ALEX Salmond had to come to the aid of beleaguered Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill over the planned abolition of the requirement for corroboration in criminal trials, as Tories and LibDems mounted a joint attack at First Minister's Questions.

On the day after the Justice Committee urged the Scottish Government to think again on scrapping corro­boration, and Mr MacAskill responded by appointing former judge Lord Bonomy to chair an expert panel looking at additional safeguards for the rights of accused, the row rumbled on.

Rape Crisis Scotland and individual campaigner Mary Ann Davison had been critical of the Justice Committee, which said in its Stage 1 report this week that Mr MacAskill had failed to make the case for abolition of the requirement for corroboration, the historic rule that evidence must come from more than one source.

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Sandie Barton, national co-ordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: "Until the justice system is able to respond to more than the small minority of reported rapes which currently make it to court, rape survivors will continue to feel let down by the Scottish justice system. The Justice Committee has failed to stand up for survivors of sexual violence."

Ms Davison, whose experience at the centre of a rape case led to a change in the law over the use of physical force, met Mr MacAskill last week to encourage him to press ahead with his reforms.

She said: "Victims of crime are not seeing justice done, and this, to me, is as much a miscarriage of justice as it is to see an innocent person go to jail."

But Mr Salmond said: "It is not a quick fix, it is a distinguished judge who is looking to make absolutely certain that as this change is made, appropriate safeguards are there to prevent miscarriages of justice."