Scottish court rules PM’s suspension of parliament ‘unlawful’

Once seen as a pillar of democracy, Britain’s Parliament has been thrown into disarray since the Brexit referendum. (File/AFP/Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament)
Updated 11 September 2019

Scottish court rules PM’s suspension of parliament ‘unlawful’

  • The British government has said it will appeal against the court ruling
  • The government is accused of trying to delay any action that would hinder Brexit

EDINBURGH: Scotland’s appeal court on Wednesday declared British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament “unlawful,” in a case brought by lawmakers and set to be appealed by the government.
The decision overturns a previous Scottish ruling which had paved the way for Johnson to prorogue parliament on Tuesday until October 14 — just a few weeks before Britain is due to leave the European Union.
However, the government immediately said it would appeal the decision to the supreme court in London.
A lawyer involved in bringing the case in Scotland suggested it may be heard as soon as next Tuesday.
Judges in the Inner House, the supreme civil court in Scotland, ruled that Johnson’s advice to the queen to prorogue parliament “was unlawful because it had the purpose of stymying parliament,” according to a summary.
The case had been brought by 78 British lawmakers, who accuse Johnson of trying to silence critics of his plan to leave the EU next month without a deal with Brussels.
A government spokesman: “We are disappointed by today’s decision, and will appeal to the UK Supreme Court.
“The UK government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.”
It noted that a separate case brought at the high court in London last week against prorogation had failed.
A lawyer involved in the Scottish case against the government, Jolyon Maugham, tweeted that it would be considered in Britain’s Supreme Court starting on Tuesday.
The court could not be reached for immediate comment.
Suspending parliament to start a new legislative session is normally a routine event that takes place most years.
But Johnson’s decision is controversial because it would leave parliament without a voice for five weeks in the run-up to Brexit, with the divorce terms still in doubt.


US seizes digital currency accounts used by militant groups

Updated 13 August 2020

US seizes digital currency accounts used by militant groups

  • The seizure also involved the military wing of Hamas, known as the Al-Qassam Brigades
  • The legal action is meant to deprive the organizations of funds needed to buy weapons and equipment

WASHINGTON: The Justice Department has seized millions of dollars from cryptocurrency accounts that militant organizations abroad, including Al-Qaeda and Daesh, relied on to raise money for their operations, officials announced Thursday.
The Trump administration said the groups used the accounts to solicit donations for their causes, including through a bogus scam that officials say purported to sell protective gear for the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials described it as the largest-ever seizure of digital currency funds related to terrorism.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are favored for illicit transactions because they are perceived as hard to trace, and one of the groups explicitly encouraged donations by telling potential contributors that the money trail would be difficult for law enforcement to untangle, the department said.
The legal action, including a forfeiture complaint filed in Washington's federal court, is meant to deprive the organizations of funds needed to buy weapons and equipment and develop fighters and plots, said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the department's top national security official.
The department said it has seized about $2 million and is seeking for more, in addition to more than 300 cryptocurrency accounts and four websites. The money seized is expected to be given to a fund for victims of terrorist attacks.
The seizure also involved the military wing of Hamas, known as the Al-Qassam Brigades.
“Without funding, you cannot have these operations conducted," said Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney for the District of Columbia. “The focus here was a very proactive effort to target these organizations in a very wide-scale manner."