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MSP's bill would abolish "not proven" verdict
The "not proven" verdict in Scottish criminal trials would be abolished under a member's bill just introduced to the Scottish Parliament.
Michael McMahon, Labour MSP for Uddingston and Bellshill, has followed up his consultation on the subject last year with a bill that provides that "There are only two verdicts available in criminal proceedings, guilty and not guilty."
It would also require at least 10 members of a jury in favour of a guilty verdict fot a conviction to be returned, unless ajury is reduced to 13 in number, when nine would be required, or the minimum 12, when eight members would have to support a conviction.
The Scottish Government's Criminal Justice Bill, curtrently before the Holyrood Parliament, contains similar provisions regarding jury voting but makes no change tpo the verdicts available. Many lawyers regard the existence of the not proven verdict as a safeguard against wrongful conviction, especially if the corroboration rule is abolished as proposed by the bill.
In proposing his bill, Mr McMahon described the present system as "illogical and confusing" and one that "skews the justice system in favour of the accused". He argued that the not proven verdict was inconsistent with the presumption of innocenc.
The bill will now be allocated to a committee for a stage 1 report.