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Legal challenge expected over alcohol pricing plan

Published:  21 December, 2011

The Scottish government has admitted it expects a legal challenge to its plans to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon, questioned about the plans by MSPs, said: "I think it is almost certain that the Bill will be legally challenged. Any piece of legislation that this Parliament passes is potentially subject to legal challenge. I work on the basis there will be a legal challenge.

"My job is to make sure that we have legislation that can meet that legal challenge, and I am confident that it can."

At this stage the ruling SNP group has not announced the level at which the price will be set, though 45p has been quoted in much of the planning. Some medics argue it should be 50p to have any real effect, though industry groups warn the plan will merely penalise low-income drinkers without making an impact on serious alcohol abusers.

The opposition Labour group has expressed concern at the prospect of the legislation "being dragged through the courts".