The Scottish Liberal Democrats have laid amendments to the Coronavirus (Scotland) bill objecting to the Scottish Government’s plans to allow some court cases to go ahead without a jury.
You can watch my speech here.
The English and Welsh courts have in contrast delayed cases that require juries until they can be conducted safely.
The bill does not clearly outline who would make the decision as to which cases could proceed without jury.
Alex Cole-Hamilton commented:
“The coronavirus has completely transformed the way we lead our lives and public services manage their operations. It’s important we are flexible but Scottish Liberal Democrats are clear - justice cannot be compromised.
“It’s not safe for juries to be in close proximity at the moment, but this problem is not insurmountable.
“Jury trials should be suspended, as they have been in England and Wales, while we find new places courts can meet where jurors are at a safer distance from one another.
“Jury trials have been a feature in Scotland since the reign of Alexander II in 1230. For almost 800 years people in Scotland who are victims or witnesses have been able to give their evidence to a jury, and for the accused to know that their peers are judging them. This is not something to abandon when we can adapt to meet the challenge in other ways."