Lord Advocate: Crown has a voice on corroboration
Scotland’s top prosecutor has hit out at suggestions the legal profession is united in condemnation of plans to abolish a requirement for corroboration.
In an exclusive interview with Holyrood, the Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC conveyed his frustrations that the Crown’s views on the provision have been overlooked in public.
It came as Kenny MacAskill insisted that his job as Cabinet Secretary for Justice is still tenable, despite a change in parliamentary procedure regarding his flagship piece of legislation.
Stage 2 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill will now commence next spring once the Lord Bonomy review on safeguards delivers its recommendations.
Asked if he had a message for opponents to removal of corroboration, Mulholland said: “I don’t have a message. You’re asking me what I think and I am entitled to my view as much as they are entitled to their view.
“At the end of the day it is a decision for the Parliament. They are the elected representatives but what they have got to do is weigh it all up. They’ve got to listen to people who are involved in the criminal justice system.
“I think I’ve got a voice, I think the Crown has got a voice. What really annoyed me was [people] saying that the whole legal profession was against it. No, the whole legal profession is not against it because the Crown is a significant part of the legal profession.
“It employs over 500 lawyers, it takes the most trainees of any organisation or legal firm, so I’m sorry I don’t agree with that. And the Crown has a voice as much as other key players in the criminal justice system. It is a matter for the Parliament to listen and weigh up what they think [is] best and whatever the Parliament decides we’ll all fall behind that.”
However, a former Principal Advocate Depute in charge of all High Court prosecutions in Scotland cast doubt on the Crown’s strength of support.
“I would be very, very surprised from the discussions I’ve had with prosecutors on the ground whether there are very many of them in favour of the abolition of corroboration,” said chairman of the Faculty of Advocates’ Criminal Bar Association, Brian McConnachie QC, who worked for the Crown Office for over seven years.