A computer blunder by the Scottish Government could delay the passage of the gay marriage Bill at Holyrood, campaigners claim.
Emails from over 4,000 opponents of the Bill were blocked from getting through to the consultation process by the Scottish Government’s computer system.
A top lawyer says a flawed consultation could be unlawful, and a court could order the legislative process to start again.
The Scottish Government say they are aware of the problem, but they deny any responsibility for the technical error.
The emails all came from members of the public via the web portal of Scotland for Marriage, a campaign group that opposes the Bill.
About 2,000 emails got through but more than 4,000 were blocked and therefore not considered by officials.
Scotland for Marriage has taken legal advice from Aidan O’Neill QC. The legal advice says a flawed consultation could be challenged in court.
A Scotland for Marriage spokesman said: “The failure to consider such a large percentage of responses is a serious matter and demonstrates fundamental flaws in the consultation process.”
He added: “It is clear that the bill must be stopped and the process started again. The Scottish parliament should now suspend further consideration of the bill until this matter is resolved.”
The Scottish Government said: “We have fully investigated this issue and are confident that all replies actually received from Scotland for Marriage and, indeed, across Scottish society were factored into our considerations.
“We have worked with Scotland for Marriage to establish what happened to the responses they mentioned.”
It said the problem stemmed from a “technical error” in Scotland for Marriage’s email system, but this is denied by Scotland for Marriage.