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Experts named for panel in plan to scrap corroboration

A HIGH Court judge, sheriffs and lawyers have all been included in a new group being set up to consider what safeguards will be required if plans to scrap corroboration are approved.

The Scottish Government plans to get rid of the ancient legal rule, which means that evidence against a person in a criminal case must come from more than one source, have been fiercely opposed by the legal profession.

While Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is committed to making the change, he has said a special group will look at what other reforms may be needed following the planned abolition.

Former High Court judge Lord Bonomy will head up the independent reference group and yesterday leading figures from Scotland's criminal justice system were revealed as members.

These include judge Lady Dorrian, Sheriff Michael O'Grady QC and Sheriff Norman McFadyen. Lawyers Murray Macara QC, Murdo MacLeod QC and advocate Jane Farquharson - who was in both Luke Mitchell and Peter Tobin's defence teams - will also join the group.

Other members include Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone from Police Scotland, Shelagh McCall from the Scottish Human Rights Commission and David McKenna from Victim Support Scotland.

While there has been opposition from within the legal profession to the scrapping of corroboration, the proposal has been welcomed by the police, victims' groups and prosecutors, with some arguing the change will make it easier to take cases of sexual assault and domestic abuse to court.

Mr MacAskill said: "The reference group has a prestigious membership list made up from respected individuals from Scotland's legal field and criminal justice system, as well as representation on victims' and human rights. I have no doubt that their experience will be invaluable in ensuring a comprehensive look at what additional safeguards and changes are required in our criminal justice system."

MSPs will vote on the issue for the first time on Thursday.

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