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Double Jeopardy Bill Passed with Unanimous Vote

On 22 March 2011, the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Bill passed its third and final stage through the Scottish Parliament. MSPs were unanimous in voting in favour of the Bill becoming law.

Essentially the Bill provides for a legislative form of the ancient law of double jeopardy, under which no person can be prosecuted by the State twice for the same crime, although there are certain exceptions to this. The main exception exists where compelling new evidence has emerged which substantially bolsters the case of the Crown against the accused. This exists alongside other exceptions such as cases where the original trial was tainted by threats or corruption, cases where the person acquitted subsequently admits that he had, in fact, committed the crime, or, in the case of a victim dying after the original trial, in which case more serious charges could be brought.

The passing of this Bill is, however, not without maintained controversy, particularly in respect of the laws operating retrospectively, i.e., applying to previous cases. We will have to wait until the law becomes enacted by Act of Parliament before determining its practical effects and its impact upon the interests of justice for those who have already been acquitted of crimes in Scotland.

To view the Bill as passed, see the Scottish Government's website at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/bills/59-DoubleJeopardy/b59bs3-aspassed.pdf

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Friday, 10 July 2020

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