Legal Opinion: Scottish Government's response to the prosecution of serious sexual crime in times of Covid-19 ‘could be unlawful’
Rape Crisis Scotland has today released a legal opinion showing the Scottish Government’s response to the prosecution of serious sexual crime in times of Covid-19 ‘could be unlawful’.
In an extraordinary judgment today, Lord Carloway, the Lord Justice General, Scotland’s most senior judge has vehemently condemned the manner in which all of the lawyers, prosecution, defence and presiding Judge, treated a victim of serious sexual crime during the trial of her assailant, Gavin MacDonald, who was thirty years her senior. The judge explained that if the circumstances of this case were to be repeated the, “situation in sexual offences trials would be unsustainable”.
Rape Crisis Scotland welcomes the advances that are now being made to try and resume the business of the Scottish Courts, and in particular the steps now being taken to try to resume jury trials in Scotland. In this connection Rape Crisis welcomes the fact that the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament is to begin to hear evidence on this matter on 19 May 2020, and that Lord Justice Clerk’s Jury Trial Working Group had its first meeting on 14 May 2020.
Briefing Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill | Rape Crisis Scotland
Rape Crisis Scotland have today (Wednesday 10th July 2019)
launched an updated video guide to the criminal
justice system for survivors of
sexual violence, featuring key people that survivors will come into contact
with during the justice process.
This includes a specially trained police officer, a rape crisis advocacy worker, a Procurator Fiscal, a defence lawyer, an advocate for the prosecution and a judge.
A judicially led review, chaired by the Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian, will develop new proposals for how sexual offences are dealt with within the Scottish Criminal Justice System.
Today sees the publication of a new report,
Interest Litigation in Scotland, which explores why
there is a lack of strategic court action in Scotland and suggests recommendations
to address this.
It suggests key barriers are:
We write to express our significant concern with respect to your letter
dated 8th of March outlining the shift in approach of the Crown Office
in dealing with reluctant complainers in rape cases, effective from
today, and ask that you urgently reconsider this change to policy.
We share the knowledge that rape is an awful crime that can leave a lasting and profound impact on those who experience this violence. It is no secret that the concept of justice is one that is frequently far removed from the reality of survivors of sexual violence in Scotland today. I know you are also aware of the many barriers that stand in the way for those who pursue justice and even though considerable work has been done to address and remove these obstacles there remains a stubborn gap between those who experience sexual violence and their ability to access justice and we are clear that there is much more to do.