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14 October 2014
Consultation opens on corroboration safeguards

Consultation opens on corroboration safeguards

A consultation on additional safeguards should the requirement for corroboration in criminal trials be scrapped has been launched.

The public consultation, which will run until November 28 and can be accessed here, asks a total of 25 questions on matters ranging from confession evidence through to jury size in an effort to avoid potential miscarriages of interest.

A reference group led by former High Court judge Lord Bonomy has outlined their “preliminary thinking” on a number of changes to law and practice.

Among them, the expert review team has suggested corroboration should be maintained where a confession would be the “sole evidence on which conviction would be based”.

There is also a case for the long-standing requirement to be retained “where the main evidence, or the only evidence against an accused is hearsay”, the group has said.

However, with corroboration largely no longer required, the group is agreed that the simple majority of eight out of a total of 15 jurors required for a conviction would be “inappropriate”.

Respondents are asked whether juries should look to reach a unanimous verdict or a weighted majority verdict, in other words a certain percentage of the members of the jury.

The reference group were largely of the view that there is “merit” in reducing the size of juries in Scotland from 15 to 12.

The reference group “see force in the idea of a full statutory framework… governing the investigation of crime by police in Scotland,” including a requirement that all police questioning of suspects should be recorded by audio-visual means.

Failure to adhere to this requirement could see evidence obtained deemed inadmissible in court proceedings “no matter how minor the breach”, says the consultation document.

Meanwhile, a series of public events has been organised to coincide with the exercise with reference group members speaking in six cities across Scotland from October 22 through to November 10.​

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