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McCluskey renews attack on proposed law move

FORMER Solicitor General and High Court judge Lord McCluskey renewed his attack on police as he fights to keep corroboration.

The 84-year-old earlier this year declared "policemen are not saints" and cited examples of miscarriages of justice and other law enforcement failings, such as the Jimmy Savile scandals in England, where the old Scots Law safeguard does not apply.

The life peer has made an even more detailed assault on law enforcement, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and the Crown. In a letter to the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee, Lord McCluskey said ministerial "failure" to understand the law reflected "what appears to be the practical everyday failure of the police to understand the law or apply it properly in practice".

He added: "Thus the Justice Secretary repeated on many occasions the nonsensical view (presumably obtained from the police) that the law of corroboration required that two policemen had to go to London to collect a CD Rom.

"Against that background of police misunderstanding, it is hardly surprising that assaulted women are misinformed by the police - as to the alleged reason why their cases are not going to be taken to court (viz 'No corroboration') and are thus led to support the false notion that abolishing the rule requiring corroboration is going to increase the prospects of justice for women.

"Because the diagnosis of the causes of the problem is mistaken, the wrong remedy (abolition of corroboration) has been chosen and the real causes are neglected. One has only to look at England to see that the problem of poor conviction rates in sexual assault cases there is as bad as, or even worse than, it is in Scotland."

A criminal justice bill including the abolition of corroboration has already been passed at stage 1 and will now be considered by the Justice Committee.

Senior officers have made no secret that they support the move and insist that it would not change how they go about their investigations.Lord McCluskey rejects this.

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