ALEX Salmond has questioned the legitimacy of the Supreme Court following last November's ruling that Holyrood cannot hold a vote on the constitution without the consent of Westminster.

The former first minister described the justices as "ultra-conservative' and dismissed the court as an “artificial political construct of largely self-appointed and totally self-interested judiciary.”

His comments came in a speech to students in Brittany on Scotland’s constitutional future.

READ MORE: Indyref2 Supreme Court case cost Scottish taxpayers more than £250,000

Mr Salmond also described the UK as a “rogue state” and attacked Nicola Sturgeon for failing “to overcome a British establishment so devoid of domestic authority and international support.”

He also claimed the bitter feud between Prince Harry and Prince William and the King would, in part, bring about the end of the union. 

However, it is his comments on the Supreme Court that could prove most controversial. 

His is the highest-profile criticism of the integrity of the justices following the verdict.

The bashing of the court also put him at odds with Ms Sturgeon who made clear in the immediate aftermath of the verdict that while “very disappointed” she would “respect and accept the judgment of the Court.” 

The Herald: LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12: Boxes of documents are wheeled through the main entrance at The Supreme Court as the legal case surrounding a second Scottish independence referendum is heard on October 12, 2022 in London, England. A Supreme Court hearing

The Tories described Mr Salmond’s criticism as a “disgraceful claim from a discredited politician.”

In his speech to L’Institute D’Études Politique De Renne, the ex-SNP leader described the UK as “the rogue state of Western Europe, a self-declared bastion of liberal democracy prepared to ignore or suppress democratic movements for change.”

READ MORE: Supreme Court rules against Indyref2, what happens next?

He told the audience: “Four successive Prime Minsters over a period of six years have spurned four democratic mandates from Scotland at Westminster and Scottish elections for an independence referendum. 

“In doing so they have overturned the traditional understanding and acceptance of the United Kingdom as a consented Union between four nations and fatally undermined the UK’s credentials as a liberal democracy.

“In retrospect, this period will be seen not only as the year of three Prime Ministers and a Royal Family at war but the time when the British state fatally mortgaged its democratic credentials by denying Scotland’s rights. 

“Such a state will not survive in the modern world and indeed should not survive.”

He added: “The fact that this situation has now been backed by the UK Supreme Court, a recent and artificial political construct of largely self-appointed and totally self-interested judiciary with no foundation in either Scots or indeed English law, does not alter the democratic reality. 

“Nor does it auger well for the fortunes of any radical movement within the UK which comes before such an ultra-conservative court, determined to uphold an antique principle of untrammelled Westminster parliamentary sovereignty, unprecedented in the modern world.”

Mr Salmond said that previous attempts to “extinguish Scotland’s national rights" over the last thousand years had "been met with fierce, sustained and successful resistance, often with the able assistance of Scotland’s ancient ally of France.” 

He added: “This latest attempt will be no different. Scotland’s claim of right to nationhood and self-determination will prove stronger than the undemocratic death agonies of this British rogue state. 

“Furthermore Scotland's current political leadership should be asking serious questions of themselves as to why they have not been able as yet to overcome a British establishment so devoid of domestic authority and international support. 

“In 2012 as First Minister, I faced down Prime Minister David Cameron. Ten years later why is it a problem overcoming a reduced figure such as Rishi Sunak?” 

READ MORE: Supreme Court shatters Sturgeon’s plan for Indyref2 next year

Donald Cameron, Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, said: “This is a disgraceful claim from a discredited politician.

“Alex Salmond’s attempt to cast doubt on the integrity of the Supreme Court is outrageous and utterly unfounded.

“People have delivered their verdict on his Alba party in successive elections, and they will regard this latest outburst as similarly absurd.”

In her speech following the Supreme Court’s verdict, Ms Sturgeon said fault was with "Westminster lawmakers, not the justices of the Supreme Court.”

She said: “First of all - while I am obviously very disappointed by it - I respect and accept the judgment of the Court.

"In securing Scotland’s independence we will always be guided by a commitment to democracy and respect for the rule of law.

"That principle also reflects a practical reality - the route we take must be lawful and democratic for independence to be achieved."

The Supreme Court case was raised in Holyrood at question time, with SNP MSP Jim Fairlie asking the constitution minister Angus Robertson if any further consideration had been given to the verdict. 

The Cabinet Secretary told MSPs: "We've been clear that we accept and respect the supreme court's judgment. However, the Supreme Court was not asked to decide and cannot decide whether the Scottish Parliament should have the power to hold an independence referendum.

"The outcome of this case has demonstrated the weakness of the UK constitution.

"No matter how the people of Scotland vote or how often they elect parliaments that support a referendum and support independence they can be told no by the UK Prime Minister.

"A position that doesn't allow Scotland to choose her own future without Westminster consent exposes as myth, the notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership.

"In a voluntary union one part doesn't have to rely on the agreement of another before it is allowed to think about leaving, the First Minister has made clear that she is ready and willing to negotiate the terms of a section 30 order with the Prime Minister."

Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie pointed out that the cost of the court case was a quarter of a million pounds. 

He said this was money being spent "when people are struggling to pay their home energy bills and the public services are in such a state."

Mr Rennie asked the minister if he had "reflected over the Christmas period as to whether this was a good use of public funds."

Mr Robertson said there would have been no need to mount a legal challenge "if the United Kingdom Government had agreed to a section 30 order as they did after the 2011 election." 

"That would have been the optimal way forward," he added. "That would have been the preferred option and it's now for the UK Government to respect the views of this Parliament and the last Scottish Parliament election and agree to a section 30 order.

"That wouldn't have cost a penny."