Scotland’s most senior judge has urged politicians to pull plans to abolish corroboration out of the current justice bill.
Lord Gill, the Lord President, warned there would be unforeseen consequences of the Scottish Government’s plans to end the requirement for two independent pieces of evidence to bring a case to court.
During a session of the Scottish Parliament justice committee, Margaret Mitchell MSP asked him: “Is there an argument for taking this whole issue out of the bill and a commission looking at it in depth?”
Lord Gill replied: “That’s what I would suggest myself. That would be a very good way out of our difficulty here, then a balanced judgement could be reached.”
He added: “The risk is if the prosecution does not need corroboration it will not go looking for it - we’ve got the complainer, the complainer’s word may be enough.
“Going looking for corroboration is costly in terms of police time and resources, when you are dealing with scarce resources it would be unfortunate if economies were made in that direction.
“Just imagine a prosecution brought without corroboration, if a defence can show that corroboration might have been available that’s a very powerful defence.”
Lord Gill said: “There’s a very fear there will be even fewer convictions, for reasons I’ve already given.”
The Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, the head of the prosecution service, also gave evidence and spoke in favour of the proposed abolition.
He said: “That police and prosecutors would not look for additional evidence, I would have to refute that suggestion.
“If that’s correct I would expect police and prosecutors to stop at corroboration - two sources of evidence - they do not do that.”