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Society renews call for justice review

20 December 2012

The new Scottish Government consultation on additional safeguards if the corroboration rule is abolished, is welcome, but a wider review of the criminal justice system should still take place, according to the Law Society of Scotland.

Responding to yesterday's invitation for views on matters including weighted majority verdicts and the future of the "not proven" verdict, Bill McVicar, convener of the Society’s Criminal Law Committee, said: “Today’s further consultation is good news in that the Government is exploring alternative safeguards, including those which are already used in other legal systems where there is no requirement for corroboration.

"We are pleased to see that the majority verdict weighting is being considered, but believe that there needs to be further research into juries and how they reach verdicts as currently we have no real insight as to how they do so."

Mr McVicar restated the Society's view that, if the requirement for corroboration is removed, it is vital that careful consideration is given to the introduction of new safeguards to minimise miscarriages of justice based on uncorroborated allegations. He added:

“We still believe however that if the requirement for corroboration is to be abolished, it should only be after there has been a wider review into the Scottish criminal justice system in order to ensure compliance with article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. No evidence to demonstrate that the abolition of corroboration will not result in miscarriages of justice has been produced. In the absence of such evidence, the Society believes that the abolition of the requirement for corroboration without other safeguards will simply result in a contest between two competing statements on oath and therefore have the potential to result in miscarriages of justice.

“We all want a criminal justice system that is modern, fair, effective and which remains distinctly Scottish.”


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