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Crown still failing to disclose, claim lawyers

7 August 2006

The Crown Office is still failing to deliver on its promise to disclose inconsistent witness statements and witnesses' previous convictions to the defence, according to leading defence lawyers quoted in today's Herald.

Despite a practice statement two years ago setting out a wider-ranging and speedier system of disclosure, the paper, which also carries a background feature on the issue, reports claims that information is still routinely edited out of statements or simply withheld.

Appeals based on failures to disclose have previously been allowed on the basis of a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The pending appeals of William Beggs, convicted of the "limbs in the loch" murder, and Nat Fraser, found guilty of murdering his wife Arlene, will also feature such grounds among others.

Crown Office maintains that practice has improved since the September 2004 practice statement and that many of the appeals in the pipeline concern trials that took place before then.