Letter: Sturgeon has put her foot in it
In what is said to be the former First Minister’s first intervention on a policy issue, she is reported as saying that the backlash by lawyers against plans for juryless trials for rape cases is a sign that Scottish politics is polarised. I may be alone in failing to understand what she is saying.
Both Lord Hope and Lord Uist have spoken against the proposals. Is the former FM suggesting that their stance has been dictated by politics? Solicitors throughout the country have said that they will not accept instructions in such cases, presumably, on her argument that that too is because of their political affiliations.
She goes on to say that these people should have waited for a debate, or evidence being led in Parliament. Why? The proposal is to have trials without a jury. It is perfectly reasonable to take a principled stance that one is opposed to such a move. A debate in Parliament may make little difference, but one would expect any reasonable person to listen to the debate, and, who knows, perhaps have a change of heart.
She also mentioned “evidence”, but does not give any indication of what that evidence would be, but the hint is that it would be about “myths” and no doubt, this “evidence” will be from mock trials. She also goes on to make a quite astonishing claim that those judges, if any, who would preside over these trials could also be affected by these “myths”.
Perhaps she does not appreciate that that assertion undermines the very reason for this pilot scheme, namely that while jurors are, supposedly, influenced by these “myths”, judges would not be. She is also asserting that judges would ignore their judicial oath, in the same way as jurors ignore their oath, which is to try the case according to the evidence and not take into account irrelevancies.
Perhaps, it would have been better had the former First Minister given more careful consideration to what she is reported to have said, before actually putting ‘her foot in it’.