Monday, June 24, 2013

Scottish independence: Kenny MacAskill is a very good reason to vote No in the forth coming indy ballot, the SNP cannot be trusted to run a justice system that is fit for purpose, right wing SNP Government is dismantling rights, miscarriages of justice will happen

Dear All

How would you feel if a member of your family was wrongly sent to prison due to a miscarriage of justice because someone was a better story teller than him or her?

You would justifiably be quite upset.

Kenny MacAskill has been given the post of Justice Minister in Scotland; he is Alex Salmond’s crony.

He is a man who is trying to outrun the stigma of releasing Al Megrahi, one of the biggest mass murderers, responsible for the worst terrorist atrocity in Scotland in modern times.

His tenure as Justice Minister has been an omnishambles of epic proportions, whether, it is the re-organisation of the Courts, limiting local justice or the incredibly embarrassing ill-judged fitba bill or the changes made to Police Scotland ,which removed accountability, MacAskill has fucked it all up.

Nothing but a shitty ambulance chaser!

Back to storytelling, Scottish independence depends on many factors all coming together to paint a picture; naturally justice is a key area.

And as MacAskill demonstrated with the UK Supreme Court debacle, he is beyond the task.  

The age-old requirement for corroborating evidence in criminal trials could be abolished as part of changes to the justice system.

The SNP Cabinet don’t ‘do’ Law well, human rights are another area where they are weak, they like others mistake, ‘I want with I am entitled to’.

Under the new Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill,  MacAskill is also going to raise the maximum sentence for handling knives and offensive weapons from four to five years.

Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime, yes, it is clearly unimpressive work, not enough to get the Megrahi stain out of his political soul.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

“I have made clear a number of times that I believe that the requirement for corroboration should be abolished as it can represent a barrier to justice”.

Did he?

He must have to repeat everything because Scottish people gave up listening to him almost immediately when he took office.

MacAskill added:

“It is an outdated rule which can deny victims the opportunity to see those responsible for serious crimes being brought to justice”.

He is confusing brought to Court with conviction.

MacAskill added to his justification by saying:

“Removing the need for corroboration represents a move towards focusing on the quality of evidence rather than quantity.”

That is such bullshit, clearly he has had something prepared to parrot out, no decent lawyer worth their salt would say this, removing corroboration doesn’t improve the quality of a person’s evidence, it lowers the bar for the prosecution.

As expected, the Law Society of Scotland which describes corroboration as a “fundamental principle” of the justice system says removing it will lead to a greater risk of miscarriages of justice.

Raymond McMenamin, from the society’s criminal law committee, said:

“We believe that removing the requirement for corroborated evidence, without including sufficiently strong safeguards in the Bill, could simply result in a contest between two competing statements on oath and, as a result, bring increased risk of miscarriages of justice. The requirement for corroborated evidence is not an antiquated, outmoded legal notion but is a fundamental principle of our justice system”.

He added:

“It’s clear that the concerns expressed by the society and others about juries have been recognised as the Bill proposes a move to a weighted majority from a simple majority, but we don’t believe this is sufficient to remove the risks created by abolishing corroboration.”

Maybe MacAskill should listen to a real lawyer who obviously has an eye for detail such as Raymond McMenamin, could save more embarrassment and ridicule. 

Liberal Democrat MP Sir Menzies Campbell, who practised as an advocate depute for several years in Scotland’s High Court, also warned against the changes.

Menzies said:

“If the SNP proceed with these proposals, it will confirm that they are not fit to have the stewardship of Scottish criminal law.”

Menzies is absolutely right, Scotland needs a Justice Minister not a Salmond crony, his blunders which there are many all need fixed, and where bad law has been put on the statute books, removed, stuck down.

Law should be based on justice not popularism.

The former Lib Dem party leader added:

“This is populism at its worst. Corroboration is an essential component of the presumption of innocence and a necessary bulwark against false accusation and injustice. As the power of the state increases, the protection of the rights of the citizen has become even more important.”

When people realize in the cold light of day that protections in law to safeguard them from injustice are removed, the party responsible will crash out of power, people aren’t as stupid as the SNP believe.

The Scottish Government hopes the change will make it easier to convict rapists and domestic abusers.

High profile emotional cases such as rape and domestic abuse should not be used to create bad law; this like the fitba bill will backfire on the SNP.

The UK Supreme Court will be getting a lot more Scottish cases.

Unique to Scots law, corroboration is a necessary safeguard against wrongful conviction; it requires two independent pieces of evidence for a case to be brought to court. In previous blog posts, I highlighted that human rights cannot and should not be replaced by ‘gifts’ of safeguards which are a sham.

In their submission to a government consultation on the proposal, judges said:

“The Scottish courts have on many occasions been grateful for the requirement of corroboration, which in our view provides a major safeguard against miscarriages of justice.”

Lawyers know this is dick, and judges know this is dick, MacAskill like a blundering idiot is still going forward.

Scots law has been under scrutiny since the UK Supreme Court’s “Cadder ruling”, which I also blogged on, prior to the verdict in Cadder’s favour, I said it was wrong for MacAskill to adopt the position of the Crown, as Justice Minister he is supposed to be above it and importantly neutral. In fact he is anything but, that is why he is so poor and ultimately unsuitable for the role he is currently employed in.

Cadder was an open and shut case of a miscarriage of justice; the UK Supreme Court applied the human rights law and properly found the case against an accused man had breached his human rights. If his human rights had been fully applied, he probably would have been convicted, the Crown was being cute.

To put it bluntly even if the Crown believes beyond doubt in their mind of his guilt; they still cannot bend the rules or deny him his human rights; otherwise the whole justice system is compromised and corrupted.

Sources apparently say the government recognises the level of opposition to its plans, but it is convinced scrapping corroboration is ‘the right thing to do’.

Is this the right thing to do?

Only if you are a cretin!

And the SNP wonder why no one is backing their independence bid, it is because the Scottish people realise among other things that they need the vital protection of the UK Supreme Court.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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