Scotland’s move to introduce minimum unit pricing on alcohol is “probably legal”, according to the government’s public health head Donald Henderson.

Speaking at the Westminster Health Forum seminar on Alcohol – A New Approach to Responsible Drinking today (November 2), Henderson responded to a comment by UK public health minister Anne Milton last week that minimum pricing was “probably illegal”.

He said: “The UK government has taken the Carlsberg defence – they say it is ‘probably illegal’. We think it is probably not illegal.”

Henderson added that the European Court of Justice has not yet taken a clear stance on the issue.

The Scottish goverment published its bill to introduce minimum pricing earlier this week. 

Last year the SNP group failed in its attempts to introduce a 45p-per-unit minimum price. But the bill was tabled again after the party won an overall majority in the election in May.

The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill does not suggest a minimum price, but lays the groundwork for one to be set in the future.