TRIAL by jury is an auld part of the Scots legal system which provides legitimacy for some subjects to exert control over others. It attracts criticism as well as praise and I do feel that it is a fair topic for considered public discussion at length in the right environment. To attempt simply to suspend it from on high during a pandemic, however, is an affront to us all.

The Scottish Government’s plan to suspend this ancient right – dropped under widespread pressure – has illuminated several points.

First, the authoritarian instincts of the SNP know no bounds. During a public health crisis it wishes to attack an ancient and important constitutional right. Nationalists tend to be authoritarians by definition, and we have seen that tendency from this mob during their years in office. But this blatant attempt at a power grab and vandalism of constitutional protection for basic rights ought to wake us all up to the grave authoritarianism the SNP represents.

Secondly, if the proposal had gone ahead, almost certainly any trials subject to these rules would later have been subject to appeal on the grounds of procedural fairness, at great cost to the taxpayer. One does not need to be a legal or political seer to see this. The Scottish Government has proven itself incompetent at basic administration and profligate with taxpayer funds, as the scandal of the CalMac ferries has shown. This latest episode reinforces this wasteful basic administrative incompetence.

Christopher Ruane, Lanark.

I HAVE a great deal of sympathy for the views expressed by David Clark (Letters, April 1). Nearly 25 years of working as a police surgeon led me to understand that the Scottish criminal justice system is not always predicated on the establishment of the truth. I realise that it is the job of the defence to spread doubt and diversion, but sometimes this ploy verged on the unsavoury.

This opinion may well upset many very learned defence counsellors, but in my experience it was not uncommon for the defence, if they could not discredit the evidence, to try to discredit the witness. Fortunately, Their Lordships were usually protective of their professional witnesses. I would have no problem with being tried by a tribunal of judges, rather than good men and true.

John NE Rankin, Bridge of Allan.