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written by The Justice of the Peace on the 04th May 2018 at 12:52

When it comes to society, justice and the law Scottish thinking is often practically and philosophically some distance ahead of the other parts of the UK.  The alcohol tax introduced this week is an example which is highly unlikely not to be followed south of the border in due course.  On the subject of trials the Scots verdict, unique in the English speaking world, has many merits as does the requirement of two witnesses, even if police officers,  to corroborate evidence.  However when the subject is rape controversy is never far away in Scotland as elsewhere. Conviction rates are bandied about like jelly beans depending upon which side of the argument one is supporting.  The recent problems disclosed or rather not disclosed in recent high profile rape trials in England have brought the topic to a wide audience.

In March in Scotland there were angry protests at new guidance that could force rape victims to give evidence against their will. Earlier this week Scotland`s chief judge suggested that rape "victims" need not appear in court. These two apparently diametrically opposite viewpoints can be read and compared in reports here and here

There is no doubt that this debate will become more heated in all parts of the country.  When not just a normal act between two people but one could say an essential part of human life can become a criminal act there is bound to be rancorous debate.  When the likelihood of an impartial witness being available to corroborate or deny an account by the accuser or the accused is constrained a court must use all it has at its disposal to reach the truth; an exercise of extreme difficulty.  All of which leads me round in a complete circle from my statement above; namely the verdict of "not proven" in a rape trial must in real terms be a summation in the minds of many jurors but finding actual expression only in Scotland. 

 Originally posted at

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