Law Society of Scotland
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Removal of corroboration raises grave concerns, warns Law Society

The Law Society of Scotland has reiterated concerns about plans to remove corroboration in Scots Law, without proposals for additional safeguards to ensure justice.

The Society welcomed today's publication of the Scottish Government's public consultation on Lord Carloway's review of criminal law and practice published in November 2011, but has maintained that corroboration should not be considered in isolation.

Bill McVicar, convener of the Society's criminal law committee said: "We all want a criminal justice system that is modern, fair, effective and which remains distinctly Scottish and there has been much to commend in the extent and scope of Lord Carloway's work. However, as we stated in November following publication of the Carloway Report, 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 at paragraph 1.9 of the report, that the Scottish Government does not intend to commission any such further independent review.

McVicar continued: "There are however a number of other proposals within the consultation which we are pleased to see, such as the introduction of police bail and the reduction of the maximum detention period without charge to 12 hours, with a review after 6 hours.  The introduction of greater support for vulnerable suspects is also good to see and we are very supportive of a 'letter of rights' being introduced.  The Society agreed with Lord Carloway's recommendation that a child suspect under 16 should not be able to waive his or her right to legal representation and is pleased to see that this forms part of the consultation at question 26.

"l look forward to working with my colleagues on the committee and to consider and respond in detail to the proposals."

ENDS                                                                                      03 JULY 2012

Notes to editors

The Society's letter to MSPs following Lord Carloway's report in November 2011 and the Society's full response to the Carloway Review can be found here http://www.lawscot.org.uk/forthepublic/law-reform-consultations/2011/criminal-law

The Law Society of Scotland gave oral evidence on Cadder to the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee 8 December 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Journalists can contact Louise Docherty on 0131 476 8204 or Val McEwan on 0131 476 8115 or 07825 206 468. For the out of hours service please call 0131 226 8884.
Email: louisedocherty@lawscot.org.uk or valeriemcewan@lawscot.org.uk

03 July 2012

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