HUMZA Yousaf has announced a pilot scheme to help victims of sexual crimes access their trial transcripts without facing bills for thousands of pounds.

The First Minister revealed the plan while making his first appearance before a meeting of Holyrood’s committee conveners, taking questions on a wide range of topics.

Audrey Nicoll, the SNP convener of the Criminal Justice Committee, raised the case of Ellie Wilson, who waived her anonymity after being raped while a student in Glasgow.

Daniel McFarlane was jailed for five years last June and placed on the sex offenders register for the attacks which took place between December 2017 and February 2018.

Ms Wilson lodged a complaint about his defence advocate Lorenzo Alonzi, saying she felt “humiliated, degraded and bullied” when he cross-examined her at McFarlane’s trial.

She was then quoted a cost of £100 an hour for a verbatim transcript of the trial to back up her complaint, or around £3,000 for the whole case.

She resorted to crowdfunding to raise the money.

Ms Nicoll said: “The criminal justice committee has recently been supporting the campaign of Elliott Wilson and others others to allow survivors of rape and serious sexual offences to have free access to transcripts of their court cases. 

“This is a very important issue, because at present they're being charged potentially thousands of pounds for this. 

“So while the committee understands that this is a matter largely for the Scottish courts and tribunal service, will the First Minister give his commitment to consider a pilot for accessing free transcripts so that survivors of free can use these transcripts either as part of their recovery or to support any future civil process?”

Mr Yousaf paid tribute by Ms Wilson and other rape survivors who went public to make things better for others, saying it was “to their credit and should be commended”.

He said Ms Wilson had also raised the issue of transcripts with him in person at an event both attended for the launch of new Holyrood justice legislation.

The First Minister said Justice Secretary Angela Constance was planning to write to the committee this week expressing the Government’s commitment to a pilot “to support access to transcripts and initially focused on complainers in sexual offences cases”. 

He said: “It is an issue I'm well aware of given my previous role to Cabinet Secretary for Justice. We will absolutely commit to a pilot focused initially in relation to complainters in sexual offence cases.”

Ms Nicoll said it was a “very welcome update”.