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Scottish civil court hearing on planned prorogation of Parliament to continue

Pro-EU demonstrators outside the Court of Session in Edinburgh Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA

A hearing at Scotland’s highest civil court will on Friday continue to examine the planned prorogation of Parliament.

A barrister representing those who brought the action described the plan as a “smash and grab” of Parliament’s power to scrutinise any EU withdrawal.

Scotland’s Court of Session published documents related to the case on Thursday.

At the Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh, three judges ordered that redacted versions of the letters and notes should be made public after hearing an appeal about the legality of the suspension.

Boris Johnson wrote a tick and 'yes' when asked whether to make an approach for prorogation on August 15

Boris Johnson wrote a tick and ‘yes’ when asked whether to make an approach for prorogation on August 15 (Conor Riordan/PA)They are related to Cabinet meetings and correspondence with the Prime Minister, with sections blacked out.

They reveal Boris Johnson appears to have approved the prorogation on August 15, despite subsequent official denials and the public announcement being made nearly two weeks later, on August 28.

The Inner House judges considered making the documents available to the media after an argument was made by Kenny McBrearty QC, representing a number of organisations, in the “interest of open justice”.

A handwritten note from the Prime Minister Credit: Conor Riordan/PA

Other pages include a handwritten note from the Prime Minister on August 16, in which he described the September session at Westminster as a “rigmarole”.

Meanwhile, it was also heard the courts were being misled, as a submission had been made that there was no intention to prorogue Parliament on August 27, the day before the public announcement and the same day a phone call was organised with the Queen to discuss the suspension.

Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the parliamentarians who brought the action, was emailed the documents at 10.55pm the day before proceedings were to start.

He described the move as an “ambush” and called for the redacted parts to be revealed as they may show different reasons for the planned prorogation.

It was argued the documents should be made available in an unredacted form to allow for further scrutiny.

The court had heard there was no national interest in the sections being redacted.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson maintains the decision to prorogue Parliament is to set a new agenda for the Government Credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA

Mr O’Neill said: “Let’s look at these documents carefully, clinically, forensically and see what it does not say.”

He added the “blacked out” sections might give a “different reason, a different spin as to what lay behind this decision”.

The note to Cabinet makes several mentions of Brexit and how to “handle” the suspension announcement.

Mr Johnson has always maintained the decision is to set a new agenda for Government.

Lord Carloway, the Lord President, said the three judges would consider ordering the documents to be available to the legal teams without parts missing after hearing the arguments.

David Johnston QC, representing the UK Government, reiterated arguments he made in the hearing on Tuesday that the decision to prorogue Parliament was not something for the courts to be involved with.

He added the electorate and parliamentarians were the proper people to hold the Government to account.

Mr O’Neill described the use of prorogation as a “smash and grab” of Parliament’s power to scrutinise any EU withdrawal.