THERE will undoubtedly have been many people deeply shocked yesterday to learn that the Crown Office is apparently considering the possibility that Professor Clara Ponsati of St Andrews University could be extradited to Spain under a centuries-old law on treason.

Let me first of all express my sincere sympathy to the Crown Office and our excellent Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC. Under the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system, they have no choice but to prosecute the case against former Catalan education minister Ponsati to the best of their ability.

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Under the EAW, the Spanish authorities must hand over the case to the Crown Office, specifying what are the charges are against the professor. Those charges must be offences under Scots law, or the extradition attempt falls at the first hurdle.

Spain has alleged that Ponsati is guilty of rebellion, or what used to be known in this country as sedition – abolished as an offence in Scotland in 2010.

The problem of history in this matter is a real one which reflects very badly on successive governments in Westminster. For as it stands, seemingly the only way that Professor Ponsati could be expedited is due to English laws dating back to 1351 and the reign of Edward III.

Prior to the Act of Union, Scotland and England had very different laws in treason.

But in 1708, the nascent British Parliament passed a new Treason Act which wholly adopted the English treason law for the whole of this island. Since then, the various treason acts passed at Westminster have all derived from that original 1351 law, especially the Treason Felony Act of 1848 which specifies the offence of “levying war in the realm”. So why doesn’t the Scottish Government not just pass an Act ending the treason laws? Treason remains a reserved matter for Westminster. that’s why.

Is the Crown Office really going to court at the end of this month to argue that the professor is guilty of an offence under the 1848 Act that ultimately derives from 14th century English law? Apparently so.

All of a sudden, the case of Clara Ponsati has much greater significance for those who think that the Scottish people and its courts are sovereign. For if Professor Ponsati is extradited from Scotland thanks to a law from the time of Edward III of England, it would be a vile travesty of Scottish justice.