The Scotsman is to be congratulated on publishing the thoughts of Professor Gerry Maher QC and Brian McConnachie QC on the efficacy of changes being considered in the Scottish justice system (14 January). Having existed in a “wha’s like us” mode for decades, the issues highlighted clearly show that the arrogant response of “Damn few and they’re a’ deid” is dangerously off the mark.
The recent knee-jerk reactions of the Scottish Government and Crown Office to Lord Carloway’s edicts on corroboration and the Supreme Court’s “Cadder” judgment and the “man the barricades” stramash over Legal Aid have hardly inspired confidence.
If we add a court system close to collapse in some areas and an unaffordable legal system that has rejected the maxim, “justice delayed is justice denied”, then we are faced with a system in disarray, distress and decline.
Failure to resolve miscarriages of justice only serve to highlight the tragic human dimensions of this dysfunctional system.
Mr McConnachie is right to condemn “political trade-offs to secure change” between the government and Lord Advocate. Instead of mutual cheerleading we require these watchdogs for justice to re-establish their independence each from the other.
Hopefully, then, the government will be in a position to truly act in the public interest, reject Crown Office self-interest, and look to a Royal Commission tasked with restoring public confidence in our justice system.
As we approach next year’s referendum, my belief that Scotland can prosper as a nation is tempered by the aching doubt that if we cannot ensure an open, accountable and fair justice system, then what value is there in an independent Scotland?
Iain A J McKie
South Beach Road