THE SNP has likened the UK Government to “tinpot dictators”, following reports that Justice Secretary and deputy prime minister Dominic Raab plans to limit judges’ powers and make it more difficult for legal challenges to be brought against the government in England and Wales.

A leaked Ministry of Justice (MoJ) paper seen by The Guardian suggests Raab is contemplating “further reforms to judicial review”, which could potentially discourage non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from pursuing cases against the government by increasing the cost burden, as well as excluding judges from cases pertaining to certain areas of government decision-making.

The revelations follow mounting controversy over the UK Government's proposed British Bill of Rights, which would replace the Human Rights Act and end the UK's obligation to follow human rights case law from Strasbourg.

Last month, Raab courted the ire of MPs when he pulled out of an appearance before the Joint Committee on Human Rights, where he was expected to face a grilling over the new legislation.

Commenting on the MoJ leak, SNP Cabinet Office spokesperson Brendan O’Hara MP said that any “successful or even functioning democratic government” would have no need to restrict existing legal rights in the manner proposed.

O’Hara said: “You can’t just rewrite the rules, block investigations, and curb the powers of judges because you don’t like that they’re being used against you – those are the actions of tinpot dictators."

O'Hara added that the Tories' attempts to undermine the powers of judges and the courts, water down the ministerial code and consolidate power were "nothing short of attacks on our democracy," saying they reaffirmed the need for Scotland to escape the "shambles" of the Westminster system and achieve independence.

Further criticism of Raab’s plans was voiced by the advocacy group Liberty, whose policy and campaigns officer Charlie Whelton warned that "the government’s attempts to avoid accountability set a very dangerous precedent for all future governments of all stripes".

Good Law Project director Jolyon Maugham QC said: “What Raab seems to want is a world in which the government is above the law.”

The MoJ has said it does not comment on leaked documents.