From J Maugham QC “We intend to adopt a neutral position today in relation to whether the AG for Scotland and the Prime Minister are in contempt of court. But this, we believe, is the key exchange.
Note re submissions by Senior Counsel for the Govt..docx
The Petitioners’ understanding of what was said to the Court on 8 October 2019 on the issue of frustrating the Benn Act. The Answers at 8d state“ That he is subject to the public law principle that he cannot frustrate its purpose or the purpose of its provisions. Thus he cannot act so as to prevent the letter requesting the specified extension in the Act from being sent.
MR WEBSTER-for the Government-: The petitioners conclude that the second sentence [of answer 8(d)] is a limitation of the first sentence. In my submission it is merely an example of the general undertaking –the general statement rather –which is given in the first sentence of 8(d).
LORD BRODIE: Could you just perhaps say that again?
MR WEBSTER: He states that the Prime Minister is subject to the public law principle that he cannot frustrate its principles or the purposes of its provisions. That stands as the statement.
LORD BRODIE: And that is a free standing statement?
MR WEBSTER: That’s a free standing statement. And the example is given: thus, he cannot prevent the letter being sent.
LORD DRUMMOND YOUNG: That second sentence read with total literalism could allow for the sending of the letter with a covering letter saying ‘I don’t really believe this. Ignore it’
.MR WEBSTER: That would be inconsistent with the first sentence in 8(d).
From J Maugham QC “We have instructed Kenny McBrearty QC to draft civil contempt proceedings against the Prime Minister if he does not send the Benn Act letter. We plan to issue these on Monday, if necessary”.