East Lothian's Labour MSP Iain Gray has slammed SNP Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill for failing to turn up and defend his plans to close Haddington Sheriff and JP Courts at last night's public meeting at the Town House.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Gray said:
"Kenny MacAskill has made a number of misleading claims about the amount of business that is done in Haddington's courts, with the clear intention of trying to undermine the opposition to his closure plans.
"So I am bitterly disappointed that he didn't think the future of local justice in East Lothian was important enough to warrant his attendance at the meeting. If he had bothered to turn up he would have heard a range of compelling arguments for retaining our courts from people who use them week in, week out.
"While his ministerial colleague Paul Wheelhouse also chose to snub the meeting, credit is due to his list colleague Chic Brodie for taking the time to turn up and listen to what local experts had to say. I hope that he will now speak to his fellow SNP list MSPs about what he heard at the meeting and join me in looking at all possible alternatives to closing our courts."
Cllr Willie Innes, Labour Leader of East Lothian Council, added:
"Given the strength of feeling about Haddington Sheriff and JP Court, I think East Lothian residents would have expected their representatives to attend this important meeting. However, while Iain Gray MSP, Fiona O'Donnell MP, and the majority of Labour councillors were present, only one SNP MSP and two councillors chose to turn up.
"I think people will be shocked that local justice in the county appears to be so far down the priorities of most local SNP representatives. I will continue to work closely with Iain, and anyone else who cares about locally delivered justice, to ensure we explore every option for saving Haddington's courts."