Guilty or not guilty? Top QC wants them axed

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A SENIOR QC has called for fundamental changes to the criminal justice system in Scotland.

Derek Ogg wants the guilty and not guilty verdicts axed and jurors to be instead asked if a case has been proven or not proven.

He also wants the size of juries cut from 15 to just ten, with eight votes required to secure a conviction.

Mr Ogg is one of the country’s most experienced QCs and acts as defence counsel in many of the country’s biggest court cases.

He said: “First of all, I would get rid of guilty and not guilty, and have proven and not proven. That would sit well with the idea of retrying cases if fresh evidence comes to light.

“Logically and rationally a juror can’t say ‘not guilty’. They can only say beyond reasonable doubt a case has been proved or not proved on the evidence they have heard. Then, if new evidence comes to light the Crown can go to back to court and have another trial.”

On cutting jury sizes he said: “We would lose nothing by cutting [the] jury to ten and keeping the majority at eight.

“Let’s face it, you can’t change the constitution of a local golf club without a two thirds majority but you can convict a man for life with a majority of just one.”

Mr Ogg also wants changes in the way juries operate and believes they should be allowed to access the internet during trials to help understand complicated issues and legal terms.

“Juries have no legal training and are asked to apply complex ideas of law. They should be allowed to use the internet to seek information about the subject matter if they wish.

“It’s ridiculous to suggest jurors should be insulated from a form of media which has overtaken newspapers in the way people now receive their news.

“It’s also ridiculous to say they shouldn’t go on the internet when you’re allowed to go into a shop and buy a paper. Many people now get their newspapers online.”