MSPs to vote on future of Scotland’s not proven verdict

Campaigners have called for the not proven verdict to be scrapped.

MSPs to vote on future of Scotland’s not proven verdict iStock
The Scottish Conservatives are seeking to remove the verdict.

A vote over whether to abolish the not proven verdict is to be brought forward at the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs will be asked whether they believe the verdict is fit for purpose in a debate on Wednesday.

A motion by the Scottish Conservatives has called for the removal of the verdict, with the party arguing that it “frequently” does not deliver justice for victims of crimes including gender-based violence, rape and domestic abuse.

The Scottish Government has indicated it recognises concerns “held by many” about the current three verdict system.

Campaigners have called for the not proven verdict to be scrapped, with Rape Crisis Scotland having stated that the verdict is used disproportionately in rape cases.

Earlier this week, a consultation was launched by the Scottish Government seeking views on the future of the verdict.

In April this year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also indicated that it is time to consider ending the not proven verdict.

Speaking ahead of the debate at Holyrood on Wednesday, Scottish Conservative justice spokesperson Jamie Greene explained that victims of horrific crimes were being let down by use of the verdict.

“The outdated not proven verdict should be removed and we are holding a vote to lead the Scottish Parliament towards its abolition,” said the MSP.

“Year after year, we hear stories of victims bravely coming forward to report horrific crimes such as rape and sexual assault – but they’re let down by the use of the Not Proven verdict.

“We called for this verdict to go last year and, while it’s welcome that the SNP have since moved position, they are moving far too slowly on removing this verdict. 

“Every day that the SNP delay, more victims may be denied justice.”

Greene added: “This verdict’s day in court is long overdue, and we hope to achieve its removal by bringing forward a vote in the Scottish Parliament. 

“Abolishing the Not Proven verdict is just one part of our Victims Law proposal, which is a series of detailed and straightforward reforms to improve the Scottish justice system by stacking it in favour of victims, not criminals.”