Two prisoners have lost their fight for the right to vote in this year’s Scottish independence referendum.
Leslie Moohan, aged 31, and Andrew Gillon, 46, both serving life sentences for murder, had argued that refusing to let them take part in the autumn ballot infringed their human rights.
The pair argued that the blanket ban was not proportionate and went against the principles of both European and common law.
But their bid to force a change in the law came to an end last week.
The case had already been dismissed by judges north of the border and on Thursday it was thrown out by the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court of appeal, after less than an hour of deliberations.
Had they won, Alex Salmond’s Scottish government would have been forced to make last ditch changes to the referendum act – allowing inmates to cast their vote by post or through a proxy.
Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell welcomed the court’s decision.
“This appeal, had it been successful, would have had disastrous consequences, not least for the proposed EU referendum in 2017,” she said.
“We remain resolute in our opposition to granting the vote to prisoners.Voting is a basic human right and it is completely correct you forfeit this right when you commit a crime and are sent to prison.”
Some politicians are less comfortable with the current situation and argue that it is unjust for all offenders to be automatically disenfranchised.
Patrick Harvie, a Green Party MSP, who had lobbied for prisoners to be able to participate in the referendum, said: “An offender in prison is still a human being, is still a part of society, is still subject to the decisions of a Scottish government.”
The issue of prisoner votes is unlikely to go away anytime soon. The European Court of Justice has previously clashed with the Government over the UK’s present policy and has said the blanket band must come to an end.