It has been reported today that convicted murderer, George McGeoch, has raised court proceedings in a bid to win his right to vote in the Holyrood election on 5 May. He is seeking to challenge the UK government's policy, which does not allow votes for convicted prisoners, as incompatible with EU law.

As we have highlighted in our previous articles in relation to this issue, the European Court in Strasburg has consistently ruled against the UK government's position on this issue.

Mr McGeoch is serving a life sentence in Dumfries prison for the murder of Eric Innes in Inverness in 1998. Initially sentenced to serve a minimum term of imprisonment of 13 years, subsequent convictions have led to an increase in the overall term he must serve, and he will not be eligible for consideration for parole until 2015.

Mr McGeogh is challenging the electoral registration officer for Dumfries and Galloway's decision not to include him on the electoral roll, on the basis that not being allowed to vote is inconsistent with EU law. He is also seeking £2,500 in compensation from the Local Authority on the basis that, if the election proceeds and he is not able to take part, but it is later found that he should have been entitled to do so, he should be entitled to damages.

It is understood that the UK government is represented in the litigation, and has been allowed time to prepare its case. The case, being heard in the Court of Session by Lord Tyre, will be re-convened on 7 April.

It is also understood that a large number of similar cases are waiting in the wings, and electoral registration officers in local authorities around the country are gearing up to deal with similar challenges and claims for compensation. With local government budgets already stretched, Councils such as Dumfries and Galloway can ill-afford a raft of such litigation.

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