SCOTLAND’S second most senior prosecutor has backed a proposal to abolish the need for corroborating evidence in criminal trials.
Solicitor general Lesley Thomson QC challenged critics of the controversial plan who say it will lead to miscarriages of justice, arguing that the current system already creates many miscarriages.
The centuries-old law of corroboration requires more than one piece of evidence to secure a conviction, regardless of how compelling the initial piece of incriminating evidence is.
The Scottish Government wants to abolish the requirement to widen access to justice for victims, particularly in cases of rape and domestic violence where corroborating evidence can be difficult to obtain.
Ms Thomson said: “Many of those opposed to the abolition of the requirement of corroboration advance arguments that it will lead to a greater risk of and greater numbers of miscarriages of justice. However, it is clear that it is the present system which creates many victims of miscarriages of justice.”
She was speaking at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service’s annual sexual offences conference at Hampden in Glasgow.
Recent figures show an increase in the number of convictions for rape or attempted rape, she told delegates.
She praised specialist Crown Office prosecutors for their work in supporting victims throughout the process.
Ms Thomson also paid tribute to the family of murdered Glasgow woman Moira Jones, whose name is remembered each year at the conference, for the comfort they have brought other grieving families.
“Despite their own pain and suffering, Moira’s mother Bea Jones and her family have managed to help many other people who have lost loved ones as a result of violent crimes. Their courage and dedication to helping others is inspirational,” she said.
The annual Moira Jones lecture was delivered this year by Dr Ethel Quayle of University of Edinburgh.