Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Kenny MacAskill and SNP Government plans to abolish cornerstone of Scottish Justice by scrapping corroboration, don’t do this, its utterly wrong
When a blunder in the SNP Government happens I don’t ask which department anymore, I just ask what has been done in Justice this time.
The Justice Brief of the Scottish Government is an absolute joke; in part this key policy area is one of the many reasons why ordinary working class people will not vote for independence.
Kenny MacAskill as I and others have opined should be removed from this post, I prefer sacked as my stated option.
The latest blunder is that legal experts have reacted angrily to the news that corroboration will be removed from Scots law.
You really can’t make it up how disjointed this policy sits with people who advocate human rights.
The Scottish Government yesterday published a consultation on Lord Carloway's review of criminal law.
Carloway’s consultation weakens further Scottish Justice and is a knee jerk reaction; this has prompted the Law Society of Scotland and others to speak out.
The SNP Government has built up a history of getting the wrong people into situations where they make the wrong decisions and the SNP Government then stands ‘four square’ behind it.
Corroboration is the historic requirement for two separate sources of evidence to secure a conviction, under Carloway this would be abolished.
Interestingly The Faculty of Advocates backs the same proposal that I came up with and called for a Royal Commission.
This hasn’t been accepted by Scottish Government Ministers.
High-profile advocates including Maggie Scott, QC, chairwoman of the Scottish advisory group of Justice, and Donald Findlay, QC, chairman of the Faculty of Advocates Criminal Bar Association, have criticised the plan and warned it will lead to miscarriages of justice.
Without corroboration a person can be convicted because the witness against them could be a better story teller and actor.
Bill McVicar, convener of the Law Society's criminal law committee, said:
"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 that the Scottish Government does not intend to commission any such further independent review."
Advocate Claire Mitchell said:
"The grand chamber of the European Court of Human Rights recently praised corroboration in Scots law as a prominent safeguard in a fair trial and yet we are looking to abolish it without new safeguards."
She also made the valid point that in England and other European jurisdictions, they have a lot of safeguards that we lack because we rely on corroboration.
Solicitor Advocate John Scott questioned the fact ministers seem to have made a decision on corroboration before the consultation begins.
"This is a reckless move and ignores the views of the majority of Scottish judges."
The SNP Government stopped listening to people along time ago, in truth this government reminds me of the latter days of the Blair Government which swept to power on populist and then came a cropper.
As per Lord Carloway's review, the consultation will also consider whether courts should sit at weekends to prevent suspects from spending a "disproportionate" amount of time in detention cells. It has been mooted previously but was rejected.
Lord Carloway made a range of recommendations to reform arrest and detention, including the right to legal advice when taken into custody and a 12-hour limit on the period of arrest before charge.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:
"On corroboration, the consultation paper agrees that the requirement should be abolished. It reflects that the rationale for the rule stems from another age, that its usage has become confused and that it can bar prosecutions that would in any other legal system seem entirely appropriate. The focus of our consultation is on deciding how to best achieve abolition and what, if any, additional measures require to be taken as a consequence."
Stupidity is a poor substitute for intelligence; if this disastrous measure is pushed through miscarriages of justice will occur most definitely, public confidence in justice will be further undermined and people will come to the only conclusion that since the SNP Government isn’t capable of protecting their rights, they must by default vote against independence in order to secure the access to the UK Supreme Court in London.
This means that Scots people need English people to protect their rights.
And some people wonder why support for independence is going backwards!
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University