Lawyer tells Court docket of Session: Maintaining Edinburgh beneath degree three Covid-19 restrictions is ‘catastrophic’ for metropolis companies

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Lawyer tells Court of Session: Keeping Edinburgh under level 3 Covid-19 restrictions is 'catastrophic' for city businesses

Roddy Dunlop QC stated in the Court of Session on Friday that the Scottish Government’s decision was “unlawful” and “irrational”.

Mr Dunlop, the dean of the faculty of lawyers, said the city should go one level lower on the Scottish government’s own guidelines.

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He said the Holyrood administration had ignored advice from its own health authorities and recommended moving the city to level two.

Mr Dunlop said the transmission rate of Covid-19 in Edinburgh is lower than other places in Scotland switching to a lower level.

And he said many Edinburgh-based companies are facing the prospect of going bankrupt.

Mr Dunlop told Lord Ericht to order the suspension of the Scottish Government’s decision to keep Edinburgh at level three.

Mr Dunlop said, “The current position is that the decision made on December 8th is flawed and cannot stand.

“The decision to keep Edinburgh at level three has had a catastrophic impact on the companies operating there.

“In the current situation, we say that the decision made is illegal, unreasonable and irrational.

“We ask for the suspension and for the ministers to reconsider it.”

Mr Dunlop spoke at a judicial review brought before Scotland’s Supreme Court by a group of Edinburgh companies.

The first petitioners in this case are a company called KLR & RCR International Ltd. The company owns the One20 Wine Cafe on Dundas Street in the city.

Another petitioner is Montpeliers Ltd, which owns pubs, restaurants and hotels.

KLR director Ronnie Reid had previously won a judicial review in the Court of Session against Edinburgh city council leaders who tried to close his business earlier this year.

Mr Reid and his colleagues went to court earlier this week over a Scottish government decision.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that Edinburgh would stay at level three over Christmas shopping concerns.

Mr Dunlop informed the court that the Scottish Government had acted illegally in making this decision.

He said the Scottish government had also not released the advice it received from public health officials, saying the city could be moved down one level.

He added: “Keeping Edinburgh at level three creates a dire situation for businesses in Edinburgh.

“The petitioner owns the One20 wine café and has seen his profits fall by 80 percent.

“A statement from the Montpelliers directors said that 25 percent of their business takes place in December.

“If you stay at level three, you lose 30,000 pounds a week.

“If they go to level two, they could break even – that’s all they ask for – is the ability to break even.

“On this side of the bar, the petitioners face potential financial ruin.”

Worry about the future for Christmas

Scottish government attorney James Mure QC told Lord Ericht that the government acted lawfully to make its decision to keep Edinburgh at level three.

He said that transmission of the virus had increased in recent days and that this trend could continue until Christmas.

Mr Mure also told the court that Edinburgh was a popular day trip destination for many Scots. He said the Scottish government was concerned that people could socialize and thereby increase the number of people who contract the virus.

He added: “As we have seen, the scientific advisors are particularly concerned about the future for Christmas.

“So the decision is made taking into account the complex scientific advice, evidence and data, as well as all other considerations, including the magnetism of all the facilities in Edinburgh in the run-up to Christmas.

“In my opinion, sir, the petitioners cannot convince the court that the decision taken was outside the scope of the decision that was reasonably open to the respondents.”

Mr Mure said Mr Dunlop’s claim that the Scottish Government should respond to the low infection rates in Edinburgh in order to bring them to level two was false.

He added: “The indicators are the only applicable criteria that must be followed week after week.

“That is completely wrong. The indicators themselves inform about the decision-making process, but the judgment must be applied to all the facts relevant to the time of their decision. “

The process continues.