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Questions over witness pre-recording plans

19 December 2014

The Scottish Court Service is considering how victims and witnesses could pre-record video statements rather than give evidence in court, the BBC reports today.

The idea is that events would be fresher in witnesses' memories and they would be saved successive attendances at court when cases might be adjourned.

However lawyers have warned that the proposal should not be a substitute for cross-examination in court.

Eric McQueen, chief executive of the Scottish Court Service, said: "Quite clearly this would be a big change and we are still at the early stage of discussions. It would require a change of culture and legislation but it is one of the ways we are looking to reduce trial times and the impact on victims and witnesses."

Brian McConnachie QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, commented: "This cannot be a substitute for cross-examining people in court and allowing juries to see their reaction.

"I agree that court time needs to be saved because the system is under increasing pressure. I have some difficulty understanding how this would save court time."

Heather Dickson, operations manager at Victim Support in Glasgow, welcomed the move but said victims should still be able to choose whether they can attend court to give evidence if they want to.

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