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Scottish expats to launch legal action for vote

Scottish citizens living outside of Scotland are to launch a legal action in order to secure a vote in the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, encouraged by an EU legal expert who believes denying them a vote would be illegal, reports The Scotsman.

Aidan O'Neill QC has written legal guidance on the issue of whether Scottish citizens living outside of Scotland should have the vote.

Mr O'Neill's guidance is that denying expat Scots the vote would be illegal under European Union rules, on the basis that the law will act as a deterrent to free movement.

The Scottish Government has currently mandated that only those living in Scotland will have a vote in the referendum on 18 September 2014. This means that non-Scottish citizens living in Scotland will have a vote, but Scots living abroad will not.

The report was commissioned by a Dumfries-born lawyer James Wallace, who now lives in London, and under current rules would not be allowed a vote.

According to the Scotsman online, Mr Wallace is sending a copy of the legal report to David Cameron and Alex Salmond in a bid to encourage them to change the rules.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said the rules in their current form were consistent with the previous referendum on devolution.

"The Edinburgh Agreement confirmed that the franchise for the referendum was for the Scottish Parliament to determine, and it is widely accepted that the Edinburgh Agreement has put the referendum beyond effective legal challenge," said the statement printed in The Scotsman.