Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has confirmed that the UK Government will seek costs from the Scottish Government over the gender reform legislation legal battle. 

The Conservative minister was speaking after Shirley-Anne Somerville, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, told MSPs that she would not appeal his veto of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

The legislation was passed in December last year by 86 votes to 39 on a cross-party basis, but before it could be given Royal Assent, Mr Jack blocked it by using powers granted to him under Section 35 of the 1998 Scotland Act.

It was the first time in the history of devolution that the power had been used. 

He argued that although the subject matter was within Holyrood’s powers, the Bill would harm the operation of UK-wide equality law.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf loses landmark court case on Holyrood gender reforms

Ms Somerville told MSPs that while the Bill would not be withdrawn, it was "impossible to see how progress can be made" as Mr Jack would not allow two systems to operate within the UK. 

However, she said she was open to working with an incoming Labour government on the legislation. 

“If the current UK Government is willing to work together on this, we will happily sit down with them,” Ms Somerville said.

“If a future UK Government are willing, we will do so with them, so that the Section 35 could be lifted and the Bill progress.

“It seems clear that the current Government will not do this and it remains to be seen what a future government will do.”

The Herald:

The legislation was supposed to speed up and simplify the process for a trans person to obtain a gender recognition certificate and change their legal sex.

Under the current system, this takes at least two years, involves a medical diagnosis and is only available at 18.

Holyrood’s Bill would have cut the waiting time to six months, scrapped the need for medical diagnosis and lowered the age threshold to 16.

Running for the SNP leadership in the spring, Humza Yousaf said he would challenge the veto as a matter of principle if he won and later launched a judicial review.

His top law officer, the Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC, argued at the Court of Session in September that Mr Jack’s decision had been unlawful, irrational and motivated by a “policy disagreement” with Edinburgh rather than legal concerns.

In her ruling, delivered earlier this month, Lady Haldane rejected the Scottish Government’s arguments and said there was nothing to lead her to conclude that Mr Jack had acted unreasonably or unlawfully.

She also said Section 35 was an “intrinsic part” of devolution, not a perversion of it.

The Scottish Government spent around £230,000 on their legal challenge, while the UK spent somewhere in the region of £150,000 defending their decision.

READ MORE: Scottish Government to drop legal action over Section 35

Mr Jack welcomed the minister's "acceptance of the court’s judgment, which upheld my decision to prevent their gender recognition legislation from becoming law."

He said he would now go after the Scottish Government for costs. 

“The Scottish Government chose to pursue this litigation in spite of the cost to the taxpayer.

“These resources would have been better spent addressing the priorities of people in Scotland – such as growing the economy, cutting NHS waiting lists and improving our children’s education.

“The UK Government now intends to lodge an application with the court seeking our expenses in defending this matter.”

Ms Somerville was only allowed to give a reduced statement to parliament as news of the government's intention to abandon its appeal first appeared on The Herald's website yesterday afternoon. 

The story was then confirmed by Deputy First Minister Shona Robison during an interview with the BBC's The Nine.

Ms Somerville said that the decision had been reported was “deeply disappointing and regrettable.”

“I would also like to apologise to you and the chamber,” she said.

In her speech, the minister also insisted the Scottish Government “will never waver” in its commitment to the rights of transgender people.

“I recognise that many trans people will be disappointed by this decision,” she said.

“To them, I say this: The Scottish Government will never waver in our commitment to your rights.

“You deserve to be respected, included and supported.

“You are not a threat and you will always be able to live your lives free from prejudice and abuse in the type of Scotland we want to see.

“We will continue to work towards a society that is equal and fair and where people can live as they are, just as we will continue to protect the democratic pillars of this, Scotland’s Parliament."

The Trans Rights Youth Commission charity said they were angry and felt betrayed by the decision,

“We will not stop fighting for our rights and urge our allies and the Scottish Government to continue to stand by us through these difficult times, and to keep working to make this country a better and safer place for the trans community.” 

READ MORE: Joanna Cherry seeks apology for gender reform critics

Earlier in the day, the SNP’s Joanna Cherry demanded a “long overdue apology” to critics of the reforms.

Taking to X, the site formerly known as Twitter, the MP for Edinburgh South West, who has long opposed the legislation, said she was pleased that the Scottish Government weren't pushing ahead with an appeal.

“It’s the right decision in the round,” she tweeted. “All that remains now is for a long overdue apology from MSPs from all parties who rubbished the legitimate concerns of lifelong feminists & #LGB activists.”

She said the “biggest lesson” to take from the episode was that “Holyrood needs to up its game on bill scrutiny & evidence based policy making.”

“Sometimes rights conflict & safeguarding really matters,” she added.

Speaking to the BBC's Good Morning Scotland, Ms Robison was asked if she thought an apology was necessary.

“I don’t believe so,” she said.

“I think I listened to all of the arguments through taking forward the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

“It was clearly a polarising debate.

“Fundamentally, at the heart of it, it was trying to make the lives of trans people just that little bit better.

“But we are where we are.”

Ms Robison said the Government would find other ways to improve the lives of transgender people.

Out for Independence, the SNP’s LGBT wing, said they were “saddened and disappointed to see that the Scottish Government will not continue to fight the UK Government's unjust use of a Section 35 order to block the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.”

“GRR was supported by 2/3 of MSPs and had votes from all parties. It would have fulfilled our obligations to support the basic human right of trans people to accessible legal gender recognition and placed us among our peer countries such as Ireland, Iceland, Finland, and Denmark,” they tweeted.

MSPs passed the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (GRR) in December last year by 86 votes to 39 on a cross-party basis.

The legislation was supposed to speed up and simplify the process for a trans person to obtain a gender recognition certificate and change their legal sex.