IN a stunning and completely unexpected development, the Scottish Government has pulled out of the so-called People’s Action on Section 30 at Scotland’s highest court.

The Court of Session was due to hear the case of Martin Keatings, convener of Forward as One, against the Scottish and UK governments in which he is seeking a declarator that the Scottish Parliament does not need a Section 30 agreement to hold a second referendum on independence.

Now just the UK Government will defend the case and a spokesperson confirmed to The National last night that the Advocate General, Lord Richard Keen, will defend the case on behalf of the UK Government.

The crowdfunder raising money to pay for the action has beaten its target of £155,000 with more than 5000 people making a contribution. The National can reveal that Martin Keatings has told the supporters that “we have hit a small roadblock” but it will not stop the first hearing going ahead on September 30.

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Keatings stated: “As you are all aware, there were originally three ‘defenders’ in the case. The first is the UK Government who the dispute exists concerning Section 30 being necessary.

“The second is the Lord Advocate who represents the Scottish Parliament and the third was the Scottish ministers – the Scottish Government.

“Both the Lord Advocate (Scottish Parliament) and the Scottish Government were convened (that is to say named on the summons) for any interest that they might have in the case. To invite them into the court proceedings for anything they might want to say. This is an established procedure as regards previous cases of this nature.

“Also, let me be abundantly clear on this important point (because several politicians have said otherwise) that neither the Scottish Parliament nor the Scottish Government had to participate in the case if they did not want to. They chose to participate. They were not dragged into it.

“Let me also make another thing clear. This process we are using is not ‘incorrect’ nor is it a ‘flawed approach’. The process we are using is the only proper procedure for cases of this nature. We know this for several reasons. Firstly, it was the same process used in two previous cases. And secondly, our senior legal counsel and solicitors pretty much wrote the book on this type of public law in Scotland. Not least cases like the Wightman Article 50 case and Joanna Cherry’s unlawful prorogation case.

“Check the records and you will find that their counsel is, for the most part, the same as ours.”

Keatings and his lawyers had exchanged documents – known as the “record” with both Government’s legal teams when the news dropped.

He said: “At this point the Scottish Government suddenly decided that it wanted to withdraw from the proceedings and filed a motion to seek the court’s permission to do so. We did not object.

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“What we thought would be a simple case of just deleting the words ‘third defender’ has turned into having to effectively re-write large chunks of the closed record to make it compliant. As soon as we know it can be made public, I shall inform you further.”

“If you are wondering who foots the bill for re-writing this collective work of Shakespeare, the Scottish Government. It would have been much better, much less time consuming and a lot less expensive for the taxpayer if they’d just chosen not to join the case. Their motivations for joining and then dropping out are a mystery.”

A legal expert told The National that the Scottish Government should explain why they have withdrawn and say how much had been spent on legal fees until now. The National asked but were given no information.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “The Scottish Government remains of the firm belief that the people of Scotland have the right to choose their own future and is determined to make that happen. We have no further comment at this time while the matter is ongoing.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “Our position is clear – legislating to hold an independence referendum goes beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament.”