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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Dr Findlay Stark Advises Scottish Government on Corroboration in Criminal CasesDr Findlay Stark has been serving as a member of the Academic Expert Group advising the Post-corroboration Safeguards Review (PCSR). The PCSR (headed by Lord Bonomy) was set up in the light of the Scottish Government's proposal to abolish the requirement of corroboration in criminal cases. The corroboration requirement (which applies in relation to virtually all criminal offences) entails that, before an accused person can be convicted, evidence consistent with her guilt, from two independent sources, must be presented in court. In short, a person accused of crime in Scotland cannot be convicted on the basis of one piece of evidence, however compelling.

There is no equivalent requirement in English law, and the Scottish rule appears stricter than in any other comparable system. The PCSR has been tasked with advising the Scottish Government on whether reforms to the Scottish criminal justice system are required in order to avoid miscarriages of justice if the corroboration requirement is abolished.

The Academic Expert Group has produced a report on the academic literature on, and comparative legal responses to, the causes of wrongful convictions, which the Scottish Government has now published. Dr Stark wrote the chapters on confession evidence, accomplice/informer evidence and hearsay evidence.

The report and the PCSR's public consultation document are available on the PCSR's website.