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Society voices corroboration concerns

3 July 2012

Concerns about plans to remove corroboration in Scots law, without proposals for additional safeguards to ensure justice, have been restated by the Law Society of Scotland.

Responding to the publication today of the Scottish Government’s consultation on Lord Carloway’s review of criminal law and practice, which among other things agrees with Lord Carloway's recommendation that the corroboration requirement should end, the Society welcomed the launch but maintained that corroboration should not be considered in isolation.

Bill McVicar, convener of the Society’s Criminal Law Committee, said: “We all want a criminal justice system that is modern, fair, effective and which remains distinctly Scottish, and there has been much to commend in the extent and scope of Lord Carloway’s work. However, as we stated in November following publication of the Carloway report, we have grave concerns about the proposal to abolish the requirement for corroboration when there have been no corresponding proposals for safeguards to prevent potential miscarriages of justice.

“Corroboration has been a cornerstone of the Scottish criminal justice system since time immemorial and before such a radical step is taken, there would have to be an overwhelming case for change. In our opinion such a case for change has not been made. Any change to the law in Scotland with regard to corroboration should form part of a full scale review of Scottish criminal procedure. It is a concern to note at paragraph 1.9 of the report, that the Scottish Government does not intend to commission any such further independent review."

Mr McVicar said the Society supported other proposals in the consultation, such as the introduction of police bail and the reduction of the maximum detention period without charge to 12 hours, with a review after six hours.

"The introduction of greater support for vulnerable suspects is also good to see and we are very supportive of a 'letter of rights' being introduced", he commented. "The Society agreed with Lord Carloway’s recommendation that a child suspect under 16 should not be able to waive his or her right to legal representation and is pleased to see that this forms part of the consultation at question 26."


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