Page last updated at 13:01 GMT, Monday, 31 January 2011

Double Jeopardy Bill debate

MSPs backed the general principles of the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Bill on 3 February 2011.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill led the debate in the chamber and said people who had committed a crime but who were acquitted should not be able to "walk free from court and boast with impunity about getting away with it."

In March 2010 the justice secretary launched a consultation on the need to change the law that prevents someone from being tried for the same crime.

The bill proposes a change in the law which would scrap the controversial double jeopardy law.

Mr MacAskill said people who confessed after an acquittal or who undermined trials by threats or corruption should be retried.

He stressed that a second trial should be allowed in very serious cases, where important new evidence emerged.

The government intends to make the changes retrospective, which would open the way for retrials when new and compelling evidence becomes available.

The measure needs parliamentary approval but there is cross-party support at Holyrood for abolishing the law, as happened in England and Wales five years ago.

In closing Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing commended the broad consensus expressed during the debate and stressed there would be relatively few cases where there would be retrials.

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