Removing citizen juries from serious sexual offence cases would undermine justice

27 Jul

Tony Lenehan, Scottish Criminal Bar Association President

The Scottish Government Justice Secretary’s announcement last week again raised the spectre of removing the public from sitting as juries in some serious cases. 

Every system should strive for improvement in the pursuit of perfection. Our justice system is no different.

But sometimes the pendulum of well-meaning intervention swings too far.

This is the fear in sexual offence prosecutions. We would draw the Justice Secretary’s attention to this temptation, in pursuit of an understandably emotive cause. 

Good causes – be they protection of children from abuse, or vindicating the rights of victims of sexual abuse – are so naturally desired by right-minded citizens that they can tempt the incautious into puritanical displays of vehemence and zeal.

That road doesn’t lead toward justice, but further away.

Read the full column in The Herald  here