REVOKING legal immunity for three Catalan pro-independence MEPs wanted in Spain would set a “dangerous precedent” and would be a “cowardly act” for European democracy, the Scottish lawyer representing one of them has said.

Aamer Anwar was speaking exclusively to The National after the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee approved a report recommending that immunity be rescinded for former president Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsati and Toni Comin, two of his former ministers.

The National: Scottish lawyer Aamer AnwarScottish lawyer Aamer Anwar

The committee accepted the report by 15 votes to eight, with two abstentions and it will now go to a plenary of the European Parliament next month for a final decision.

“Sadly it comes as no surprise that a committee chaired by the member of a far-right party and dominated by Spanish delegates has voted to remove the immunity of the Catalan MEPs,” said Anwar. “The only decision that counts however, is the vote before the full plenary of the European Parliament around March 8. It would be a very dangerous precedent and cowardly act for European democracy, if despite evidence of politically motivated prosecutions, they took away the Catalan MEPs’ legal immunity because of pressure from Spain.

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“Time and time again in the European Courts the Spanish authorities have failed.

“These warrants are tantamount to political revenge and reflect a desperate Spain trying to destroy the independence movement, yet all they have done is reignite the struggle for freedom.

“Meanwhile Spain’s international image is in tatters and reduced to one of a rogue state.”

Puigdemont said the decision was predictable, and another indication of their political persecution.

He said: “There is a shared goal that goes from the [Catalan Socialists] PSOE to Vox, without cracks, because all three of us go to prison.”

He said that if their immunity was revoked, the European institutions would set a “very negative precedent” for political representation of dissent and national minorities.

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Comin criticised the “enormous pressure” Spanish MEPs exerted on other members to accept the report, adding: “No Democrat can be proud of what happened.”

Ponsati said it would be difficult to reverse the initial decision in the plenary session, despite the “democratic regression” involved in approving the report.

A sheriff last year delayed a decision on a Spanish attempt to extradite the St Andrews University academic from Scotland because of her immunity as an MEP. All three are wanted by Spain for their part in the 2017 Catalan indyref.

Anwar added: “Any attempt to remove immunity can only be seen as [a] cynical move that will be challenged in the courts.

“Professor Ponsati’s Scottish extradition hearing has been now been adjourned to May 4 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

“As always Clara remains determined and resolute in her struggle against the Spanish regime.”