TWO killers have lost a bid to secure the vote for serving prisoners in the referendum on independence later this year.
Judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, including the country's senior judge the Lord President, Lord Gill, rejected an appeal brought by convicted murderers Leslie Moohan and Andrew Gillon.
The pair had raised a judicial review challenging their exclusion from the franchise ahead of the poll on the country's future on September 18.
Loading article content
Lord Glennie ruled against the pair, who will still be serving prisoners at the time the country goes to the ballot box, in a decision last year.
Lawyers acting for Moohan and Gillon appealed against his ruling, maintaining that he had erred and misdirected himself in coming to his decision. But in an opinion issued yesterday, the Lord President, sitting with Lady Paton and Lord Menzies, upheld Lord Glennie's earlier decision.
Lady Paton, who gave the decision on the appeal, said: "The question whether a convicted prisoner serving his sentence should be eligible to vote has arisen in many jurisdictions."
"Different countries have taken different approaches, for example a blanket ban, an entitlement dependent upon the gravity of the offence and length of sentence, or eligibility for all," she said.
She said that in passing the referendum legislation the Scottish Parliament had chosen not to extend the franchise to serving prisoners.
Lady Paton said previous European cases established that Article 10 did not guarantee a right to vote. She said: "Neither are we persuaded that there is a clearly identifiable common law fundamental right to vote."
"We take the view that there is no clearly identifiable common law fundamental right to vote in the UK and certainly not a clearly identifiable common law fundamental right to vote in a referendum," she said.
"Thus in our opinion no such right is contravened by the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Act 2013," said Lady Paton.
Gillon and Moohan were both sentenced to life in prison, with the terms imposed in 1998 and 2008 respectively.
Gillon was jailed for the killing of Gary Johnstone, 25, who suffered repeated blows to the head with a spade in Bathgate, in West Lothian.
Moohan was ordered to serve a minimum of 15 years after murdering father-of-two David Redpath, from Peterhead, at a hostel in Edinburgh. He claimed he had performed "the last rites" on the dead body.