The need for corroborated evidence before a person can be convicted of a crime has been an essential element of Scots Law for hundreds of years. As was discussed in the piece linked to here, the need for more than one source of evidence to allow a conviction can be taken back as far as the Old Testament.
”Corroboration has been a cornerstone of the Scottish system for a long time – and a matter of considerable pride – in assessing sufficiency of evidence.”
“It is an archaic rule that has no place in a modern legal system where judges and juries should be free to consider all relevant evidence and answer the single question of whether they are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the accused person committed the offence libelled.”
Today the Solicitor General, Lesley Thomson, is quoted as saying the following about corroboration:-
“Prosecutions with evidence of a perfectly good quality to convince a sheriff or jury of an accused’s guilt should not founder on the basis of an antiquated technical requirement, heralding from centuries before a woman could vote, own property or give evidence in criminal proceedings.” (Emphasis added)
Poor corroboration – from “a cornerstone of the system” to “an antiquated technical requirement” in less than nineteen months.
Presumably the Solicitor General, who was speaking at Domestic Abuse in Scotland conference, wants to abolish all other laws dating from “before a woman could vote, own property or give evidence in criminal proceedings”? If not, and she simply came up with that as a snappy sound-bite, then why mention it at all? Was the intention to suggest that the legal system is biased against women, and has been for hundreds of years?
If that were the position of the Solicitor General for Scotland, one would expect to see proposals for root and branch reform, or at least for one of her predecessors as Solicitor General, and latterly Lord Advocate, Dame Elish Angiolini, to have taken up the cudgels.
Whilst it is rarely a bad idea to agree with a learned judge, such as Lord Carloway, the comments of the Solicitor General smack of bandwagon jumping, and a bandwagon to which the majority of solicitors dealing with the issue of corroboration on a daily basis, are opposed.