Salmond says he has "enormous confidence" in justice secretary

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Alex Salmond insisted he had "enormous confidence" in his justice secretary, as opposition parties attacked Kenny MacAskill over his handling of the proposal to abolish the general rule for corroboration, on 24 April 2014.

The controversial plans to end the need for evidence in Scottish criminal trials to come from two sources have been put on hold for at least a year by Mr MacAskill.

Detailed scrutiny of plans to ditch the general requirement for corroboration will not go forward until after a review is completed in April 2015.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont asked if the first minister still had full confidence in the justice secretary, after what she termed as Mr MacAskill's "disgraceful performance" in the chamber six weeks ago and after his "embarrassing climb down" in agreeing to opposition demands to delay the legislation.

The first minister said the Scottish government's commitment to improving access to justice for the victims of the most vile of crimes, which the abolition of the general rule of corroboration would achieve, was welcomed by Rape Crisis Scotland and Victims Support Scotland.

Mr Salmond added that he had confidence in his justice secretary because there were 1,000 extra police officers on the streets, recorded crime was down by 35%, violent crime was down by almost a half, crimes due to offensive weapons was down by 60% and fear of crime was dropping in Scotland, all thanks to Kenny MacAskill.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson also attacked the justice secretary, saying his speech in February had been "shameful to watch" and he had been forced into a climb down.

Ms Davidson said Mr Salmond had been forced to defend Mr MacAskill over the release of Megrahi, the creation of a single police force and now over the abolition of corroboration.

The first minister said he had "enormous confidence" in his justice secretary and insisted the government was listening to the victims of crime which was exactly the right thing to do.

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