Consultation issued on Scots law after Cadder ruling

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Police interview generic
Image caption,
The review is being carried out following the Cadder ruling on questioning of suspects

Radical changes to Scots law are being considered which could lead to the abandoning of ancient rights.

High Court judge Lord Carloway is carrying out a review of Scotland's criminal justice system in the wake of the Cadder ruling.

A consultation paper is seeking views on issues such as whether the requirement for corroboration - unique to Scots law - should remain.

Lord Carloway said he hoped to trigger an "open discussion" of the issues.

His review of the criminal justice system follows a human rights judgement by the UK Supreme Court.

The Cadder ruling stopped police being able to question a suspect without the option of legal advice first.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill commissioned the examination of the entire legal system following the judgement in October last year.

'Right to silence'

Among the issues raised in Lord Carloway's consultation is whether the requirement for corroboration should continue.

This cornerstone of Scots law means that no-one can be convicted of a crime without two sources of evidence.

The consultation also asks whether the right to silence should change, so that courts can take into account any inference from a suspect refusing to answer questions.

It raises questions about whether police should still be able to detain people before they are arrested and whether detectives should be able to question suspects even after they have appeared in court.

Lord Carloway said he expected attention would be focused on some issues, but it was important to consider the "functioning of the system as a whole".

He said: "The aim of the consultation is to stimulate open discussion of the issues raised, rather than to present draft recommendations for response.

"I am determined that my recommendations will be practical as well as compliant with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights and the needs of justice more generally.

"What is needed are clear, effective, efficient and practical rules and procedures which all can understand and follow."

Review 'opportunity'

The Scottish Human Rights Commission welcomed the publication of the consultation paper.

In a statement, it said: "Recommendations made by Lord Carloway may result in changes which last for a generation, so it is important that the consultation has as wide a response as possible to gather proper evidence, and takes the time to get recommendations right.

"The Carloway Review is an opportunity for Scotland to do better, to learn from the lessons of the Cadder case, to make sure there is robust evidence to justify interference with individual's liberty, and to develop recommendations that will ensure we meet all our international obligations moving forward."

The consultation will close on 3 June. Lord Carloway's recommendations are expected to be issued in the autumn.

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