Somerville & Others v Scottish Ministers  UKHL 44
2 November 2007
In this appeal to the House of Lords, which arose out of decisions to segregate the petitioners whilst in prison, their Lordships held:
(1) (Lords Scott and Mance dissenting) A person who claimed that the ministers had exercised their statutory functions in a way that was incompatible with any of his Convention rights could raise proceedings under the HRA or the Scotland Act. As s.100 of the Scotland Act did not mention the s.7(5) HRA time bar, that limitation did not apply to the instant proceedings, as the petitioners' case was that the ministers' acts were outside devolved competence within the meaning of s.54(3) of the Scotland Act.
(2) A governor exercising powers under the Prisons and Young Offenders Institutions (Scotland) Rules 1994 was discharging an independent function given to him as governor and therefore was not to be regarded as a member of the Scottish Executive for the purposes of s.57(2) of the SA.
(3) The issue of when time began to run for the purposes of s.7(5) HRA had been rendered academic by the conclusion on the first issue.
(4) The Lord Ordinary ought to have acceded to the application to inspect the documents herself as the issue was whether sufficient reasons had been given by the Minister for Justice in her PII certificates in the public interest for withholding the redacted material.
Gerry Moynihan, QC of Axiom Advocates appeared for the Scottish Ministers and Mark Lindsay, also of Axiom Advocates, appeared for H.M. Government.
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