Criminal Procedue in Scotland – Test Case

In Scotland an accused person has a right to see a solicitor prior to going before thr court, this does not extend to a right to see a solicitor whilst in police custody, before or during interview by the Police (unlike in England).  However, a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) could be about to change all of that.

The ECtHR held that the denial of legal assistance to a youth whilst in police custody in Turkey had been a violation of the youth’s right to a fair trial guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).

A test case has began before the Lord Justice General, Lord Hamilton (who is Scotland’s most senior judge).  Lord Hamilton is sitting with Lord Kingrath and Lady Cosgrove.  Defence Solicitor’s in Scotland are using this ruling from the ECtHR to challenge evidence obtained in police interviews.

If the High Court of Justiciary holds in favour of the defence solicitors this could have an astronomical affect on thousands of cases currently going through Scotland’s criminal courts and could pave the way for thousands currently in prison to appeal their convictions where the prosecution relied on evidence obtained in police interview.

While I would like to see defence solicitors in police interviews in Scotland where those arrested wish there has to be a better way of getting that right rather than put thousands of convictions in jeopardy to gain it.

I will be watching this case with great interest.

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