Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has dismissed a call for an investigation into the impact of court closures across Scotland.
North-east Conservative MSP Nanette Milne urged him to instruct public spending watchdog Audit Scotland to examine the consequences of shutting 11 facilities including Stonehaven, Dornoch and Dingwall.
She claimed the controversial decision taken by the Scottish Court Service (SCS) to save £1million a year and a one-off saving of £3million had caused problems.
Speaking at Holyrood, Mrs Milne said: “Our justice system has already been impacted on by delays in cases being heard, and the many concerns that were expressed by campaigners about the unseen costs of the proposals to close 11 sheriff courts are now seen to be coming true.
“Along with that, there are issues such as lack of privacy for accused people and their lawyers in the Aberdeen court (now handling Stonehaven cases) that are currently causing problems.
“Does the cabinet secretary feel any regret for the way in which the Scottish Government has handled the closures?
“Will he ask Audit Scotland to examine the closures to investigate whether Scottish taxpayers have seen the predicted level of savings?”
Mr MacAskill said acknowledged there have been challenges for the system because of an increase in some types of proceedings but courts have been “given additional financial assistance” to address problems.
Responding to the call for an inquiry, he said: “No, I will not. I believe that the best people to account for that are in the Scottish Court Service.
A few weeks ago, I was delighted to go to Aberdeen sheriff court to see the newly opened civil court buildings, which I think are outstanding.”
Mr MacAskill said he fully supported reforms progressed by Lord Gill, Lord President of the Court of Session and chairman of the SCS board.
Mrs Milne later claimed SNP ministers seemed to have their heads “buried in the sand” over the issue.