Scottish Government
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Double jeopardy laws

The Scottish Law Commission yesterday published its report on double jeopardy laws in Scotland. This follows a request by the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in November 2007 for a detailed investigation by the SLC into whether there should be exceptions to the principle of double jeopardy in Scotland.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

"Questions around Crown appeal rights, double jeopardy and previous convictions are not new - and were raised again after the trial for the World's End murders - but we need to ensure that at all times we have a Scottish justice system that is fair to both the victim and the accused, a justice system which has the full confidence of the public.

"Good government is about listening to those public and political concerns with a cool head and if necessary, taking appropriate action. That is exactly why I asked the Scottish Law Commission to look at this issue.

"We will now consider their recommendations closely.

"The SLC do not make a recommendation either way on the central question of whether there should be a general exception to the rule against double jeopardy where new evidence emerges after a trial. This is a particularly complex question which requires detailed consideration and may require consultation.

"However, there is a clear direction of travel and I want to ensure that Scotland has a double jeopardy law which is fit for the 21st century. I believe that Scotland's approach to double jeopardy should reflect the interests of justice and not just the accused.

"We will now fully assess the SLC report before responding, but the intention is to legislate at the earliest practicable opportunity because change is needed and needed now."

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