Double jeopardy law will be scrapped in Scotland

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Angus Sinclair
Image caption,
A change in the law was proposed after Angus Sinclair was cleared of the World's End murders

The Scottish government is to propose a change in the law which would scrap the controversial double jeopardy law.

The law prevents a person standing trial twice for the same crime.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill launched a consultation on the issue in March following a recommendation by the Scottish Law Commission.

Scrapping the law could lead to convicted killer Angus Sinclair standing trial for a second time over the World's End murders.

BBC Scotland understands the government's bill will go further than the law commission's recommendation that only people cleared of murder and rape should be allowed to stand trial for a second time.

Instead, it will be extended to cover other offences including some serious sexual crimes and culpable homicide.

Convicted killer

And the government intends to make the changes retrospective, which would open the way for retrials when new and compelling evidence becomes available.

The measure needs parliamentary approval but there is cross-party support at Holyrood for abolishing the law, as happened in England and Wales five years ago.

Sinclair had the charges against him thrown out three years ago after a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence that he had raped and murdered teenagers Christine Eadie and Helen Scott in 1977.

However, police and relatives of Ms Scott and Ms Eadie remain convinced of his guilt. The family of Ms Scott has welcomed the government's move to abolish double jeopardy for the most serious offences.

Mr MacAskill had previously said the World's End case had "scarred the soul of Scotland".

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