Relations between the Law Society of Scotland and Faculty of Advocates have been somewhat strained in recent times. It therefore makes it all the more significant that the leaders of the two bodies have united in a public criticism of the First Minister's intemperate remarks over the UK Supreme Court and its decisions.
Plenty has been said already about the general tenor of Mr Salmond's comments. However his interview in Holyrood magazine, which has triggered the latest stushie, when you look at the arguments, also contains enough red herrings to breach an EU fishing quota.
It certainly mixes up civil appeals, in which there has been no extension of jurisdiction with the coming of the Privy Council and the Supreme Court (though the implication is that there has), with criminal, where there obviously has. It appears to suggest that because the First Minister was elected, that gives his views a greater moral authority than those of the unelected judiciary. (Or is it simply that it puts him above the law?) It criticises the Privy Council (in the Somerville case) for failing to serve the people – because it failed to rule against an inerpretation of the Scotland Act/Human Rights Act that would cost the taxpayer money.
It also appears to be the Privy Council's fault that the Scottish Parliament was unable to correct the effect of the Somerville ruling without Westminster's help; and Lord Hope's fault that the Cadder problem wasn't corrected when he was Lord President (I take it he means Lord Justice General) – though that was before we had the Human Rights Act to enable a Cadder challenge.
Finally, the fact that he can point to a recent Strasbourg case from Scotland in the Government's favour makes it likely that that court would have decided Cadder differently from the Supreme Court.
As has been said in various quarters (including this month's Journal editorial, out next week), it is indeed arguable that the Supreme Court has extended its reach uncomfortably far in Scottish criminal appeals, and our High Court judges said as much in their submission to Sir David Edward's expert group. But that is being completely lost in the sound and fury being generated by the Scottish Government.
Mr Salmond claims to know a little about the law and the legal system, but he would do well to take further advice on its place in our democracy before taking the debate – or any policy action – further.
And when even the Glasgow Bar Association can be found standing four square alongside the professional bodies in calling for Mr Salmond to think again, it is surely time for someone in Government to sit up and listen.