Call to ‘revisit’ plan to scrap corroboration

Picture: TSPL

Picture: TSPL

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One of Scotland’s most senior prosecutors has said the Scottish Government will be forced to look again at scrapping corroboration.

Catherine Dyer, who recently retired as crown agent at the Crown Office, said the centuries-old practice was “out of kilter” with legal systems across the world and needed to be “revisited”.

Ms Dyer said the Scottish Government’s decision not to abolish the law was allowing sex offenders to escape justice.

Those in favour of abolising corroboration – which requires two independent pieces of ­evidence for a case to come to court – believe its removal would help increase conviction rates in rape cases.

However, the Scottish Government last year chose to drop the provision from the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill following a storm of protest from sections of the legal fraternity.

Speaking to The Times, Ms Dyer said the government would be forced to “revisit” corroboration because the current system was failing to protect the public.

She said: “There is not another jurisdiction in the world where [corroboration] is a requirement.

“When I speak at international conferences, I have to preface it with an explanation [of the Scottish system] and people are incredulous...it’s out of kilter with what the rest of the world thinks is justice.”

Justice secretary Michael Matheson last year called for more time to consider the future of corroboration following the publication of a report by Lord Bonomy which looked at legal safeguards.

Lord Bonomy’s report made a series of recommendations, including a requirement that ­police video all interviews with suspects and that the practice of dock identification – when the accused is identified as the perpetrator in court – be ended.

Mr Matheson said the proposals were “substantial and complex” and would have a considerable impact on the justice system.

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