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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Salmond hints at legal changes
Alex Salmond
Mr Salmond said cabinet had discussed the double jeopardy issue
First Minister Alex Salmond has hinted at possible changes to the judicial system, such as the ban on suspects being tried twice for the same crime.

Speaking during First Minister's Questions, Mr Salmond said he would address the "double jeopardy" issue.

However, he stressed there would be no "knee-jerk" changes.

His comments came ahead of Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini's statement to parliament on the Crown's handling of the collapsed World's End murder trial.

Angus Sinclair, 62, denied killing 17-year-olds Christine Eadie and Helen Scott 30 years ago.

These matters have to be carefully considered and certainly in no way should be looked upon as a knee-jerk reaction to any one particular case
Alex Salmond
Scottish First Minister

During the case, judge Lord Clarke said the Crown had insufficient evidence to proceed.

Labour deputy leader Cathy Jamieson described a "growing mood" in Scotland to end double jeopardy and called for a cross-party meeting to bring forward plans to bring Scotland into line with England and Wales.

Ms Jamieson - the former justice minister - demanded to know where the planned criminal justice legislation promised in the SNP's election manifesto was.

"Is it not the case that the SNP are happy to face the people of Scotland in a national conversation but they've turned their backs on the victims of crime in Scotland?" she asked.

The first minister said: "I would have thought that the state of crime in Scotland might have something to do with the last eight years of administration - in which Cathy Jamieson was the justice minister."

Failed prosecutions

Annabel Goldie, the Conservative leader, pointed out that Labour voted against abolishing double jeopardy in a Holyrood debate earlier in the year.

She said: "I accept the premise that these matters should not be entered into lightly and I would say to the first minister that I think that this is almost a stand-alone issue.

"I'm sure he must be almost as frustrated as I am that after four years, when the law was strengthened in England and Wales, victims and their families in Scotland still don't have that same opportunity for justice because of the neglect of Labour and the Liberal Democrats."

Mr Salmond said cabinet had already discussed the issue as part of a wider package of changes to the justice system and it is thought the SNP government also wants to look at introducing a right of appeal for the Crown, when prosecutions fail to achieve convictions.

"There's not just one potential change in the Scottish judicial system that should be considered, there are a number," the first minister said.

"These matters have to be carefully considered and certainly in no way should be looked upon as a knee-jerk reaction to any one particular case."

Law chief to make trial statement
12 Sep 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
MSPs debate double jeopardy rule
22 Feb 07 |  Scotland
Call for end to double jeopardy
11 Feb 07 |  Scotland


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