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Law chief criticises changes to justice system

THE removal of ­corroboration means dock identification in criminal trials could lead to miscarriages of justice, the head of the Law Society of Scotland has warned.

Bruce Beveridge, ­president of the Law Society of Scotland, has warned the full consequences of removing corroboration on other aspects of the justice system have not been sufficiently examined.

Mr Beveridge said: "We fear there has not been enough consideration of the potential knock-on effects - such as the use of dock identification in criminal trials. Routine reliance on dock identification of an accused person, sometimes years after an alleged offence, is a distinctive feature of the Scottish criminal justice system.

"The requirement for corroboration has been used to justify the procedure but, without it, continued reliance on dock identification of an accused by a single witness runs the risk of mistaken identification leading to a miscarriage of justice."

His concerns follow those of many of Scotland's most high-profile judges and lawyers. Earlier this week former Lords President Lord Hamilton and Lord Cullen warned against removing corroboration.

Lord Cullen said it could be a "safeguard against wrongful conviction".

Scottish ministers and the Lord Advocate want to end the requirement. Proposals to drop it are among a series of reforms contained in the Scottish Government's Criminal Justice Bill.

Ministers believe more rape, sexual offence and domestic abuse cases would be heard if the current need for two different and independent sources of evidence was removed.

A Government spokesman said: "We are focused upon moving to a system based upon the overall quality of evidence available."

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