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SCCRC chair warns of risk from Cadder response

24 November 2010

The emergency legislation pushed through by the Scottish Government following last month's Cadder decision in the Supreme Court could undermine the role of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, its chairman has warned.

Jean Couper has written to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to say that the provisions in the new Act giving the High Court the power to reject a reference from the Commission without a full hearing, "risks undermining the role of the Commission as an independent arbiter of issues relating to alleged miscarriages of justice".

The Act requires the Commission, in applying the "interests of justice" test to a proposed reference, to have regard to "the need for finality and certainty in the determination of criminal proceedings"; and allows the High Court to reject a reference if it considers this test is not met.

Ministers claimed the measures were necessary to reflect the Supreme Court's ruling that old cases should not be reopened as a result of the decision, that evidence obtained during police interviews carried out without the suspect having access to legal advice was unfairly obtained and inadmissible.

Ms Couper said that Mr MacAskill had responded quickly to her letter and reaffirmed his confidence in the Commission.

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