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Monday, 5 February, 2001, 14:12 GMT
Drugs assets seizure victory
Heroin packages
Assets seizure is a weapon in the fight against drugs
The Crown Office has won a significant legal victory over measures to seize the profits of illegal drug dealing in Scotland.

Law lords have ruled that current seizure proceedings are legal and a reasonable response to the scourge of the illegal drug trade.

The ruling by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council overturns a decision last October that outlawed the seizure of drug dealers' assets as it infringed the European Convention on Human Rights.

The original test case was brought in the Court of Criminal Appeal by lawyers defending a drug dealer from Paisley.

Pile of money
Courts can seize the profits from illegal drugs
Robert McIntosh was convicted of drug trafficking in 1999, and the Crown Office seized 18,000 of his assets.

His lawyers challenged that on the grounds that the seizure infringed human rights laws.

In October Lord Prosser ruled that seizure of assets amounted to a second criminal charge where the accused would have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Five law lords on the Privy Council in London have now rejected that reasoning.

The Lords, who rule on Human Rights Act issues, found that current seizure proceedings were a reasonable response to the harm done to society by drug trafficking.

Lord Hope ruled that the present laws represent a fair balance between the need to prevent crime and the rights of the accused.

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See also:

13 Oct 00 | Scotland
Drug profit confiscations outlawed
10 Oct 00 | Scotland
Pledge on crime assets
09 Oct 00 | Scotland
New powers to seize drug profits
14 Jun 00 | Scotland
Call to seize criminal assets
25 Feb 00 | Scotland
Drug chief issues warning
20 Jan 00 | Scotland
More cash for drugs battle
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