, represented by Lord Advocate James Wolffe, did not succeed in convincing the court of equal rights for the Holyrood legislature. The Supreme Court ruled the devolved parliaments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales had no role in law in triggering the Brexit process.

ONCE AGAIN demand was high amongst journalists and television studios for legal expertise on tap. The BBC’s Hugh Edwards seemed absolutely fascinated by his interview with Lord Hope, former Supreme Court Judge, (and fellow of the WS Society) who gave an insight into both the legal intricacies of the case and life on the Supreme Court bench. Michael Crick, Channel 4 News’ peerlessly mischievous political correspondent, went onto the streets of Edinburgh to seek public views in the capital on the ramifications for Scotland. One classic representative of the Scottish “workie” responded to the question, “What do you think about Brexit?” with a wry shrug, “Oh, a dinnae ken anythin aboot it pal”.

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE didn’t have such a good week in the press. First there was the catastrophic fall in the share price of BT (20% in a day) thanks to an accounting scandal in Italy – “accounting scandal in Italy” being one of the phrases the board of an international company never wants to hear. Even more coverage was generated by Sainsbury’s chairman David Tyler when it was discovered that he had used the supermarket giant’s staff and suppliers to revamp his £1.5 million country retreat. A Sainsbury’s spokesman said “The chairman was given a warning but the board concluded his failure to comply with policy was unintentional”.

THE “POST-TRUTH” ERA is already over, according to President Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway. Trump’s chosen appointee for the US Supreme Court will be announced this week, one of the world’s most talked about legal appointments. Many of the millions who marched on the “Women’s march” on Saturday did so with civil rights and abortion laws at the front of their minds. However it was best not to point out that more attended the Washington march than the inauguration the previous day. When challenged on an American news network on the claim made by Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer – that Trump had the largest inauguration crowd ever – Conway claimed that this was not a lie but rather an “alternative fact”. This interesting legal concept looks set to enter the American lexicon, along with another of Trump’s favourites, “bigly”. Despite the fact that “bigly” is a real word, (honestly) Trump’s team insist their Boss is actually saying “big league”. Ironically “Big league” is not a recognised term, at least, not yet.

OTHER BIG NEWS – certainly in Edinburgh - was this week’s star-studded Trainspotting premiere. Twenty years after the original classic hit cinema screens, Renton, Spud, Sick-Boy and Begbie returned to roam the capital’s streets – including in a trademark chase right past the Signet Library. Scottish actress Kelly McDonald, who went onto Hollywood stardom following her scene-stealing turn as precociously confident schoolgirl Diane, also reprises her original role. Perhaps viewers will not be surprised to see that Diane, now in her late 30’s, has become – what else? – a lawyer.

— “Writer”

Writer's Week is not intended to represent the views of the WS Society or its members.