SCOTLAND'S most senior judge has warned that ending the requirement for corroboration in criminal cases would cut conviction rates and create miscarriages of justice.

The Scottish Government faced renewed pressure to abandon its plans to scrap the centuries-old legal principle following comments yesterday by Lord Gill, the Lord President of the Court Of Session.

He told MSPs the need for evidence to come from two separate sources was one of the "finest features" of the Scottish legal system.

He also said only one judge in Scotland, the Lord Justice Clerk Lord Carloway - who originally recommended abolishing corroboration in a report later backed by the Scottish Government - was in favour of ending the rule.

Giving evidence to Holyrood's justice committee, Lord Gill said: "I don't think this will improve the quality of justice in Scotland in any way.

"I think there is a very serious risk there will be fewer convictions. I also think that if you make this change in isolation, without looking at the wider picture, there are consequences that, at the moment, are unknowable but could be very adverse to the system."

Proposals to drop the requirement for corroboration are among a series of reforms included in the Criminal Justice Bill, currently going through parliament.

Lord Gill's comments were welcomed by the Law Society of Scotland, and Tory and Liberal Democrat MSPs.

Peter Lockhart, of the Law Society Of Scotland's Criminal Law Committee, agreed it would lead to an increased risk of unsafe convictions.

He added: "The Scottish solicitors' profession is deeply concerned about proposals to remove the need for corroboration in criminal trials.

"It is an integral part of the Scottish criminal justice system; the degree of opposition to this proposal should make MSPs stop and think."

LibDems' justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes urged Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to listen to "wiser counsel," adding: "The Cabinet Secretary must recognise the dangers of cutting corners in the pursuit of convictions."

Scottish Conservatives' justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: "Kenny MacAskill cannot ignore this matter any longer."

However, Scotland's top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, said the change would help victims of domestic abuse, rape and sexual offending.

He said in 2012-13 there were 2803 charges of domestic abuse that could not be taken to court because there was insufficient admissible evidence, while over the last two years about 13% of rape cases - approximately 170 - reported to the Crown could not be proceeded with because of the requirement for corroboration.

He said: "I respect people in the legal profession, their views, I respect judges' views. But they are not seeing the cases that cannot be taken up because of the requirement for corroboration. It's police and prosecutors that are seeing this."

Meanwhile, MSPs on Holyrood's public audit committee heard that extra prosecutions and convictions, as a result of ending the need for corroboration, could cost police up to £1 million in forensic costs and councils £1.2m administering community punishments. The legal aid bill could rise by nearly £900,000, said the Law Society Of Scotland.