A VICTIM of sexual abuse has taken the rare decision to waive her right to anonymity in order to campaign for an end to the Scots law requirement for corroboration.

Colette Barrie saw her case dropped on the day the trial was due to begin earlier this year because of a lack of corroboration. She has set up an online petition to be sent to the Scottish Parliament to demand the law be changed and made retrospective.

Sexually abused as a child, it took six-and-a-half years of therapy and support from Rape Crisis for her to be able to talk fully about what happened and report the allegations to police.

On July 4 Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill suggested corroboration – the historic requirement for two separate sources of evidence to secure a conviction – would be abolished.

However, it is not clear whether the change will be retrospective. Recent changes to legislation such as that on Double Jeopardy have been made retrospective.

Defence advocates have already opposed the removal of corroboration, warning it will lead to miscarriages of justice.

Ms Barrie, 46, grew up in the west of Scotland but now lives in England, where she works as a probation officer.

"By making retrospective the legislation which allows the abolition of the corroboration requirement, the legislators will be affording to the thousands of victims – of rape, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, hate crime, homophobic crime, assault, to name but a few – the opportunity to bring our abusers to account," she said. "In so doing, we have a chance – finally – to have restored to us that part of us, that missing piece of us, which our abusers stole.

"In his report, Lord Carloway quotes whoever it was that said 'Justice delayed is justice denied' and he, Lord Carloway, is bang on when he says that the corroboration requirement creates miscarriages of justice, for how can it be otherwise when a rapist and a paedophile get away with it simply because of this law?

"Retrospective legislation is needed so that those who are guilty of terrible crimes – but who, thanks to the current law, remain at liberty to perpetrate further offences – are finally held to account. Held to account and, in some way known only by their victims, made to give back that which they stole. That inner part of each of us. Justice in too many cases has been delayed for too long already."

A review of the criminal justice system by Lord Carloway, commissioned by the Scottish Government and published last year, recommended the rule of corroboration be abolished. Research from the Crown Office found that of 141 sexual offences not prosecuted in 2010, 67% had a good chance of a conviction had they made it to court.

"My abuse spanned an 18-month period," said Ms Barrie. "I liken it to a set of Russian dolls. The outer one splits apart to reveal an inner one which also splits apart to reveal yet another, until, revealed finally, is the smallest doll; the core of the set.

"My abuser split me apart and that core was stolen. My life since then has been one in which I function and in which I have been successful in some of my ambitions. However, I am but a collection of empty shells.

"When I started the process of trying to bring my abuser to account for what he did to me, I began to feel hope that somehow, something would be restored to me. The closer we got to the trial, the stronger and greater this hope became. Even if the jury did not find him guilty, the very fact that he was prosecuted and made to know that what he did was wrong, would have helped restore to me the missing piece of who I am. When the trial was dropped that hope was dashed."

Earlier in the year Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland said that he would be strongly in favour of the abolition of corroboration because, combined with the Cadder ruling, there were fears the legal system was letting down victims of sexual offences.

The Cadder judgment by the Supreme Court in 2010 said it was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights to let an accused be detained and interviewed by police without the right to a solicitor. Mr Mulholland said such shifts mean the human rights of rape victims may now be breached.

Advocate Niall McCluskey said: "The change could be made retrospective. Anything is possible. Under article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights there is no punishment without law, but corroboration is different to that. It is a technical requirement on the level of evidence. There may be scope for some retrospection but I think they are likely to set a certain cut-off date."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We agree with Lord Carloway's recommendation that corroboration should be abolished in Scotland.

"The focus of the consultation which is currently under way is deciding how best to achieve abolition and what, if any, additional measures require to be taken as a consequence.

"We are open to views from interested parties on this, including whether any changes to the law should apply to past cases."

l The petition can be found at: www.change.org/petitions/come- on-scotland-give-victims- of-crime-full-access-to-justice