Scotland politics

Lord Carloway tells MSPs legal plan will improve system

The high court judge who said the need for corroborated evidence should be dropped from criminal cases has been explaining his views to MSPs.

Lord Carloway undertook a review of Scotland's justice system and made 76 recommendations.

The justice committee was informed by Lord Carloway that corroboration in prosecutions was "archaic".

He added that his changes would lead to a system based on "quality of evidence" and not "quantity of evidence".

In the Scottish legal system, all key evidence presented in a criminal prosecution has to be backed by two sources and has traditionally been regarded as an important safeguard against miscarriages of justice.

Lord Carloway told the committee: "Does this aspect [corroboration] mean our system has less miscarriages of justice than other systems - the answer is no."

He went on to say that the current system could mean that it is impeding justice in Scotland.

The judge's review was set up after a UK Supreme Court judgement stopped police questioning suspects who had not been offered access to a lawyer.

His recommendations, published in the middle of November, included;

  • a simplified, unitary system of arrest, on reasonable grounds for suspicion and detention
  • an arrest will trigger a set of rights including access to a lawyer
  • any proceedings against the suspect constitute a fair trial
  • suspects being charged should be brought before the court within 36 hours of arrest
  • and a less rule-bound approach to the evidence gathered with the general requirement for corroboration being dropped

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